By Sydney Bucksbaum
July 19, 2019 at 05:31 PM EDT

Warning: spoilers ahead for Hulu’s Veronica Mars revival. Read on at your own risk!

Veronica Mars does not play by the rules. So why should Hulu’s revival of the cult-favorite detective drama follow the rules either?

After months of eagerly awaiting the July 26 debut of Veronica Mars season 4, the streaming service pulled a 180 on fans by releasing all eight episodes a full week early after creator Rob Thomas, star Kristen Bell, and the rest of the cast gathered for a panel at San Diego Comic-Con. It’s been five years since the Veronica Mars movie and 12 since the last episode aired, so enough waiting: let’s binge-watch the new season!

Michael Desmond/Hulu

Episode 1: “Spring Break Forever”

We’re officially back in Neptune and man does it feel good! It’s been five years since Veronica returned to her hometown in the movie and it turns out that she never left. She’s working full-time with her dad at Mars Investigations, and while it’s amazing to see this father-daughter duo finally working together as adults (instead of Keith trying to keep V out of his more dangerous work), it’s chilling to see how much he’s been struggling health-wise since the car accident in the movie. We also get a good feel for how things are changing in Neptune, as an angry group named NUTT (Neptune United for a Tidy Town, made up of the wealthy elite) is trying to kill the Spring Break reputation that brings in tourism and much-needed profits for the working class. Looks like the class warfare in Neptune is still alive and well after all these years!

But all that pales in comparison to the moment all Marshmallows have been waiting for: that steamy, sexy, epic reunion between Veronica and Logan. That was everything I hoped it would be. But alas, the good times don’t last. Logan proposes to Veronica and instead of the amazing romantic moment with music swelling as she says yes, she freaks out. All the work Veronica does with married people destroying each other and the examples of marriage she and Logan had growing up via their own parents have all soured her opinion on the institution. Veronica flat-out denies Logan’s proposal and trouble starts brewing in paradise.

And the episode also blows this season’s case wide open: a bomb decimates the local Spring Break hotel, the Sea Sprite, killing a bunch of guests including the fiancée of a congressman’s brother, a Mexican student with family ties to a dangerous cartel, a rich college jerk, and the owner of the hotel. When Veronica sees the young daughter of the deceased owner at the crime scene, she realizes this case is going to become personal. It’s always about a girl.

Notable guest appearances:

  • Oh hello, Eliza Coupe! The Happy Endings star makes her Veronica Mars debut as a rich divorcee who hires Veronica to help rid her house of her ex-husbands, bugs, and cameras. Now that’s some well-deserved justice, especially since Veronica is able to scam the vain housewife out of a lot more money than she originally quoted.
  • Looks like Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Kristen Bell became good friends IRL after working together on The Good Place because she’s joined Veronica Mars in a major role for the revival! Meet Nicole, the owner of Comrade Quacks, a.k.a. the ultimate Spring Break party club in Neptune. She’s sarcastic, strong, doesn’t take any BS (even from Big Dick Casablancas) and dishes out justice to would-be sexual assaulters, so you immediately know that she’s going to be Veronica’s new BFF.
  • Speaking of Big Dick, the awful patriarch of the Casablancas family is back in Neptune after serving time and he’s got some big ideas on how to better the town. Big words from an ex-con, huh?
  • It wouldn’t be Veronica Mars without her best friend Wallace! Percy Daggs III is back, and the years have been good to Wallace. He’s married, a father and has a steady job at the high school. Look how far he’s come!
  • And let’s give a warm welcome to the Veronica Mars family to Patton Oswalt, who makes his debut as Penn Epner, a.k.a. the pizza delivery guy with either the best or worst timing ever.
  • Recognize that cartel hitman? If you watch Westworld, he probably looks pretty familiar. That’s Clifton Collins Jr. playing Alonzo with chilling glee. Keep your eye on him.

Episode 2: “Chino and the Man”

The aftermath of Veronica rejecting Logan’s proposal is … a lot less explosive than she expects. In fact, it’s Veronica who’s more shaken than Logan. She’s upset that he’s not more upset, which is a bizarre turn of events for this formerly volatile couple. He’s matured through therapy and isn’t banging Tri-Delts, beating people to death, or getting wasted when he’s upset. But does Veronica actually want that dangerous Logan to return? She goads him into punching through a cabinet and it sparks rough sex that seems to be exactly what she wanted … but it’s killing Logan from the inside. Maybe Veronica needs therapy too. Especially since they’re now going to be co-workers, as Logan earns his way onto Congressman Maloof’s security detail as his head bodyguard after saving his life. That means he can be the perfect mole for Veronica and Keith if the congressman had anything to do with the bombing.

But what’s more fascinating in episode 2 is the little bits of backstory we get on Big Dick’s time in Chino and how he met Clyde, his new associate. Clyde’s smarter than Big Dick will ever give him credit for or notice since he manipulated the rich idiot into bankrolling him on the outside after “saving” him on the inside. This is one guy you don’t want to underestimate.

And with multiple parties circling the same case, trying to figure out who’s behind the Sea Sprite bombing, this hour is mostly set-up for what’s to come. We’ve got Veronica and Keith and the police, plus the cartel’s hit men (who are less concerned with solving the case than they are with killing any suspects they find). And don’t count out wannabe-detective pizza guy “murderhead” Penn who’s using social media to gain newfound fame. But he’s probably hurting more than helping when it comes to solving this murder by releasing information and unconfirmed theories too early. What would be helpful is if Matty actually worked with Veronica instead of trying to lose her as a tail. Just think of what these two could accomplish together after seeing Matty’s evading skills!

Notable guest appearances:

  • Dick’s (Ryan Hansen) back and he’s somehow become a famous Hollywood action movie star? Who would have thought?!
  • Welcome to the party, J.K. Simmons. He’s playing former bank robber Clyde Pickett, a.k.a. Big Dick’s right hand and fellow ex-con, who describes himself as a “glorified property manager” but probably does shadier stuff than that. Just look at the way he zeroes in on exposing that underage girl trying to get with Dick and promptly scares her off. He’s got a darkness to him that is terrifying in its silence and confidence.
  • Bell’s former When In Rome co-star Josh Duhamel shows up at the beginning as Dick’s co-star in fake movie Catalina Heat. Now I want to see that entire movie.
  • Rodney Rowland shows up as longtime career criminal Liam Fitzpatrick, and he hasn’t reformed at all since the original series. Now he’s running crime out of the vending machine company and might have ties to the Sea Sprite bombing.

Episode 3: “Keep Calm and Party On”

Pro-tip #1: Never try to mug Veronica. It won’t end well. But the PCH-ers still haven’t learned not to mess with this plucky blonde, and that’s why she always carries around a taser.

A new lead in the case comes courtesy of Congressman Maloof, who reveals to Veronica and Keith that he’s being blackmailed with a video of himself masturbating to a cam-girl. He believes it’s the blackmailers who set off the bomb to try to threaten him into staying in politics so they can keep controlling him. But pizza guy Penn still thinks that Maloof is the one who set off the bomb to kill his brother’s fiancée since she doesn’t come from a good enough family. However, it’s Perry Walsh, a vending machine attendant, who gets fingered for the crime after he blows himself up with his own bomb. Case closed?

Not quite. Another bomb goes off during the beachside volleyball tournament, confirming Veronica’s suspicions that Perry Walsh was just a fall guy and the real murderer is still alive and kicking … and killing.

And it’s not crucial to the season-long arc (or even this episode!) but I could watch Dick and Logan mess around with each other forever … and also take E and dance with Veronica and Nicole. That entire sequence was just *chef’s kiss*. Especially the morning after shower/puke scene. Hey, I’m only human! Any good LoVe scenes are perfect in my book, especially with how tense things have been since Veronica rejected Logan’s proposal. I’ll take what I can get.

Notable guest appearances:

  • Oh, Weevil (Francis Capra). The years have not been kind to you. After he tried to go legit, the events of the movie turned him back to a life of crime. He’s now one of the leaders of the PCHers and his sister is dating Alonzo, so a cartel vs. PCHers showdown is sure to be coming, right? I expect lots of violence. Will Weevil make the right call or will he be brought down by his choice to turn back to crime?

Episode 4: “Heads You Lose”

More people are dead and many are injured from the most recent bombing and the congressman is now an accessory to murder having accidentally hired cartel hitmen to take out his brother’s dead fiancée’s family. Things are going great in Neptune! Plus there’s some new intrigue on mysterious buyers coming in and snatching up all of Neptune’s local businesses. It’s a bunch of shell companies with personal appeals buying properties for pennies on the dollar as most business owners are hurting from the bombings. Dick might be behind everything if he’s trying to kill the Spring Break legacy of Neptune and own a monopoly of the properties at the same time. It’s why he’s been hiring Weevil and the PCHers to drive up the crime and scare people away.

But prepare yourself because Veronica’s taking a trip to the big house to visit some of Veronica Mars‘ biggest villains from the past! The “ghosts of cases past” include Tim Foyle, a.k.a. the college TA who took his perfect murder assignment a little too literally, and Mercer, a.k.a. the Hearst college rapist. This was all to get some information on the Neptune Bomber case and Clyde. The visit turns out to be fruitful as Veronica learns all about Clyde conning Big Dick to bankroll him. Not exactly the stuff of a serial killer but good to know nonetheless. And now it’s something Matty knows as she eavesdrops on Veronica and Keith’s office and promptly tells Penn, who bugs Mars Investigations’ office and takes their theory public during a town hall meeting by calling out Big Dick. Chaos ensues.

Now cue up the song “Heads Will Roll,” as another bombing hits Neptune, this time attached to the neck of the would-be rapist who was trying to roofie girls at Comrade Quacks. And now that the FBI is involved, that brings Leo D’Amato back into Veronica’s orbit, giving us the most uncomfortably hilarious exchange between Leo and Logan. Never underestimate Logan’s love of pushing people’s buttons, Leo! Especially when your working lunch turns into a five-hour stakeout … which in Veronica’s world is definitely a date. They even share snacks and discuss failed past relationships! Leo, you in danger, bro.

And I may be weird for saying this, but I’m kind of hoping that Clyde ends up being innocent in all this because I’m officially invested in his long-lost love story with his ex who absconded with his stolen money when he was sent to Chino. Could things still work out for these crazy kids? Stay tuned. I also want Clyde and Keith’s friendship to work out because I’m oddly a fan of their dynamic. Clyde, don’t break my heart!

And don’t forget about the ominous ending: that bound and gagged bloody guy out wandering in the desert? That’s one of the guys that the congressman put a hit on. He somehow survived … and that means nothing but trouble for the Maloof family.

Notable guest appearances:

  • Did you catch Modern Family‘s Sarah Hyland at the very beginning of this episode? She plays a Comrade Quacks patron who has no time for Dick’s idiotic flirting or a guy trying to roofie college coeds.
  • James Jordan’s Tim Foyle, the T.A. from Veronica Mars season 3, returns from behind bars to let V know that he has made himself useful in Chino, writing legal motions for his fellow prisoners and getting a number of them released. Good for him!
  • Ugh, Mercer Hayes. I hated you even before you were exposed as the Hearst rapist. But Ryan Devlin’s back in this episode, also from behind bars, and it’s clear that he’s still the same, misogynistic narcissist who believes he should be let go because of all the other convicted rapists who haven’t gotten jail time. Ugh, Mercer!
  • Max Greenfield makes his return in this episode as Leo D’Amato, a former flame of Veronica’s who used to work as a deputy for Neptune PD. But he’s traded in his khakis for a suit and tie as an FBI agent assigned to the Neptune bombing case.
  • As if there weren’t enough teams trying to crack this case open, now Ken Marino’s Vinnie Van Lowe is throwing his hat in the ring. The abrasive P.I. has now been hired by Maloof’s mother to find the missing engagement ring from the dead fiancée and Maloof ends up hiring him too to confirm whether or not he’s responsible for the fiancée’s dead family members (spoiler alert: he definitely is).
  • Remember geeky Max? Adam Rose returns to the franchise in this episode as the nerd-turned-entrepreneur. He’s now the owner of Neptune’s dispensary How High Are You. He’s certainly found his path in life!

Episode 5: “Losing Streak”

Okay, it’s high time we talk about Veronica’s treatment of Logan and his therapy. I honestly can’t tell what her issue is and why she’s giving him such a hard time about working on himself and dealing with his volatile emotions. It’s almost like she’s making fun of him at certain times when she brings it up and it’s just … weird. What is her angle here? Why isn’t she being more supportive? And what does this mean for their relationship? I’ve got questions!

But more importantly, it seems as if Veronica’s new BFF Nicole might be a new suspect in the Neptune bombing case. We get some crucial backstory about how she became an owner of Comrade Quacks (and why she has a driver!) and it all stems back to when she was attacked and raped while walking to her car after her shift as a bartender. She sued the former owner for not providing adequate security and voila, she became the new owner. She has the money, connections, and motive to be behind the bombings, as each one targeted a sexual assailant and her family has ties to a construction business. The odds are the culprit is either Veronica’s new friend or Keith’s new friend Clyde. Either way, this case is now personal for both of them.

Making things weirder is the note the supposed bomber sends to the police with an ultimatum for the mayor to do a naked run through town. What is happening?!

And I’m officially worried about Keith’s health. He finally confesses to Veronica about his memory loss and health struggles and it’s starting to get real. He could have dementia, or it could be something even worse.

The hour ends on an explosive note with another bombing, this time at Comrade Quacks. Luckily no one is killed but three are in critical condition. And Veronica soon learns that Nicole sold the bar after the first bombing, meaning she’s already got the money and ability to leave town. It’s looking likely that she’s behind the bombings, so Veronica bugs her office. Not great that V’s first new friend in a long time might actually be a serial killer. That’s going to do wonders for her trust issues.

Notable guest appearances:

  • Everyone’s favorite baritone-voiced ethically questionable attorney Cliff McCormack has arrived! Daran Norris returns in this episode by gloriously getting a prostitute’s case dropped by invoking a little national pride and it’s perfection. Now he’s back to help Veronica get leverage against Weevil by using young Juan Diego as a bargaining chip for information on who’s been hiring the PCHers to drive up crime. Turns out, it actually is Clyde. But does that mean he’s also behind the bombings?
  • Not an appearance but still worth mentioning: that Cassidy “Beaver” Casablancas name drop gave me chills. I’ll never get over Kyle Gallner’s deeply disturbing character even all these years later. He’s the previous owner of all the shell companies currently buying up Neptune real estate, and ownership transferred to his dad Big Dick when he died, confirming that Big Dick is behind all the properties being bought up in Neptune.

Episode 6: “Entering a World of Pain”

It’s wild seeing the past cases of Veronica Mars through the eyes of Matty, a teen too young to know about the Lily Kane murder or Beaver blowing up a school bus of his classmates. Hearing her talk about the headlines as if they’re just headlines to Veronica is eerie. But it’s also a reminder that we’ve had a much closer look at all these crimes than the rest of Neptune. I really don’t know where I’m going with this other than to shout out the perspective this new season has given me into the reality of what’s going on in Neptune as a whole rather than just the small world of one character.

Getting back on track, ugh Veronica! Just go to therapy with Logan! Stop digging in your heels! Do you see how he looks in uniform?! Girl. He’s being called back into active duty and you may have messed things up. This is not good! That voicemail Logan leaves for Veronica is some real heartbreaking stuff. Kind of made me want a wine glass as full as Veronica’s.

Okay, now really getting back on track: looks like Big Dick and Clyde may be responsible for the bombings after all. Or at least the Sea Sprite bombing. They all but confess to each other in Big Dick’s office after Big Dick asks Clyde to set up a trust fund for Perry Walsh’s kid. Apparently, the bomb was supposed to go off at night and not kill anyone but the internet went down and messed up the timer, resulting in four deaths. And Big Dick thinks Clyde killed Perry to cover it up. What if these bombings aren’t actually connected? The Sea Sprite is clearly on Big Dick and Clyde, but the others could be a copycat jumping on the bandwagon for a different purpose.

Thanks to Logan, we now know who Maloof’s blackmailer is: some creepy white nationalist kid with a major attitude problem and good computer skills. The blackmail problem has been taken care of thanks to Logan, but he also now knows that Maloof paid off the Mexican cartel hitmen. So, not great. Also not great? Alonzo knows that Veronica was snooping around his hotel room. Will Weevil intervene before things get messy?

And the way that Leo one-upped Veronica by planting a tracker on her and manipulating her into doing his casework for him makes me worried that she might admire him so much that she’ll backslide into that old relationship as a rebound. Their almost kiss outside Veronica’s door proves my suspicions immediately. If they hadn’t been interrupted by the noise inside her apartment, would they have actually hooked up? Thank you for the interruption, Matty!

Notable guest appearances:

  • Kane Software’s former head of security Clarence Wiedman (Christopher B. Duncan) pops up in this episode as Logan’s replacement as Maloof’s bodyguard. And if there’s one thing all Veronica Mars fans know about CW, it’s that he can be trusted to do the dirty work for Logan and Duncan, no questions asked. Too bad he couldn’t stop Maloof from getting shot by the guy who survived the hit he ordered. Still, what a fun surprise to hear that deep voice once more!

Episode 7: “Gods of War”

Veronica seems intent on destroying every good relationship in her life. She’s dodging Logan’s video chats after almost hooking up with Leo, she confesses to Nicole about bugging her office … but at least she’s finally catching a break in the bombing case. As I suspected a few episodes back, it looks like there are more than one perps behind the bombings, due to nails only being found at three of the crime scenes. The nail that lodged itself in Penn’s back was from Matty’s string art piece hanging on the wall in the office of the Sea Sprite lobby, leading him to incorrectly assume it was shrapnel from the actual bomb. So when Penn becomes the bomber himself, he uses the nails in his bombs thinking it’s the perfect copy of the original bomb.

That’s right: it’s the pizza guy! When the cops storm his place, they even find print-outs from the internet on how to build all the bombs. So Veronica and Keith track Penn down to his new girlfriend’s cabin, but the cartel hitmen follow them and almost kill them because Keith forgot to load his gun. Honestly, my heart stopped for a few beats thinking Keith’s number was up … until Weevil shows up with the PCHers to save their lives. It still leaves Veronica and Keith both shaken and in one of the most gut-wrenching scenes of the series (up there with Veronica thinking her dad was killed in that plane explosion) he tearfully tells her he’s done with being a P.I. because he almost got her killed.

But the case isn’t over yet. The Sea Sprite bomb and Perry Walsh’s bomb, both organized by Big Dick through Clyde, still have to be solved. And Clyde isn’t ready to go down for Big Dick, so he hires the cartel hitmen and reveals a recording he made of Big Dick bragging about the plan so they’ll kill him, effectively silencing him and completing their mission to avenge Gabriel’s death. And Penn still won’t admit to being the bomber and hires Veronica and Keith to prove his innocence. He says he wants to stop the final bomb from going off, but is he telling the truth?

And uh, can we talk about Veronica’s sex dream about Leo? How was that even hotter than the LoVe scenes we’ve gotten all season?! I am not okay with this. Thankfully since the case is solved, Leo’s heading back to Virginia and away from tempting Veronica … because she’s now engaged to Logan! It happened! Waking up from her sex dream and feeling relief that she didn’t hurt Logan and almost dying and thinking of Logan was her “moment of clarity.”

Notable guest appearances:

  • Shockingly, none that we haven’t seen before throughout this season.

Episode 8: “Years, Continents, Bloodshed”

It only took 10 minutes into the finale for a beheading to take place, thereby effectively taking care of the original bomber. Alonzo and his BFF kill Big Dick (while Matty watches from afar with a … curious look on her face). But did Penn actually set the other bombs? If not him, then who? And will the final bomb go off? And will we see Veronica and Logan actually get married? We’ve got about 40 more minutes to go before the season ends, so let’s find out.

Despite all the clues seemingly pointing to Penn as the murderer, it turns out another visit to the college guys Veronica interrogated earlier this season was all it took to finally get the right clue. A pizza delivery man had been attacked and drowned by the frat guys so he’s now taking revenge on all Spring Breakers. Who is this mysterious pizza delivery guy, you ask? Don McNotten, aka Clark Duke’s annoying, condescending murderhead. He never actually graduated from Hearst, has delusions of grandeur and is obsessed with serial killers, so all the theories track. Veronica, Keith and Penn team up to track Don down but all they find is his dead body and a suicide limerick. But thanks to Matty’s sleuthing, they realize Penn actually is the pizza guy who drowned and the person behind all the bombings and that the final bomb is planted at the Kane High School dedication, and Don was just the fall guy.

Keith and Veronica then race over to the ceremony with Penn as their hostage, and Keith makes Veronica stand a safe distance away while he sacrifices himself to make sure that Penn diffuses the bomb. For a heart-stopping moment, it feels like Keith failed. But he survives, diffuses the bomb and saves the day. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a Mars, but I really need this show to stop putting Keith’s life on the line, and having Veronica watch from afar every single time. It’s too much!

Let’s put all that madness behind us because it’s time for a LoVely wedding. First, though, some good news: Keith isn’t suffering from dementia. He was put on the wrong combination of medications which was causing the memory loss. He’s fine! And after a VERY RUDE fake-out where everyone (including myself!) thought Logan was running off and leaving Veronica literally at the figurative altar, he shows up just a few minutes late with a very misleading pre-apology text and the wedding is on. (Seriously, that was not funny, writers. Don’t do that.)

And you know what’s really not funny? Giving us the LoVe wedding we’ve been waiting years for only to kill Logan just a few minutes later. That’s right: Logan’s dead. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence, but it’s true. No more fake outs. Penn’s final bomb wasn’t at the high school dedication … it was in Veronica’s car, which Logan went to move for street cleaning right before they left for their honeymoon. And this isn’t a cliffhanger leaving his fate up in the air. We get confirmation in the form of a time jump.

One year later, things are bleak. Spring Break is longer what it was in Neptune. The bars and clubs are gone. The dispensary is now a spa. Clyde Pickett is a thriving businessman with his long-lost love by his side. The only remaining old Neptune business that survived is the Sea Sprite, because Matty used the “missing” engagement ring to pay off all the debts and remodel the hotel to reopen it. The NUTT ordinances passed, rent control was destroyed and the town changed. Veronica moved in with Keith to help him after his hip replacement surgery, but it was really him taking care of her. The documentary made about the Neptune bombings resulted in only 40 percent of Americans thinking that Penn was the real culprit. The bad guys won, the good guys lost. I honestly don’t know how I feel about this.

And that’s why Veronica is finally getting out of Neptune. She’s leaving town to take on cases all over the country after people were inspired to hire her by the documentary (at least it did some good). Keith is staying home because he’s got a new girlfriend and a new protegé in Matty who is basically like Veronica 2.0. This feels like a new chapter for both Veronica and the show and I’m not sure where it’s heading. But at least we get one last Love moment as Logan’s therapist sends Veronica the voicemail he had left on the day of their wedding. It serves as the pep talk she needs: “Blows that would destroy most people? She always picks herself back up.”

And pick herself back up she does. Me on the other hand? I’m going to need a long time to recover from this.

Notable guest appearances:

  • Of course, when Logan goes to the county clerk’s office to pick up a marriage license for his impromptu wedding to Veronica he runs into Parker Lee, aka his ex-girlfriend from Hearst College. Julie Gonzalo is back to reprise her season 3 role and she’s as fabulous as ever, even if Parker is currently divorced and down on her luck, because when she finds out Logan’s marrying Veronica she fires back with the perfect reply: “Wow, you guys took your time.” They really did! And the title of this episode is a nice nod to LoVe, going all the way back to Logan’s “epic” speech. I just wish we had more time to revel in the happiness before our hearts were broken.
  • Duncan Kane’s father Jake (Kyle Secor) shows up in the finale at a ceremony to honor him and the new high school named after him. Classy.
  • Also at the dedication? Mr. Van Clemmons, Neptune High’s principal, played by Duane Daniels. I definitely didn’t expect to see him, especially giving Jake such a complimentary introduction.

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