'Veronica Mars' Star Jason Dohring Explains That Heartbreaking Finale Shocker

Veronica Mars season 4-Publicity still-H 2019
Courtesy of Hulu

[This story contains major spoilers for season four of Veronica Mars on Hulu.]

Grief is baked into the DNA of Veronica Mars. Fifteen years ago, when the show began its run on UPN, the murder of Veronica's best friend Lily Kane (Amanda Seyfried) became her origin story, destroying Veronica's life as she knew it and driving her to become an amateur PI as she fought to bring the killer to justice.

As Kristen Bell's now-adult Veronica notes in the newly released fourth season, Lily's murder — and the many injustices that followed — hardened her at a young age, making her cynical and guarded in ways that serve her well in her work, but less well in her personal life.

It's the main source of friction in her relationship with now-longtime boyfriend Logan (Jason Dohring), who through therapy and military discipline has transformed himself from season one's "obligatory psychotic jackass" into a loyal, level-headed and worthy partner to Veronica. Though she's wary of commitment and at times seems wistful for the volatile bad boy Logan of old, Veronica realizes by the season finale just how much she loves him, and the two marry in a low-key, intimate ceremony as a proud Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni) looks on.

[Last warning: Major spoilers below.]

For a moment, it seems like Veronica could get a happy ending. A moment later, her life is torn apart all over again in a way that's sure to polarize fans: in a queasy moment of pure horror Veronica realizes that Patton Oswalt's Penn Epner, a true-crime fan turned actual criminal, has left a concealed bomb in her car — seconds before it detonates with Logan inside. 

Dohring spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about his reaction to Logan's fate, the possibility of returning in future seasons and the character's dramatic transformation.

When and how did you find out that Logan was going to die?

Rob [Thomas, the show's creator] was kind enough to tell me early on, before we started shooting. He also explained the rationale behind that decision, as far as shedding the teenage drama of the show, and the on-again-off-again relationship with Veronica and Logan. That can only go so far, and if these two are sort of destined to be together as characters, it wouldn’t really make sense for the show to have it end any other way. I think Rob really saw a chance to bring Veronica back to where she started, in a way, and bring her back to being the underdog, because the audience really responds to her in that way. This does that; it gives her a way to start anew, and obviously in pain, but with a new determination. I think that’s the direction he was looking to go, and I understood that.

So the rationale made sense to you, and you were okay with it?

Yeah, and I really appreciated him explaining all of that. I was like “Okay, cool, for the good of the show, I do understand.” Just having her move on in her life. The role that Logan has to play in this series is getting her to understand that, pushing her to understand that she should be moving on with her life, she shouldn’t be in Neptune forever, and that sort of thing. And of course [the loss of Logan], you’re obviously feeling so bad for Veronica, but she has this determination, no matter what, even in such hard conditions. That's one of the cool things about her.
Did you and Kristen talk about it much in advance?
Yeah, we did. We'd just look at each other on set every so often and be like, "This is fun," and she'd be like "Aww, Jay ..." And Rico [Colantoni] would be crying, it was crazy! My last moment of filming was pretty sad. It was just bittersweet, obviously after playing 70 hours of a character, for the end to come. I’ve gone a lot of ways with that character, I’ve gotten to do a pretty incredible amount with him, so I can’t [feel] shortchanged by any means. But as far as just, you put that much of your soul into something, or your creative energy, and then it’s done.
Any time you do something creative with a group of people like a play or a show or a movie, there’s just something that happens between you all. It’s weird, and I haven’t experienced that anywhere else in life, except for maybe a trying or traumatic experience where you’re kind of held together by what you’ve been through. It’s special. There’s a real family aspect to the show, and I was definitely feeling that, and feeling some deep sadness at the end. But I'm super happy for them, I had the best time on the show, and it was probably the best character I've ever played.
Logan has changed so much. It’s interesting that it becomes the main conflict in his relationship with Veronica, that she sort of wants him to be more unpredictable and angry like he used to be. How did it feel to play this much more level-headed Logan?
I think it was smart of the writers to go in that direction, and I appreciated that, because I can't imagine anywhere he would go that would have been more of a change. His life went in a direction that really put him back on track, and gave me a chance to play something really different that still feels unique to that character. The military thing, it gave him a chance to be the good guy, and I think that's the one thing he hadn't quite been, was the straitlaced guy. It’s kind of remarkable, from a character perspective, how much he came around. I think the discipline and the structure that you find in the military can be very helpful for a person like him, where there’s a schedule to adhere to and there’s camaraderie. But at the same time, it’s interesting with Veronica, because he’s like, “What do you want from me? I changed for you!” It was a fun new aspect to play.
Aside from the obvious, did anything surprise you about Logan’s story in season four?
I liked that he still kept his outlook on life, the humor and sarcasm, even as he has changed so much. That’s what I loved about the character in the first place, just the way he saw the world. But he’s more surprising, I guess, in the original series. As far as the directions he's going, organizing bum fights, and the way he interacted with his dad, I loved playing all of that. But I had a role to play in the bigger picture, in this particular one, that was about getting Veronica on the right path and pushing her into a new chapter. That’s what I was doing.
Veronica and Logan weren’t originally supposed to be a couple, but your chemistry with Kristen changed the whole course of the show. Do you have a sense of why you guys click so well onscreen?
I think to some degree it's a willingness on the part of the actors, and I think also perhaps if you admire the person as a person in real life. I think Kristen is so dynamic and so capable and has so many positive qualities that I admire, and I just really respect her as a being, and as a person, and that helps. To that degree, I don’t have to create anything: I already have an affinity, so I think that comes through. And then just being very professional about it too, on both ends. It’s always come easy to us in that way.
Amanda Seyfried was a big presence in season one, even though Lily was dead. If the show gets renewed for more seasons, would you be willing to come back for flashbacks or dream sequences?
Oh yeah, I mean obviously I fucking love Rob, I’ve done probably [most] of the shows that he’s created. I really respect his writing, I think he’s wonderful, so yeah, of course. Should that be a thing, I’d be happy to [come back], and I’d also be very happy for the cast if they were to get renewed.
The show’s fan base is still passionate after all these years. What kinds of interactions do you have with fans now?
Well, it surprised the hell out of me one day recently when somebody said, “This show really helped me get through high school.” At first I was like, what do you mean? It’s just a TV show. But I’ve been thinking about it since, and it’s interesting to be in this career because to some degree, after you watch something you’re changed. Even if it’s mediocre, I think to some degree you have a little bit of a different viewpoint, or you’ve shifted your attitude a little bit after watching it.
I’ve had the experience of sitting down and watching a movie and getting one new idea from it, and now I’m carrying that idea forward in my life. With Veronica Mars, I think her determination and her tenacity and her perseverance in life — the perseverance despite hardship that Veronica represents — I think that’s powerful. I think it’s encouraging to people to see such a spirit, and to see Kristen play it so wonderfully. 
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.