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Veronica Mars had a deceptively simple premise — “teenage girl private eye” — that it used to build a complicated and densely populated world around Kristen Bell’s title character.
The show’s season-long mysteries featured numerous red herrings and plot twists, and it filled in the world around Veronica, her dad Keith (Enrico Colantoni) and her close group of friends with a wide array of characters (more than 60 actors have appeared in at least a half-dozen episodes).
With a new, eight-episode season arriving July 26 on Hulu, The Hollywood Reporter — with some help from Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas — zeroes in on a few characters and story arcs from the show’s history, including a pair of novels that are also part of the show’s canon, that will help prepare viewers for the new episodes.
The show’s previous three seasons are available on Hulu; the Kickstarter-funded Veronica Mars feature film from 2014 is available on HBO’s various platforms.
The Lily Kane murder: The new episodes feature a teenage girl, Matty Ross (Izabela Vidovic), who’s connected to the central case: a series of bombings in Neptune during spring break. She was, at most, a toddler in the show’s timeline when Veronica’s best friend (Amanda Seyfried) was murdered, setting the series in motion. Thus, when she wonders aloud about the case in front of Veronica and Keith, it’s a jarring moment.
The case is also a subject of fascination for Penn Epner (Patton Oswalt), who’s also connected to the bombings, and a group of true-crime aficionados with whom he investigates cold cases. Of course, they all live in a world where the outcome of the case in court was very different than what viewers know really went down.
Rewatch: All of season one, but especially episodes one (“Pilot”), six (“Return of the Kane”), 12 (“Clash of the Tritons”), 17 (“Kanes and Abel’s”) and 20-22 (“M.A.D.,” “A Trip to the Dentist” and “Leave It to Beaver”). Season two, episodes 21-22 (“Happy Go Lucky” and “Not Pictured”) are also key to the story.
Richard “Big Dick” Casablancas: The real estate developer dad (David Starzyk) of Dick (Ryan Hansen) and Cassidy “Beaver” Casablancas (Kyle Gallner) was spoken about more than seen in the show’s initial run as the enabler of his sons’ questionable (to say the least) behavior and husband to second wife Kendall (Charisma Carpenter). He has a much more substantial role in the revival, however, as he’s leading a charge to “clean up” — i.e., gentrify — Neptune.
Rewatch: Big Dick’s prior appearances in season two (episodes 2-3, “Driver Ed” and “Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang”) and three (episode 18, “I Know What You’ll Do Next Summer”).
Liam Fitzpatrick: Neptune career criminal Liam (Rodney Rowland) had several run-ins with Veronica and Keith over the series’ initial run and plays a role in the new season as well, crossing paths with Matty and a now gun-carrying Veronica (more on that below).
Rewatch: Season two, episodes eight (“Ahoy Mateys”), 12 (“Rashard and Wallace Go to White Castle”), 17 (“Plan B”) and 19 (“Nevermind the Buttocks”) and season three, episodes two (“My Big Fat Greek Rush Week”) and seven (“Of Vice and Men”).
Leo D’Amato: The onetime Neptune sheriff’s deputy (Max Greenfield) who had sparks with Veronica both in the original series and in one of the novels that came after the feature film (see below). In the movie, he has moved up to the San Diego PD and helps Veronica on a case. Greenfield is set to recur in the new season.
Rewatch: Season one, episodes 11 (“Silence of the Lamb”), 15-16 (“Ruskie Business,” “Betty and Veronica) and 19 (“Hot Dogs”); season two, episode 10 (“One Angry Veronica”).
Veronica Mars, the movie: Thomas freely admits the feature film, centered on Veronica’s 10-year high school reunion, was his “give the people what they want” effort, not knowing if the characters would ever be onscreen again.
“It’s like looking at my Twitter feed and seeing what everyone wanted to see and making that more important than the detective case,” he told THR.
That said, the events of the movie carry over to the new season, most obviously with Veronica still living in Neptune and running Mars Investigations with Keith. Dad, in turn, is still dealing with the effects of being smashed by a truck in a hit that killed Deputy Sacks, who was working with Keith to expose corruption in the sheriff’s department. (The identity of the driver wasn’t revealed in the film.) Logan (Jason Dohring), meanwhile, is still serving in the Navy, a detail first revealed in the film.
Rewatch: The movie — at least the part after Veronica turns on the sprinklers after a fight breaks out at the reunion.
The Veronica Mars novels: Following the film, Thomas and co-author Jennifer Graham wrote two novels set in Neptune, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line and Mr. Kiss and Tell. Viewers need not have read them to understand what’s going on in the new season, but it could deepen the meaning of some scenes.
“When we wrote those Veronica Mars novels, the thing I promised fans was that they would be canon,” said Thomas. “And so the reward for people who read those books is they might actually understand what Veronica and Weevil [Francis Capra] are so angry at each other about. That was all addressed in the novels. People who have read those will understand why those two are at odds. We do try to explain it in a couple lines within the body of the show, but people will have it much more fleshed out if they read the books.”
Neptune becoming an incorporated city with its own police chief, Marcia Langdon (played by Dawnn Lewis in the new episodes), as well as Veronica and Logan adopting a dog together, also happen in the books.
Read: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line and Mr. Kiss and Tell. Bell also narrates the audiobook version of The Thousand Dollar Tan Line.
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