Kristen Bell also weighs in on the heartbreaking series-shifting finale twist.
Warning: If you have not watched all eight episodes of Veronica Mars season four on Hulu, this story contains massive spoilers. Read our take on the game-changing finale and hear what creator Rob Thomas had to say about what the finale shocker means moving forward.
If you spent your entire weekend feverishly binge-watching the new season of Veronica Mars and are as heartbroken about the finale as we are, we're about to start your week off on a slightly brighter note.
In the final minutes of the season four finale, ominously titled "Years, Continents, Bloodshed," Veronica's on-again/off-again love, Logan Echolls, the once arrogant 09er-turned-responsible naval intelligence officer, met his unexpected end, dying as a result of a detonated bomb placed in the backseat of Veronica's car by serial bombing culprit Penn Epner (guest star Patton Oswalt) just hours after Logan and Veronica married at the Neptune courthouse. Tragic.
"It is sad to have to have a sacrificial lamb in order to keep the show pumping, but Jason's so gracious about taking one for the team," star and executive producer Kristen Bell told ET on Friday when she and her Veronica Mars co-stars stopped by the Comic-Con video suite. "But we love each other so much. We were mourning him on set."
Dohring, who has played Logan off and on over the course of 15 years, admitted during a lengthy sit-down interview with ET that he didn't initially understand why his character had to die for Veronica Mars to continue on. It wasn't until he had a conversation over the phone with creator Rob Thomas that the puzzle pieces started to fit together, and he came to accept and understand his character's fate after some time.
"When Rob said that, my f**king heart just fell out of my body. And I was like, 'Oh my god,'" the 37-year-old actor recalled. Here, in an in-depth chat, Dohring opens up to ET about the pain of saying goodbye to Logan Echolls, why he hasn't told close family members about the stunning ending and why he understands that fans will have opinions "one way or another" about how his story wraps up -- "even though it's not necessarily what people [may] want."
ET: What did Rob tell you about this season of Veronica Mars, since it ends quite tragically for your character in the end?
Jason Dohring: Rob called me. He was like, "We're going to do this. I feel like we're far enough along now," and he started to lay out the story of where Logan was. His idea was Veronica's in a bad place, we're going to see her move from there and into a different state. That's the the arc. And then he said, "They're getting married. Then, Logan goes out to check the car and Logan is killed in the blast." When Rob said that, my f**king heart just fell out of my body. And I was like, "Oh my god."
He spent the next five minutes explaining the reasoning for it. And I cannot say that I understood or agreed with what he did. Rob wanted to shed the teenage drama aspect of the show with this on-again/off-again [relationship between Veronica and Logan] and as long as either one of them is still around, I feel like we've told those stories. They're kind of meant for each other. So I think, in that way, it's cool that Logan's exiting this way, and also that he served a role to get Veronica to reevaluate her life. I think that's really cool.
Rob also talked about her being an underdog and that people really respond well when she is in that sort of determined state. I think that this really throws her in that and yet opens the door to a brand new life, a brand new setting, a brand new possible list of characters that she could be involved in. It really gives freedom and determination from her point of view for a new start anywhere.
You mentioned that Rob called you ahead of time. How long were you sitting on this secret that Logan dies?
Before we even started shooting, by a few weeks at least, or a month or so. You're thinking with that secret the whole time, and then just getting to the end of that four or five months of production.
What was your initial reaction when you learned Logan wasn't going to survive the season?
Devastated. And then for about three days, I was sort of sitting with it, digesting it.
Were you mourning a little bit?
I had a hard time telling my wife because she has certain family members -- there are family members I haven't even told yet -- who are going to see it. They're so excited, and they're having these huge parties. I'm like, "F**k. I'm really sorry." That party's going to have a sour ending, at least on my family's point of view. I eventually came to terms with it, in no small part, thanks to Rob's explanation of it, and understanding it for the greater good of the show.
I told a couple of the cast members who didn't even know. I told Percy [Daggs III] and I told Ryan [Hansen], and they were devastated. They'd come up to me hours later and be like, "J, I just can't believe it. Like, I just can't believe it." And I'm like, "Man, I know buddy. I know." At first, they were like, "That's bullsh*t, man. That's bullsh*t. I don't believe you." And I was like, "No man, it's true." And they just kept saying, "That's bullsh*t, man. You serious man, you f**king serious? Oh f**k." And then it hit them. It was crazy.
You've been in and out of this world over the past 15 years, playing this character for four seasons and a movie. Did you have any worries or concerns about Logan's fate?
I have complete faith in Rob's ability to write the story and when you have somebody like Kristen Bell leading the show the way she does, that's the driving force. I think they're going to be super fine with whatever direction they choose to go, especially now that they have a new possible lease on where they can go with the story.
Had you thought about where you wanted Logan's journey to end at any point?
Adding the military aspect to the role was very cool, and gave a new dimension and helped ultimately serve the story with Veronica's character. I think I did everything that I wanted to do with the role. I got to fully explore this guy in various ways.
It's disheartening to know that the Echolls family has basically been wiped out. Well, with the exception of Logan sister, Trina (played by Alyson Hannigan in the original series). It's almost like there's an Echolls curse.
I know. And when you're on a drama for a few years, that's just what happens. Your character's f**king life just goes downhill.
Because Logan's death was such a violent one and we didn't see a body, fans may speculate or theorize plausible theories about why he's not really dead. Are you anticipating those types of conversations?
I don't know. I mean those are all beyond me. I just hope ultimately the fans are pleased with the whole project. You can look at it that way, and understand that this will launch the series in a new way that's not tired or redundant.
It's hard to swallow knowing that Logan's death is the catalyst for Veronica to finally make that leap and work through her inner turmoil through therapy, even though he had been pushing her all season to look inward. In that sense, Logan is a martyr. He ended up serving that purpose.
There was another scene where we're on a couch. I don't what was understood from that scene, but I feel like Logan was, at that point, willing to sacrifice their relationship if it meant that she'd be happy with her life, and that she would move on. Maybe move out of Neptune, do something that she wants to do and fulfill her potential. I think that's pretty sweet that he would be willing to sacrifice their relationship for that. It's a heroic death that sparks new life.
You're so positive about it all! I'm like, I just need to curl up in a ball on the corner and cry.
Yes, I know. When you're in a corner and you're crying, it's like, what do you do then?
If this is the end of your time with this character and the show, are you ready to say goodbye? If there is another season, do you hope there's room for you to come back in some way?
I think that would be a question for the team, you know what I mean? If that could fulfill any purpose in a story... I have to see what they want to do, but I assume that it would be happier times. Flashbacks to a good life? I can't really speculate, but I would hope it would be something joyous if it were to be anything.
I do want to ask you about Veronica and Logan's wedding at the courthouse. How did you feel knowing that they at least had a moment of bliss, however temporary it was?
It's so funny that you ask these questions and I never really think about it as an audience member. (Laughs.) 'Cause I'm never thinking, when I see it, "Veronica and Logan really had their time..."
It was a long time coming for a lot of Veronica Mars fans...
I think so too. I always felt that they were so awesomely compatibly incompatible, you know what I mean? In the best way. Both had strong wills, which is just fireworks ready to happen. She has care for the world and he has care for her. She has ways that she wants things done and it's not necessarily the way he'd do them, but yet there's this love [between them]. And Logan's relationship with her, everything rolled into it and made it something special. I think that's what you see in the audience appreciation for it.
Was any part of that wedding scene ad-libbed?
No, it was all scripted. Rico was doing his thing. He was crying. Kristen was telling stories about her real wedding in a similar setting in a courthouse. She showed us a picture of her literally crying and [her husband] Dax [Shepard] is laughing at her. I thought that that was pretty funny.
Did you ever think that Veronica and Logan would ever reach a point in their lives where they would both actually agree to say "I do"?
Hopefully, they were on that track. And I think giving Veronica that scare toward the end got her to have this mini wake-up call. But I go back to that conversation on the couch right before. I thought that was noble: I'm willing to sacrifice us, but I want you to be happy. And if you're not going to be happy, then goodbye. When I was rehearsing that scene, I was f**king crying. As much as I love you, I care more about you than that. Brutal.
What was the toughest or most challenging scene from this season?
I think that. Working on that. Sometimes it would really hit me as we're rehearsing, like, what he's really saying is he wants her to leave him right now if it's not going to make her happy, because that means more to him than us.
Logan's journey has been the most dramatic out of all the characters on Veronica Mars. Has that been gratifying for you as an actor seeing how far he's come?
Yes. I appreciate variation. To start out being the antagonist and then getting this romance that was never intended to be. Then feeling that so strongly. Then that's all on the rocks and shredded... And then the military, and then on top of that having a ridiculously sharp sense of humor and looseness of morals. All that is such a joy to play as an actor. I was always trained to look for those choices, so that's where I would try to branch out and make some of those decisions where I could.
I was rewatching the pilot recently and Logan is a completely different person from then until now.
He'd be like, "Where are the hookers? Where are the boobs?"
What do you want to say to fans after they've finished watching the season and may need a second?
I don't know. I mean, they'll have thoughts one way or another. I think if you really step back and you look at what was told and where the show may be going, and how this opens up the door for Veronica... this relationship between Logan and Veronica is just one aspect of Veronica, right? But her helping the world and solving cases and her personal happiness, I think you may see more storylines there. I think that was what really helped me understand the whole thing with Logan -- putting it in context for the future.
You're so glass-half-full about it all, when you could be like, "Ugh."
I know. I was like that. But if you really think about it, you can't just play that over and over. (Pauses for a moment.) I mean, you can... Part of the cool thing is Veronica Mars is a smart show. Rob is very creative and he has his ideas, and I think that people like that. At the end of the third season, the CW came up to him and said, "We're probably going to end the show at the end of this third season, so if you want to wrap it up, you can do that." And he did the exact opposite. He f**king left it open. And that's probably the reason that the movie was made, which is the reason that season four comes. Really it ties back to the creative aspect of an artist who has integrity to his vision. So I respect that and people respect the result of that, even though it's not necessarily what people want all the time.
All eight episodes of Veronica Mars season four are now streaming on Hulu.
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