A good season finale does a couple of things: it winds up whatever loose ends have been whipping around all season long, usually with a satisfyingly involving episode that leaves viewers wanting more, and it often leaves one little new nugget at the end to be addressed in the following season. We all know those as cliffhangers, those aggravatingly intense final moments of the episode that leaves one vital clue out and leaves us viewers dangling for months wondering how it will be resolved.
A good series finale, on the other hand, has a slightly different job to fulfill – not only does it need to tie up those loose ends, it also needs to tie everything down with some gravity. That's not to say everything needs to be tied up tight – the best season finales feel like great episodes that happen to answer just the right questions and leave dangling only ones the answers to which are obvious. A series needs to end in such a way that viewers walk away from their favorite series' with a sense that things have finished, that life on that show carries on in some fashion, that nothing new has been introduced that whets their appetites. And this is where the series finale of Veronica Mars failed.
For an otherwise fantastic finale, viewers were left with a tremendous letdown at the end. I won't bother to try to sum up this entire episode because, as anyone who knows the show would know, this is a very complicated show and we simply don't have time for that (try Wikipedia for that). Suffice it to say that things were brought to an exciting head and then the loose ends were very well tied off. The problem is that the end left us viewers hanging – and here's a warning for those who have not seen this finale yet and plan on doing so: I will spoil everything right . . . now — when, on the eve of the elections, Veronica's father, Sheriff Keith, is exposed as having destroyed evidence against her in order to protect her. This is one of those sweetly realistic moments on the show – a father taking the extra step to protect his daughter even when she's done something very wrong, even if her actions ultimately freed an innocent man – and is an example of the kind of writing that will be sadly missed next season. What is upsetting is that we are left knowing that Keith must lose the election to slimy fellow private investigator Vinny Van Lowe, and we instinctively want to know what happens to the town of Neptune under his rule, or lack thereof.
Therein lies the rub. Series creator Rob Thomas knew going into this finale that there was a very good chance that Mars would either not be coming back at all or would be coming back in a drastically different format, one where Veronica's college years were skipped in order to follow her in her FBI training afterward. Yet he went ahead and gave us an ending that left us gasping for a follow-up season watching Sheriff Vinnie destroy Neptune while Keith returned to his duties as a P.I., shamed once again out of the limelight, once again because of his daughter. Now, of course, we'll never know anything else about Veronica and Keith Mars' futures, and for that I'm just plain upset. Shows like this don't come along very often, and now another one has just disappeared.