Saving the Cat, Saving Me

It all started innocently enough. My husband and I wanted to rent a movie. Veronica Mars had just moved from box office to Redbox, and we thought we’d rent it. “Shouldn’t we see the television show first?” we asked each other. I don’t remember who asked that question—I don’t want to blame him or take the blame for what ensued: watching three seasons, 22 episodes each, of a series just so we could rent a movie.

I know, right?

Well, this wasn’t just any movie. Fans—crazy, addicted Veronica Mars fans, called “marshmallows”—raised the funds to make the movie through Kickstarter. Since the series was cancelled unexpectedly, fans wanted the show wrapped up. This intrigued and perplexed me. How could anyone get so emotionally involved in a show that they would open their wallets to have a movie made just to know what happens to people who aren’t even real?

So we started watching. At first, I thought it was just a campy TV show: petite and perky high school detective versus the rich kids (the 09ers) and the gang kids (the PCHers), and one big unsolved mystery stretched over a season. I was OK with that. The series had wit, it had good versus bad, it had serious stories pitted against silly stories. Something for everyone.

Then the “story” took a turn. Which is very Veronica Mars-ish, I just didn’t know that yet. I didn’t know that you can’t count on anything being what you think it is, or anyone being who you think they are. Except, of course, my girl, Veronica.

Anyway, so the story took a turn. I like it when a story takes a turn I hadn’t seen coming. And I did not, I repeat, NOT, see this one coming. If you haven’t seen the show and plan to see the show, you should stop reading here. 

So if you don’t know the show, there are a couple of rich boys to know about: Logan Echolls and Duncan Kane. Logan is the jerk, the best friend of Veronica’s main love interest, Duncan. Am I the only one who thought Duncan was dopey? That the actor couldn’t act? Or am I only seeing now how I got played by the writers, who perpetuated my lackadaisical attitude toward Duncan, and secretly egged me on in my hate of Logan? ‘Cause I hated him. He’s plain ol’ mean to Veronica, behind her back and to her face. He puts her down and verbally cuts her up. He’s a big bad bully, and I don’t like bullies.

Early on in the series, in a scene at the beach, Logan bashes the headlights of Veronica’s car (With a metal pipe? A ratchet? I can’t tell. Whatever it is, it looks dangerous.), and I already couldn’t stand Logan, but now I dislike him even more. You’re a bad person, I yell at him (in my head, of course, because my husband is right there, and he knows I am a little nutty, but not a lot nutty. A little nutty is cute; a lot nutty is just a lot nutty.). Then Weevil, head of the PCHers, shows up at the beach to defend Ms. Mars. He punches Logan in the gut, and then in the face, and if I am supposed to feel sympathy for Evil Echolls, I don’t. I want Weevil to beat him all up. He was mean to my girl. Kick him, bruise him! I yell to my TV (in my head, of course, because my husband is still right there). Beat him up! Beat Logan all the way out of the show!

This is clearly not my Jesus moment.

But, despite my yelling (which is unbelievably loud in my head), Weevil does not beat up Logan enough to take him off the show.

Then, in a later episode, Logan’s mother jumps off a bridge. So you lost your mother? I say to Logan. I shrug. I file my nails. 

Then Logan asks Veronica to help him find out if his mother is really dead. And what does Veronica do? 

Oh lordy, I think, do you really have to help him? But Veronica is more forgiving than I am. Plus Logan was once the boyfriend of her now dead best friend. So fine, I tell her, help him, see if I care. But don’t go blaming me when this blows up in your face, missy.

Then it happens. So quickly I don’t see it coming. At all. Have you heard about the screenwriting save-the-cat theory? It’s the idea that some dude in a story becomes the hero of the story because he does something nice—like save a cat—to make the audience like him and sympathize with him. Take his side, basically.

And in this case, the cat is Veronica. Logan shows up when you least expect him to, and when Veronica needs someone the most (of course), when she is without friends and without I’m-not-afraid-to-kick-butt Weevil, when she is faced with crazy law enforcement guy. Logan pummels crazy law enforcement guy. Woo hoo! 

(I know, I know. I don’t even like violence. But crazy law enforcement guy was a little wackadoo.)

Okay, Logan Echolls, I say to Logan. You got yourself a point—one point—but don’t go around thinking you’re gonna get more. 

Still, I am happy he’s shown up. I’d already seen him cry over his dead mother, so I knew the guy wasn’t all bad, just mostly.

But then, the unthinkable happens. He doesn’t just save the cat. He kisses the cat. HE KISSES THE CAT.

Well, technically the cat kisses him first, then he kisses her back. They kiss, I gasp, I jump off the couch.

“What?” I yell. This time out loud. My husband is there, but all bets are off.

Dangit, TV writers, don’t make me fall for a jerk. 

But oh, I fell, I fell.

Now, a million episodes and seasons later, I have watched Logan and Veronica fall in and out of love. I’ve spent more time thinking about their relationship than I care to admit. As my father liked to say as a reminder when my mother and I used to debate TV storylines, “These are fictional characters.” 

Yes, but not really. Are they? 

Then, the unthinkable happened again. Sometime in season three, Logan fell for another woman, and I was done. For the first time in a long time, I was finally over him. 

I am over you! I yelled (quietly inside my head, sitting next to my husband, back to being the cute kind of only-a-little-nutty person he thought he married). Veronica was with a sweet, new boyfriend, Piz (who, by the way, skated by dopey just enough to make it to charming). He’s a good guy, “salt-of-the-earth,” as Logan said (except it didn’t sound like a compliment when he said it). And though I didn’t know to what extent Piz would stick his neck out for my girl, I felt settled and calm. Okay, I can live with this, I thought. 

Then, in the last episode of season three, the last of the series, Logan beats up someone else for Veronica, shrugging off the fact that this guy can really take him down. Logan does it because he still loves Veronica, he’s always loved her, he will always love her! 

Dangit, Logan. Don’t make me fall for you again. 

We haven’t rented the movie yet, despite the fact that it’s been days since we finished the TV series. We know we can get the movie—we even found a Redbox that has it, but we haven’t driven to pick it up. My husband thinks it’s just because we’ve been busy, but the truth is, I’m not ready for Veronica to pick Piz or Logan and seal her fate for good. Once she picks, she can’t unpick. None of us can, not in our own lives, and not for a fictional character once I’ve seen the movie.

Am I emotionally involved?  

Maybe once we’ve seen the movie, I’ll go back to being just a little nutty. It’s much cuter, and frankly, it’s easier than loving Logan Echolls.