"‘Veronica Mars,’ Logan Echolls, And The Appeal Of The Bad Boy"
CREDIT: Flickr user PEACHES
A few days ago, I got an IM from my friend April: “Holy crap, Veronica got together with PIZ??”
I’ll be honest: it took me a few moments to process what she was talking about. I knew that April had been marathoning episodes of Veronica Mars after I’d introduced her to the show (read: forced the first season boxed set on her and insisted that she watch) but I’d thought she’d finished the series a while back. What I hadn’t realized is that the first trailer to the Veronica Mars movie had been released… and was deliberately re-igniting the Stosh Piznarski/Logan Echolls love triangle. Which I should have known about — I backed the Kickstarter to fund the movie — but in my defense, my email is seriously backlogged and…
For those who haven’t followed the show: One of the staples of Veronica Mars has been the tempestuous relationship between the titular heroine and rich bad-boy Logan Echolls. They’ve been friends, allies, bitter enemies, and lovers in a seemingly never-ending cycle of make-up and break up, continually being drawn together but pushing each other away. In season 3, Veronica begins a relationship with Stosh “Piz” Piznarski, a music geek with a crush.
This was…not welcomed by the fanbase, to put it delicately. It was generally agreed that Piz and Veronica were pathetically mismatched — a case of Pitbull Dates Puppy if ever there were one. The fans overwhelmingly assumed that a break-up was inevitable. Indeed, it seemed to be in the cards at the end of Season 3 as Veronica and Logan share an emotionally charged look at the end of the series.
In the trailer, we find that Veronica has left Neptune and has been dating Piz… only to be drawn back home after Logan has been accused of murder (again!). Of course, this implies that the long-simmering attraction between Veronica and Logan is about to reignite, once again opening the debate over just who Veronica should be with.
The rivalry of Piz and Logan is a classic love triangle: one the “good” choice — respectful, gentle, kind — and the other a sexy, roguish “bad” boy. As with most love triangles, it’s a rivalry of opposites; where Logan is impulsive, Piz is deliberate. Logan is hot-blooded while Piz is placid. While Logan can be biting and sardonic, Piz is sweet. Logan is reckless to the point of being almost suicidal, while Piz is cautious.
Logan is rich and handsome, he’s also violent, entitled, narcissistic, self-absorbed and beyond psychologically damaged. He’s profoundly self-destructive and doesn’t care about who might get caught in the fallout; his last act in the series is to attack the son of a Russian mobster. He’s been shielded from the consequences of his actions by his wealth and position, but even that has its limits. It’s not much of a question that Logan is going to flame-out spectacularly, and he’s likely going to take the people who care for him with him when he goes. Even Veronica herself admits: Piz is a good guy… so why is she still so drawn to Logan?
This is a question that many people have asked over and over again: why is the “bad boy” so appealing, even when he’s clearly the “wrong” choice?
In this case, Logan Echolls provides an excellent example of the bad boy’s charm.
The first and immediate difference between Piz and Logan is their temperament. Logan is the fiery hothead who leaps without bothering to look; Piz is hesitant to the point of barely able to make a move. Just as with the Doctor, that fire that drives Logan is what draws others to him; he may be mad, bad and dangerous to know, but that certainty of purpose and drive pulls people in. He has a confidence that other people lack and that is incredibly attractive. It prompts us to find our own passion, even when as we get caught up in his. Piz has his own share of passion — witness his love of music — but he lags behind in another critical area…
Say what you will about Piz — kind, dependable, steady, and the like — but he’s not exciting. He’s never going to be the guy who sets hearts racing. He’s restrained, even a little repressed. He’s going to be the one who wants to hang back, to take things slow, to think about it a little.
Logan is not. Logan is all about the adventure and the challenge. He’s the guy who wants to ditch class to go surfing in Baja. He’s the one who’s always up for doing something new, something wild or even a little crazy. A relationship with Logan means never being bored, because there is never going to be a dull moment. Just the quiet before the next storm.
This isn’t necessarily a positive, mind you — part of the excitement comes from the fact that Logan’s perpetually caught up in drama ranging from school-boy pranks to an almost literal class war to picking fights with the head of the local MC. But even that level of drama, exhausting as it is, excites us on a primal level. It’s a shot of adrenaline in an otherwise humdrum and ordinary life.
Let’s examine the critical difference between the way that Piz and Logan pursued Veronica. Piz took the Platonic Best Friend Backdoor Gambit — he hung around Veronica hoping that she would eventually notice him. He never made a move that wasn’t covered in layers of plausible deniability, the classic socially awkward dance of “I like you/just kidding it’s a joke/unless you like me too.” Logan, on the other hand, was perpetually in Veronica’s face. There was never a moment when Veronica did not know exactly how Logan felt; if he was angry with her, he was openly angry. When he realized he cared for her, he was similarly up-front — riding to her rescue when he thought she was in danger.
When it comes to Logan, thought and action are one. If he thinks something is the right thing to do, he does it without hesitation, even if the consequences are dire. He erases a sex tape of his father and his girlfriend despite it being was critical evidence in his father’s murder trial. He faces down a bar full of thugs with nothing but attitude and an empty pistol in order to save Veronica from assault. He may not be doing the right thing, and he may come to regret it later, but he’s always making his move.
Piz, on the other hand, is a pushover. He’s a people pleaser, not a risk taker. He doesn’t take a stand so much as sort of equivocates his way into having one, eventually. By the time he’s managed to work himself up into doing something, Logan’s been there, done that and moved on to the next thing.
This is the magic bullet in Logan’s arsenal: he owns his damage. He’s cocky and arrogant, but he is also profoundly, deeply hurt — and he doesn’t hide it. He is more than willing to let his guard down around Veronica, to be honest about how he feels and what he needs. And he needs her. Logan may lie about what he’s doing, but he never lies about how he feels. When he loves you, you know it. When he’s hurt, when he’s scared, when he’s in pain: he doesn’t hide that from the people he cares about. He lets Veronica in, to see the wounded, unguarded, all-too-human side of him that other people don’t get to see and she can’t help but be drawn in. It’s those strategic displays of vulnerability that pull at Veronica’s heart in a way that Piz’ puppy-dog appeal can’t match.
The trailer makes an excellent case that Piz should be a better choice for Veronica… but in the end, it seems like it’s that passion, that energy, that bad-boy charm that’s going to pull her right back into Neptune.
Put me down for Team Logan all the way.