It wasn't supposed to happen like this. Fans of a cult TV favourite were shocked when its star made a surprise announcement today.
A long time ago, we used to be friends. Lately, I've been thinking about you A LOT.
Marshmallows! Those weekend plans you had? Stuff them.
Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell's appearance at San Diego Comic-Con came with a surprise announcement: The whole fourth season of Veronica Mars is dropping a week early.
So stop crossing the days off on your calendar because all eight episodes will be available to stream on Stan tonight at 6pm.
The early drop sent fans on Twitter into a spin. Whaaaaat? We're not prepared!
The sassy PI is back and she's bringing with her crime, gritty voiceovers and that brand of California neo-noir we love.
The original three season series ran from 2004 until 2007, and was then briefly revived with a Kickstarter-funded movie in 2014. The beloved mystery series made a bona fide star out of Bell, and also featured Enrico Colantoni, Jason Dohring and Percy Daggs III.
Veronica Mars was acclaimed for its clever storytelling and engaging characters, especially teen heroine Veronica, who's as smart as she is flawed and emotionally prickly.
It gripped viewers with season-long mysteries, sustained over 22 episodes (ooph, remember how long one season of TV used to be?!). The 2014 movie was a shot of nostalgia and fan service, but still a lot of fun for loyal fans.
So what about this new batch of episodes? In the first two episodes made available for review to Australian critics, the series sets up an intriguing mystery for Veronica to solve, but more importantly, it quickly establishes a moody vibe — a Neptune that's still divided by social inequality, populated with people and their spurious motives.
In Neptune, money talks, but you might not like what it has to say.
Veronica has been home for five years after trying to move away from the town that both made her and drove her away. She and dad Keith (Colantoni) are still running Mars Investigations, still trying to "eat like the lower middle class to which we aspire".
In between rich people and their douchebag exes or small business owners with a rat problem, there's a larger scourge in town. As Veronica opines in her wizened VO, "Neptune needs an enema".
The Neptune beautification group — ie. those damn 09-ers, led by Richard Casablancas Sr (David Starzyk) — want to return the town to a former glory that never existed. Of course, it's mostly about messing with the booming Spring Break trade, crushing those who don't live on the ritzy side of town.
But, in Neptune, there's always something else at play. So when a bomb goes off beachside at the Seabrite Motel, it's not even clear who the real target was.
After 12 years off air, and with a lead now in her 30s, you might be surprised to realise that not much has changed in the dynamics of the show. None of the characters have particularly grown much wiser or more mature but that's not a failing of the show's writers, including creator Rob Thomas.
It's more a reflection that Veronica Mars was always ahead of its time, which included its characters.
Let's be honest, Veronica was never really a 17-year-old high-schooler even when she was. It's particularly obvious when the fourth season introduces Matty (Izabela Vidovic), a teen girl character who's set up as someone that reminds Veronica of herself at that age — but Matty is no match for the Veronica we remember.
Veronica always had the hardened exterior and smarts that belonged to someone much older than she was — it's as if the show is catching up to its lead.
But it's not just that, and the show could be seen as a study into the emotional effects of trauma. The original series put Veronica through a lot, and if you've grown up with those experiences, and that world view, there is an element of arrested development.
That's also bound to spill over into romantic entanglements too. Veronica and Logan (Dohring) reunited in the 2014 movie and here they're still together, even if his job as a naval intelligence officer means he's absent more often than not.
Like Veronica, Logan has deep trauma in his past, and a relationship between two broken people doesn't make for a breezy rom-com.
Contrast that with Wallace, who seems to be semi-well-adjusted with a career, a family and a fancy new postcode. Wallace, among Veronica Mars characters, was let off relatively lightly over the run of the original series.
Unlike the Gilmore Girls revival, where its characters also hadn't changed or learnt over the time they were off air, at least in Veronica Mars, it makes sense that these people haven't been able to move on.
Along with returning favourites, which also includes Daggs III's Wallace, Francis Capra's Weevil, Ryan Hansen as Dick Casablancas, Max Greenfield as Leo D'Amato, Ken Marino's Vinnie Van Lowe and Daran Norris' Cliff McCormack, are a cast of newbies.
When you consider the calibre of someone like J.K. Simmons joining the series, it gives you a better understanding of the place Veronica Mars continues to occupy in the pop culture Zeitgeist.
The first episode was directed by Michael Lehrmann (Heathers) and he re-establishes that California neo-noir tone where sun, surf and co-eds meet the dark underbelly of secrets and crime.
The flashing blue and red neon light of police cars in the opening shot is often threaded through the mise-en-scene elsewhere, and Veronica's voiceover adds that layer of world-weariness.
Without having seen all eight episodes, it's hard to say whether this revival series is a "success". The first two episodes don't hit the highs of the first season, but even a mediocre Veronica Mars episode is better than most TV.
And Bell is effervescent, not skipping a single beat as the character that catapulted her to stardom.
So being back in this world is truly exciting, it's enough to be make you giddy. Swim in it, drink it up because it'll be over so quickly.
If you've never seen the original series, do it — it holds up really well. If you're a fan from way back when, just diving back in with Veronica, Keith and Logan is enough to keep you gripped.
You don't realise how much you've missed them. So let's be friends again.