Warning: Major spoilers ahead for the ending of Veronica Mars season 4.
Season 4 of Veronica Mars has a few pet projects. The brand new season is happy to dissect the tumultuous relationship between Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) and Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring). It gives Veronica a protege in rebellious teen Matty Ross (Izabela Vidovic). It even questions how rising socioeconomic tensions influence small towns.
Above all, however, Veronica Mars season 4 is obsessed with figuring out who the hell the Neptune Bomber is. In the premiere episode, “Spring Break Forever,” the mysterious neighborhood terrorizer blows up the Sea Sprite Motel, killing four people and injuring several others. Within days, there are six more explosions, including two on the beach, one in Comrade Quacks bar, and one extremely tragic surprise.
By the end of season finale, “Years, Continents, Bloodshed,” Veronica Mars season 4 has unraveled its biggest mystery. There were two separate bombing schemes with two very different aims in mind. However, viewers have to wade through multiple twists, a few red herrings, and some rushed conversations to figure all of that out. So, let’s break down the whole, complicated mess.
Who Is The Neptune Bomber?
There are technically quite a few Neptune Bombers. Richard “Big Dick” Casablancas (David Starzyk), father to Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen), commissioned the first bombing as part of his real estate plans. Two-bit career criminal Perry Walsh (Philippe Bowgen), who went to prison for previously making bombs, built the explosive and placed it in the Sea Sprite Motel. Big Dick’s post-prison associate Clyde Prickett (J.K. Simmons) was behind the second bombing, which killed Perry.
The bombs that followed were set by pizza delivery boy Penn Epner (Patton Oswalt). That means every attack from Prince Bryce Linden's neck bomb to the finale bombs were carried out by Penn.
Who Bombed The Sea Sprite Motel?
Real estate mogul Big Dick ordered the bombing to scare Sullivan Ross (Brad Morris) into selling him the Sea Sprite. Perry Walsh, the “man with the mole,” as Sullivan’s daughter Matty calls him, created the bomb and placed it in the vending machine in the Sea Sprite lobby. No one was supposed to die in the bombing. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi in the Sea Sprite dropped at midday, messing with the timer on the bomb. It was initially meant to go off in the middle of the night when no one would be there. Instead, the bomb went off seconds after the internet failed.
Big Dick explains in the sixth episode, “Entering a World of Pain,” that he only went to such extreme lengths because Sullivan refused to sell the motel to Team Casablancas Realty. Sullivan was also rallying the other small business owners in Neptune against Big Dick and his attempts to run them out of town. Rather than offer Sullivan more money, Dick ordered the Sea Sprite bomb. Big Dick also put the PCH gang and the Fitzpatricks on his payroll to help drive spring breakers out of town, thereby killing the profit margins of local small businesses.
Who Killed Perry Walsh?
Police initially believed Fitzpatrick employee Perry was behind the second Neptune bombing — which was supposedly his death by suicide. That was a trick. Instead, Big Dick’s right-hand man Clyde orchestrated the explosion to eliminate Perry. This way, Clyde could keep Perry from revealing all of Team Casablancas' underhanded dealings. Clyde, who was a noted misogynist in prison, faked the manifesto left in Perry’s home to sell the death by suicide.
It’s important to note that Clyde wasn’t a part of the original Sea Sprite bombing. As we learn in a “Gods of War” flashback, Big Dick went to Perry because Clyde wouldn’t agree to the bombing. Clyde only reveals Dick’s Sea Sprite bombing plan when he realizes his employer isn’t going to hold up his end of their deal and give Clyde the bar location he wants, Comrade Quacks. Clyde had been working for Dick just to open up his dream antique car shop on Quacks’ land.
Who Did The Rest Of The Bombings?
Penn Epner committed all of the bombings after the death of Perry Walsh — he is a copycat bomber. There are a couple of possible reasons for Penn's crimes. First, a group of fraternity brothers apparently nearly drowned Penn three spring breaks before the events of Veronica Mars season 4 (the show appears to go back and forth on if that happened purposefully). It is suggested that near-death experience drove Penn to despise spring breakers.
Then, the Sea Sprite bombing and its aftermath pushed Penn, who was already a serial killer obsessive, off the deep end. Following the original explosion, he became a laughingstock for his theory that the wealthy Maloof family orchestrated the bombing. Even his fellow Murderheads criticized him for sharing an unhinged prediction on television.
Penn used his knowledge of the first two bombings to continue the Neptune Bomber’s reign of terror. Penn, who had a lodged nail in his back from the Sea Sprite explosion, packed his bombs with nails because he believed Perry Walsh did the same. But, Penn was wrong. The nail shrapnel that ended up in his back came from the string art in the motel’s lobby.
The bombings orchestrated by Penn were his attempts to gain glory and notoriety in a world that didn’t value or believe him.
How Did Don McNotten Die?
For a moment, it appears Don McNotten (Clark Duke) is the true copycat Neptune Bomber. Penn even leads the Mars family to the power plant where Don supposedly died by suicide to avoid capture by police. Considering the fact Veronica and Keith pick Penn up from the station after his arrest and take him to the power plant, it seems Don’s murder is the ultimate plot hole of the season. How could Penn have faked Don’s suicide/confession between his time in police custody and with the Marses? Because Penn killed Don before he was arrested.
The planted body and confession were Penn's contingency alibi should police ever suspect him of the crimes. The only dangling thread we have to figure out is when Penn was able to plant the “Don” ticket at Cho’s Pizza if, in fact, it was fake (that’s still unclear).
Veronica Mars needed to leave us with one mystery, right?