Spoiler alert: we break down the events of Virgin riverthe season 3 premiere. Haven’t watched? You know the chorus.
After eight months of stagnant torture, the waters of Virgin river flow again.
Picking up where last season’s potentially fatal cliffhanger left off, Friday’s premiere begins with Jack taken to the ER for haunting coverage of Bob Marley and The Wailers’ “Three Little Birds”. But words be damned, we have been worried about one thing – that thing being Jack’s very existence, because I’m not even sure I trust these doctors. Did nothing of them even considering doing an emergency plaid transplant ?!
Viewers are then whisked to Jack Bar, where the people of Virgin River gathered for a candlelight vigil. I laugh! They throw a surprise graduation party for Ricky, revealing that quite a bit of time has passed since Jack was filmed.
“In a 10-episode season, having Jack sidelined for recovery was not something that we sensed audiences or that interested us,” showrunner Sue Tenney tells TVLine. “We focus more on the psychological aspect of [the shooting], so that was the reason for the time jump. We wanted to get started right away. “
While Jack’s unidentified shooter is still on the run, we see life in Virgin River returned to relative normalcy: Connie and Preacher are still raising someone else’s child in secret, Muriel continues to sow seeds of sexual confusion in Doc’s garden, and Ricky is still devastating brainless. (At one point he casually says to Jack, “I’m glad you weren’t dead.”
That said, a key figure is missing from the premiere. Hope visits her aunt in South Carolina, leaving Doc alone with his diagnosis. His sporadic headaches and eye problems are due to his macular degeneration, which could make him blind. He looks cool, but he’s worried enough to start a confidential search for his replacement at the clinic. (Don’t tell Mel!)
There are a few other new developments going on, like Charmaine’s sudden engagement to Todd. He’s a “highly regarded personal injury lawyer,” and if you ever forget him, his fiancée will be happy to remind you. Constantly. The restraint that Mel shows as Charmaine regales her with the “wild” story of how she met Todd in his barbershop is truly admirable. She should be eligible for holiness just for not laughing at Charmaine.
The premiere also introduces us to Jack’s sister, Brie, a lawyer who apparently dropped everything to be by her brother’s side after his shooting. A strained phone call with a suspected ex-boyfriend (“I don’t care what you do with my things! Stop calling me!”) Tells us that Brie has skeletons in her closet – and her chemistry with Brady is what makes us feel good. says she’ll probably have a few more by the end of this season. (Speaking of Brady, this episode certainly makes him sound guilty about shooting Jack, unless that’s exactly what Calvin wants us to think.)
“She’s one of my favorite characters from the books,” Tenney says of Brie. “We were waiting for the right moment to bring her in, and we think it’s the perfect season. His brother was shot, so his coming to town was completely organic. And then it’s a slow burn for the audience to learn what she’s going through. We took this story from the books, but we changed the circumstances of what happened to it. I find her convincing, strong and fun.
Although it’s Mel’s birthday, she’s not really in the mood to celebrate, offering lukewarm reactions to Jack’s over-the-top gifts. (Seriously, between home massage and sushi on a private plane, it’s like Jack is determined to ruin all the other men on TV for us. And he does.) As we learn, the anniversary de Mel was not a cause for the celebration since her mother passed away a week before her 11th birthday. On top of that, just about everything still reminds her of the baby she and Mark were meant to have.
“Mel is still trying to cope with any losses she has suffered,” Alexandra Breckenridge (aka Mel) reminds TVLine. “She gets hit again in different ways in this third season that I don’t think she expects. Something is happening that brings her back, and I think she is responding appropriately – with tears.”
So Jack eventually gives in and gives her the only thing she wants: a coconut cupcake, even though he thinks the dessert’s very existence goes against nature. But as they prepare for a sexy bath, the couple is interrupted… by the smoke? Oh shit ! Jack’s house is on fire! Naturally, I’m ready to accuse Charmaine of arson and end it – but just for the sake of a chat, let’s see what Tenney has to say.
“Poor misunderstood Charmaine, she’s always the one everyone goes to,” Tenney laughs. “No, it’s a mystery. It’s supposed to be a question of who set the house on fire. It’s also the start of an arc for Jack that brings a tremendous amount of emotional stress and pressure. We literally burned down his house, and there is no appeasement for him. You know, and then there’s everything that gets shot. He realizes that he and Mel have a love for the ages, but they also come with luggage. Dealing with that and unpacking that baggage has always been a lot of fun and interesting for us as writers. We peel more onions every year.
Your thoughts on Virgin riverthe long-awaited return? Note the first one below, then leave a comment with your full review.