Where There’s Smoke… -| Review Score – 3/5
Sticky Feet -| Review Score – 3/5
Spare Parts and Broken Hearts -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Take My Breath Away -| Review Score – 3/5
Kindling -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Jack and Jill -| Review Score – 2/5
Split -| Review Score – 3/5
Life and Death -| Review Score – 2/5
The Sun Also Rises -| Review Score – 2.5/5
A Wedding, No Funeral and a Baby -| Review Score – 2/5
This 10 episode soapy melodrama returns for a third round, with arguably its worst dose of drama yet – and boy is this season a mess. Virgin River has always been a show that’s lived and died by its characters but unfortunately that saving grace can’t save this year’s tepid effort. The plot lines are contrived and the main romance lacks the same energy that we’ve seen before. By season’s end we’re no closer to discovering the fate of our characters, and if anything the cliffhanger is worse this time around. But let’s backtrack a second.
The end of season 2 closed things out in dramatic fashion. Jack was shot in his bar, fatally wounded and bleeding out on the floor. Calvin was still on the loose while Paige head off on the run while Preacher looked over Christopher.
Well, this season picks up right where we left off and it’s no secret that Jack survives his ordeal. In fact, the show brushes straight past this and jumps forward three weeks.
It’s Ricky’s graduation and he’s ready to move onto bigger and better things. So too is Char it seems, who’s engaged to newcomer Todd after three weeks. Doc finds himself struggling without Hope around, who’s off visiting her Aunt in Port Royal. She’s also stuck there as bad weather rolls in. Her absence is sorely missed this year though, as Doc tries to find a replacement for when he retires. If you’ll remember, he’s going blind so this really is a ticking time bomb.
Speaking of time, Mel finds herself shacked up with Jack this year but conflicted over what she really wants. The idea of having a baby inevitably gets brought up late on while most of the show sees her thrown between different residents, helping their episodic issues.
One of the more important characters this year though is Brie, who’s romantically involved with Brady. She’s also got a nasty addiction too, which explodes into a messy bit of drama late on.
Unfortunately, all of these plot points are dragged out across 10 episodes of contrivances that are resolved as quickly as they’re brought up. Season 3 has a really nasty habit of emotionally manipulating its audience with this hook too, to the point that it becomes more laborious than it should.
Many episodes here end on a shocking cliffhanger, only for the next chapter to resolve said drama in 10 minutes or less. Once or twice would be forgivable, but there’s even moments within the same episode that use this hook. The result is a contrived mess that superficially adds more drama than needed, to terrible effect.
What’s particularly frustrating here is just how much potential this third season has. The idea of Jack suffering from PTSD and slowly uncovering what happened at the bar is really enticing. And on that same subject, this plot line isn’t resolved this season either. Instead, the series pushes that to the backburner until late on. Likewise, the situation with Doc is never fully resolved either, baiting for a fourth season.
Regardless of how you feel about season 3, the fact that 10 episodes of fluff pass without any resolution to the big plot points is a tough pill to swallow. Even the characters look strained this year, with many acting in irrational ways. One of the worst culprits of that is Ricky, while faint whiffs of a love triangle eventually fizzling out into forgettable mediocrity.
When the dust settles, Virgin River Season 3 is not one to remember. This show has always been propped up by its characters but this year it’s hard to forgive the lacklustre writing. Sure the setting is visually appealing but that’s not enough to look past the poor plotting. The contrived, superficial drama is clearer to see this year too, while it feels like Virgin River is running on empty. If this is renewed for season 4 let’s hope it’s an improvement on this. What a disappointing mess.