This ten-episode soap opera melodrama returns for its third season with possibly its worst dosage of drama yet; this season is a complete mess. Virgin River has always been a show defined by its characters, but even that saving grace cannot redeem this year’s lackluster performance. The plot is artificial, and the central romance lacks the dynamism we’ve seen in similar works. We are no closer to learning the destiny of our protagonists by the end of the season, and if anything, the cliffhanger is worse this time. Let’s take a step back.
The second season concluded with a spectacular conclusion. Jack was mortally wounded and bleeding out on the floor after being shot at his pub. Calvin was still on the loose, Paige fled, and the Preacher observed Christopher.
This season opens up exactly where the previous one left off, and it’s no secret that Jack survives his trauma. In actuality, the show skips over this and advances three weeks.
Ricky’s graduation signifies his readiness to move on to greater and better things. Also, it appears, is Char, who has been engaged to Todd for three weeks. Without Hope, who has gone to visit her aunt in Port Royal, Doc finds himself suffering. She is also trapped there as heavy weather approaches. This year, though, her absence is keenly felt as Doc searches for a replacement for when he retires. Remember that he is going blind. Thus this is a ticking time bomb.
This year, Mel is cohabitating with Jack, but she is divided about what she truly desires. The thought of having a child is inevitably brought up late in the series. At the same time, most of the episode consists of her being shuffled between various residents to help with their episodic problems.
Brie is romantically linked with Brady and is one of the essential characters this season. She also has a terrible addiction, which culminates in a messy amount of drama.
These plot elements are unfortunately drawn out over ten episodes of contrivances that are resolved as quickly as they are introduced. Season 3 has a particularly vile propensity for emotionally manipulating its audience with this hook, to the point that it becomes tedious.
Numerous episodes end on a frightening cliffhanger, only to have the next chapter resolve the drama in under 10 minutes. Once or twice might be acceptable, but there are even instances within the same episode where this hook is utilized. Ineffectively, the outcome is a manufactured muddle that superficially creates more drama than is necessary.
Particularly aggravating is the fact that the third season has so much potential. Jack’s PTSD and gradual discovery of what transpired at the pub is a very intriguing concept. Similarly, this plotline is not resolved during the current season. Instead, this is placed on the back burner until the end of the series. Similarly, the matter with Doc is never really addressed, teasing a fourth season.
Regardless of your opinion of the third season, the fact that ten episodes of filler pass without resolution of the major plot issues is bitter medicine to swallow. This year, even the characters appear stretched, with many acting irrationally. Ricky is one of the worst offenders, with tiny hints of a love triangle eventually dissipating into bland mediocrity.
When the dust settles, the third season of Virgin River is forgettable. This program has consistently been elevated by its characters, but it’s challenging to overlook the lackluster writing this season. Even if the setting is visually appealing, the plot is too weak to overlook. This year, the artificial, shallow drama is much more apparent, while Virgin River appears to be running on empty. If this is renewed for a fourth season, let’s hope it will be an improvement. What a miserable mess!