It has all the charm and qualities of its predecessors, but it is certainly the weakest of them all.
This review of Netflix’s Virgin River season 3 does not contain spoilers. The third installment will be released on the streaming service on July 9, 2021.
Do you hear that? That’s the cozy breeze of Virgin River, gentling soothing our souls with a peaceful community. If you listen even closer, you can hear the trickles of water and smell the pine air. After the finale of season 2, the last thing we would have expected is such a warm opening to the third season. But you never know what to expect with Virgin River, as drama and peace are interlinked with each chapter — season 3 is no different.
This brings me to the belief that Virgin River is a soap rather than a serial approach. At the end of season 2, we were left on tenterhooks as the audience screamed for a continuation immediately. The slow (and expected) start to season 3 is indicative of how this series works, but like a soap, it basks in its peace as much as its war.
The shooting of Jack should have platformed an outrageous beginning of season 3 but surprisingly, the town is its usual, incestuous self, with the community priding itself in keeping secrets as much as given secrets away. The writers decided instead to take their time and ramp up a stronger second half. Ironically, audiences will be more frustrated at the finale of this season.
And that’s a problem; while the second installment felt like a story in its own right, Virgin River season 3 feels like the supporting act for season 4. It mulls over the story of Mel’s yearning for children; it dabbles in Charmaine’s control over the incoming twin babies, and it keeps the “who shot Jack?” at arm’s length. It never establishes itself as a solid installment until the second half, where drama arrives and characters have to make strong choices.
I suppose it’s following the same writing structure of Gilmore Girls, whereby the conversation and community-feeling take precedence over intense drama, which is fine, however, I’m not sure fans are expecting a slower burn.
Season 3 also misses Hope, who only appears via video call as she’s on the other side of the country. The reason why the character is heavily disconnected from the story must be behind the scenes, as the story misses her presence. This is coupled with Preacher’s story regarding Paige and her son, which is such an incredibly light subplot it may as well not exist. In fact, the young lovebirds (Ricky and Lizzie) have more prominence.
That’s not to say season 3 is bad; it has all the charm and qualities of its predecessors, but it is certainly the weakest of them all. Luckily, it has a loyal fan base, so we can expect more comfort from our favorite community in the future.