Spoilers

Virgin River Season 3 Episode 1 Review: When There’s Smoke…

Things have not settled down one bit in Virgin River.

But then, we never want them to, right?

While the hour quickly put us at ease about the state of Jack’s survival on Virgin River Season 3 Episode 1, it’s evident that “Who Shot Jack” will be a storyline that carries over the season.

Unfathomably, the hour opened with Jack’s harrowing experience at the hospital while medical staff tried to save them, and he did appear to code at one point, but then we abruptly jumped ahead three weeks.

The patrons of Jack’s Bar glumly sitting in the dark, seemingly to give the impression of melancholy only for the grand reveal of a surprise graduation party for Ricky was such a bizarre, frustrating choice.

While the season may revisit the night of the shooting and some of what came afterward, it felt as if we missed out on some critical or other scenes rife with drama and angst by jumping ahead.

Jack’s shooting was such a shocking cliffhanger for Virgin River Season 2, and they could’ve ridden that out a bit longer before catapulting us into this time jump to a pleasanter time.

Weirdly, after two seasons of viewers immersing themselves into this small-town, getting to know everything and everyone via Mel’s eyes, dropping us in like this put us back in this position of outsiders. While in some ways that can work well for storytelling, this time it felt as if we had to play catch up.

We missed out on the town reaction to Jack’s shooting or the vulnerable but gruff moments he likely experienced during recovery. What kind of paranoia did it instill in the town when Virgin River’s most cherished resident got shot, presumably by one of their own?

Ricky: I feel like a jerk.
Jack: Why?
Ricky: Everything I said to you about getting Charmaine pregnant and being in love with Mel … And you throw me a party? I’m an idiot.
Jack: You’re family to me. You know that. And sometimes family says things they don’t mean. Don’t worry about it.
Ricky: Well, I’m glad you didn’t die.
Jack: Yeah, me too.

What was it like when Mel and Brie met for the first time? Sure, these are things that the season can revisit in some capacity. However, giving us a taste of it would’ve been nice instead of the business as usual pleasantries we got despite it being only three weeks since this shocking event that otherwise should’ve rocked the entire town.

Speaking of that time frame, you got to give Jack his due for physically bouncing back so well after a near-fatal bullet wound. Three weeks later, and our guy was grilling for a party of many, carrying on as if he was fully on the mend, which he was according to Doc’s examination.

Jack’s physical healing won’t be the biggest issue for him. For so long, we’ve known that he’s a man with a lot of demons, and the shooting may be a reckoning for Jack and how he copes.

Jack’s PTSD is bound to expand in ways he never would’ve envisioned, and while the thought of that is painful since we adore his character, there’s also a compelling and satisfying element to that.

Breakdowns are essential for a breakthrough, and Jack is someone long overdue for some emotional healing. Thus far, he’s distracted himself from addressing his issues by hurling himself into helping others work through theirs.

On paper, Jack is fine, but he doesn’t remember the shooting. His memory is failing him, and as Doc mentioned, it’s likely his brain’s attempt to protect him from another traumatic incident.

My goodness, it makes for a juicy element of unraveling this mystery, though. It’s a small town, and someone shot Jack, and so far, they successfully got away with it.

And that means that Jack has probably and unknowingly looked this person in the eye over the weeks. We haven’t seen a sign of it yet, but that has to wreak havoc on the mind, maybe trigger paranoia. It’s easy to assume that Calvin is the guilty party, but it’s natural to consider all other options, too.

The hour did its best to direct us toward Brady between his conversation with Calvin, where Calvin assumed Brady had something to do with it, and his eventual discussion with Jack.

And Brady seemed as if he was fishing for information, trying to see if Jack remembered anything about the shooting and who did it as if maybe it was him all along.

But Brady would be too apparent in some ways, but also not since regardless of how he and Jack fell out, there’s no way in hell he’d attempt to kill his brother. Also, they wouldn’t have given us all of these teases this early on if it were the truth.

However, it does seem as if Brady maybe showed up at the bar the night of Jack’s shooting. If anything, I would bet that the two had a heated exchange, or Brady even shared that he was done with Calvin and tried to make amends or something.

Brady’s withholding something about that night, and he’s trying to determine where Jack’s head is at, so Brady is probably one of the last people who saw Jack before he got shot, but he isn’t the shooter.

Brady may be in over his head, though. It’s worrisome that Calvin laid down a threat, and he manages to get away with so much. The raid was a bust thanks to one of his goons tipping him off, and they weren’t able to nail him down with anything.

He knows Sam is behind ratting him out, but he also has his eyes set on Brady. Brady danced with the devil and got burned, but can he escape Calvin’s clutches? That, I don’t know.

Jack seems to believe that Calvin is out of business, but that’s not realistic in the least. But then, post-shooting, Jack is basking in the love bubble he’s sharing with Mel.

Thank goodness; we’ve waited so long for this undeniably in love with each other couple to freefall into this relationship and happiness.

Mel and Jack together as an official couple is everything we could ever want it to be. They’re happy with each other, and it feels good, and when you see their moments of love and affection, it’s enough to make you sigh happily.

Everyone can feel it, too. Jack’s sister seems to recognize how happy her brother is with Mel, almost as much as he realizes something else is happening with her.

And for a moment, however brief, it was great that Jack and Mel could have regular relationship angst. All he wanted to do was dote on the woman he adores for her birthday, and she was resistant to celebrating it in some grand way.

Jack’s outlook on birthdays is a great one and worth incorporating, and all of his gestures were so thoughtful and sweet. He knows Mel well, even when he stumbles through things, and despite her many reservations, she enjoyed herself.

Mel’s life is marred by so much unthinkable tragedy that it’s not a surprise that birthdays are on a long list of painful things for her. Her mother died close to her birthday, and her father could barely function enough to take care of them the next year around that time, and she doesn’t associate her special day with anything positive.

But then we got flashbacks to her and Mark together, preparing for the baby’s arrival, and presumably, Mel losing the baby is around her birthday, too.

But how could she stay in a funk of any kind when Jack was the sweetest, most romantic boyfriend in existence? His slandering of delicious coconut cupcakes aside, he went all out for Mel, from the masseuse to flying in her favorite kind of sushi.

But most of all, he stopped letting others get in his head, and he listened to her in the end. The steamy bubble bath with her coconut cupcake was the best gesture of all because it was what she wanted.

It also provided them with this incredible moment of intimacy that only brought them closer together as she explained why she feels as she does about her birthday. It was such a sexy, steamy, beautifully vulnerable scene.

We’re three seasons in, and Breckinridge and Henderson’s chemistry is still crackling and out of this world. But Virgin River brings the drama, which means the bubble had to burst at some point.

Jack’s cabin catching fire feels like a significant turning point. Two things came to mind as they escaped before flames engulfed them — either it has something to do with whoever shot him, or it’s a result of his memory issues. Although, I’m inclined to think that those lapses are strictly about the night of the shooting and that alone.

Mel: Everything you did was really sweet.
Jack: Yeah, but it didn’t make you change your mind.
Mel: That’s not on you. My mom died a week before my eleventh birthday. And then when I turned 12, my dad was so depressed he couldn’t get out of bed, so ever since, it’s not really a day I feel like celebrating. Jack: Baby, I’m so sorry.
Mel: It’s okay, it is what it is.
Jack: No it’s not. I just hate the idea of you hurting. I just wish there was something I could do.
Mel: You have already done so much for me. You don’t even know.

After this incident, Jack finding out the truth about his shooting and who did it will consume him, and it could put a strain on his and Mel’s happiness and new relationship. It’ll also have him worried about the danger she could be in by being close to him.

It’s safe to say Jack has bigger things on his mind than Charmaine attempting to make him jealous of her new fiance. Every time you want to sympathize with Charmaine or even root for her happiness, she makes it impossible.

Charmaine deserves to find love with someone who appreciates her, and if Todd is that person, then so be it, but it can’t be about making Jack jealous. And yet, that’s what she showed at Ricky’s graduation party.

She wanted to show off her successful lawyer fiance and rub in that she’s happy without Jack, and it’s such a juvenile thing to do.

Never mind that it’s a reason for concern that she met and got engaged to this man in roughly three weeks. For now, based on his stupid quip to Mel about not making a move on him, he seems perfect for Charmaine.

It was more bothersome that she made this grand show of things after admitting that she didn’t check up on Jack after the shooting. Charmaine is already starting the season on her bullshit, so things should be interesting.

Our other drama magnet was nowhere around. Hope is stuck in another state somewhere, and it’s cause for gossip among the ladies. It also gives Muriel an opening to cater to Doc whenever she can.

But more than anything, Hope’s absence is felt because of her not being around for Doc after getting his macular degeneration prognosis. It’s heartbreaking to hear. Even worse, he’s considering retirement when we all know that’s the last thing he wants.

For now, he’s keeping his diagnosis under wraps. But with the hedge hunter looking for someone who will want to relocate to Virgin River and practice country medicine, it’s only a matter of time before others find out.

Mel, in particular, is bound to realize something is up sooner rather than later. Doc’s reaction to the woman explaining how what has been this little slice of heaven and fulfillment to him means nothing to others in this competitive market was classic Doc.

He can’t fathom what type of perks or high salaries or whatever else he’d need to woo some new doctor to the clinic to take over for him. And even if he does get someone there, who’s to say that the community will respond well to them?

For now, it seems as if Doc is getting his ducks in a row just in case, but he can’t know for sure if his eyesight will continue to decline — nor at what level that it’ll do it.

Doc is preparing for the possible end of his career while planning for his wedding, and Hope isn’t around for any of it.

Calvin: Nobody likes a snitch.
Brady: I had nothing to do with the raid.
Calvin: Really? So you’re not responsible for flipping Spencer? You know, if not for a loyal employee, I’d be in jail right now. Were you surprised when your police friend showed up and there was no drugs and no money? ‘Cause they were.
Brady: Look, if you’re going to kill me, just do it.
Calvin: In time, my time. And when I do, unlike Spencer, you’ll stay dead. On the plus side, I guess you did try to make up for everything, considering what happened to Jack.

Other Musings:

  • We didn’t get a single interaction between Jack and Preacher, and I’m curious about the state of their relationship after that big blowout, Preacher’s plans to leave, and Jack’s shooting.
  • Preacher and Christopher are adorable together, and I love how Connie goes out of her way to field gossip and questions about Paige.
  • Preacher checking to make sure that only two people are authorized to pick Christopher up at summer camp smells like trouble.
  • Lizzie is still insufferable. Poor Ricky is traumatized from Connie seeing him in his skivvies, and his paranoia is on 1000. Nevertheless, their relationship issues weren’t attention-grabbing.
  • Is Brie married or something? It sounds like she and her significant other are on the outs, and maybe she’s not interested in returning home ever again, job or not.
  • Nothing good can come from Brie and Brady flirting, but it’s odd that they weren’t aware of each other. Did Jack never talk about his sister or have a photo of her or anything over the years?

Over to you, Virgin River Fanatics!

Who do you think set the fire, or do you believe it was an accident on Jack’s part?

What’s your first impression of Brie?

Was Doc’s diagnosis upsetting?

What did you think of Charmaine’s new man?

Hit the comments below.

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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