Virgin River isn’t pulling any punches in Season 2, even if the premiere begins with the series’ biggest emotional gut punch yet.
Fresh off her dramatic (and somewhat hasty) departure from Virgin River, Mel begins Episode 1 where she feels the most comfortable: Los Angeles — specifically at Mark’s grave, where she pours out what remains of her broken heart. “The idea of home doesn’t really exist for me anymore, because you were my home. I will never stop loving you,” she tells him, a devastating sentiment she follows with that gut punch we mentioned earlier: “Kiss our baby girl for me.” (Oof! That hurt just to type.)
Unfortunately, the contract Mel signed with Doc didn’t include a love triangle clause, so she’s forced to return to the scene of the romantic crime to finish out her year at the clinic. It isn’t Doc she encounters upon her arrival, however, but rather a speechless (and rightfully irked) Jack, whose phone calls apparently went unreturned during Mel’s little retreat.
To make matters worse, he’s there with Charmaine, who doesn’t even pretend that she wouldn’t love to bury Mel under the adorable cabin she now calls home. Not only does she begin the episode by badmouthing Mel to Jack, but when they see her at the clinic, Charmaine snorts, “What is she doing here?” Rude!
At this point, Mel has accepted that she’ll just have to suffer through the rest of her year at the clinic, avoiding Jack and his crazy ex-girlfriend as much as possible. The hiccup in that plan, of course, is that Charmaine’s pregnancy is high-risk, so it’s in her best interest to remain in Virgin River, where she can be extra close to her friendly-ish neighborhood nurse practitioner. (For the record, we support the universe’s insistence on bringing Jack and Mel together like magnets, but did Charmaine have to get pulled along for the ride?)
When Virgin River’s former it couple finally does get a chance to exchange words, the conversation is expectedly uncomfortable. Jack tells Mel that he didn’t think she was the type of person who ran away when things got tough, and despite her ongoing concerns about their relationship, Jack insists that he’s right about them. “You’ll see,” he tells her.
Mel begins to wonder if she ruined everything by coming to Virgin River, but Doc insists that her arrival is what helped Jack realize what he really wants out of life. Doc is considerably more supportive of their relationship than Preacher, who tells Jack that he should forget about Mel and focus on Charmaine — and seems oddly angry when Jack says that he’s in love with her.
Then comes the premiere’s final twist, an unexpected turn of events that sets the tone for a much darker season to come: Mel receives a late-night visit at the clinic, but it isn’t Doc or Jack. (Hell, even Charmaine would be a welcome sight!) No, it’s a hopped-up junkie with a knife who demands that Mel hand over the goods. Honestly, it’s probably the wildest cliffhanger since that time Mel caught Lilly breastfeeding what she thought was someone else’s baby.
Other premiere events worth discussing…
* Despite being super handsy behind closed doors, Hope insists that she and Doc keep their rekindled romance a secret, lest they usurp Mel and Jack’s throne as the town’s hottest topic of gossip. She also doesn’t want to rush things, which makes sense given the speed of life in Virgin River. (Seriously, when do we think Charmaine is even going to start showing? Season 8?) Anyway, Hope’s brilliant plan immediately blows up in her face when Muriel asks for her permission to start dating Doc… and she says yes.
* Remember how Season 1 ended with Preacher finding blood on the floor at Paige’s house? Well, she’s apparently just fine, referring back to that incident as “the night Christopher cut his hand.” It’s a sketchy cover-up, as is Paige’s — sorry, Michelle’s — story about going out of town to treat her son’s wound. But Preacher still wants to help, extending an invitation for her and Christopher to move in with him. Unfortunately, she doesn’t even have time to celebrate before returning home to find her abusive ex-husband waiting for her in the backyard.
* And then there’s Brady. Jack and Preacher’s wayward pal tells Jack that he got another job offer, but he’s willing to turn it down if Jack agrees to let him manage the bar. Jack doesn’t just laugh off the idea of giving Brady that kind of responsibility, but he throws in a “You need to grow up and get your life together” for good measure. (If you’re worried that this might come back to bite Jack later this season, you’re not wrong.)
Was Virgin River totally worth the year-long wait for Season 2? Grade the premiere below, then drop a comment with your thoughts.