Virgin River 3×09 “The Sun Also Rises” is a heavy episode, in all respects. It could be nothing else, considering the end of Virgin River 3×08 “Life and Death.” And though the show has had a very up and down season, this episode, this grief, it nails. Because Virgin River has always understood that the thing behind grief is that it’s not a straight line, and it’s never the same for two people.
And yet, two people who have known grief are likely to find that common ground. It’s a sad club, the club of those who have lost someone close to them. I wouldn’t want anyone I love to be part of it. And the people who aren’t part of it can be wonderful, supportive, and just what you need at times. But there are other times, other instances …where only someone who has been there can be a true comfort.
Virgin River both doesn’t attempt comfort in this episode, and it does, and that is comforting in its own way. So often shows deal with grief like a linear thing with defined steps, when the five stages of grief don’t always happen in order. In fact, you often go back and forth, get stuck in one, jump two stages, and then come back to the first one, and then again and again.
Through the grief, though, people continue moving. They continue living. Sometimes they don’t even do it because they want to, but because what else is there, but taking the next step, and then the one after that. Living is the constant, and sometimes you do it more by instinct than by anything else, but you do it.
Virgin River 3×09 “The Sun Also Rises” deals not just with the pain of losing Lily, though, but the pain of miscarriage, as the episode opens with Brie losing a child she didn’t know she was pregnant with, a child I’m pretty sure she didn’t want. All the signs have been pointing to Brie being raped for a while, and though the show doesn’t make it explicit in this episode, they do focus on her grief, and how complicated it feels to be sad about something you didn’t know and didn’t truly want.
Then there’s Hope, and though this episode follows the normal path – of course Hope cannot possibly stay away after the Lily news, of course she’d be mad at Doc for not telling her, the inevitable cliffhanger does feel like it comes out of nowhere. We’ve all been speculating as to whether Annette O’Toole would be back for season 4, now that the worst of the pandemic seems to be in the rearview mirror, and this seems to close the door on that for good, or does it?
Of course, it’s more than likely that Hope will be fine, and this is just a way to bring drama to the end of the season, and next year the actress will appear and we’ll get the inevitable storyline where she’s recuperating. But boy, it also sets up the other possibility …that we’ve seen the last of Hope. And I’m not sure I like that. Sure, Hope hasn’t always been my favorite, and she hasn’t mellowed out the way Doc has, but I’m not convinced the town dynamics work as well without her, especially with Connie done with being season 1 Connie.
Another thing the show seems to have dropped in season 2 is the Paige storyline, likely for the same reasons Hope was absent. But Paige left her kid in Virgin River! We better get some resolution to that, and hopefully it involves seeing Paige again. It would really suck if she got killed off screen, or something, and then we had to deal with the ex-husband lookalike without her being around.
Then there’s Ricky, and oh, Ricky, my dumb boy. What in the world did you expect? That you could like to Lizzie repeatedly, and then she’d be happy for you? That’s not how it works, Ricky. You don’t get to make decisions for her, and if someone broke what you two had, it was definitely you. This was not on her.
Before we get into the Jack and Mel of it all, and there’s stuff to discuss there, I would really like to know what’s in the water in Virgin River, because Brady’s whole “I’m in love with you,” to Brie feels a little too soon. The two of them have had a very linear storyline building up to this moment, and maybe that’s the reason why I don’t trust it. Well, that and Mike exists, and I read that book. But either way, I’m still not sure where the show is going with this, and by episode nine, you think I would.
Finally, Jack and Mel, despite having sex right away last week cause how else you gonna twist if they don’t have sex right away, are still not seeing eye to eye after Jack’s dumb decision, which at least makes sense. Mel has trusted Jack with everything, and yet, right now, she doesn’t know if she can. No matter that Jack promises that “it’s always about us,” the truth is, he’s let his fear rule him before, and it’s hard for Mel to believe he won’t again.
But in the end, she takes that leap, because her feelings for him “outweigh everything else.” And that’s good. That’s big. That’s a moment of emotional maturity that she needed, just as his decision to fight for her was a moment of emotional maturity that he needed. I just wish I could appreciate it, except, you know, I can’t, because I already know the twist that’s coming my way next episode.
I will take this moment to say that Jack and Mel’s relationship, despite it’s ups and downs, has been the best thing about season 3 of Virgin River, and the best thing about this show to date. And hey, maybe whatever’s coming won’t be as dramatic as I expect it to be, and maybe season 4 will handle it well, but for now, I can’t help but feel disappointed that this is what we get after these two have gone through so much to be here, together.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Virgin River 3×09 “The Sun Also Rises”? Share with us in the comments below
Virgin River season 3 is available to stream on Netflix.