As avid bingers of the show already know, Netflix's Virgin River is exactly the type of low-key (yet highly soapy) romantic drama that will offer just enough gentle escapism to keep your mind occupied through the long winter ahead. The first season of the show saw Mel Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge) running away from her painful past in Los Angeles to become a midwife and nurse practitioner in the tiny (and fictional) northern California town of Virgin River—only to discover that not only was she unable to escape her past, but also that small town living comes with more than its fair share of major drama.
Against all odds, the second season, which was released Nov. 27, somehow outdid the first in terms of breakups, makeups, and unbelievable reveals, ultimately ending in a cliffhanger so shocking that it should be a federal crime to end a season that way. Obviously, a third season is crucial. Here's everything we know so far about the next installment of Virgin River, which finished filming in early 2021, from release date (it's soon!) to what the cast and crew have said about what to expect from it.
Has Virgin River been renewed for season three?
Yes! On Friday, December 18, 2020, Netflix announced that it would be renewing Virgin River for season three, with every major characters of season two returning. The description of season three promises that there's "even more drama in store for our beloved characters...[including] a funeral, a fire, a divorce, a hurricane and a new romance in a twist-packed season that'll keep fans on the edge of their seats."
The show finished filming in early 2021, according to What's on Netflix. The same site also uncovered a production listing back in July that indicated that the third season of the show was slated to begin filming sometime between August and December of 2020, implying that the showrunners had privately been given the go-ahead by the powers that be at Netflix long before it was announced to the public.
When will a third season of Virgin River be released?
Netflix announced in May 2021 that season 3 of Virgin River will premiere on July 3, 2021. This is even earlier than fans had hoped—the third season will come out just six months after the second season did. Filming wrapped up for the third season earlier in 2021.
What will happen in the third season?
Season three of Virgin River already has its work cut out for it, since season two ended with at least one cliffhanger for almost every character. The next batch of episodes will need to address—spoiler alert!—whether Mel and Jack are back together for good, the medical news Doc Mullins was about to share with Hope before they were interrupted by a surprise re-engagement party, how Preacher decides between staying in Virgin River or taking that new chef job in San Francisco, and, most urgently, who shot Jack (and, of course, if he even survives).
If this seems like a tall order, fear not: Tenney, the showrunner, has all but guaranteed that every unanswered question will be addressed in a third season that will also, in true rom-dram fashion, open up many new cans of worms for the residents of Virgin River. In an interview with TVLine, she noted that the question of who shot Jack will be explored throughout season three, with the mystery potentially continuing into future seasons. Tenney also hinted that the next season won't pick up right where season two left off, immediately after Mel discovered Jack bleeding from a gunshot on the floor of the bar, warning viewers to expect "a larger time jump than we had between seasons one and two."
Benjamin Hollingsworth, who played Brady, revealed that the third season will have "bombshell" twists and unexpected turns. In response to a behind-the-scenes photo dump, he wrote on Instagram: "I’m wearing a safety helmet to protect myself from all the bombshell plot twists season 3 has. Hope y’all ready for it."
And here's the BTS post in question, which shows some of the major stars both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. In one shot, the town throws someone (Mel?) a "Congratulations" party; in another, Mel and Jack sit by a fire together, which Jack being very much not dead. Phew.
Speaking of Jack not being dead: Showrunner Sue Tenney shared with Netflix: "Jack has a talent for compartmentalizing his emotions. He will continue to put Mel’s needs ahead of his own until the point he can no longer ignore the magnitude of what occurred...We certainly explore how this injury connects with Jack’s psychological journey." She added: "I can’t tell you how long he (or the viewers) will have to wait to find out the truth, but I can promise it will be well worth it."
In an interview with Huffington Post, Breckenridge joked that she was surprised by the runaway success of the series. “I just kept telling Martin [Henderson], ‘Nobody’s gonna watch this!'...And to this day, he just quotes me: ‘Nobody’s watching, right, Alex? Nope. Nobody’s watching.’”
What about everyone else?
Season three won't be all about Mel and Jack—Tenney told TVLine that another couple will likely get plenty of screen time in the next installment of Virgin River: Ricky and Lizzie, who got very close in season two, much to the frustration of Lizzie's aunt Connie. "Ricky has a fantastic arc in the books that I plan to explore," Tenney said. "We get into a little bit of it in season two, but we'll definitely explore it more in further seasons."
As for Doc, Tenney said he'll have to deal with "some stuff" that will challenge both himself and his relationship with Hope in the next season. "He's going to rise to the challenge, but it is a real complication for him, especially for him practicing medicine going forward. Will he be able to continue to do that? The clinic and town are his life, so we will seriously explore that," she said.
Sarah Dugdale, who plays Lizzie, told TV Line of her role in season 3: "Connie is such a part of their relationship, not by Lizzie’s choice. In Season 3, we’ll hopefully get to explore her presence, even when she isn’t there; the complications that brings up for [Ricky and Lizzie]; and their ability to stay present together when there’s all this other stuff going on.”
Preacher, meanwhile, will have to make a decision between accepting a new opportunity outside of his small town or accepting Paige-slash-Michelle's son Christopher's plea for help, all while dealing with the ominous message of revenge he received from Wes' twin brother (surprise!). All Tenney would say about Preacher's very tangly situation was, "If you watch the show, you know how that character is going to respond to a call to duty."
Charmaine, too, may see her own storyline finally diverge from Jack's—at least, if Lauren Hammersley, the actor who plays her, has anything to say about it. Hammersley recently opened up to TVLine about what it's like to play a character who is almost universally hated by viewers. "There are two sides to the story," she said, explaining, "What Charmaine wants is pretty simple. She wants love, she wants a family and she wants to be connected—not just to Jack, but also to Hope. She feels like she belongs at the salon, but she really wants to belong in Virgin River."
We also have new photos of season 3, and just in case you needed more evidence that Jack is decidedly not dead—well, take a look for yourself:
Will there be any new characters?
If you thought Virgin River already had enough on its plate with the individual storylines of its many existing characters, you might want to buckle up. When Netflix announced the series' official season three renewal, the streaming service also confirmed that Zibby Allen and Stacey Farber would be joining the cast. Allen, who's appeared on The Flash and Grey's Anatomy, will have a main role as Jack's lawyer sister Brie, while Saving Hope alum Farber will have a recurring role as Lilly's daughter Tara.
The official Virgin River Instagram then confirmed in May that at least two new characters would be joining the show for season three—and confirmed the appearances of not just Tara, played by Farber, but also Denny, played by Kai Bradbury. Denny is a new character to the TV show, but readers of the books will already be familiar with him.
Since then, at least one more character has been added to the cast: According to What's on Netflix, Jasmine Vega, who played Lizzie on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, will play a character named Stella in the new episodes of Virgin River.
Showrunner Tenney told Netflix: "I’m incredibly excited to share Season 3 with our viewers. It’s filled with twists and turns, and the season finale is a stunner."