‘Virgin River’ Boss on Mel & Jack’s Future, the Shooter’s Identity and Season 4 Plans
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Virgin River Season 3.]
The good news: By the end of it, Jack was ready to propose. The possibly not-so-good news: Mel’s pregnant, but she doesn’t know if it’s Jack’s baby. (She and her late husband, Mark, had two embryos left, and she decided to use them after finding out she and Jack weren’t on the same page about having kids together.)
Also this season, Hope (Annette O’Toole) was returning to Virgin River for her friend’s funeral only to get into a car accident; Doc (Tim Matheson) could only wait at the hospital for hopefully good news. Plus, Brady (Benjamin Hollingsworth) was arrested for shooting Jack in the Season 2 finale — the gun was found in his car — but he insisted he didn’t do it.
TV Insider turned to executive producer Sue Tenney in hopes of finding out what could be next in those stories and more if Virgin River is renewed.
I know you can’t say whose baby it is, but what can you share about any discussions about the father?
Sue Tenney: If we have a Season 4, it will be revealed at the end of [it] and it’s a driving storyline in [it].
Even if the baby is Jack’s, he and Mel do have to have a conversation about the embryos. What can you say about how that conversation might go compared to past conversations and fights they’ve had?
That really gets into Season 4 stuff. … For Jack and Mel, their love is unquestionable. They both carry baggage from the past. This is not necessarily baggage, but their past is always causing complications in their present. We all believe in Jack and Mel’s love for each other, but we also know that this was a big complication.
Jack was ready to propose, but are they ready to get married? This isn’t exactly the best timing for them.
No, it’s not. He broke up with her because he didn’t want to stop her from being able to have the life that she wanted, which is that she wants to be a mother. Jack realized in the next episode, he’s making assumptions. In the series, eventually, they are going to get married. I can say that.
Obviously, Jack was never going to die, but did you consider a coma or showing more of his physical recovery? Or were you most interested in exploring the psychological side and his memory problems?
For us as writers, it’s the psychological component that we found was interesting. That’s why we didn’t see the surgery and all of that kind of stuff. That’s really what our viewers are interested in, what we’re most interested in storytelling-wise. It does play a role. It’s not like it’s a forgotten thing. It has a psychological impact and it’s going to — as you saw through the season — take its toll on him.
Brady insists he didn’t shoot Jack and he’s being framed. How much should we be focusing on who would want to shoot Jack and how much should it maybe be about who would want Brady to go down for murder or attempted murder?
I will say if we get to go into a Season 4 that the audience will be genuinely surprised at who’s behind all of it.
Did you always know it would take multiple seasons to reveal exactly what happened to Jack that night?
If given a Season 4 — knock wood — we wrap up actually what started as them being kidnapped, the introduction of Calvin [David Cubitt] and Jimmy [Ian Tracey], so we bring it all home and then we open up a new avenue of “Oh my God” at the end of Season 4. [Laughs] So the story is not over but it continues. We’ll find that even if you believe someone’s innocent, proving that they’re innocent is much more difficult.
Are the person who pulled the trigger and the person who wanted Jack dead the same person?
The person who pulled the trigger and wanted him dead are the same person, but Calvin and Jimmy and the failed raid in Season 2 and him getting shot all intersect with all the rest of it. You’re asking all the best questions, which is great.
Last we see Preacher [Colin Lawrence], Sally has left him in the woods. It looks like she just drugged him to get him out of the way so Vince [Steve Bacic] can go after Christopher, right? We shouldn’t expect to next see him tied up and being held somewhere?
It’s a surprise for Preacher, so it should be a surprise for the audience. Who she’s working for would be revealed in the next season.
Speaking of Vince, who’s creepily sitting in the dark, like any good villain does. What’s he up to? Who is he the most danger to?
There’s a big reveal when we open Season 4 that puts certain people in jeopardy. Finding Vince becomes paramount.
What can you say about where Paige [Lexa Doig] might be?
Paige is on the run, but we revisit Paige in Season 4.
Hope’s storyline was due to Annette O’Toole’s availability, right?
Yeah, the pandemic, but we wanted to keep the character alive and forefront, so that’s where we came up with her storyline. We had a different storyline and then we pivoted. … We’ll get back to pieces of it as we go forward. Because if we have a Season 4, Annette is very excited to rejoin the Virgin River troop.
Did any of that planned storyline involve Doc’s health? Or did that mostly play out the way that you wanted it to in season three?
Doc’s health played out, except that because she was away, that emotional part of that story didn’t play out. There’s a different emotional story that will play out in Season 4 between the two characters. His medical problems will continue into another season.
Doc put the search for his replacement on hold. How much is that about him not wanting to accept his future when it comes to his health and how much is it just him not being ready to stop working?
It’s a little of both and what happened at the end with Hope is going to laser focus on what’s important to him, and that would be Hope. There’ll be a surprise at the beginning of Season 4 that will address the question that you’re asking.
Brie’s [Zibby Allen] thinking of leaving Virgin River by the end of the season. How much did she need the time there at least so far, much like Mel did when she first came to the town?
Brie’s arc was a slow burn. We had a great organic way to bring her to Virgin River, which was her brother was shot. Then she ended up staying and that also was organic because she had left her job. Also, we have the brother-sister relationship, which we find very exciting and interesting. Just like [with] Jack’s trauma and his PTSD, her trauma is not something that’s going to go away in a season. It’s not like she’s spoken it out loud, told Mel, and all of a sudden everything’s great. A lot of our characters, in a great way, carry baggage like we all do. We like to see them struggle and strive and make great personal inroads because I think that’s really what people come back to see again and again.
What did you want to do with Brady and Brie’s relationship? Did it start partly as something she could control after what happened to her?
That’s a question that will be answered in the first couple of episodes of season four, given a Season 4. In the books, Brie and Mike [Marco Grazzini] end up together, and as I’ve always said, if it’s in the books, eventually I want to get our characters back to where they were in the books. So I think that we’re possibly setting up a bit of a love triangle there. But it centers more on her attraction to Brady and then Brady’s bad boy status and how that kind of plays itself out in the season. Going forward, Brie will have a choice to make.
Speaking of Mike, I have to say I’m wondering how much to trust him, because there was a very interesting conversation between Brady and Mike, and then he does seem very eager to point the finger at Brady.
They all come back with scars and skeletons from their time in war. The thing that Brady touched on in Season 3 that you’re talking about it is something that we’ll explore in coming seasons. Mike was OK with Brady and then it seemed very clear that he was involved with the shooting. I think that Mike really believes in his heart that Brady shot Jack. You see that in Season 3 when he’s talking to him in the interrogation room and how he kind of lays out why he thinks that that is. Once Mike starts to stop trusting him, it’s more about that. Mike, we delve into a little bit more in Season 3, Season 4. He’s not Brady, as far as the trusting part at all. Mike is a really positive and great character, but there’s definitely some stuff that will come up and need to be dealt with.
Jack and Charmaine [Lauren Hammersley] were never going to work out because she’s not Mel. But they haven’t been able to make it work just when it comes to discussing co-parenting. Can they find common ground?
Eventually, yes. The reason that I found it so interesting of a story is because you can break up with people, you can get divorced from people, but children are forever. That puts them on a trajectory of having to have to deal with one another. There will be ebbs and flows to their relationship in the coming seasons. Jack is very committed to being a good father, being present for those children, and that’s never going to change. So he will fight for his right to be involved as much as humanly possible, and she will fight to serve her own priorities.
With Ricky [Grayson Maxwell Gurnsey] enlisting and Lizzie’s [Sarah Dugdale] ex trying to lure her away, what does their future look like?
Like everyone on our show, it’s a little bumpy, but eventually, we hope that they find [their way] to each other. They have a fantastic arc in the book. They’re both going to grow up, [like] what happens in the book. Sometimes you grow up at different rates. What you’re hoping for is that they’re going to come together and be ready at that time and find themselves back together again, but that’s not going to happen necessarily in the coming season.
Doc’s grandson has come to town.
Yeah, that was a fun one, and it’s going to be a very fun Season 4, if we have a Season 4. That’s peeling back another layer of the onion of his character. And all the questions that you’re going to ask me, I can’t answer. [Laughs] Where did he come from? Who is he?
Virgin River, Season 3, Streaming Now, Netflix