[Warning: The following contains light spoilers for Virgin River Season 3. Read at your own risk!]
Alas, it is finally time to return to Virgin Riverand our favorite quaint mountain town is as full of drama as ever. Gunmen and arsonists are on the loose. Evil twin brothers are skulking around, and babies are causing some serious relationship strife. However, as fans dig into the new season they will notice a very conspicuous absence amongst all the emotional chaos -- Hope McCrea (Annette O'Toole).
Doc (Tim Matheson) explains in the Season 3 premiere that Hope is away taking care of her elderly aunt when a hurricane hits the island Hope is visiting. As the season goes on, it becomes more and more difficult for Doc to get in touch with his estranged wife/fiancée and Hope's primarily only present in the season via exposition outside of a handful of video calls Doc manages to make.
"Total pandemic pivot," Virgin River executive producer Sue Tenney said, explaining that O'Toole wasn't able to be on set because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "We were able to do two remotes -- the phone calls -- and then the rest of the season we all worked very hard to make sure that we kept Hope front and center. The only reason that she wasn't there was because of COVID."
So while we definitely miss Hope making situations way worse before they get better with her insatiable need for gossip, we are relieved to know it was only the pandemic keeping her away for Season 3 and we should be optimistic about properly reuniting with the character if the show is picked for Season 4, though it still remains to be seen what condition she'll be in after that storm.
Virgin River Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.