Zoe returns to Bluebell with a new boyfriend

Hart of Dixie Season 3, Episodes 1 & 2 (“Who Says You Can’t Go HOme”/”Friends in Low Places”)
Rachel Bilson, Hart of Dixie

Alright we are officially in season 3! This is the season I have watched the least and though I have avoided it a lot in the past, I am actually pretty excited to go through it with a fine tooth comb. There is so much I don’t remember. But I am interested to see if I have given it an overly bad rap. I do think there are going to be some hidden gems in it. This season also had the lowest viewership of all of the show’s four seasons. And I think it is pretty obvious from these first couple of episodes why. It’s an important season for character growth and in that way it is great. However it is definitely one that would have benefitted from being shorter. This season is primarily about healing, growing, and moving on. They had a story they wanted to tell with this season, but it just doesn’t quite fill twenty-two episodes so it kind of drags.

We pick up five months after the last season ended and Zoe has been in New York the whole time. She has a new life, and a new boyfriend, Joel. After the disaster her life was at the end of last season, she is ready to abandon her life in Bluebell and start again in New York. She didn’t want to actually deal with her problems so she ran from them. Obviously she wasn’t going to stay in New York and it only took being back in Bluebell about 24 hours for her to make the decision to return. She went to give herself closure, and get a reference letter from Brick, but she couldn’t resist the charms of Bluebell. She knows this is really where she belongs. Her boyfriend is even willing to move back with her. At first the town is fairly icy to her, she told most of them that she wasn’t coming back in an email. But she pretty quickly wins most of them back over. However there are going to be some challenges in her coming back. She gave Brick the practice and he doesn’t seem eager to hire her back. Lavon’s cousin has moved into her carriage house so she is staying at a hotel for now. And with her New York boyfriend in tow, she isn’t quite fitting back into her old life yet.

Joel is probably the season’s biggest issue. Primarily the fact that he sticks around for a lot longer than he should. Introducing a new love interest in the third season of a show that has been so focused on its love triangle for two seasons, is difficult. If you want to sell the audience on them you have to make them pretty amazing. Based on these two episodes, I am really not sure if the show is even trying to sell us on Joel as a possibility or not. He and Zoe have no chemistry, but he is a nice guy and very supportive. He is also a bit quirky like Zoe. They are a great together on paper, but in reality they are pretty boring. It is hard to hate him for these reasons but it is also hard to be invested in this relationship when it so obviously feels like he is just a way of biding time until the show revisits Zoe and Wade. Zoe and Wade’s first attempt at dating was pretty disastrous. They were both immature and didn’t know how to be in a relationship. It is fair that they both need some time to heal and grow before they could attempt again. Joel is Zoe’s first real committed, healthy relationship. She needs that experience so that she knows what a good relationship looks like. He is the safe choice she feels she needs after her having her heart broken by Wade. So I understand and support the idea of Joel from a storytelling perspective, but it is going to be a long season of that guy.

Wade is understandably pretty upset about Joel’s arrival. When Zoe left town she told Wade she would be gone three months and implied that she might reconsider their relationship when she got back. She was gone for five months and gave up on them completely without ever even talking to him. Wade even agrees to Lemon’s insane plan to pretend that they are dating to make Zoe jealous. Lemon also benefits from this plan because it gives her a cover for her affair with Meatball. Yes, Meatball. Zoe is definitely bothered by the idea of him being with someone else, especially Lemon. But the weirdness of it makes her want to investigate and she pretty quickly realizes it is fake. She doesn’t want to be in a feud with Wade though, she wants them to coexist and move on. This is a much more mature response than what she would have done a season ago.

These first two episodes were fine, but didn’t get me super excited for the season. There was a lot of set up to be done and getting Zoe back into Bluebell took up so much of the first episode. The second was dominated by her attempts to sell Joel on Bluebell, a character that I don’t really care about. But the fun of the episodes was in the details. The town of Bluebell was expanded some more, we met some new characters, and it was interesting to see everyone’s responses to Joel. The only one who was particularly enthusiastic about him was Tom who is apparently a huge fan of his work. The rest of the characters didn’t seem to hate him, but weren’t particularly warm either.

Episode Grades: “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” 6.5/10, “Friends in Low Places” 7/10

Other Thoughts:

  • Joel wasn’t the only new character. We were also introduced to Lavon’s cousin Lynly who has some deep issues. She seems to be someone who gets deep attachments quickly to men and doesn’t handle rejection well. She has a one night stand with George which she is okay with until he makes her eggs, and then she is obsessed. Lavon is very protective of her and AnnaBeth hates her.
  • Speaking of AnnaBeth, Kaitlyn Black was officially added to the main cast this season!
  • Crickett: “Welcome back. But no one likes you anymore”
  • We also meet Crickett’s husband Stanley who is very opinionated and everyone assumes is gay.
  • “Sad George” had a bad summer. He let himself go and holed up in a hotel room for weeks just watching TV and eating junk food. Luckily Lemon kicks his ass back into shape.
  • This was also the first mention of the running joke this season that is the “Don Todd Monster Golf Safari” show. Where this guy golfs in dangerous places. In “Friends in Low Places” we saw him golfing in a field of lions. George is obsessed.
  • Don Todd is one of two characters in these episodes that is named after one of the show’s producers. The other is Carter Covington, which is the most southern gentleman name I have ever heard.
  • Brick and Shelby did break up before eloping and Magnolia is now in boarding school.
  • Earl is still very team Zoe and Wade. He refers to Zoe as his future daughter-in-law.
  • Wade: “Meatball or a meatball, cause I don’t know which is worse”
  • Joel’s most popular work is The Cicada’s Lament which is pretty well known. Tom is a huge fan. Lavon hated it so much he wrote a scathing review of it on Amazon.
  • “I am Meatball. No last name required.”
  • Episode Title Trivia: At least for these episodes they are continuing the country song episode titles. “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” is a Bon Jovi song. Bon Jovi is not a country band but a version of this song was a duet with Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland which was marketed towards country radio. “Friends in Low Places” is a Garth Brooks song.

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