“Ring of Fire” and “Carrying Your Love With Me”

Hart of Dixie Season 3, Episodes 15 & 16
Josh Cooke, Hart of Dixie

Welp the thing I have been waiting for all season finally happened and yet I am still left feeling unsatisfied. Don’t get me wrong I am very happy for Joel’s departure from the show. He had long over stayed his welcome and I can’t believe he actually stuck around for 16 episodes. Moving forward this was absolutely the right choice for the show and for Zoe to have any sort of interesting story. Joel was dragging her down. They became essentially one person and their storylines were mostly centered around buying/renovating a house. Zoe is the main character and yet episode after episode this season she has had almost nothing interesting going on. For the first two seasons this show was unapologetically a romantic comedy. The focus was primarily on Zoe’s love life and her personal growth that came from living in Bluebell. This season though she has been in a serious relationship that had very few issues and fit into Bluebell no problem. She hasn’t been given any challenges to make her grow. Joel’s departure should allow for a return to the series that we love.

And knowing that that will happen makes me very happy. But I can’t get over how sloppy Joel’s leaving is. Clearly the show realized that they had kept Joel around for too long and they needed to get rid of him quickly. So instead of putting in the work to make his and Zoe’s relationship dissolve in a believable and interesting way, they go the route of “he got a job he couldn’t turn down”. They went from being a perfectly fine couple (that rarely fought) to Joel deciding he would rather be a Hollywood screenwriter than be with Zoe. The writers spent fifteen episodes trying to make us like Joel (?) and then got rid of him in one. As I’ve said before I am not sure if the show ever actually wanted to sell us on Joel. One of the things I like most about this show is how surprisingly fleshed out a lot of the characters are and that they grow throughout. I think a lot of people go into this show with very low expectations and are pleasantly surprised by how much better it is than it could have been. Joel however was never fleshed out. He popped up out of nowhere, made a quick decision to move to Bluebell, and made a quick decision to leave. So I guess in that way it kind of tracks that he would disappear so quickly.

As Joel leaves to have the series return to its more recognizable form, other familiar dynamics are returning as well. After having Carter and Enrique duel for Lemon’s love, she turns them both away. Clearly neither of these guys was right for her. Carter was the kind of guy that she had always thought she would end up with. In her rich social class, he was the guy she was always told she should end up with. But we have already seen that Lemon is not going to be satisfied with that. Enrique was a fun adventure, but when that eventually wears off there is unlikely to be much left. So she ditches her men and returns to her ambitions of owning Fancie’s. Of course she doesn’t really have the money for it, and Shelby is unlikely to sell to her, so she forces George to go into business with her.

This whole plot got a little convoluted. There was a lot of back and forth with Lily Anne and the sped up timeline (meant to quickly cover Joel’s budding Hollywood career) made it feel very rushed. But predictably, George and Lemon fight over everything and somehow Wade gets stuck mediating this (he hires a series of rotating buffers to keep them in check). But I guess all of that fighting was just foreplay because they end up sleeping together. It is unsurprising that the show would want to revisit this relationship since it was such a large part of the first season. Also is any couple ever truly done on this show? They have both grown a lot since they broke up but they have also been through a lot of heartache recently (specifically George) so they may not be in the best place right now to really consider getting back together.

These two episodes were very necessary to get the show back to where it should be. “Carrying Your Love With Me” was certainly the more substantial one as it actually got rid of Joel and got Lemon back to her Fancie’s dream and set up a potential return to her relationship with George. “Ring of Fire” was more filler. Its specific plots were less important but it was still a fun episode. I particularly enjoyed Meatball’s attempts to sabotage Enrique and Carter so that he could win the duel for Lemon’s heart. As we get into this last chunk of the season there will be some more needed cleanup to return the show to its former glory for its much improved final season.

Episode Grades: “Ring of Fire” and “Carrying Your Love With Me” 7/10

Other Thoughts:

  • Harley continues to be a terrible child. He is well known in the babysitter community as being a demon and no one wants to babysit him anymore. Wade forces Rose to babysit him so he and Vivian can go out for their three month anniversary but Harley ruins that too by stealing a goat. Wade eventually gives the goat to Tom and Wanda which is fitting.
  • Carter thinks that the galaxy is larger than the universe….
  • The town was pretty icy towards Joel at first but by the time he leaves everyone loves him. He even wins MOTY despite Brick and Stanley’s intense campaigning for themselves. Wade gets an email address solely so he and Joel can keep in touch. It was also sweet how literally the whole town shows up to comfort her when Joel leaves.
  • The whole French sister city plot was kind of weird. Lavon only agreed to host them because the mayor was a beautiful former ballerina but then she doesn’t even show up.
  • George and Wade only agree to help Lemon with Fancie’s because Lily Anne is leasing it and all of her songs are about them. How terrible Wade is and how pathetic George is.
  • Don Todd’s Monster Golf Safari: golfing from an active volcano.
  • Episode Title Trivia: “Ring of Fire” is obviously Johnny Cash and “Carrying Your Love With Me” is George Strait.

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