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 Last night's third season premiere of Hart of Dixie brought with it all of the show's most endearing qualities: Zoe's romantic and decision-making neurosis, kooky Bluebell shenanigans, and plenty of soapy twists and turns balanced by soothing, homespun charm.  Here's the breakdown of this fun episode:

 Zoel?!  And no love for bagels....  Last season ended with Zoe heading back to NYC after numerous catastrophes resulted from her perennial love triangle with George and Wade in dear old Bluebell.  So now we've picked up five months later (but Wade thought Zoe would be back in three!) with Zoe working at the New York hospital and planning to move in with new boyfriend Joel (!!) in a fancy-schamcy new apartment.

 Joel seems like a nice enough city boy hipster, but neither professional nor romantic contentment are enough to stop Zoe from seeing visions of Bluebell folk all around her in her new life.  It was pretty hilarious, after all those fake visions, to have the sight of Rose actually turn out to be the real thing.  Zoe's guilt over reneging on her friendship with Rose was just the tip of the iceberg's worth of reasons why she needed to go back to Bluebell.

After all, Zoe was living in denial if she thought she could get away with saying goodbye to her southern besties via a semi-copy-pasted email, and even more crazy if she expected Brick to sign a document she'd written about how great she is!  Of course, everything about Zoe's new beginning feels dishonest and shaky, because she made no peace with the past before trying to move on.

When Zoe got back to Bluebell, Wade was surprisingly cool (if simmering with unexpressed, unresolved emotions) about being ditched.  I loved the abandoned town square with just Wade lying on top of a car, as if he was waiting for Zoe in that eerie silence.  The chemistry between "Zade" was clear and as intense as ever in this awkward reunion scene.

 Predictably, almost everyone else (except Lavon) was horrified to see her back, since most of the townfolk are as changeably over-emotional as hormonal preteens.  Or they actually just can't stand Zoe (hello, Lemon).

I love how there's yet another big town celebration to prepare for - Founder's Day, natch - and there's only one lawyer in Bluebell who's name isn't George Tucker...an elderly, narcoleptic man who can't resolve the noise ordinance issues that threaten the day's fun.  Zoe merrily accepts the mission to track down her non-ex, which further shows how much she still isn't dealing with that baggage...she should probably be a little nervous after everything that happened last year.  Yet that chipper, carry-on attitude is part of what we love about Zoe.

Also, "Wow, I am really good at finding people!"  Too funny.

Caveman George Tucker: This part was awesome, not least of all because George had a beard (really, did he have to shave?), which was totally hot.  But mostly because it led to the episode's funniest line, with Lemon reminding George that her favorite movie is "any movie with a training montage."

So George is still hung up on Tansy...sigh...this disappoints me.  I can't stand Tansy, and there's just something about her superior and paranoid attitude that truly irks me.  George could do better, but it's not all that obvious who he should be with. Clearly, it's a little weird that Zoe and George still haven't tried to just date after all of the nutty melodrama they've gone through avoiding it.  But now that he's back at his post as Bluebell's clean-cut defender, will his connection with Lavon's niece Lynly turn out to be more than a one-night thing?  Speaking of which....

Lavon, Annabeth, and Lynly: Lavon Hayes is the best friend I wish I had.  So I'm thrilled that he's happy with Annabeth, even if I find her a slightly dull character.  We haven't seen enough of Lynly to get a read on her yet, beyond that she's a rude houseguest and a major flirt.  Hence, while she was a bit annoying in this episode, I choose to reserve judgment.  I just think that the show will need to find a way to infuse the Lavon/Annabeth subplots with more excitement to make them worthwhile, and the addition of this new character didn't do much to solve that problem.

That said, the Lavon/Zoe friendship scenes in this episode were golden.  It was wonderful to hear Lavon subvert Zoe's statement that Bluebell wasn't real life and gently make her see where she really wants - and needs - to be.

Disappearing acts:  Magnolia is off at boarding school and Shelby is just plain gone after another break-up with Brick.  Didn't the exposition-laden lines of dialogue explaining these two characters' departures feel rushed?  I'd like to see both ladies, but especially Magnolia (let's face it, she's a much more major part of the show), back in Bluebell at some point...

How about the quickly-dismissed Jonah?  I never really cared about him (kind of a posher Wade ripoff), so I'm merely curious to see if he'll return.

Lemon's secret tryst:  The fact that Jaime King was visibly pregnant while filming (I enjoyed the really bad blocking attempts) just made her even more adorable as she tried to combat her lustful feelings for...Meatball (!!).  Is this a passing conundrum or indicative of something that could become an ongoing "opposites attract" relationship? I'm glad that her absurd notion to one-up Zoe by pretending to date Wade doesn't seem to be pointing to Lemon and Wade hooking up.  That would, somehow, just be incredibly weird and uncomfortable-feeling.  It's hard to guess where Lemon's love life is heading (what about her long-present feelings for Lavon?), but we always know she'll keep scheming about pretty much everything, just as she should and must.

What now?  Whoa, Joel has actually agreed to stay in Bluebell with Zoe!  But how long will it take for him to turn tail and run from all the dramarama that is sure to poke holes in this relationship?  After all, Joel might need to upgrade his glasses prescription if he really didn't notice the chemistry sizzling between Zoe and Wade in the ending bar scene.  Zoe's realization that she truly belongs in Bluebell was heartwarming, but when will she accept with whom she belongs?

What did you think of the season premiere?  Are you longing for Zoe to get back with Wade...or try dating George?  What would you like to see happen with the other characters this season?  Share your thoughts in the comments?








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