Sullivan’s Crossing Series Premiere Review – Coming Home Again (101)

The CW welcomed audiences to Sullivan’s Crossing, but they didn’t exactly need to roll out the welcome committee because the series feels familiar to anyone who’s watched Virgin River, Hart of Dixie, or any other show with a small-town as a character. 

It may be a new small town, but the concept is relatively the same—there’s a community of people who look out for each other as if they were family. 

And, as always, a big city girl is making her way there in an attempt to run away from her problems, before finding the true beauty and charm in said small-town. 

But none of that’s to dissuade you from Sullivan’s Crossing; it actually works in the show’s favor. 

Even the faces along the way give it the “I’ve been here before” allure with the two leads, Chad Michael Murray as the local mystery man and future love interest Cal and Scott Patterson as the dad and campground owner Sully, opposite Morgan Kohan (When Hope Calls), reminding you of the good days when One Tree Hill and Gilmore Girls reigned supreme as peak TV choices. And man, it’s so good to see them back on yet another small-town drama after all these years. 

And you can’t forget Virgin River’s very own Charmaine (Lauren Hammersley), who appears as Connie, the chief of the local fire department, which feels intentional so that you’ll feel right at home—even if they are playing new characters. 

We feel like we know them, so we’re instantly drawn into their world. 

At the center of it all is Kohan’s Maggie Sullivan, a promising young neurosurgeon with the world at her fingertips. She leads a fancy life with a fancy boyfriend named Andrew and, in between chaotic days at work saving patients’ lives, attends a gala where she’s honored for her dedication at a private practice. It looks ideal, that is until the police crash her acceptance speech and arrest her and the practice owner, Bob Hollis, for fraud, in front of everyone, tainting her reputation in the process, all while she’s speaking on Bob’s integrity. It’s as cringe as it sounds, so it’s honestly no surprise that Maggie immediately packs her bags and heads back to the sanctity of her childhood home, though, as she soon finds out, going back is a lot rockier than she expected.

Maggie realizes just how much she put this life in the rearview mirror as she’s welcomed with open arms (and plenty of raised eyebrows) by everyone in town who helped raise her, including Frank and Edna Cranebear, and her best friend Sidney. The wounds of her past life are very raw and real, and they only mount to her present-day problems that she’s running away from. Sooner or later, she’s going to have to face it all and make amends, but at least she’ll have those stunning forest views to soften the blow. 

After too much tequila at the annual bonfire hosted by her dad (he’s as predictable as they come, especially with town traditions, we’re told), she informs Sidney that coming back to her childhood hometown was a mistake and that she should be focusing on the bright future ahead in Boston, alongside Andrew, her mother (also a medical professional) and her rich stepdad, who we learned paid her way through med school so she could follow in his footsteps.

However, those plans are foiled when she gets a call from her lawyer, who informs her that more problems are mounting as the mother of a former patient, who just passed away, is suing her for negligence and going after her license. He then suggests that the only thing she needs to do now is lay low, with Sullivan’s Crossing the perfect place to do just that. And did anyone catch Charmaine, er, no, Connie’s offer for Maggie to join the search and rescue team as a medic? It’s almost like there’s a spot for her just waiting. 

Maggie doesn’t have much of a choice, but actions aside, she never really wanted one anyway; she came back to Sullivan’s Crossing for a reason, and it wasn’t because of what happened at the awards ceremony, though that was the catalyst. She’s looking for a change and a way out. Throughout the first several minutes of the episode, as we got a glimpse of her big city life, not once did Maggie genuinely look happy—not with her significant other (who was so serious about her he was talking about moving in and accepting a job in town so that they no longer have to be long distance), not while talking to reporters, and most definitely not when talking to her mother. Maggie hasn’t found the thing that makes life worth living just yet, but it may have just walked into her life when she takes a little reprieve on the dock and has a brief conversation with Cal. 

They didn’t hit it off immediately, but that’s what happens with clashing personalities. However, some of the best love stories in history started with two people as frenemies—and I have no doubt Cal will work overtime to break down the walls that she’s putting up to protect herself and prevent people from seeing the real her. 

Sullivan’s Crossing — “Coming Home” — Image Number: SUL101_0998r — Pictured (L-R): Morgan Kohan as Maggie Sullivan — Photo: Michael Tompkins/Fremantle — © 2023 Fremantle. All Rights Reserved.

Small towns are cathartic—why do you think so many people escape to them when they have problems? Nature is healing, community is inspiring, and all of the things that make a small town so magical have this way of making you see that it’s the simple things and moments that bring the most joy.

Based on her flashback in her childhood room where her father reminds a younger version of herself, Maggie needs to be reminded how to find and embrace joy; not the kind of gratification she gets from chasing accolades, but the kind that comes from allowing herself to simply be happy and present in the moment; to go after what she wants versus what’s expected of her. 

Maggie’s transformation will be a fun one to watch—she requires a lot of growth, which means plenty of story avenues for a TV series. Plus, there’s everyone else in town that we have to get to know. Sidney returned home to help her brother when his wife passed, but what’s Cal’s situation? Murray previously told TVInsider that the series will get to “peel back his layers” in a town where he’s come to to “heal.”

“It’s a place you come to have a rebirth and grow and find yourself. It’s a place for family. It’s a place for self-discovery,” he said of the town, and if that doesn’t convince you that you need to stick around, nothing will.  

As for a pilot episode, Sullivan’s Crossing undoubtedly set the bar high, promising a series that’s not afraid to go there and get ugly with feelings and emotions by digging up the past, but also one that never gets too heavy with all that baggage and inspires hope and better days. 

While Maggie works on finding herself and her purpose, she’ll also get another chance to patch up her relationship with her seemingly estranged father, who is very much the town’s hero and a man who didn’t fit the mold of what her new life required. Still, it’s clear that there’s a lot of love between them and if they’re both on the same page, they could learn a lot from each other. 

Maggie’s medical expertise could be a huge asset to the town, as evidenced by her initial run-in with Roy. Maggie let her ego get in the way, trying to clinically deal with the situation, which isn’t wrong, per se, (Roy might need more help than what the town can provide right now as it seems his niece Lola is struggling to do it all) but she needed a small reminder that you also have to approach it as a human with heart. 

I’m turning it over to you—what did you enjoy about the Sullivan’s Crossing premiere? Are you liking that it’s both new and familiar at the same time? What are your hopes for the series after the first episode? And are you glad The CW acquired it?

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