The following contains spoilers for Virgin River Season 4, now available to stream on Netflix.
Season 4 of Virgin River is an upgrade from Season 3 in basically every way, with the show succeeding at that tricky balance between heartfelt and dramatic. Annette O’Toole’s return as Hope helps that, as the show doesn’t have to give all the drama to Mel and Jack, and though some of the cliffhangers were still borderline too much, and some storylines harder to care about than others, overall the season feels like a win.
Not just because of the way it ends, though there is that. It’s easier to sit tight and wait for next season with the confirmation that yes, Charmaine did lie and her babies are not Jack’s, and yes, despite Mel’s drive-thru IVF treatment, her baby is Jack’s. This second time being the charm in the proposal respect means that we have both a possible wedding and a baby to look forward to in Season 5.
And look, this is why we watch Virgin River in the first place. For this kind of satisfaction. We also watch for the quiet, comforting kind of drama that, in the end, is about people loving each other, even through their difficulties. For neighbors holding each other up, and couples who stick together through thick and thin. And, of course, we watch for people facing their fears, and friends not letting each other off the hook. And okay, for Mel and Jack, who, despite some angst, have finally figured out that the best way forward is together.
So let’s talk about what worked, what didn’t, and what we want to see next as we review Virgin River Season 4.
Mel and Jack
Mel and Jack worked in a way they didn’t always work in Season 3. This is both because of the natural progression of their story, and because of the way the setup for this season allowed the show to focus on them as individuals. The more the main couple is made up of two clearly defined characters, the easier it is to invest in their romance.
Another thing that helped was the lack of any real drama that was about them as a couple — even the baby thing was handled as maturely as possible, even in the midst of the show exploring Jack’s issues. Jack and Mel have, at this point, chosen each other, and that means all external issues are just that …external issues they will face together. It’s a great thing to see going into a Season 5 that will, hopefully, deliver quite a few milestones for them.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they said, and we never knew how much we’d miss Hope until she was gone, and the hole she left was gaping. She was missed not just for who she is, or for her relationship with Doc (who also really worked this season, not just with Hope), but for her role in the community and yes, in Jack and Mel’s life.
But Annette O’Toole’s return was handled perfectly, and the show really gave the actress a great deal of material to prove how good she is in Season 4. We still sort of missed her getting to interact with everyone else, but that doesn’t mean we would trade this journey that Hope, Doc, and us, the viewers, have gone through. Instead, we just want so much more of Hope in the middle of all storylines come Season
The way the show handled grief
Grief is a sneaky thing that follows its own rules, and Virgin River Season 4 clearly understood that. It allowed Hope to grieve over Lily in her own time and her own way, and in doing so, the show paid homage to everyone who lost someone during the pandemic. Because loss is hard, but the type of loss the world has had to grapple with in the last few years, which is loss plus separation, is a special form of heartbreak. And though Hope’s experience wasn’t exactly that, it was similar enough that there was a certain catharsis in her journey for everyone who’s experienced the loss of a loved one.
Brie and Brady
These two keep surprising us, we’re not going to lie. At times it felt like this had to be heading towards a breakup, and that the show was establishing a love triangle, or at least the basis for one, but then they kept rallying and rallying, and at this point, we admit we’re a little torn. Because we do like Brie and Brady together. We’re still not at the point of saying this is 100% what needs to happen, but we’re more open than we thought we could be considering where the books went with this storyline, And even that feels like a win for the show.
This might just be the most important storyline of the season, and one of the reasons the show worked so well. His PTSD was established early on in the show, and then never forgotten, but also never quite explored to the extent it was in this Season. Like grief, trauma doesn’t exactly follow a pattern, and we all have to handle our own in our own way, but to see Jack struggle, to see him fight, to see him try was not just incredibly effective, storytelling wise, but very rewarding too. Trauma doesn’t have to rule us, and though most often than not, we need professional help to climb out of the holes we get ourselves into, it is possible. And that’s a great message for the show to send.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Ricky and Lizzie
Virgin River has truly struggled in making us care about these two in any real way. They’re bland, they’re mostly boring, and the idea of the show focusing on them for any long stretches of time feels more like a chore than anything. Ironically, both mostly work as they interact with other characters, it’s just that as a couple, there’s very little to differentiate them from a bunch of other couples we’ve seen before.
The back and forth with Preacher
Preacher’s storyline went from working, to not working to working again and the back and forth hurt Preacher, in general. He deserves some peace and quiet, and he deserves the family he clearly wants. Let this man get some quiet time next season, please. Let us not be worried about if someone’s going to end up pointing a gun at him at some point in the season. He truly shined when he got to be a friend, and when the show focused on his wants and needs, so it’s time for the show to let him fully explore the things that make him happy, once and for all. No more big drama. Only little dramas.
Why was he even around? He was a nice guy, but no one was ever going to root for him over Jack, and we weren’t even rooting for him over Doc, so what was the point of him? I mean, he was low-key drama, so it wasn’t like he was that bad, all things considered, he just didn’t add much, particularly as most of his scenes were with Mel. The fact that he projected all of his issues onto her and her relationship with Jack didn’t help endear him to us, but in general, there was just nothing special about Cameron. He won’t be missed.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE NEXT
This one’s pretty straightforward, a baby and a wedding next season! Mel and Jack have gotten here, they’re so close to getting everything they’ve ever wanted, and what we deserve, as people who’ve followed their story, is to get to see it. To enjoy it. No time jumps, no off-screen big moments. We want to see the wedding, we want to see Mel being pregnant, we want to worry and we want to be happy with them.
As for the rest of the town, we truly hope we don’t get to see Charmaine ever again, now that it’s been revealed the twins aren’t Jack’s. Goodbye, good luck, hope to never see you again. And we would really love to see more of Hope and Doc, together, and more of Hope as the mayor, which everyone seems to have forgotten she is. Finally, Mel is going to need both Hope and Doc’s support going forward, and the entire town’s as well, so we hope we get to see that. The show works best when it’s about people caring for each other, and Season 5 has a chance to really hone in on that.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Virgin River Season 4? Share with us in the comments below!
Virgin River Season 4 is available to stream on Netflix.
Whoever wrote dialogues to Virgin River never had a conversation with a human, perhaps with a robot! Nobody talks like this! It’s so fake and awkward. Oh an as a nurse I would advise hire an expert for the medical stuff, because a lot of things just didn’t make sense!
I loved it. Watched it through the the first day available on Netflix and watched the last Episode twice!! Can’t wait to watch it again!
Sloppy writing this season, although it was so much more watchable than last season but so much goes unanswered and also this season I noticed a ton of details that made it hard to believe any of these actors did any research (or common sense) to the pretty big details in their character’s profession. The biggest thing that irked me was Jack in the kitchen preparing food for customers while not only handing the food with his bare hands with no gloves but also picking up his phone and chatting away….we all know how dirty phones are and that cooks wear gloves and at least and apron and some sort of hair covering. Homeboy didn’t even wash his hands. Barf.
Then, all the baked goods uncovered in the food truck-ish bakery. All these restaurant scenarios are major health department violators and were especially noticeable after all the Covid precautions the world has seen for the last 2 years. I know Anette wasn’t in last season because she was afraid of catching Covid, why wouldn’t ahe notice food displayed open to the elements and every customer that walked up to the counter? …Lizzy texting on her iPhone then going straight tp help a customer without washing her hands….Do these people know how dirty cell phones are? Did anyone who hand a hand in creating this show not ever work in a restaurant? ALL sorta of food code violations. Then Mel….oh Mel…these characters don’t believe in hand sanitation even when their jobs require excellent hand hygiene. Mel came straight in from the street to deliver a newborn and waltzed in the room with her street clothes and no PPE, she put on a smock and gloves in front of the patient but her dirty hands that she just ran through her hair to pull in a ponytail touched the gloves she put on to deliver the baby.
There also seemed to be a lot of heart attacks and fainting spells.
Muriel being a desperate, shady & a backstabbing manipulator trying to get in Docs pants all last season and this season she is basically a saint who is Hope’s devoted friend? There was no weird between her, Doc and Hope? Mmmmk. But she googled how to be good to a friend with TBI.
Then Brady has beef with Jack? Really? Sure he was innocent and got sent to jail and shanked and Jack wanted him in the slammer….but at that point he had done so much to Jack and been a shady friend that he really doesn’t have the justification to be that mad at him.
The worst for me was the entire “Doc has a surprise grandson after never knowing he had a kid for 40 years“ story we had to scratch our heads at. Ummm ages don’t add up. Doc said his ex’s sister told him his ex sweetheart died 40 years ago but then his Asian grandson who lacks an ounce of resemblance to Doc’s family tree, shows up and he’s been in college for a few years, so he’s 22-23?
No mention of teenage pregnancy but it’s been 40 years so his son was 40, Doc fought in Vietnam, went to college and was starting medical school by the age of 20-25?? He’s about 55 in the show?? He’s been with Hope since they were young and “beautiful” (Hope’s words). Too much brainpower was wasted trying to figure this out Also, SURPRISE, Doc’s baby mama is ALIVE!!! But she owes no explanation to Doc about, well….everything!?? Doc’s son died without him knowing he existed for 40 years. But she refuses an explanation to anyone? What an executive-level asshole! Denny was also shady and unlikable and by the time the very last episode explained anything I was so uninterested and grew to hate the guy, that I was hoping for him to just hurry up and betray Doc so that’d be the end of his character on the show. Poorly written character, I think it was done in an effort for the love triangle angle with Lizzy and Ricky so the boring Ricky wouldn’t have a reason to stick around on our Television screens and yawn induce us further into season 5. They even failed at that triangle drama though, he was basically his competitor’s cheer squad.
I’m not even going to try and figure out how the entire Mel’s long dead husband’s frozen-sperm and Jack’s swimmers were competing for fertilization, storyline makes any sense whatsoever. Pretty sure IVF is a process, not done on a weekend breakup whim trip to LA, kind of thing.
Plus, did I miss something? Jack said Charmaine was 5 months pregnant when he called 9-1-1? So he’s only been with Mel for a few months but Mel is 2 months pregnant? Joey and Mel are close and tell each other everything but Joey never mentioned being in a relationship with her HS boyfriend for an entire month? Just shows up at her house when they’re getting hitched after dating for a month and dropped that bomb on her doorstep? Mel dropped the pregnancy news, it seems like the natural time to tell her about her dude instead of driving hours through the night to Mel’s new town to tell her they’re getting married in her town the next day.
Speaking of odd timelines, that would mean New Doctor whatshisnameagain would of been only working with Mel for 3 weeks. 4 weeks tops and already is so in love with Mel and fantasizing hard about settling down with Mel and being a stand in Daddy to her baby in utero after being coworkers for leas than a month? He feels comfortable enough to insert unwanted strong advice about her relationship and her choices about motherhood? Buying her a $400 fan, stockpiling healthy food in the kitchen? What!?? Dude just met her. He’s acting like they’ve known each other for years. His entire character was Stupid and unnecessary.
Then Jack became overly triggered this season at reasons we knew nothing of (yes, I’m aware of how PTSD is) but he was a sloppy mess who drank all day like a sailor and kept messing up then he is all better and back to Happy Jack 2 days later? At the snails pace this show’s timeline progresses, it was poorly written. And also, his brother we never knew he had, fell off a roof, died and it was Jack’s fault and is the OG source of Jack’s trauma? Brie or Jack never mentioned that to anyone until now? Mmmk.
Math, timelines and sanitation be damned Season 4, this season was still better than the last, Covid really threw a wrench things & the show suffered, I get it, but man this season was super sloppy writing. I did like a lot about this season but there were a lot of things that led to some variation of eye-rolls or head scratching while watching. Hopefully the writer’s are fully caffeinated when working on season 5 and give us viewer’s a break from all the confusing brain Olympics thrown in this season, and circle back to the small-town drama we know and love. After-all. Virgin River is where people move to go live the Simple, small town life. Simple and peaceful living is not supposed to be so complicated and confusing with a bunch of drama llamas we can’t keep straight.
Also, thankful they nixed that creepy, very, Nick Cannon baby-mama drama storyline with Jack fathering the entire next generation of Virgin River residents. Hopefully Charmaine will be off the show moving forward, she’s A LOT!
The first 2 seasons were great, I’m rooting for at least 2 more equally great seasons for this show.
Preacher keeps saying Christopher is his priority yet he’s spending the whole first half of the season flirting with a Paige lookalike and chopping vegetables. He doesn’t look concerned at all. A KID WENT MISSING!! Nonsenese and unbelievable storyline.
The Hope storyline is sooooooo boorrriiinnnng. We’re supposed to believe she was at the hates of heaven just weeks before and now looks totally fine and is just a bit grumpy? Nope. End this nonense storyline. Doc’s handing of the situation is also totally unbelievable. People don’t act like that. If she had a TBI, you’d just get on with it and not be so reactive like he is. Everyone is towards Hope.
The sewing circle ladies- ugh, why? They’re not doing anything in this season. Don’t see the point in any of them right now.
The Ricky Lizzy story is soooo boooring. End it. Jeepers, Ricky acts like a 12 year old and Lizzy looks like her face was drawn with a Sharpie. I don’t believe they are besotted with each other at all. Plus, he just ats so dumb and childish all the time.
If they’re sticking to his storyline from the books, he’ll come back missing a leg. Oh god I can’t bear the RIcky storyline.
Mel and Jack – a bit too much pondering on back and forth from Jack, it’s not bad though and at least it’s the one consistent think in the whole season.
Brie-Brady-Mike- ugh so boring. End it. Is she a nympho? She sleeps with everyone, and took no time to forgive BRady and sleep with him. It’s not interesting or believable especially as we all know she ends up wth Mike. Brady is just so….unlikeable to me. I don’t hink he’s a bad actor just not a leasant character. End it.
Now to the best part – Charmaine had a good season 3 and had a good few parts in this season. I KNEW THE END IN SEASON 2. I just knew it. How that bombshell – the kids aren’t Jacks, – is a surprise to anyone, I can’t fathom. She had a great season. The one good character outside Mel and Jack.
I don’t even like Doc. I don’t beleive anything he says. He’s too jumpy, pissed off, curmudgeonly, reactive. I just don’t believe him in the role.
Paige – ugh, why/????? That stupid storyline is too back and forth. THey could have really made it a good storyline but they kessed up and why did Preacher go for a Paige twin?
As for Cameron..did the writers WANT to have a bit of jealousy going on, or up the stakes?
It just fell flat. If Cameron was supposed to really LIKE Mel, why didn’t it get written that way for real when Jack’s having one of his many many many many many snowlflakey I can’t handle it, moments?
THe PTSD is just too much. There’s always a new thing with Jack.
Looking into space, remembering yet another dead person that haunts him. Do we NEED that?
No. It’s getting pathetic now.
Anyways, the season was good. I’m glad they’re sticking to some of the book content.
I hope the Sewing Circle, RIcky and Doc do’t come back next season. Doc/Hope die in the books. I just can’t bear that dragged out storyline with Doc and Hope. Her character is one sided and dull by now.
NEED SEASON 5 NOW.
Oh, and I just rewatched the first 3 episodes of season one and when there was the abandoned baby plotline (Chloe) Jack says the reason he is good with babies (and girly stuff) is because he has FOUR sisters and many nieces and nephews… One would think that the writers would keep track of their characters’backstories…