As I said when I wrote up my post about season 3 of Virgin River…
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Back we go to the fictional town of Virgin River, California, a gorgeous place somewhere in Humboldt County, with beautiful rivers, mountains, and forests, quirky townspeople, amazing baked goods, and a teensy little problem with drug runners.
But romance! Especially romance!
Four seasons in, I can’t deny that I’m invested and care about these characters’ lives… and at the same time, absolutely nothing happens on this show!! Or so it seems most of the time.
Season four has 12 episodes, each about 45 minutes, so that’s plenty of opportunity to move the plot forward in a meaningful way, right?
Well, let’s take a look at the timespan of the show, shall we? Season 1 (which initially aired in 2019) included the announcement of an unplanned pregnancy at the end of the season. So here in season 4, the babies should be in preschool, right?
Nope. The pregnant character from season 1 is STILL pregnant, and according to a comment in the final episode of season 4, she’s 5 months pregnant at this point. FIVE MONTHS.
In terms of season 4 itself, as far as I could tell, it all takes place within no more than 4 weeks. So, those babies from season 1 will be born… I don’t know, season 7 or 8, maybe?
The bummer about this timespan weirdness is that all of season 4 takes place over no more than a month (possibly two), and guess what? It’s apparently not sweater season! (For context, one of my absolutely ridiculous obsessions with earlier seasons is drooling over main character Mel’s amazingly big and cozy sweaters… but this time around, they were sadly missing.)
Onward to talking about season 4. SPOILER ALERT!! I’m going to be discussing plot points from the season, so if you haven’t watched, you may want to look away!!
Season 4 continues shortly after the end of season 3, in terms of story chronology. Season 3 ended with Jack trying to propose to Mel, who interrupts so she can inform him that she’s pregnant, and he might not be the father. This would have been much more shocking if we viewers didn’t already know that she’d gone to a fertility clinic in LA while she and Jack were on a brief break and had her and her late husband’s embryos transferred. (Don’t get me started — the process is so ridiculous and unrealistic, but that’s a season 3 issue).
Jack, of course, is supportive, loves Mel no matter what, and insists that this baby will be their baby, no matter who the biological father actually is. But, he doesn’t want to do a paternity test — he’s afraid that a definitive answer might affect how he feels about the baby, so he’d rather not know.
In case you’re keeping score, that makes Jack the expectant father of three babies!
Meanwhile, he continues to struggle with PTSD from his Marine days, and seems be in denial about a drinking problem too. Also lingering is the question of who shot him (at the end of season 2) — his former Marine buddy is in prison for attempted murder, but Brady has been shown to have a heart of gold (thanks to his relationship with Jack’s sister), so we know it wasn’t him!!
What else? Other plot points this season include:
- A kidnapped child
- Ongoing drug business
- Recovery from a traumatic brain injury
- A surprise grandchild showing up in town
- A new doctor at the clinic
- Mel’s sister getting married to a guy she’s known for one month
- A local teen leaving his girlfriend behind to join the Marines
- Aikido lessons for Preacher (and a new love interest)
- There’s a Renaissance Faire!!
And on and on. There are dramatic reveals set up as cliffhangers at the end of various episodes (OMG, the pilot of the small plane is having a heart attack mid-flight!) which get resolved neatly and easily as soon as the next episode starts (the pilot is fine, Jack landed the plane, everybody is good!).
There are weird developments –a young couple eating at Jack’s bar mention how excited they are about a glamping getaway in an Airstream, and within minutes, Jack has decided that his new side business will be… buying Airstreams to set up a glamping business! Way to jump in with zero research, Jack.
There’s a hugely over-the-top baby shower (for Charmaine, mother of Jack’s unborn twins — due sometime in 2026, perhaps?) that looks like the most painful and boring event of all times. Maybe it’s supposed to look like how rich people would throw a baby shower, but to me, it looked like a super awkward business event that’s trying to be fun. Give me baby Pictionary and silly games with balls of yarn in someone’s living room any day!
Shows with small town settings like this seem to be required to include (a) nosy residents who love to gossip (b) a sewing or knitting circle and (c) a festival or fair of some kind. Check, check, and check! The Renaissance Faire is very fun to watch while also being totally goofy. Of course, everyone has amazing costumes! They even get the new town doc to dance around the maypole, and naturally, Jack gets to play a knight in a mock sword fight. It’s awesome.
To be fair, a few plot points do get somewhat straightened out by the end of the season. Again, SPOILER ALERT, because this gives away some big reveals:
- The kidnapped child is saved!
- The kidnapper is also Jack’s shooter, and it looks like he’s finally been caught!
- … the biggest reveal…
- Jack is NOT actually the father of Charmaine’s babies! Dun dun dun….
My biggest complaint about the show overall is that I absolutely hate the drug smuggling plotline, but it doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. And now there’s a new crime boss in town with a surprising connection to one of the local families. You know this can’t be good. I really, really, really can’t stand any aspect of this storyline, which seems completely unnecessary to an otherwise nice show about people in a small town — but I understand that this plot is from the books, so I guess we’re stuck with the awful drug running stuff for a while longer.
Why do I keep watching this show, when clearly I have issues with it?
Because it still has enough good stuff, like…
- You guessed it, the amazing scenery! I want to LIVE in this town, wander through the woods, and sit and gaze at the rivers.
- We get to watch Tim Matheson! He remains a delight as Doc Mullins, and I love every moment he’s on screen.
- Mel… well, I’m on the fence. I’ve loved her up to now, and I do love seeing her in action as a highly skilled, highly compassionate medical professional. Unfortunately, she spends a lot of this season moping and being sad — often with good reason, but it’s just not very much fun.
- Bree, introduced last season, gets more screen time, and I enjoy her a lot too. Yay for another strong woman in town!
So, for now, I’m sticking with it! But if those babies don’t start getting born in season 5, I may finally reach my breaking point.
What about you? Who’s still watching Virgin River? What do you think of season 4?
And still the lingering question — should I give the books a try?