VIRGIN RIVER, my favorite melodramatic soap is back on Netflix, and let’s be real, no one is making this show for the critics’ opinions. This is for the fans. So I am going to write this review as the fan I am, telling the good… and the bad. Unfortunately this season has been the weakest of the series so far, so you may notice there is more bad than good. But I still love revisiting my friends in Virgin River every year, living vicariously through my shipping of Jack and Mel… and of course, letting my hatred for Charmaine fuel me until the next season is released.
Charmaine: Do I even need to say this? Charmaine is, without question, one of the worst characters in TV history, and the fact we have to continue to endure her and the drama that swirls around her is a travesty. My skin crawls every time she comes on screen, and if she has a passive aggressive interaction with Jack and/or Mel, forget about it. My rage is through the roof. But just how bad is she this season, and will she finally have the twins after four seasons of agony? Buckle up, because you have no idea what’s in store.
Not enough romance: Listen, Jack is really going through it this season. This isn’t going to be the kind of Jack and Mel romance we are used to, there may even be more conflict than we have seen yet; I need you to prepare yourself for that. And while this change of pace is good for character development, let’s be real, it isn’t good for us Jack and Mel shippers. How dare the writers snatch the one thing that brings us joy in exchange for things like plot and character arcs. The audacity.
Too many characters/storylines: The number of storylines and characters we have to keep track of on this show is getting out of hand. And even more annoyingly, these random additions cut into the storylines of the characters we actually care about. We have to sacrifice awesome Jack and Mel content to follow new characters, like Doc’s grandson, that don’t really have a huge impact on the show and quite frankly don’t add enough to justify the air time. Not only that, all of these storylines make the season feel more bloated than normal. The first half of the season is pretty slow, and while things do pick up in the final few episodes, it almost left me wondering if this season really needed to be 12 episodes. I know that is blasphemy for any VIRGIN RIVER fan to say because we want as much time with our show as possible, but I think you will agree that parts of the season lag and could be cut completely.
Hardly any time has passed: Y’all, I don’t know if you have been keeping track, but we still haven’t even had a year pass by as season four begins. It’s hard to believe that so much of this is supposed to take place over just a few months, but hey that’s VIRGIN RIVER for ya. Such a short passage of time does explain Hope’s continued issues with her TBI, but I would love to have a little more space between the action for character development and to help the action feel even slightly more realistic.
Jack and Mel: Even though I said there wasn’t enough romance, whenever there are romantic scenes with Jack and Mel, it makes all of the pain and sacrifice worth it. There is even one scene that is for the history books, but that is all I can/will say. As I said above, Jack is really going through it this season and while it does impact Jack and Mel’s relationship, Alexandra Breckinridge and Martin Henderson’s incredible chemistry shines through no matter what the scene entails. You have to have some conflict to solidify a relationship as strong and beautiful as this one, and hopefully with addressing some of Jack’s baggage early on, it will make way for even more romance next season.
The music: Just when you think the music of VIRGIN RIVER can’t get any better, now they add Harry Styles?! I won’t spoil you with what song and when it comes into the show, just know the music supervisors upped their game even more this season and I am here for it.
Limited Charmaine: Remember how I went on a rant against Charmaine earlier? The good news, is that she is in this season a lot less than the others. Unfortunately, her scenes *do* start to add up in the final episodes, where she is as unwelcomed as ever, but let’s all take solace in the times we get a Charmaine break, and try to remember those fleeting feelings of joy when she comes back into the picture to ruin our lives.
Major questions are answered: I won’t tell you which major questions are answered, and I won’t tell you how long it takes for them to be answered, but just know you will come out of season four knowing a lot more than you did going in. It’s up to you how satisfied you are with the answers. And we get an awesome setup for season five…