Saturday, August 13, 2022

‘Virgin River’ Season 4 Review: Drama and Emotions Run High

TELEVISIONNETFLIX'Virgin River' Season 4 Review: Drama and Emotions Run High

The fourth season of Netflix’s romantic drama Virgin River is finally here, bringing viewers back into the fray of the riveting comings and goings of the residents of a remote Northern California town.

For the uninitiated, there’s no denying the fact that Virgin River is a soapy romance series packed to the brim with plotlines that can admittedly be overdramatic and exceptionally cheesy at times. But there’s nothing wrong with that, because sometimes we all need to settle down into the warm embrace of a cozy comfort show in between binging high-octane, action-packed heavy hitters and complicated, gritty science fiction titles. It’s nearly impossible to look past the undeniable charm of Virgin River as a whole — one would be hard-pressed to make it through the series without harboring the urge to pack up their own bags and start life anew in a quiet, woodsy town. (And yes, season 4 continues to flaunt the vast, breathtaking beauty of Virgin River like a vacation brochure … in the best way possible.)

Although Virgin River spends ample time exploring the lives of many of the town’s residents, Alexandra Breckenridge’s Mel Monroe continues to be the beating heart at the center of it all. From the start, Breckenridge has been an incredibly solid lead, and her performance alone plays a very large part in what sells the show. Her portrayal of Mel, despite all that life has thrown at this character, has consistently been one of strength, perseverance, and a warm, welcoming heart — even to those who may not deserve it. Breckenridge helps to set this series apart from other romance titles.

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Following season 3’s bombshell cliffhanger — in which Mel learns that she’s pregnant and is unsure if the child is Jack’s or her late husband Mark’s — the couple has much to navigate together this season, on top of the tangled web with Charmaine. While the specifics of entire the situation may sound mind boggling on paper, it’s admittedly the perfect kind of dramatic storyline to keep viewers invested, especially after all that’s happened since the first season. But as Martin Henderson’s Jack finds himself on the road to becoming a father (to multiple children!), he also has his own demons to face this season, too. The script digs into the complexity of this character, giving viewers a reality check that the road to a happy ending is not a straight path, but rather a winding journey.

Following her COVID-sanctioned absence in season 3, Annette O’Toole is thankfully back in the game this time around, though Hope is presented with difficult new challenges that put a fresh spin on the character we have come to know. And to nobody’s surprise, Colin Lawrence is — as always — in fine form as Preacher, an unsung pillar of the series who is given a much-needed chance to shine this season.

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Zibby Allen reprises her role as Jack’s sister Brie, who is undoubtedly one of the show’s strongest side characters following her introduction last season. Facing both her own problems and her complicated entanglement with Benjamin Hollingsworth’s Dan Brady — which is an enticing story in and of itself — Allen really puts in work in season 4. It was also great to see Marco Grazzini’s Mike Valenzuela back yet again.

Season 4 newcomers include Mark Ghanimé and Kai Bradbury, who portray the town’s new physician Dr. Cameron Hayek and Doc’s long-lost grandson, Denny Cutler, respectively. Cutler’s character presents an intriguing new storyline for Tim Matheson’s Vernon — one that’s full of surprises. Ghanimé’s Cameron, meanwhile, is a wonderful addition to the cast, bringing with him an energy that fits in well amongst the town’s current residents.

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Not all storylines are equal, however, and the ongoing drama between the town’s younger residents — which includes the likes of Lizzie and Ricky — is the most forgettable aspect of this season. Their presence in the story takes strides to round out the cast, that much is true, but the time spent on their adolescent issues would be better spent fleshing out other characters, unfortunately.

Overall, season 4 of Virgin River is an enjoyable continuation of the series, offering viewers another compelling chapter full of twists and turns and plenty of surprises that will continuously unravel until the very final moments. And thankfully, there’s still much to look forward to in the fifth season (which the show has already been renewed for)!

Season 4 of Virgin River is now streaming on Netflix.

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