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Virgin River

Virgin River season 5

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Paul Asay
Emily Tsiao
Kristin Smith

TV Series Review

Melinda Monroe has found a new start.

After unexpectedly losing her husband in a tragic accident, Los Angeles no longer felt like home. So she picked up and moved to Virgin River, a small town in Northern California, and worked for years as the town’s nurse and midwife.

And even though that new start has gone amazingly well, she’s prepping to make another one as Season Five opens—quitting her job, getting hitched and raising a family.

Feels Like Home

Virgin River is an unassuming place where everyone knows everything about their neighbor. The exact opposite of a big city. And while small-town gossip isn’t Mel’s cup of tea, she’s gotten used to it—and she’s come to love this nosy-but-loving community.

There’s Hope McCrea, the town’s mayor and queen of what’s happening when. Then there’s Doc, the town’s old-school, rough-around-the-edges physician who is now looking for a replacement in his old age. (Has he found one in the brusque Dr. Cameron Hayek? Only time will tell.) There’s Preacher, a retired Marine with his own secrets and life-endangering responsibilities; town bad-boy Brady; nosy widow Connie and her niece, Lizzie; Marine-bound Ricky; and plenty of others full of muddled stories.

And if you think that’s complicated, just wait. See, although Mel has, in large part, healed, she has a lot of secrets she’d prefer to keep to herself. One secret that didn’t stick: Her relationship with retired marine and local bar and restaurant owner Jack Sheridan.

Since the day Mel stepped foot in Virgin River, she and Jack had an instant connection. Now, in Season Five, they’re looking to make that connection permanent. But Jack’s past entanglements could make that difficult.

Throw in the rest of the town, and you’ve got one big, messy family. The kind who are always there for you … even when you don’t want them to be.

A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING

Netflix’s romantic drama Virgin River is based off an award-winning book series of the same name. Each episode clocks in at more than 45 minutes and is packed with enough drama and tension to keep viewers wanting more. If you don’t believe us, just look at the popularity of this show or the sheer number of books sold. It’s wild.

There’s soapy romance, a bit of action, emotional connection and character development. Mix those elements with trauma and war stories, and you’d think Netflix was trying to get wives and their husbands hooked. And while there’s plenty to like here when it comes to moral messages, defending the vulnerable and supporting the needy, there’s also enough to warrant caution.

First, Mel’s past experiences and trauma come in flashbacks (especially in earlier seasons) that could easily trigger anyone who has lost a loved one or a child. The same goes for Jack. He struggles with severe PTSD; it seems that no matter how much he drinks, his night terrors are never far away.

There’s also illegal drug trading (as well as drug growing) that goes on right outside of Virgin River (which is not praised, by the way), resulting in people getting shot. Then there’s underage drinking, light language, tons of gossip and couples that get in between the sheets every now and then.

So, before you venture up into Virgin River’s fictional forests, just know that not everything that takes place here is fit for the whole family.

Episode Reviews

Sept. 7, 2023—S5, Ep1: “A Second Chance”

The Season Five opening episode ties up some loose ends left dangling at the end of Season Four. For instance: Paige and Preacher successfully knocked out Vince (twin brother of Paige’s estranged and now dead husband, Wes). Vince comes to (Paige and Preacher seemed to have been worried they killed him) and is carted off by police, but not before accusing Paige of killing Wes. He also accuses Preacher of covering up the deed. Officer Mike tells Preacher not to worry about it. “Police have no reason to believe that Wes is dead,” he says. “And as long as that’s the case, nobody is investigating anything that Vince says. Probably for the best.” Or, at least, that’s most convenient.

Meanwhile, Mel tells everyone that she’s quitting her work at the clinic (much to the dismay of Doc and Hope). Hope continues recovering from a traumatic head injury—but some of her abilities still seem impaired. Denny apologizes to folks for keeping the fact that he has Huntington’s disease a secret. Jack’s sister, Brie, prepares to file sexual harassment charges against a notorious cad. Meanwhile, local tycoon Melissa Montgomery amps up her fentanyl distribution business—roping bad-boy Brady into the mix.

A fentanyl smuggler blows a tire, and local automotive guy Bert offers to help him fix it (noticing that he has a full-size spare underneath his car). Bert doesn’t know the tire is full of fentanyl, not air. The smuggler tells him not to bother with the tire, and Bert obliges—but not before he cuts his hand while examining the tire (we see some blood on his hand), and he gets the drug into his system. He’s later whisked to Doc’s clinic with a number of mysterious symptoms. (Doc and Cameron decide to make him give a urine sample.)

We see a couple kiss in bed after an intimate night together (the man apparently unclothed underneath the sheets). Other couples kiss. Brie talks about testifying against the man who assaulted her, and she’s told he already has “multiple sexual charges against him.” We hear a great deal about the paternity of a set of twins.

Lizzie plans to serve as Hope’s aide until she gets back on her feet. But when she tells Hope what Doc has in store for Hope’s daily regimen, Hope waves it off. “Doc is a man of science,” Hope says. “I am a woman of faith. And I have faith I’m going to be fine. That’s enough for me.” (When Lizzie reads the minutes that Hope has written for an upcoming town council meeting, she sees a lot of frustration in the all-capped words she’s written; Hope claims that she had the whole agenda typed up, but that the computer deleted it all and came back with what Lizzie reads.)

We see people drink in a bar. One woman appears to have some sort of seizure. A rock is thrown through a window. We hear references to past instances of violence. The head of a martial arts school complains that one of her “orange belts had a little ‘accident,’” and that she’s been disinfecting equipment for an hour. We hear about how Brady’s father was “an abusive drunk.” Characters say “a–,” “d–n” and “h—” a few times each, and God’s name is misused twice.

Jul. 20, 2022 – S4, Ep1: “Be My Baby”

Mel and Jack prepare for the arrival of their baby. Meanwhile, a new doctor takes over at the clinic so Doc can be with Hope as she recovers from her brain injury.

Several couples kiss. Jack has a nightmare of a pregnant Mel kissing her late husband (since the baby could be either of theirs). We see an unmarried couple sleeping in bed together. Several women (including married ones) make fake doctor appointments so they can meet the new, attractive doctor. When his grandson shows up on his doorstep, Doc learns that a woman he knew many years ago (and believed to be dead) had his child and never told him.

Jack flashes back to the night he got shot. Two men fight in prison, then one is stabbed with a shiv. Mel mentions that Doc greeted her with a shotgun when he first met her. We hear about a child that was kidnapped by his uncle.

Jack and Mel confess their fears about Mel’s high-risk pregnancy. When Doc realizes that Hope’s brain injury caused her to forget that her best friend passed away, he must explain the painful story to her again. Many people lie and keep secrets.

People drink alcohol. Some scenes take place at a bar. There are singular uses of “a–,” “b–ch,” “d–n” and “h—.”

Jul. 9, 2021 – S3, Ep1: “Where There’s Smoke…”

In this Season Three Premiere, Doc struggles with his health and searches for another doctor as his replacement. Mel is hesitant to celebrate her birthday due to past trauma. Jack tries to remember who shot him and braces himself for future attacks.

Jack and Mel kiss and make out. They also take a bath together (though we don’t see any exposed body parts) , and have a conversation about sexual activity. A teen girl sports a bikini.

Jack is rushed to the hospital after a near-fatal shooting. We see a bit of blood and medical staff discuss medical procedures and loss of blood.

The word “h—” is used three times. A few people consume hard liquor and beer at Jack’s bar.

Nov. 27, 2020 – S2, Ep1: “New Beginnings”

In this Season Two premiere, Mel returns to Virgin River after grieving the loss of her husband and daughter; Hope isn’t ready to go public with her new relationship; Charmaine, wrestles with pregnancy complications; Preacher asks Paige about her harrowing past.

A drug addicted man breaks into a doctor’s office. A woman recounts horrific moments of physical abuse from her ex-husband.

Mel and Doc discuss Jack and Charmaine’s casual love affair. A couple kisses, flirts and discusses the future of their relationship. A woman wears a cleavage-baring top.

God’s name is misused once and the word “d–n” is heard twice. Men and women drink beer, wine and hard liquor. Doc tells Hope that she’s the biggest gossip in town. A bitter, jealous woman is rude to her lover’s female friend.

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paul-asay
Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.

kristin-smith
Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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