‘Virgin River’ ends its season with finale shockers

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“Virgin River” unfolds like a Hallmark Channel movie stretched into a series — bad stuff happens, but it’s never too dark, and the dysfunction and violence is kept at a family-friendly minimum.

Even the show’s too-perfect interior sets seem like they should be on a backlot at Universal Studios or Walt Disney World — and not in the rugged, picturesque backwoods of Northern California, where “Virgin River” takes place.

But that’s part of the series charm: it’s reliable and old-shoe comfortable and its two stars, Martin Henderson (Jack) and Alexandra Breckenridge (Mel), are telegenic and appealing in portraying their bumpy love story.

The Season 4 finale took a few detours, tied up some loose ends and set up story arcs for Season 5, premiering next year on Netflix. By that time, you’ll have forgotten what happened in the season-ender.

Here’s a reminder.

I suppose the biggest shocker was that Charmaine (Lauren Hammersley) did not deliver her twins, despite what’s been a three-year pregnancy (five months in the series timeline, but still, enough already). In fact, in a WTF? moment she revealed that Jack is not the father, as she’s claimed all along, causing him untold angst. There were indications that she and Jack might get back together in the last few episodes of the season as her relationship with smarmy Todd went south and he struggled with Mel — but now that we know that Charmaine put Jack through an unnecessary hellish ringer, he must be questioning her intentions (if not her ethics and/or mental health).

Jack (Martin Henderson) bids a fond farewell to Ricky (Grayson Gurnsey), who’s heading off to basic training as a US Marine.
COURTESY OF NETFLIX
Jack proposing to Mel. They're facing each other and he's grasping her hand to put an engagement ring on her finger.
Jack proposes to Mel, who’s pregnant with his child, in the season finale of “Virgin River.”
COURTESY OF NETFLIX

Elsewhere in Virgin River, baby-faced Ricky (Grayson Gurnsey) finally left for his Marine Corps. basic training in San Diego, despite misgivings about what he’s leaving behind, including his doting grandmother and, notably, his ex-flame Lizzie (Sarah Dugdale). She already has her hands full with Denny (Kai Bradbury), Doc’s (Tim Matheson) ostensible surprise grandson, who finally revealed why he’s been acting so weird (and it wasn’t the drugs) in an interminably long and draggy story arc: he’s got Huntington’s Disease, an incurable, progressive brain disorder.

Meanwhile, Preacher (Colin Lawrence), took matters into his own hands to rescue kidnapped Christopher from the evil clutches of his dangerous father Vince (Steve Bacic). Preacher dispatched Vince with a log to the head as they fought in the cabin — with Christopher’s mother, Paige (Lexie Doig), who materialized earlier after a seasons-long absence, ready to gun Vince down.

Oh, the drama!

In a neat, didn’t-see-that-coming twist, we learned that crime boss Melissa Montgomery (Barbara Pollard) who’s been threatening Brady (Benjamin Hollingsworth) to move her drugs — or else — is Nick’s (Keith Mackechnie) sister. That calls into question Nick tripling his investment in Jack’s glamping idea; Montgomery already blew up Calvin’s boat, with him on board, and they’re still picking up the pieces … so this will likely impact Brady in Season 5. On top of all that, Jack’s sister Brie (Zibby Allen) was forced to confront her rapist when he paid an uninvited visit to Virgin River. She threatened to press charges against him but still won’t open up about the crime to Brady.

Photo of Zibby Allen as Brie. She's wearing a flannel shirt and standing in a doorway and looking off in the distance.
Jack’s sister, Brie (Zibby Allen), faces the unexpected arrival in Virgin River of the man who raped her.
COURTESY OF NETFLIX

The episode’s biggest reveal, as it should be, impacted our lead protagonists Jack and Mel. Jack finally agreed to a paternity test that proved that he, and not Mel’s dead husband, is the father of her baby, which should throw Mel’s scheming former mother-in-law off the scent of claiming she has rights to the unborn child (it’s a girl, by the way).

If this all sounds like a daytime soap, that’s because it is — but, like the best of that dying breed, we’ll keep coming back for more … as the world turns in Virgin River.

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