Netflix's Virgin River is the equivalent of a warm hug: With small-town trappings reminiscent of Gilmore Girls and Friday Night Lights and its unforgettable cast of characters, it's the perfect cozy drama to curl up with. Fans agree: Although Netflix doesn't share viewing statistics, Virgin River is popular enough for Netflix to have quietly renewed it for season four even before it released Virgin River season 3 on July 9, 2021. Season 4 of Virgin River dropped one year after the third—on July 20, 2022—with the show's fifth season shooting this summer.
It isn't exactly a surprise that Netflix has high hopes for the long-term future of Virgin River. There are 25 books—yes, you read that right—in the Virgin River book series by Robyn Carr that the show is based on. Not to mention, season three jumped to the top of the Netflix charts almost immediately and, per Nielson, pulled in more than 1.4 million viewers in its first week; by the end of its first month on Netflix, it was the top-streamed content in the entire country. Likely due to this demand, Netflix quickly green-lit more episodes for the fourth season, and season 4 will clock in at 12 episodes rather than the usual 10.
So, before you dive into season four, what do we know about it? Will Hope, played by Annette O'Toole, survive? What's going on with Mel's baby? Will Charmaine finally have her twins? And we're finally going to find out who shot Jack—right? Let's dig in.
'Virgin River' Season 4
In mid-May, Netflix confirmed the release date for Virgin River season 4: July 20, 2022. The description for the new season, courtesy of Netflix: "Despite not knowing whether her baby belongs to her deceased husband, Mark, or Jack, [Mel] has a sense of optimism. For years she yearned to be a mother, and her dream is one step closer to reality. While Jack is supportive and excited, the question of paternity continues to gnaw at him," it reads. (A love triangle? Hasn't Jack been through enough?!)
"Complicating matters is the arrival of a handsome new doctor, who’s in the market to start a family of his own," the description continues. "Hope is still healing from her car accident, and the lingering psychological effects of her brain injury will have profound consequences for both her and Doc. Brie, intent on proving the innocence of the man she loves, unexpectedly finds herself in a closer relationship with Mike and one step closer to Calvin’s violent criminal web. Even as Preacher forges a new romantic connection, he can’t help but hold out hope for being reunited with Christopher and Paige."
A week prior to season 4 dropping, the first-look trailer was released:
What Could Happen In 'Virgin River' Season 4
Spoilers ahead. Virgin River season three ended on cliffhangers for many of the characters—particularly Preacher, who was poisoned by a former friend of Paige's to get him out of the way as part of a plot to kidnap Christopher, and of course Mel and Jack, who are dealing with the aftermath of Mel's revelation that she's pregnant—but they don't know if the father is Jack or her late ex-husband Mark. Meanwhile, Lizzie broke things off with Ricky and went back to her slimy ex-boyfriend after she discovered Ricky was enlisting; Brady was arrested as a suspect in Jack's shooting after a similar gun is found in his car; Charmaine and Todd threatened Jack with an explosive custody battle over the twins; and, of course, Hope is in hospital with a brain injury following a car accident.
“Season four reveals and answers all the questions, but then presents some more,” Martin Henderson (Jack) told The Digital Fix. Alexandra Breckenridge also clarified the timeline in an interview with Glamour, saying that season four picks up "around seven to 14 days" after the end of season three.
The coming season will see a boatload of new storylines, but this past season set up a number of arcs: We'll no doubt see Ricky make a decision about enlisting, and potentially see him leave Virgin River—and Lizzie—behind. Mel and Jack will deal with the unknowns of her pregnancy and decide whether they can make it work (for your peace of mind, the actors who play them have been clear that they definitely will). We're likely to see Paige again after her absence for the whole of the third season, and hopefully she'll be reunited with Christopher. Charmaine will give birth to the twins, and we'll probably see a showdown between her and Todd, and Jack, the biological father of her children. And speaking of Jack—we'll finally, find out who shot him.
Season four is going to be a roller coaster from the very first minute, Tenney shared with TV Insider. "There’s a big reveal when we open Season 4 that puts certain people in jeopardy," she revealed. (As if Preacher wasn't in enough jeopardy!)
We also have some first-look photos, courtesy of Netflix:
Hope In 'Virgin River' Season 4
Oddly absent from the whole of season three was Annette O'Toole, who plays the town's mayor, Hope, who was (and will be again) married to the local doctor, Doc Mullins. Hope's absence in season three, aside from video chat, was due to COVID-19 filming restrictions—she couldn't get to Vancouver to film with the rest of the cast. But don't worry; both O'Toole and Hope will be back for the fourth season of Virgin River (phew).
Tenney confirmed to EW that Hope will survive her car accident at the end of season three. "We do move ahead. To us, it's [about] the recovery and what she's dealing with—a traumatic brain injury." In a later interview with EW, O'Toole noted, "A traumatic brain injury is such a huge thing that happens not just to the person, but to the people around them, and in her case, the community, since she's the mayor...I loved coming back and having a lot to do and something that was that organic and that I could play within the bounds of because a brain injury is unique to each person."
Also of note: Hope and Muriel may also become friends in season four, if you can believe it. Tenney told EW: "The more fun relationship is the one between Muriel and Hope. It starts as very antagonistic...In the slow burn category, you'll see moments coming up that are going to open up that relationship."
What the Cast Says
Like I said, we'll find out who shot Jack in season four...right? Um...probably. Showrunner Sue Tenney told Entertainment Weekly: "I always wanted it to be a slow burn. I liked the idea of putting Jack in a vulnerable situation, which is he can't remember something simple." And to TV Insider, she shared: "The person who pulled the trigger and wanted him dead are the same person, but Calvin and Jimmy and the failed raid in Season 2 and him getting shot all intersect with all the rest of it." Alexandra Breckenridge, who plays Mel, laughed to TV Insider: "Well, I know who shot Jack!"
Season four is likely to be a rocky journey for Jack...well, another one. (Poor Jack has been through a lot.) Even on top of the fatherhood situation—his prospective custody battle over the twins, not to mention Mel's ex-husband potentially being the father of her baby—Henderson hinted to TV Line that Jack's ex-wife of three months, Mandy, might just make a return. "Mandy showing up in Virgin River would complicate things even more. It's possible with this show," he said.
Speaking to EW, Henderson said: "The show of course is about romance, but a lot of what appeals to people is the idea that all these people are broken. Everyone's got a past, everyone's got trauma, everyone's got something they're trying to deal with...We're not just seeing heroes and people saving the day. They're also carrying these deep wounds and they need each other and their relationships are the lens through which we get to see them grapple with their demons and their hurts, and the things that make them human and make them vulnerable."
Mel ended season three by telling Jack—mid-proposal, no less—that she was pregnant, but that he may or may not be the father of her baby. "I was on pins and needles to find out how Jack and Mel were going to deal with the pregnancy," she told EW, and added in an interview with Glamour: "That ball is in Jack's court, but viewers will get answers. They just might not come right away. You might need to finish the season to find out."
She explained to Glamour: "In a very short time she's gone from being quite literally emotionally broken to having all of her pieces put back together. And she's able to have something she never thought would be possible: She's pregnant and in love. She's in a really good place for the most part. But there's this gnawing feeling of, what if I lose the baby?"
Mel, of course, tragically lost her first child soon before losing her first husband Mark prior to moving to Virgin River. Elaborating during an interview with The List, Breckenridge noted: "We get to know her real feelings about it through the stillbirth that she delivers at the clinic, and there's one scene where she talks to Jack about how she really feels. It's this underlying emotional weight that Mel has that we don't really touch on a lot."
She also hinted in an interview with Parade that Mel still has some hidden trauma: "We found Mel in a very broken place. She was trying to outrun her past and I’m not sure how much of that she really dealt with, to be honest with you."
Tenney noted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that Charmaine will have even more to deal with in season four, on top of the twins, her new marriage, and the upcoming custody fight. "We have a pretty big bombshell for [Charmaine] coming in the following season...that's going to blow everybody away." But Charmaine was absent from the first-look photos shared by Netflix, suggesting that she may have a smaller role than in previous seasons.
As for Doc's grandson, who showed up in Virgin River at the end of season three: "It's going to complicate, and it's going to bring insight into Doc and into Doc's beginnings," noted Tenney to EW.
At first, Doc will think he's being scammed, Tim Matheson (who plays Doc) told Entertainment Weekly. "It's just such drama, such conflict, such interesting stuff to get into. Especially for a couple that never had children. He really wasn't ever a father, so now to have a grandchild—that's pretty radical." In a second interview with Entertainment Weekly, he noted "He's getting to know his grandson and where is that going to go and what is the nature of their relationship. It's almost like a new beginning for someone when you find out you have offspring. It's a rebirth for him."
Doc already has plenty on his plate, given Hope's car accident. Speaking to Interviews Magazine, Matheson said of Doc and Hope coping with her brain injury: "He’s been trying to redeem himself and their marriage. He was getting really close until she got injured. So the question now is, how has this traumatic brain injury affected her and their relationship and his hopes of getting closer to her and earning her love again?"
Preacher and Paige
You probably guessed this from the season three build-up, but speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Tenney confirmed that Paige, Preacher, and Christopher's story will reach a conclusion next season. "We're going to bring everything together with Paige and Preacher, and it's going to come to a very dramatic end at the end of season 4," she shared.
It won't be the only storyline for Preacher: First-look photos of Virgin River hint that Preacher is going to have a new love interest in season 4—played by none other than Colin Lawrence's real-life wife (Lawrence plays Preacher). Here he is looking very flirty with the newcomer, played by Lucia Walters:
We'll also see Lilly again, despite her tragic passing from pancreatic cancer at the end of season three. Speaking to the Radio Times, Lynda Boyd shared that producers told her that "the plan was to bring me back in flashbacks—like Mel’s husband, her dead husband.”
And speaking of Virgin River characters who saw a tragic early death...
Yes, as in Mark, Mel's late husband. In season four, we may see more of Mark, in spite of his being, well, dead. Basically, we may get much more backstory about their marriage, potentially in light of Mark having a 50/50 chance of being the father of Mel's baby. "Here’s what I’ll say, somewhat enigmatically: the good news about being the dead husband is that you can appear at any time. I’ll leave it at that," said Daniel Gillies, who plays Mark, to Mr. WarBurton Magazine.
As for Lilly's daughter Tara, who announced she'd be staying in Virgin River at the end of season three thanks to an "anonymous financial donation" from Mel, actress Stacey Farber told TV Insider: "I think [she'll] still be grieving her mom and figuring out what her life is without her. Her mom played a hugely important role in her day-to-day life and they live together and she has her baby sister who she would now have to be responsible for."
Ricky and Lizzie
And as for Ricky and Lizzie? Well, Tenney hinted that Ricky was serious about enlisting. "It seems impulsive, but it’s not. It’s something he’s wanted since he was 13," she told TV Line, citing the Ricky of the book series as proof. "Ricky and Lizzie are growing and maturing at different rates, but we hope they’ll get to the same place at a certain point."
But they may not—at least according to actor Grayson Gurnsey, who plays Ricky. In an interview with TV Line, he said: "When it's your first love, you might not necessarily love that person for the right reasons, but you can still learn something very valuable and become a better person from that relationship." Sob.
First-look photos suggest that whatever happens between the two, they certainly get screen time in season 4, so we can assume Brady hasn't left yet:
We left season three with Brady under arrest for the attempted murder of Jack—but Hollingsworth shared with TV Insider: "I think Brady witnessed something that I don’t even know if Jack knows." He added: "We saw a softer side of him, someone who’s compassionate, understanding, empathetic, someone who is worthy of love, capable of love, all of those things don’t lend themselves to a cold-blooded killer, especially of one of his close friends." And he joked in an interview with Hollywood Life: "I have also been told who supposedly shot Jack. I think the punishment is they cut off your tongue if you say it, so I can’t tell you."
It's not likely to be a fun season for Brady. Mike, Jack's cop friend, may become romantically entwined with Brie, who dated Brady throughout season three—in the Virgin River books, Mike and Brie are endgame. Said Tenney: "I think that we’re possibly setting up a bit of a love triangle there.”
Zibby Allen, who plays Brie, told Hollywood Life: "It’ll be interesting to watch how the chapter of her coming to terms and healing unfolds for her next and what that does to her relationships in that town." She's close with her co-stars off-screen as well as off; Breckenridge told The List: "I'm really good friends with Zibby Allen, and Martin. Those are my two closest. They're my friends; they're my people...I mainly hang out a lot with Zibby and Martin."
New Cast Members in 'Virgin River' Season 4
On October 25, 2021, Deadline reported that two new cast members had signed up for the fourth season. One you'll recognize immediately: Kai Bradbury, who we saw at the very end of season 3 as Doc's long-lost grandson, Denny Cutler.
The other will be a totally new face: Mark Ghanimé will play the new doctor in town, Dr. Cameron Hayek. Per Deadline: "Armed with eye-catching good looks, a razor-sharp intellect, and a smile that could light up the world, Cameron makes an immediate splash in town—especially with the ladies of Virgin River."
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