Changes are coming to Virgin River, and some of them are surprising.
Most of Virgin River Season 5 Episode 1 caught us up with where things left off during Virgin River Season 4 Episode 10 and eased us into some of the new conflicts and plots we can expect for the season.
One of the most prominent takeaways from the premiere is that Melissa Montgomery is here to disrupt Virgin River’s quiet world and all the people within it.
If the hour didn’t set anything else up, they touched on how many conflicts would arise because of Melissa’s plans and actions and, sadly, because of how Brady and others may get tangled up in her web.
We also saw some new faces arriving, familiar ones departing, and some shake-ups.
Surprisingly, we breezed past those tense final moments of the season four finale that saw Jack learning the shocking truth that he was not the twins’ father.
It felt jarring for such a significant revelation that we didn’t immediately pick up where things left off with, given that it was such a huge plot point and long-awaited.
If karma is coming to get her like she said last night, then karma can come pick her up. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t have to see that woman again.
It feels like we were cheated out of those heated initial moments and reactions, making the pacing for that particular plot point and much of the hour an interesting choice.
Nevertheless, Jack wasn’t dealing with or healthily processing that news, but rather his Jack Sheridan way that had him pretending he was okay and deciding he never wanted to see Charmaine again.
A girl can’t blame him for that last bit. Cutting Charmaine off completely seems perfectly reasonable, and if anything, it was frustrating that Mel was on some saintly kick of pushing him into considering Charmaine and speaking to her.
After that type of betrayal, it was perfectly sensible that he’d want to cut ties and move on permanently.
While he wasn’t innocent in some of the things that happened with Charmaine, by the end, she disrupted his life and caused real harm and damage, and it’s understandable if Jack considered that unforgivable and wanted no part.
At the very least, he needed his space and time to figure out how to proceed with Charmaine again if he wanted to see her.
But Mel Monroe is nothing if not pushy and nagging in her way so that she wouldn’t let up on this particular bit, and true to form, it all caught up to Jack eventually.
For this to be the hugest, jaw-dropping revelation of Virgin River Season 4, it’s surprising that they barely touched on it during the premiere.
Instead, we didn’t get the tension of what that moment would lead to until the final moments of this installment when Jack chose to forgo hanging with the boys at Preacher’s house for confronting Charmaine Roberts at her home.
It’s possible to mourn and grieve something you never had or learned wasn’t yours in the first place.
And while the news of twin boys had Jack feeling all types of things for the whole series, now he has to deal with a loss.
Seeing that happy father with his two sons made him think of that. One hopes that his conversation with Charmaine is productive and serves him well.
And while he’s pissed at Charmaine, the twins she’s carrying didn’t do anything, so he should totally give her the baby baskets that snake lady gave him.
One of the best scenes of the hour was Jack, Preacher, and Brie at the bar, all commiserating over what happened to them the previous night.
Again, Zibby Allen is such a fantastic addition to this series, and Brie is such a delightful character in this universe.
I’m proud of her for choosing to press charges against Don and take her stand, but she didn’t anticipate how deep this would go and how much she’d be involved.
Finding out that Don has about a dozen or so other sexual assault complaints already in the works is disturbing. But now, that means that Brie will have to testify to bolster this case against him so Dan can go away and his victims can get the justice they deserve.
We learned that Don has gone out of his way to get the other survivors to sign NDAs, so it’s pretty apparent that he’s likely behind throwing a rock through the window of her new home.
He wants to shut her up, and it’s all the better if he scares her into doing that. But he must seriously underestimate Brie and her resolve.
It’s frustrating that she has this going on at a time when she felt like she’s been the most free and happy, and she still doesn’t know about the deal that (Dan) Brady made with Melissa that dragged him right back into the much of drug trafficking.
We know how Brady got into this mess and that he’s been genuinely trying to escape these criminal trappings. Keeping things from Brie will only worsen things for him, and he’s bitten off more than he can chew.
Brady assumes he can manage this situation, but it’s beyond what he can handle, and Melissa isn’t one to trifle with at all.
Jeb has gotten dragged into this, and thanks to one of Melissa’s men trafficking fentanyl in through a tire, poor Bert wound up with the drug in his system when he tried to assist a man in distress.
We’re not off to a great start with this drug plot. This will be one of a few ways the town will get torn apart, and neighbors will be set up against each other.
It was already tough to see Cam come to this conclusion as a doctor thinking impartially and Doc being hesitant to go there because he knows Bert so well.
With all those drugs floating around, they’ll likely see a spike in addiction and overdoses again, and it’ll be tough for Doc and Cam to manage, especially without Mel.
Things are still awkward with Cam as he’s struggling to find his place there when Doc prefers that Mel stay at the clinic and Cam leave.
But they need another doctor. My question is, is Mel Monroe really the only other nurse in town?
Everyone is getting all emotional or feeling miffed that Mel chose to quit her job at the clinic, but if she’s in a high-risk pregnancy and this is what she desires, that should be respected more.
No one should be affronted that Mel is putting herself, her health, and her child first. It’s unfair that others try to guilt trip her into staying on and doing the job.
Regardless, it’s not as if Mel will stop practicing altogether. Wherever Mel goes, health crises seem to follow, like with Lilly’s eldest daughter, who returned, Ava.
Mel can’t escape being a nurse, regardless of her intentions. It’s in her blood.
The flashback to how that may have come to be was illuminating, albeit heartbreaking. She spent so much time in the hospital with her sick mother, and with experiences like that with the sweet nurse trying to distract her by showing her how to take blood pressure, it’s no wonder she felt drawn to that type of service.
It feels like a great season for Mel to reflect on her childhood, her mother’s tragic death, and what that means for her as an expectant mother.
We’ve spent most of the season focused on the grief and loss of her husband and child, and I’m excited about the prospect of digging a bit deeper into Mel’s past to understand her better.
An irritating pattern with our beloved Preacher continues, and one can guess that his love life will still be a hot mess this season.
They wrapped up the whole situation with Vince and Wes too easily. He got carted away, and despite everything he was saying about how Paige killed his brother and how Preacher helped bury the body, it was all handwaved away.
Mike implied that without a body or anything else coming up, there’s no reason to look into it and that the brothers’ terrible reputation stands on its own.
Undoubtedly, it’s the ideal outcome, but it’s an unrealistic and underwhelming wrap-up.
And then we rolled right into this will they/won’t they Preacher/Paige stuff that grated.
As an outsider, it made perfect sense that after that experience and with Paige finally feeling free and not having to look over her shoulder, she would need time to figure out what she wants out of her life, who she is, fortify herself as a woman before she falls into another relationship and so forth.
It’s the healthiest thing for her to do.
So it was irritating that Preacher left this door open for her and their relationship right after they talked about Julia, and Paige took it, then changed her mind after he broke things off with Julia.
Paige’s choice makes sense, so I can’t say she strung him along. She has a lot of healing that she needs to do.
But the whole situation sucked, and Julia deserved much better than she got. Preacher was gentlemanly and honest, but it doesn’t change the fact that he had a great thing going on with Julia, seemed to have feelings for her genuinely, and then discarded her without a second thought when Paige returned.
Julia: You still have feelings for her, don’t you?
Preacher: I’m sorry, Julia.
Julia: I thought you said I didn’t have to worry about her?
Preacher: I know. I thought that everything between Paige and me was in the past…
It was so enraging and hurtful. Why waste Julia’s time at all?
And now Preacher is back to being alone without either woman in his life, and here we are with a tragically disappointing Preacher love life plot.
Justice for Julia!
Preacher and Julia were easily one of the best parts of Virgin River Season 4, and now that’s been ripped away from us, we’ll likely spend the rest of the season with Preacher trying to sort things out. Men!
In happier news, at least Lizzie and Denny have found their way back to each other, and Lizzie doesn’t care about his essential death sentence.
Denny: If I’m being honest, I like you a lot. And the last thing I ever want to do is to hurt you. When I came here looking for Doc, I didn’t expect to find someone like you, so at the very least, I’d like for us to still be friends. Lizzie: Stop.
Denny: Um, are you sure? Because, um, I told you I don’t have a future.
Lizzie: So, I thought about that, and I realized that I don’t care about any of it. I like you too a lot, so can we just focus on that right now?
She’s handling the news about his Huntington’s Disease well, arguably better than Doc and Hope are.
Lizzie and Denny shouldn’t have to give up on enjoying a romance because he’s dying, and I’m glad they reached that conclusion, no matter how painful things can be in the long run.
If they opened up with this, what are the odds that we’ll lose Denny sooner than we could imagine? I’m trying not to think about it.
Hope and Doc doting on Denny and trying to urge him to go to the Huntington’s Clinic was sweet. They really love this kid, and they want to exacerbate all the options out there if it means prolonging his life.
Focusing on Denny means they don’t have to consider their own mortality, aging, and their respective issues.
Hope McCrea is the most present in the premiere. Seeing her computer screen as she worked on the agenda was heartbreaking.
Her brain is not doing what she wants, and her frustration is palpable. She wants to return to “normal,” and it’s not in the cards.
And that’s what makes the situation surrounding removing her as mayor tricky. If we remove emotions from it, it’s understandable why the town would be considering this option if they know she’s had health issues that severely impact her ability to run the town in top form.
Hope: It might not be my place, but if you want to talk about Denny…
Lizzie: Do you want to do Sudoku?
Hope: Fair enough.
But there are better ways to go about things. They’re a community, close-knit at that. Hope deserved the respect of them having these discussions directly with her, not going behind her back.
It’s a slap in the face and a real betrayal.
I don’t know how they can get past this as a town because it’s such a shitty thing to do. It also could reignite the tension between Hope and Muriel in a redundant way. But lovely Muriel has had so much growth over the years that I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.
And now that we know big things on the horizon threaten the town, like Melissa, they need to be a united front more than ever.
Otherwise, people like Melissa can exploit the cracks and get what she wants as she slowly takes over the town bit by bit.
Over to you, Virgin River Fanatics. Was the premiere anti-climactic? Hit the comments!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You’ll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on Twitter.