A Virgin River Season 5 Recap Ahead of Christmas Episodes

A Virgin River Season 5 Recap Ahead of Christmas Episodes

In the first episode of Virgin River, Alexandra Breckenridge’s Mel Monroe, a nurse practitioner from Los Angeles, arrives in the fictional North California enclave after signing a year-long contract to work at the town’s family medical clinic with Doc Mullins (Tim Matheson). Over the course of five seasons, Mel and her fellow residents of the cozy wooded community see plenty of drama: characters have survived stabbings, shootings, car crashes, and drug rings; houses have been intentionally burnt down, and others destroyed in a ravenous wildfire. And yet, Mel’s first-year work anniversary has not even officially passed.

Despite there being five seasons of Virgin River since it debuted in 2019, with a total of 52 episodes, the actual timeline of the series is shockingly slow. Beyond Mel’s contract, it’s easy to know that not that much time has passed in what is essentially the West Coast version of Stars Hollow since one character, Charmaine (Lauren Hammersley), the ex-girlfriend of Mel’s fiancée Jack (Martin Henderson), has been pregnant with twins since the end of the first season.

But Virgin River is finally speeding things up—a little. The final episode of the first part of the fifth season followed the characters around on Labor Day, and, in its last moments, flashed forward to winter, with Christmas just around the corner. Now, two new episodes will drop on Netflix on November 30, and pick up where things left off. They’ll be packed with all the twists and turns that the series is known for, along with some quaint holiday fare. (And if you can’t wait until then, Netflix just released the first nine minutes of the new installment here).

Because so much happens on Virgin River—and in so little time—it can be hard to keep up. So, here’s a refresher on what went down the last time we saw Mel Monroe and all her friends, and what’s going on in their lives ahead of the new episodes. 

Where do Mel and Jack stand now?

Virgin River. (L to R) Martin Henderson as Jack Sheridan, Alexandra Breckenridge as Mel Monroe in episode 503 of Virgin River. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
(L to R) Martin Henderson as Jack Sheridan, Alexandra Breckenridge as Mel Monroe in episode 503 of Virgin RiverCourtesy of Netflix

All characters on Virgin River seem to be a little cursed, but no one more so than the town’s midwife and nurse practitioner Mel. She arrived in town (remember in VR time, around a year ago) grieving the recent loss of her husband and the stillbirth of their daughter. She refers to herself as somewhat of an orphan—her mother died when she was 11, and her father a decade ago—and has no other family besides her older sister Joey. In Virgin River, she meets the local bar owner and former Marine Jack, who becomes her lifeline (remember, he confesses that he’s falling in love with her after knowing her for a month).

And they’ve been through it together. Jack’s house was burned to the ground, and he was later shot and nearly killed. Things started to turn around for the couple: Mel got pregnant, Jack started building what promised to be a lucrative glamping business, and they got engaged. But that all came crashing down. Mel had a miscarriage during the wildfires of season 5, and it turns out that Jack’s biggest investor was running a drug trade out of their construction site.  

Though Jack’s money is now tied up in an FBI investigation over what happened on his site, when we last see the couple, they’ve decided to make a huge financial investment. After Ava (Libby Osler) reveals that she’s selling her family’s land, where their beloved farm once stood, Mel tells Jack that she wants to purchase it, so they can live there with their children one day. This is a huge moment of growth for Mel, who was very resistant to the idea of trying to have a family with Jack again after her miscarriage. For the first time in a long while (take that with a grain of salt in VR world), she is looking forward to, and optimistic about their future.  

How about Brie, Brady, and Mike?

Virgin River. (L to R) Zibby Allen as Brie, Marco Grazzini as Mike in episode 506 of Virgin River. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
(L to R) Zibby Allen as Brie, Marco Grazzini as Mike in episode 506 of Virgin RiverCourtesy of Netflix

When the drug trade is finally busted, police officer Mike (Marco Grazzini) is shot, and taken to the hospital, where Jack’s sister Brie (Zibby Allen) stays by his bedside. They are not officially together yet, but sparks were flying at the baseball game earlier in the season when they kissed for the first time. Mike seems a lot less complicated than Brady (Benjamin Hollingsworth)—Jack’s fellow Marine who got caught up in the drug drama, risking Brie’s safety in the process. Though it is Brady who leads the police to finally catching the person at the center of it all, Brie tells him that she wished she knew that he was cooperating with the authorities. She does also say that she will always love him. 

Both Brie and Brady have promising new romances on the horizon: Brie and Mike share chocolate shakes in his hospital room on their “first date,” and Brady starts hanging out with the woman whose daughter he helped rescue during the wildfires. 

Who is the father of Charmaine’s babies?

Virgin River. (L to R) Tim Matheson as Doc Mullins, Lauren Hammersley as Charmaine in episode 502 of Virgin River. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
(L to R) Tim Matheson as Doc Mullins, Lauren Hammersley as Charmaine in episode 502 of Virgin River.Courtesy of Netflix

After spending three full seasons making Mel and Jack’s lives absolutely miserable, Charmaine reveals at the end of season 4 that the father of her babies is not Jack, the ex-boyfriend who has been by her side for several months, preparing for a nasty and expensive custody battle over the twin boys. The shocking development left Jack angry and confused—he had fully embraced becoming a father and was excited, even if Charmaine was constantly threatening that he would never see the children because he hurt her feelings by being in love with Mel instead of her. 

In season 5, the paternity of Charmaine’s babies is finally revealed. Calvin, the troubled drug lord, is the father. But when did they even get together? It’s an open question. The Christmas episodes at least promise to offer one huge resolution: After being pregnant for almost the entire duration of the series, Charmaine will finally give birth.

What’s going on with Lizzie and Denny?

Virgin River. (L to R) Kai Bradbury as Denny Cutler, Sarah Dugdale as Lizzie in episode 406 of Virgin River. Cr. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2022
(L to R) Kai Bradbury as Denny Cutler, Sarah Dugdale as Lizzie in episode 406 of Virgin River.Courtesy of Netflix

Doc’s grandson Denny (Kai Bradbury), who revealed that he has Huntington’s Disease, is happily in love with his girlfriend Lizzie (Sarah Dugdale). Though he’s still coming to terms with his terminal prognosis, Denny tells Lizzie at the Labor Day carnival that he might want to leave Virgin River, and see what the world has to offer with the time he has left. He even asks Lizzie if she would consider leaving Virgin River to go with him. But then Lizzie drops a bombshell: she thinks she’s pregnant.

What did Preacher do with Wes’ body?

Virgin River. Colin Lawrence as Preacher in episode 511 of Virgin River. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
Colin Lawrence as Preacher in episode 511 of Virgin River. Courtesy of Netflix

Another character with a burgeoning romance is Preacher, the chef of Jack’s bar played by Colin Lawrence. He’s fallen hard for firefighter Kaia (Kandyse McClure). And doesn’t he deserve a little happiness in his life? Preacher spent the past few seasons wrapped up in the chaos that is Paige—a baker who had assumed a new identity because she was on the run with her son from an abusive relationship. When her ex-husband Wes finally found where she lived in season 2, she pushed him down the stairs in self defense and accidentally killed him. Scared, Paige called Preacher and he helped hide Wes’ body in the woods. Though Wes’ twin Vince eventually turned up in Virgin River on the hunt for his brother, he was arrested for attempted murder and kidnapping and taken away. This was a huge moment of relief for Preacher—Vince was the last person to really care about Wes, so now the beloved cook is in the clear. Or so he thought. 

At the carnival, Kaia gets a phone call from her boss who says that they’ve just found a body in the woods. Preacher asks if it was a victim of the wildfires, and Kaia says that the body looks like it had been up there for some time, “like someone buried it.” 

How are Hope and Doc getting along?

Virgin River. (L to R) Tim Matheson as Doc Mullins, Annette O’Toole as Hope in episode 503 of Virgin River. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
(L to R) Tim Matheson as Doc Mullins, Annette O’Toole as Hope in episode 503 of Virgin River.Courtesy of Netflix

These two curmudgeons spent the full first season of the show at each other’s throats, on the brink of divorce after 20 years of being separated. They decided to give it another go, and are now happily in love, even if they bicker like the old married couple that they are. Now that Hope, Virgin River’s mayor played by Annette O’Toole, has basically recovered from her near fatal car accident, she is finally hoping to take care of her husband for a change. Doc, who suffers from macular degeneration, is grappling with what it will mean for his life as he loses his vision. But at the carnival, he learns that he’s been accepted into a clinical trial. Hope emphasizes that she will be with him every step of the way as he navigates the disease.

Why is Mel looking for her father?

Virgin River. Alexandra Breckenridge as Mel Monroe in episode 512 of Virgin River. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
Alexandra Breckenridge as Mel Monroe in episode 512 of Virgin River.Courtesy of Netflix

In classic Virgin River fashion, the final episode of the first part of season 5 ended with a big twist. Mel receives a phone call from Joey, and learns that her sister has been rummaging through some of their late mother’s stuff, including love letters from decades ago. The letters are not from their father—and they are postmarked from Virgin River. Having read through them, Joey believes that their mother was writing to the man who might be Mel’s actual biological father. Yet again, a paternity puzzle is upon us. This is Virgin River after all.

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