Virgin River’s Holiday Review: Jingling Bells, Juggling Plots & A Dash of Drama

Spoilers

We must’ve been on the “Nice” list.

If there was ever any wonder of what Christmas would be like in Virgin River, then Virgin River Season 5 Part 2 delivered some sugar, spice, everything nice, and a dash of drama.

Virgin River is the perfect series to capture the Hallmark Christmas movie vibes. For the most part, they leaned heavily into some tooth-achingly sweet moments, Christmas festivities, and a strong sense of community and family.

We even got a few Christmas miracles thrown into the mix, from Mel coming face-to-face with her biological father and Charmaine’s twins FINALLY being born.

The two-hour holiday event worked as far as slotting between seasons despite serving as the last installments for Virgin River Season 5.

It delivered on some of the questions that lingered after Virgin River Season 5 Episode 10, namely, focusing exclusively on the quest to find Mel’s father.

However, it also unearthed a whole new box of questions requiring answers, conflict, and teases for even more of Virgin River’s standard drama.

The holiday special was jam-packed as it attempted and sometimes didn’t fully succeed in juggling the Virgin River plot points it wanted to address and maintain while sprinkling all the fun festivities and warmth you’d expect from a Christmas special.

Notably, Mel Monroe and Jack were so blissfully happy and chipper that there were genuine moments when it felt surreal and jarring.

It’s a relief, in many ways, to have this pairing who have endured so much pain and suffering for so long to have space to be genuinely happy in their lives.

They were at their most content, with goals as simple as having the perfect family Christmas dinner and blending their families for the first time ahead of their wedding in anticipation of creating new traditions and a fresh foundation for their lives.

Jack: Finding your biological father could be a much better gift than jewelry.
Mel: I mean, you could do both.

We’ve known for some time that Jack Sheridan struggled with his relationship with the other Sheridans, and for Mel, for so long, it was just about her and Joey.

It was nice to see this couple preoccupied with creating their own family and basking in the holiday season, whether it was hilariously pigging out on peppermint bark, a quirky hunt for a mall Santa, or ice skating in town together.

Jack and Mel spent most of the holiday special serving as the foundation of the series while all the other characters struggled or had to navigate other things.

We got an answer right away regarding Lizzie’s state; she’s pregnant.

Because of the time jump, we got to skip over so much of the immediate aftermath of Lizzie sharing the news and how the two worked through what their future would look like together while sharing with Hope and Doc.

They made up for it by centering Lizzie’s struggle to break the news to her mother all these months later.

Knowing the little we’ve come to learn about Deidre, Lizzie would’ve had an easier time sharing the news with her mother over the phone in the months before Christmas.

Then, it would’ve given Deidre the time to process it and decide if she wanted to come to Virgin River to spend the holiday with Lizzie. Fortunately, Lizzie would’ve had her supportive family and community regardless.

Deidre: I am truly sorry about his condition, but you’re my little girl, and I don’t want to see you sacrifice your whole life for him or for a baby.
Lizzie: I know it might seem weird to you since you were so focused on your career at my age, but I don’t see this as a sacrifice.

Instead, Deidre had to find out in a quintessentially Virgin River way by overhearing Lizzie and Hope McCrae talking and then had to work through her feelings about the matter and come around to the idea quickly, which didn’t seem fair.

Yes, it’s frustrating that Deidre has a certain idea of what she wants for Lizzie and is forceful.

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However, it’s equally as annoying that Deidre, like many other female characters who aren’t as family and community-oriented, often comes across as someone who needs to “come around” to the Virgin River view of life or some antagonist.

Sometimes, Virgin River’s stringent traditionalist view is so overpowering that it’s hard to notice anything else, and you felt that heavily during this holiday special.

It namely comes into play when it’s about motherhood, pregnancy, babies, and family.

Because as much as we know and love Lizzie, Deidre wasn’t wrong to express the types of concerns that she did.

It’s OK if Lizzie doesn’t want to go to college or pursue a specific career under some misguided yet frequent societal implication that a woman must be career-oriented and driven to be the height of feminism while scoffing at tradition.

But Virgin River has this pesky habit of leaning too heavily into the opposite direction to balance that out, and it’s hard to miss the tone and message it intends to send regarding what it means to be a modern-day woman.

On the surface, Deidre isn’t wrong to express concern about her 19-year-old daughter going all-in on having a child she didn’t plan for and settling into a life she hasn’t thought through.

They say it takes a village to have a child. We have a whole town.

Lizzie

When Lizzie shares that having this child now means that Denny Cutler would have more time to spend watching their child grow up, it does make it seem like she’s putting Denny ahead of everything for this decision.

We later learn that she’s also the one who would happily get married, which is another example of the traditionalism and nuclear family angle getting pushed heavily.

He’s the one who wants her to take a moment to consider that a marriage commitment entails her also taking care of him as his health inevitably declines due to his Huntingtons.

But even Denny’s conversation with Doc Mullins about that leaves the strong possibility that Denny and Lizzie will most likely tie the knot sometime down the road, too, instead of exploring the authentic, modern, and common co-parenting angle.

I already had mixed feelings about the series introducing yet another baby into the mix on Virgin River and with Lizzie and Denny at that. But now there’s some discomfort in wondering if Lizzie is going through with this pregnancy because it’s in HER best interest, what she desires, and for the right reason.

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It’s more jarring to see that no one else will likely bat an eye or have the space to have mixed feelings or some hesitation about these teenagers embarking on this journey together.

It feels like they had enough heaviness as a young couple trying to navigate Denny’s Huntingtons Disease and their future together.

On that topic, Denny is an excellent addition to the mix, especially with the family elements unspooled with Doc and Hope.

Where his storyline stalls with how reliant it becomes on revolving so much of his existence around his Huntingtons, there is so much more I’d love to see explored with the character, but the series seems hung up on just that portion of him.

The representation is undoubtedly important as we see how this young man navigates life knowing his fate. But there’s so much more to Denny that can be touched on, and I fear that even impending fatherhood also links back to this.

At the moment, they’ve agreed not to get the fetus tested to determine if she carries the gene as well. But with this Christmas special, we didn’t have the time to delve into all the potential conflicts that may arise for this young couple as this pregnancy and their choices settle in.

Behind all the merriment and the joy of a new life being brought into the Virgin River world, there’s still some wariness about what’s to come when one can’t be confident that Lizzie has thought things through and made the best choice for herself, and Denny’s plans have been derailed or stalled.

Indeed, this is something we’ll see unfold for this pairing in the sixth season.

Muriel: I don’t wanna wake up someday and realize that you resent me for never having been a father.
Cameron: Wait, what are you saying?
Muriel: What I’m saying is losing you now will break my heart, but knowing that I was the reason that you missed out on all those things that you wanted in life, that would break it even more. All I want for Christmas is for you to think this through. Can you do that for me?
Cameron: Yes, I can.

Virgin River’s stringent traditionalism also reared its head while continuing Muriel and Cameron Hayek‘s romance. In the months since they got together, they’ve been the talk of the town for their insane chemistry and May/December affair.

Amusingly, the series is committed to this pairing, and even the dialogue among some of the characters damn near broke the fourth wall to needle away at the naysayers who had strong feelings about this seemingly random couple.

Virgin River loves its drama, so dropping Cameron’s ex, Michelle, into the mix was right up the series’ alley. We got a nice intro to her, so she will be present when the series returns.

But naturally, the series intends for Cameron and Muriel to have some conflict in their relationship because of the age difference. It’s to be expected, I presume, but it sucks that it once again falls to children.

With Michelle’s return, her sobriety, accountability, and genuine desire to reunite with Cameron, Muriel is facing the fact that Cameron’s ex can represent and be something for him that she can’t.

There is nothing wrong with not wanting children. A person can have a happy, fulfilling life without them. Not everyone desires them, and there is some tragic backstory as to why they didn’t have them or long for them well past their ability to make that yearning come true.

Muriel has always been vivacious and inspiring in that way, being a woman who longed for happiness and romance but also seemed content enough with her life not to have those types of regrets.

It was refreshing to see her and Cameron flirt and have this lovely thing develop. We had a man who saw the value and sexiness in her and what she had to offer.

Muriel: I know this hasn’t come up yet, but I don’t want children. I mean, I did once upon a time, but that time has passed. Cameron: I wasn’t sure, but I want you to know that I am good with a family of two. You’re all I need.

Naturally, Cameron likely knew what he was getting into when he pursued this relationship with her. Suddenly making her worried about the ramifications of that is disappointing and redundant.

It would be nice if the potential conflict to such a new couple, especially the one with the age gap, weren’t about children and whether or not Cameron should stay with a woman past that point in her life or entertain reuniting with the woman from his past.

Muriel was strong for telling Cameron that she’d rather lose him now than deal with it later. She loves him enough to want what’s best for him, even if it means she’ll have a broken heart.

Muriel remains one of the best characters in the series, and she’s truly grown throughout it. It’s why one only hopes for the best and that she’ll get the love she deserves out of this, and if that’s Cameron, so be it.

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One of the ways that the holiday special succeeded in moving certain things along while holding off on the big stuff was in finally giving us the birth of Charmaine’s twins.

We’ve literally been waiting for this for five seasons. The woman had a longer gestation than a freaking elephant at this point.

And the series couldn’t help but crack a few jokes about it. You must appreciate a show that isn’t afraid to make fun of itself.

I have to give it to Charmaine Roberts. She was beyond tolerable during this special, maybe even genuinely likable.

I feel like I’ve been pregnant for years.

Charmaine

We got to see just how long of a way she, Jack, and Mel have come where all the tension and hostility have dissipated, and they get along like friends.

There’s something about this special that felt jarring. It feels as if they’ve all truly set the past behind them.

Of course, it leaves room for them to be a united front and for Mel and Jack to become a support system for her when Calvin inevitably wreaks havoc on her life under the guise of being the twins’ father.

Mel was shocked by the news, and that conception happened about as one would’ve expected. She was so protective of Charmaine that you know there will be more to mine with that down the road.

Mel: Charmaine, I’m really sorry. How did you get mixed up with him?
Charmaine: Like how all mistakes are made, a mixture of sadness and anger and copious amounts of alcohol. And I was mad at Jack.

In a season and especially a holiday special that hammered how family and what that looks like while also bringing up people’s childhoods and roots, one has to wonder if there will be a family arc for Charmaine in the future.

We’ve heard a lot about her late mother this season, which may reflect on her as a new mom or how she seeks to create a family for herself and her children.

The labor and delivery had the right amount of stress, but the result was happy. I’m intrigued by what Charmaine’s story can be in the future now that she’s no longer bitter about Jack and Mel and the twins are here.

Virgin River rears up the drama and intensity with Preacher. While we didn’t get anything particularly shocking with the body thing, learning that they identified the body in the woods had the same impact as his cliffhanger during Labor Day.

We got more of his love story with Kaia as he continues to dote on her and show he’s the perfect candidate for a long-term boyfriend.

And they’re fine. Unfortunately, Preacher’s love life has been such a disaster that it’s hard to invest in it.

With Kaia, it always feels like John Preacher auditions for her full attention and love. She and Preacher go at different speeds and often feel like they’re in two other worlds.

It’s hard to invest in their union. Whatever it is, they’re supposed to be, when you feel like Kaia will always have one foot out the door and you never fully feel her intentions or desires for him.

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She makes proclamations and some assurances, but not enough to be reassuring. Even her new position as fire chief doesn’t feel as if it’s something that will last.

Only in Virgin River can someone land such a career opportunity between cups of hot cocoa and festivities.

She’s expressed that choosing that job is how she’s shown that she’s choosing him. But despite their sweet moments, it always feels like they’re on borrowed time.

Ironically, it won’t be Kaia’s inability to commit to Preacher on the same level, but the bombshell of Preacher’s involvement with burying the body that could be the death of this relationship.

The Sheridan family drama was endearing in that way you’d expect with families around the holidays.

It’s hard to believe that Jack and Mel couldn’t get their families together sooner.

Jack’s father had every right to be pissed off about his ex-wife bringing her new boyfriend to dinner last minute. It was a family dinner, for starters, and it wasn’t the time or place to thrust this new person into the mix when things were still tense.s

Their mother seemed self-absorbed and selfish about the whole thing. Even the way she kept putting things on Brie to handle her father and couldn’t make the situation smoother by not making out with Javier was annoying.

I don’t know, maybe this is a mistake. It’s a lot to spring on someone on Christmas Eve or at all. Maybe I should just leave the past in the past.

Mel

But it was adorable to see the Sheridan siblings come together and work things out, forcing their parents to make things right rather than ruin Christmas.

It was interesting to hear their perspective of how their family fell apart, and the holidays did as well around the time Jack left and never came back.

The Sheridan family likely never appropriately recovered after losing a child, but once the kids started leaving the house and never returning, it was a death knell.

But now, Jack and Brie Sheridan genuinely desire to return to centering family. They both had a genuine need, partly because Jack wants this whole family whenever he and Mel have kids.

Brie: You know what they say. Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave and grow old wanting to get back to.
Jack: Yeah, I think that’s true. But it definitely feels more like home now that you’re here.

The optimism about him and Mel having children one day bled through every one of their scenes. You’d think they were expecting with how often they spoke about their children with such certainty.

Can we anticipate the series revisiting a child with the optimal results come next season? They’re certainly laying down the foundation for it. And as we’ve established, Virgin River is obsessed with babies and storylines revolving around them.

Part of setting that foundation is getting all the pieces of their family into place, so introducing Mel’s biological father was another way of doing that.

Mel and Jack are the cutest but are also annoying and self-consumed about this mission.

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They were prepared to skip a line full of children and potentially ruin the magic of Santa to interrogate Cliff in the middle of his Santa gig at the mall.

And then Mel dove head-on into approaching her father with no warning on Christmas Eve to bombard him with her presence in Virgin River and drudge up all types of memories and pain he may not have been ready to address.

Shouldn’t that be something you ease into? Mel then had the audacity to assume the absolute worst of Everett when he turned her away as if the man’s possible feelings about all of this weren’t valid.

She and Joey breezed past their mother having an affair with this man, almost blamed their father for not supporting their mother after the loss of Chloe, and didn’t even unpack things like how he may not have known that Mel wasn’t his child or that Everett learned about her via letter but was essentially told he couldn’t be in his daughter’s life because Mel’s mother thought it was important to maintain the family she had.

Mel: Are you Everett Reid?
Everett: Who’s asking?
Mel: His daughter.

Respectfully, Mel’s mother sucked for never telling Mel the truth about her origins and robbing Everett of the chance to be in his own daughter’s life.

With her information, Mel didn’t seem to consider any of that when she got upset with Everett for not immediately jumping for joy and hugging her the second he saw her once she oh, so casually stated that she was his daughter.

The plot of finding Everett was the special at its clunkiest, and the pacing for the two installments was very much clunky and uneven.

It didn’t feel as if much happened in The More the Merrier, and then everything was crammed into Father Christmas.

Doc: I may not be your father, biological or otherwise, but I am always here for you, and I consider myself lucky be. And if this guy doesn’t, then he’s a fool, and he is the one who is missing out.
Mel: You’re right. He is missing out. But, um, there is actually someone else I wanted to walk me down the aisle anyway.

Mel had more endearing paternal moments with Doc, especially when he expressed that he saw her as a daughter and anyone would love to be in her life, and she told him that she wanted him to walk her down the aisle.

It was one of the top moments of the special, and Mel and Doc’s relationship will never stop being one of the show’s highlights. They’ve come so far!

Fortunately, Everett came around at the end, leaving us with a cliffhanger about whatever he had to tell her. Something tells me that he’ll be informing her that she has siblings.

It’ll be interesting if the next season explores Mel getting acquainted with another family she didn’t know existed.

Everett: I’m looking for Mel Monroe.
Mel: Who’s asking?
Everett: Her father. You look so much like your mother. Seeing you just broke my heart all over again. I didn’t know what to say.
Mel: So you lied?
Everett: I didn’t lie. I’m not the man who wrote those letters, not anymore, not since your mother died.

But if there’s one thing I need come Virgin River Season 6, it’s Brie and Brady’s inevitable reunion.

The chemistry was still raging on and strong in every scene they shared. There’s no doubt they still love one another, and had Jack not interrupted them, they probably would’ve shared a kiss under that mistletoe.

Brie and Mike are an annoying couple.

Mike Valenzuela‘s entire presence during this special felt forced and unnatural, as if he had nothing else to do.

I’ll give him credit; he recovered from getting shot in the chest well.

It already feels like Brie and Mike are on borrowed time, so we’ll have to patiently wait until she and Brady find their way back to one another.

In the meantime, it’s upsetting that Dan Brady can never be happy for long.

It was already tough to care much about Lark’s sudden presence and her and Brady’s relationship. But now, just when it seems like he’s shared his soul to this woman, connected with her over his childhood and past, and developed a lovely bond with Hazel, we learn she’s leading him on for nefarious reasons.

Man: How’s our little girl doing?
Lark: Hazel’s doing good. She had a pretty magical Christmas.
Man: What about Brady?
Lark: He doesn’t suspect a thing.

It’s not even that surprising so much as it’s alarming. Does that mean Lark has been in cahoots with her child’s father this whole time, and they’re plotting revenge against Brady?

Brady can’t escape trouble for anything in the world!

I’m morbidly curious about how he’ll react when he learns the truth about Lark. Brady deserves peace and happiness, which always eludes him no matter how hard he tries.

Over to you, Virgin River Fanatics.

What did you think of the holiday special?

What’s your impression of Everett? Were you shocked by Lark’s betrayal? What are you most looking forward to next season? Sound off below!

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 X.

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