Mel’s Heartbreaking Storyline In Virgin River Season 5 Brought Fans To Tears
Alexandra Breckenridge deserves applause for her raw performance.
Note: Major spoilers Season 5 of Virgin River are ahead.
Virgin River on Netflix is not for everyone. I admit that. Whenever we dive into the seedy crime world living just on the outskirts of idyllic Virgin River, I start shifting around in my seat or scrolling through my phone. But I keep watching, even through all the soap opera-esque stuff that sets my teeth on edge. For the scenery, of course. But also because every once in a while, a storyline is so compelling, so well-acted and well-written, that I can’t look away. And this season, all the praise should be heaped on Alexandra Breckenridge for her nuanced, thoughtful, so-true-it’s-killing-me portrayal of Mel losing her baby girl. It is not often to see the experience played out in such a real, raw way, and Virgin River deserves all the applause for the way the show handled it.
At the outset of Season 5 of Virgin River, Mel and Jack (Martin Henderson) are expecting their first baby together. A little girl, they learned. Jack recently learned that the twin boys he thought he was expecting with the eternally-pregnant Charmaine (Lauren Hammersley) are not actually his at all, and the couple are moving forward with their plans to build a home together. All is well until a wildfire starts to rage just outside of Virgin River proper. Being the good humans they are, Mel and Jack race back from a camping trip to help out, with Mel heading to the clinic. Where she later discovers that she is spotting.
In perhaps the most gut-wrenching scenes ever on Virgin River, Mel uses the ultrasound machine in Doc’s (Tim Matheson) office to look for her baby’s heartbeat. All by herself, with no one there to hold her hand or comfort her. In silence, looking as though she is just checking at first. Just wanting to be sure that her baby is still snug and safe inside her womb. Looking like she still has faith it will all be okay. Until it isn’t. She does not find the heartbeat, and realizes in that moment that she has had another miscarriage. That her miracle baby with Jack isn’t coming.
As patients are waiting to be seen in the midst of a wildfire, Mel isn’t able to take a moment to herself. She just has to get back to the business of helping others, looking numb and lost but always, always doing her job as a nurse — a heartbreaking detail that did not go unnoticed by fans.
Life does not simply stop for Mel in that moment. A wildfire continues to make its way towards Virgin River. Lily’s daughters Ava and baby Chloe are still at the farmhouse, and she drives out to rescue them. Runs into a burning building to rescue them. Jack saves the day by flying a plane and dumping water on the wildfires. They survive. And it is when she finally is able to tell him, that’s when Mel truly breaks down. Because finally, she has someone who can share her grief. And share it, he does.
So often in movies and on television, if a woman miscarries a baby, that’s the end of it. She naps for a while. She stares off into the middle distance. And then it’s over. Here is where the writers of Virgin River really, really got it right. Mel tells Jack that she will have to go in for a dilation and curretage (D&C) to clear the uterine wall to make sure there is no risk for infection after her miscarriage. She has had three miscarriages and a stillbirth, and going through this again is painful for her, mentally and physically. She has to go into the OB-GYN where she knows she will see pregnant women looking healthy and happy and excited to become moms. And she can’t do it. In fact, she tells Jack she’s not sure if she has it in her to even want another baby anymore. Jack doesn’t know what to do. She doesn’t know what to do. Doesn’t know how to move forward, to forge a new path when she has wanted to be a mom her whole life. Doesn’t know how to keep faith that it still could happen for her. For them. After so many losses, who could blame her for losing hope?
As angry and disappointed as some Virgin River fans were that Mel had another miscarriage she didn’t “deserve,” I think that’s exactly the point of this storyline. No one deserves to suffer a miscarriage. There’s never a good time for it. And for some people, that miracle baby simply does not come. For good people, people who would be good parents like Mel and Jack. It doesn’t always work out. And it is painful and horrible and impossible to imagine. But it happens nonetheless.
Mel might yet have a baby. Or she might not. Even if she does, she will carry these losses with her into her future. Losses she didn’t deserve. Losses no one deserves.