Virgin River Season 4 took fans on an emotional roller coaster. Between a shocking paternity revelation, a new crime boss and a horrible ex in town, several painful goodbyes, and a terminal medical diagnosis, the Netflix series more than delivered in the drama department. But through all the ups and downs of the season, viewers found a surprising source of comfort in Teryl Rothery’s character, Muriel.

Longtime Virgin River fans know Muriel had a suspicious introduction to the series. For the majority of the first two seasons, her character largely existed to drive a wedge between separated (but still married) couple Dr. Vernon Mullins (Tim Matheson) and Hope McCrea (Annette O’Toole). In Hope’s concerning Season 3 absence, Muriel’s role shifted and she became a reliable friend to Doc. But in Season 4, the show solidified Muriel as a genuinely lovable, seemingly non-threatening character who becomes a good friend to Hope.

Teryl Rothery as Muriel on 'Virgin River'
Photo: Netflix

If you recall, Season 1 finds Hope and Doc gearing up to get divorced. When Muriel hears the divorce rumors she asks Hope if she could date Vernon. Not cool, girl! Hope gives her the green light, but later makes up with Doc and decides they should carry on their relationship in secret to dodge the town’s gossip mill. Unaware that Hope and Doc are giving their romance another go, Muriel invites Doc over for a dinner date. Hope urges him to get close to Muriel, explaining that it will throw the town off their scent. Also not cool, girl! Doc obliges, but after a few dates it’s clear he and Muriel have a lot in common, share quality chemistry, and greatly enjoy each other’s company. Naturally, that makes Hope jealous.

In terms of the friend code, Muriel should have been more considerate of Hope’s feelings when attempting to pursue a romance with Doc. But Hope was the one who insisted on hooking up with Doc in secret and continually pushed him into Muriel’s arms, so Muriel’s isn’t solely to blame.

As the show progresses, Muriel and Hope compete for Doc’s attention while repeatedly getting under each other’s skin. After Muriel makes a discourteous comment about Hope to Doc, he puts an end to their dates, explaining that he and Hope are getting back together. Vernon and Hope then get into a fight, and he resents her for making him lie to Muriel for so long. In a moment of clarity, Hope decides to apologize to Muriel, but Muriel rejects the olive branch and vows that she and Vernon aren’t over yet. Though Muriel’s technically out of the picture at this point, Hope still feels threatened by her presence in Vernon’s life.

Teryl Rothery as Muriel and Tim Matheson as Doc on 'Virgin River'
Photo: Netflix

Later in Season 2, Hope thinks Vernon’s cheating on her with Muriel, but Muriel is just helping Vernon buy a wedding ring for Hope. He proposes and Hope eventually says yes, but their relationship is strained again in Season 3 when she spends all 10 episodes visiting her elderly aunt in South Carolina (a filming twist due to COVID-19). When a hurricane threatens Hope’s life and Doc is unable to get in touch with her, Muriel steps up to comfort and care for him. She brings wine, dinner, offers distracting backgammon games, and more. Her efforts appear to come from the heart, free of ulterior motives. And the emotional days Doc spends waiting to learn if Hope is safe would undoubtedly be worse without Muriel’s thoughtful acts of kindness. At the end of the season when Hope gets into a car accident, Murial remains by Vernon’s side and even makes Hope a photo blanket so she can see everyone who loves her when she wakes up. Come on, that’s sweet as hell! We love her now, right? She not playing us. She can’t be. Or can she??

In Season 4, Muriel remains a bright, refreshing distraction in Vernon’s heavy world. As he struggles to balance work, self-care, a long lost grandson, and Hope’s recovery, it feels as if the few stress-free moments he’s able to snag are always spent with Muriel. And it’s not just Vernon’s life Muriel enhances in Season 4. She makes a visible effort to be a better, more considerate friend to everyone around her — including Hope. Muriel sees the pain Hope is in following her accident and Lilly’s death. Rather than use that vulnerability to her advantage, she decides to make herself vulnerable as well. She opens up to Hope and explains she feels lonely, scared, and even jealous of her because she has so many people who care about her in life. She even tries to strengthen Hope and Vernon’s relationship by teaching Hope to play his favorite game, backgammon.

Teryl Rothery as Muriel and Anette O'Toole as Hope on 'Virgin River'
Photo: Netflix

It’s clear Muriel and Vernon have a real connection, and a potential to transition from platonic to romantic should proper circumstances ever arise. But while Hope’s still in the picture — and especially after her accident — it’s a real relief to see Muriel drop her formerly competitive, meddling spirit and grow as a character. Muriel’s emotional maturity and reformed outlook on life is touching to see, and allowing her and Hope to bond was one of Season 4’s best storylines. More Muriel in Season 5, please!