Justice for Cameron, the good doctor who admits trouble, on “Virgin River”


It’s hard to be the new kid on the block. Ask Mel Monroe. When she shows up for her new job as a nurse practitioner in the small northern California town of Virgin River, she is greeted with a shotgun. Her host, Dr. Vernon Mullins (Tim Matheson) is her boss, although he doesn’t know it or want it yet, but as the fourth season of “Virgin River” has arrived on Netflix, Mel (Alexandra Breckenridge ) and Doc have made peace with working together and have been friends for a long time.

Maybe that’s why the next newcomer to the med block has it easier. Dr. Cameron Hayek (Mark Ghanime) was hired by Doc to give him and Mel some breathing space. Doc is aging and his beloved wife Hope (Annette O’Toole) needs care after a brain injury. Meanwhile, Mel quietly deals with her own issues. It wouldn’t be “Virgin River” if we didn’t have an ocean of secrets.

But even if his reception is warm, Cameron’s ending may not be. Unwavering, supportive, and in the unenviable position of being the possible new angle in a lopsided romantic triangle, Cameron Hayek deserves better.

The final season of the heartwarming and vaguely traumatic Netflix soap finds Mel secretly pregnant, either by embryos conceived with her late husband or via her longtime boyfriend, Jack. I am a Luke Dane apologist (and before that, a Mr. Rochester), so of course I have a soft spot for a manly bar and grill owner like Jack (Martin Henderson), an ex-Marine steadfast with his love and struggling with his feelings.

Behind such kindness, you know, is a story of being hurt.

Jack and Mel have had a generally long road to being together, more winding even than coming out of the lumber camps in Virgin River (nothing good happens in those lumber camps – trust me). They are together. They are broken. Various people get pregnant. Some with twins.

Alexandra Breckenridge as Mel Monroe and Mark Ghanimé as Cameron in ‘Virgin River’ (Courtesy of Netflix)

Enter the new guy. As Decider writes: “His character’s goal is to be a openly hot, Single doctorBut in Ghanimé’s portrayal, Cameron is more than just a thorn in Jack’s rugged side. Cameron is serious and hopeful. Although he’s from the city, he adapts to the slow pace of the little Virgin River, faster than Mel did in his rustic cabin. When he asks about computer software for scheduling medical appointments, and Mel tells him, “You’re going to need a pen,” he just smiled and said, “Good.” No city boy protesting here and no more clever pretense.

At Ghanime’s The face reveals a bittersweet openness that borders on pain: behind such kindness in Cameron, you know, is a story of being hurt (we’ll get to that). Cameron is easy-going and immediately friendly with Mel. So niceaccording to some fans.

Always positive, almost sickening, Cameron says, “At the end of every shift, I like to ask whoever I’m with what the highlight of their day was.” After Mel told a story about psoriasis, Cameron says her highlight was when Mel said he was attractive. (It made my partner, who I had linked to a cold watch from this season’s premiere, gasp, having never seen the show before.) Mel backs off: she was just pointing out why the waiting room was full of women of Virgin River, hoping to get a glimpse of the new eligible doctor.

Virgin RiverMark Ghanimé as Cameron and Martin Henderson as Jack Sheridan in ‘Virgin River’ (Courtesy of Netflix)

Cameron, where were you when I was pregnant?

In Cameron’s defense, he doesn’t know that Mel was a partner at the time. Once he knows he Is back off his pursuit of her, but he doesn’t give up being a good friend. He has dinner with Mel and Jack, spending a long time alone with Jack when Mel is late; Jack isn’t the most bubbly of conversationalists at the best of times, so it couldn’t have been easy. But Cameron handles it all in stride. A to please peoplehe wants to be useful.

This reflection continues when Cameron accidentally learns that Mel is pregnant (she and Jack don’t tell anyone yet due to a past stillbirth and the whole history of uncertain paternity). Cameron doesn’t say anything to Mel; he simply silently and obsessively fills the doctor’s office refrigerator with fruits, vegetables, juices and easy, healthy snacks, and lines the cupboards with tea. He also buys an expensive air purifier. Once Mel learns he knows, he offers to cover her shifts or drive her on dates. Cameron, where were you when I was pregnant?

Virgin River” deals with tough subjects set in a sweet fantasy land where the river is wide and the townspeople forgiving.

Cameron respects Mel’s decision to be with Jack, but he’s speaking his mind: telling Mel that he thinks she (and her baby) deserve better than Jack. This has angered fans, but he has his own reasons for doing so, not entirely selfish: Cameron has experience loving someone with addiction issues.

Virgin RiverAlexandra Breckenridge as Mel Monroe, Martin Henderson as Jack Sheridan, Christina Jastrzembska as Lydie and Grayson Maxwell Gurnsey as Ricky in ‘Virgin River’ (courtesy Netflix)And this season, more than the others, Jack didn’t really make its own case: never showing up to an important family wedding because he slept in his car — the day he promises Mel he’ll quit drinking. ‘Virgin River’ deals with tough subject matter set in a sweet fantasy land where the river is wide and the townspeople are forgiving, but the sight of Jack leaving pregnant Mel in bed as he walks out with a bottle of whiskey is rough . He constantly pushes his emotions away, doesn’t let anyone in, and then acts destructively.

Nice guys tend to finish last at “Virgin River”. Watch Ricky, who lost his first love, and Preacher, who is the hot glue that holds the town together.

The story has given Jack a whole boatload of trauma to carry around – and they keep piling on more, as this season reveals a mysterious sibling everyone forgot to mention? — but while Jack’s PTSD-tinged behavior rings true, would Mel continually stay with a guy so unstable the whole town has to come out looking for him? So unreliable, that Cameron quietly calls the morgue? Jack is also resistant to getting help, eventually agreeing to therapy at the end of the season after repeated pleas from Mel and others who love him.

Virgin RiverMartin Henderson as Jack Sheridan and Alexandra Breckenridge as Mel Monroe in ‘Virgin River’ (Courtesy of Netflix)

Showy displays of romance mean little without day-to-day reliability.

Nice guys tend to finish last at “Virgin River”. Watch Ricky, who lost his first love, and Preacher, who is the hot glue that holds the town together (not to mention Jack’s Bar) while never have a romantic or his own personal development. Will Cameron be another victim, the constant voice of reason on an unreasonable show? Cameron’s sensible words to Mel (“You’re gonna need someone you can rely on…You gotta think about your future”) were mostly drowned out by Jack’s grand gestures. But showy displays of romance mean little without day-to-day reliability. Personally, I’d trade every fairy-lit Airstream in the world for someone who shows up when they say they will.

A final vote for Cameron? He is emotionally mature enough to know when to stop talking and when to step aside. He’s honest about his feelings for Mel: “I care about you. Maybe a little more than I should.” But he knows he can’t work alongside her professionally feeling what he’s doing (about her, about Jack) and agrees to leave. Like most of the best-laid city plans of Virgin River, it doesn’t quite work.

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It must not be easy to orbit an established and beloved pair (if problematic), to possibly try to come between them. But Cameron reminds Mel that she has options. It doesn’t have to be Jack. It doesn’t have to be someone. Mel can choose herself. And for Cameron? A viewer has an idea:

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