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'Virgin River' star Zibby Allen agrees it's time to speed up the show's timeline

“I’m like, ‘You guys, eventually, you’re gonna have to do a time jump because we’re just aging way too fast for a five-month span,’" Allen, who plays Brie Sheridan, told TODAY.
Zibby Allen plays Brie Sheridan, the brother of Jack Sheridan, in "Virgin River." 
Zibby Allen plays Brie Sheridan, the brother of Jack Sheridan, in "Virgin River." Netflix

This post contains spoilers for Season Four of “Virgin River.”

If there’s one thing “Virgin River" does well, it’s cliffhangers. The hit Netflix show left fans reeling with yet another shocking revelation at the end of Season Four after answering some other long-awaited questions.

Luckily for the show's ardent fanbase, "Virgin River" is coming back for a fifth season, and the cast has already started filming. 

TODAY recently caught up with Zibby Allen, who plays Jack's sister Brie Sheridan, to break down her character’s journey in Season Four and see what lies ahead for Brie in Season Five.  

On Brie’s emotional journey in Season 4 

There’s a scene at the end of Season 4 where Brie confronts and threatens to sue her ex Don, who had sexually assaulted her. Can we expect to see this storyline play out more in Season 5?

Without giving anything away, I can at least tell you that Brie is somebody who follows through on her promises. Where that takes her, I cannot reveal. That wasn’t just something she said in a vacuum; that’s going to be a part of her journey as she continues to heal that part of her world.

It’s a beautiful scene because in that moment, she really finds her strength once again after struggling emotionally throughout the season.

Thanks, I think so too. And I’m really glad that the writers got to give her that moment. Not everybody, as we know, who has been the victim or is a survivor of assault gets that opportunity. But I’m glad that Brie gets to have it.

The writers have been so beautiful with this piece of the story in Virgin River. They’ve worked with RAINN, which is one of the biggest anti-sexual violence organizations in the United States. They provide all these resources for survivors of sexual assault. And because of that, I’m really proud of the way they’re trying to tell the story of Brie being a survivor, and that it’s not perfect. 

"Virgin River" is certainly a town where everyone supports their neighbors.
"Virgin River" is certainly a town where everyone supports their neighbors.Netflix

It’s interesting to see how so many characters in the show come to Virgin River to recover from trauma. What is it about this fictional town that is so healing for them?

Virgin River really does embody that. It’s just a peaceful, sadly fictional place where everybody who’s there is sort of coming to heal from something. I think what Virgin River as a town does really well is community. The nature, the quietude and the simplicity gives a great backdrop to people being able to come to terms with whatever’s inside of them and learn to rely on one another.

Connection and community is something that Virgin River really does well, and kind of seamlessly; nobody’s forcing it.

In a world where everybody’s trying to hold each other to impossible standards of social norms, in Virgin River there’s a lot of room to be who you are and where you’re at and still feel cared for. And I think even Brie experienced that when she got there, much to her surprise.

On Brie’s relationship with Brady

Benjamin Hollingsworth as Brady and Zibby Allen as Brie Season 4 of "Virgin River."
Benjamin Hollingsworth as Brady and Zibby Allen as Brie Season 4 of "Virgin River."Netflix

OK, let’s talk about your character’s relationship with Brady. Their bond has really evolved this season. Was it fun to have more emotionally charged scenes together?

For sure. Ben Hollingsworth, who plays Brady, is really committed to his character, and the growth of his character, and also the growth of our relationship. So it was really fun for both of us to explore new shades of what their relationship could be.

In Season Three, they had a very sexually charged, steamy relationship. And the big question is, if Brie stays in Virgin River and as they go on and real life comes back around ... is the relationship sustainable?

To see Brady work hard to earn a position in a day-to-day, real, substantive relationship with Brie is something that’s fun for the audience, but really fun for us to play. It gives us more colors to work with (than) just the hot making out and the riding on the motorcycle thing.

Brie stands by Brady in Season Four, even when he goes to prison.
Brie stands by Brady in Season Four, even when he goes to prison.Netflix

What’s going on in Brie’s head in Season 4 when Brady is accused of shooting her brother Jack? Does she feel like she’s betraying Jack at any point while she seeks to prove Brady’s innocence?

I think Brie has this really strong sense of right and wrong and justice — that’s what her whole career has been around. So regardless of whatever PTSD she’s suffering, and how she’s trying to sort of regain a sense of herself in this one area of her life, one thing she’s never (forgotten how to do is) listen to herself.

Brie and Jack were more or less estranged as brother and sister. They lost their closeness when Jack went to war and Brie threw herself into her work in Sacramento as a lawyer. So even though she has this Sheridan family allegiance, there’s also a big question mark. She doesn’t know Jack in the way that she (once did). They’re both rekindling their brother-sister relationship.

I think it leaves a little bit of room for her to go, “Well, what’s really going on here? You know, Jack doesn’t remember all the details of that night. And I know Brady in this one way nobody else seems to know him.” She tries to play it cool, but she really puts on her lawyer hat in Season Four and helps with that.

Brady and Brie's relationship has evolved over the past few seasons.
Brady and Brie's relationship has evolved over the past few seasons.Netflix

Aside from Brie and Brady, who is your next favorite couple on the show?

Oh man, I love them all, but I love Hope and Doc a lot. I don’t think we get to see very often a love story between people at that stage in their life. And I think the things that they’re dealing with in their lives together, and separately, are really important to mirror back and acknowledge because it’s a stage and a part of life that we’re all going to be in if we’re not there already. 

It’s very wonderful to see them interface and to see how different they are and watch where Doc and Hope really intersect and where they clash, and to see that the love is really strong between them still. So I find them inspirational.

On Season 5

Allen in episode 412 of "Virgin River."
Allen in episode 412 of "Virgin River."Netflix

How’s filming going so far? 

It feels like a little “Virgin River” family reunion. It’s so nice to be back. We have a couple of new collaborators on the creative end (ed. note: Patrick Sean Smith joined as showrunner) and spirits are really high. It’s really fun to go back to work on the heels of the launch of the season and to feel all of the love from the audience. It gives us an extra boost of confidence to go back into this (next season) and carry on with the storylines hearing from the audience how much they matter to people. 

Looking ahead to Season 5, what is your biggest hope for Brie and Brady?

I really hope that they figure out how to navigate something that’s real. I think they’re so different, right? They come from such different walks of life. So the big question mark is, “Can they make it last and have a real day-to-day relationship?”

Jack and Mel are very, very different. We’ve seen it work with them. So I’m rooting for (Brie and Brady). I think they have a lot of ground to cover, though, because Brady’s still caught up in the criminal world. Brie is just finding her footing again and sort of returning to her center. If Brady can’t break ties with that side of his world, that’s going to be very compromising for Brie. So my hope is they can get there, but I think they’ve got a lot of work to do. 

Martin Henderson (Jack Sheridan) and Alexandra Breckenridge (Mel Monroe) in "Virgin River."
Martin Henderson (Jack Sheridan) and Alexandra Breckenridge (Mel Monroe) in "Virgin River."Netflix

What is the fictional Virgin River like? Is filming in Vancouver as picturesque as the show makes it appear?

It genuinely is. It’s as beautiful as it looks on the show, if not more, and it’s such a special, rare opportunity to be able to film in a location like that long form.

My first day back on set (for Season Five) was at the top of a mountain. It was myself and Martin Henderson, who plays Jack, and we felt like we were on top of the world looking at this turquoise lake and snow-capped mountains.

It’s truly breathtaking and it’s so grounding, and I really appreciate that as an actor because sometimes being in a cold studio all day can feel really lifeless and uncreative. But when you’re out in nature, it’s just so immediately expansive. I think it really helps us with our work.

Annette O'Toole (Hope), Sarah Dugdale (Lizzie) and Nicola Cavendish (Connie) from "Virgin River."
Annette O'Toole (Hope), Sarah Dugdale (Lizzie) and Nicola Cavendish (Connie) from "Virgin River." Netflix

It’s mind-boggling to think that the four seasons have only spanned a period of five months for the characters. Brie sees her brother go through so much in this time — breakups, new love, two pregnancies, an engagement. What is she thinking as she’s watching his journey?

I think the gift of having a sibling is that whether or not you agree with how they’re doing life, or even if you have much in common, what you do have in common is your upbringing and your parents and … nobody else really has as much of an insight (into you) as your sibling does. 

So even if they were estranged in their adult life for a while, there’s that (familiarity). Brie is witness to who Jack is at the core. I’m happy that Jack has someone in his town and back in his life who really knows who he is and can, without judgment, see him go through all kinds of things and make missteps but still love him unconditionally. That’s what family is. 

The five-month time span is especially funny considering that Charmaine has been pregnant for four seasons of the show. Is that something the cast ever jokes about on set?

Oh, all the time. I’m like, 'You guys, eventually, you’re gonna have to do a time jump because we’re just aging way too fast for a five-month span.' But yeah, I think that the pregnancy thing was one of the first sort of tells because even I, when I was watching the show before I was on, was like, “Oh, this covers way more time in the story.” And it really doesn’t.