For the finale of a frothy summer spectacle, Fantasy Island Season 1 Episode 8 is an amazingly thoughtful and emotionally provocative offering to wrap the season with.
Not only are all the relationships examined with sensitivity and respect, but there’s an elegant balance between the feelings of the dead and those who live on.
In a season of wide-ranging fantasy requests with — objectively — diverse levels of successful story-telling, this was an outstanding script that managed to deal with grief, guilt, regret, and atonement. Gold star.
What impressed me the most is how well the many separate plotlines were executed while maintaining a solid central theme.
Usually, I get frustrated when scripts are over-stuffed with disparate relationships, conflicts, and resolutions, but because the writers set up the premise of the island’s twist on the Day of the Dead early, all four of the stories feel properly addressed.
It helps that Ruby and Mel are familiar faces — both young and old versions — and having them reunited, bookending the season with their incredible love story, is incredibly satisfying.
Mel: Longer than a lifetime…
Ruby: And more than all the world. I love you, Mel.
I love that Mel knows Ruby so well that he knows that, one, she’s found someone, two, that she doesn’t want to tell him about her, and, three, that she’s spinning her wheels because she still thinks of herself as his wife.
His reaction to learning that he’s dead is completely understandable, while his behavior is exactly what you’d expect a man to do when his wife gives him hard news.
Everything that happens between Mel and Ruby feels true and honest, the product of living a lifetime together.
Mel: Do you know when I get the absolute maddest at my wife?
Jasper: Tell me.
Mel: It’s when I know that she’s right.
And having them turn back into their true aged selves just drove home how they had done it together — all those challenging experiences and joyful moments — and how that will always be a part of Ruby.
Can I make a confession? I miss us being us. I like those old people with the creaky knees.
Mel’s blessing on her new life and encouragement to pursue happiness with Gina may be his final gift to her, but it’s obvious that his greatest gift was their time together.
In a similar vein, Javier’s visit with Danny offers him a path forward with his life.
I really, really liked Danny. She’s the coolest ghost/spirit/dead person ever.
Danny: Hey, I need to know. This going to get all mushy and stuff?
Javier: Yeah, it’s possible.
Danny: Mm-hm. Well, then we’re going to need beer.
Javier: But, Danny…
Danny: Mmm? Beer first. Mushy talk later.
And what I appreciate most about her visit with Javier is that she makes it very clear that she does not want him calling her back every year. She thanks him for staying connected to her family. She gives her assent to him telling stories about her at her daughters’ weddings.
But she wants him to move on. She wants him to be at peace with how she died and the fact he didn’t. It’s a powerful affirmation to get. And it’s nice that he does take it to heart, being honest with Elena about his feelings and intentions the very next day.
Elena: So, did your friend come?
Elena: And did you say what you needed to say?
Javier: Not exactly, but she said what I needed to hear.
A lot of what struck home for me here was that we weren’t seeing anyone’s specific fantasy. This finale gave us fantasies generalizable to every human on earth.
Everyone has someone they want closure with. Someone to absolve them of a wrong done. Someone to clear the air with. Someone to hug one last time.
Husbands and wives. Fathers and sons. Friends and family. Endings are never total and to have the opportunity to say that last goodbye on your own terms, knowing exactly the minute they’ll disappear again… wow, that’s a collective emotion being tapped into in a big way.
Mel: I’m in a fight with my wife.
Jasper: Well, I’m in a fight with God, but She’s giving me the silent treatment.
Jasper and Ramon’s reconciliation may be the most typical of the Fantasy Island narratives in play.
Since Jasper died six years ago, it’s pretty amazing that Ramon deals with his return so calmly.
I mean, he did threaten bodily harm immediately after seeing him but considering their history, that’s pretty on point.
Returning to the show’s overarching message of being true to yourself, Jasper’s time stuck in purgatory feels like the result of his own delusions about his moral character.
Jasper: I don’t set out to do wrong, Mel. Wrong just seems to find me. I think it’s because I’m so dang charming. People just want to give me things, and I took advantage of that.
Mel: Well, that’s no excuse for being an ass.
It’s fitting that he and Mel end up being each other’s lifelines out on the golf course.
Mel needed someone as determined as he was to impose their will on the world at large in order to see his own folly.
Jasper needed someone to point out how deeply he cared for Ramon.
As Elena pointed out, the island didn’t bring Jasper’s ex-roommate or old neighbor, it brought Ramon.
Ramon wasn’t just another person Jasper could exploit. He meant something to him and leaving him to discover that he had been exploited was always the anchor holding Jasper in place.
Ramon: I get it. Just like you held my future in your hands for so long, now I hold your eternal future in mine?
Jasper: Yeah, that about sums it up.
Ramon: Heh. Looks like you’re screwed.
For Ramon to come around to accepting the hurt he’d felt at learning what Jasper had done was what he needed to become “unstuck” himself.
Despite the fact Ramon wasn’t a “guest” on the island, it’s heartening to see the island magic working within its usual parameters again, returning a visitor to their real-life better able to deal and thrive.
And Jasper’s admission that he was no longer afraid to face the Great Beyond is the ultimate indication that he found real peace. Good job, island, you did a two-fer!
The road to Hell is not actually paved with good intentions. In reality, it’s paved with lies.
That leaves us with Elena and Fernando.
It’s a bit of a cliff-hanger to provide us with a glimpse into Elena’s backstory that reveals a great wrong like causing the death of a cousin.
Also, it’s pretty worrying that the island can actively dislike a person enough to cause that death.
So, we’re left to contemplate the implications of Fernando and the island as we await word on whether we’ll be traveling back to Fantasy Island for a second season.
As you watch Fantasy Island online, let us know what were your highlights and what peeved you?
Who would be your fantasy guest stars next season? Just as a positive thinking exercise, post your list in the comments!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.