Family Reunion/Voodoo 1.04

“Family Reunion/Voodoo”

First telecast: February 18, 1978

KIM’S REVIEW:

By now we expect our dapper hosts to be all decked out to the nines, ready to welcome their latest guests onto the island for a weekend of fun and games (well, at least on Roarke’s part). But horror of horrors in Roarke’s eyes: Tattoo comes out without his jacket on! But Tattoo thinks he has a good reason, claiming the plane is coming in an hour early. When Roarke contradicts him and they compare watches, it’s discovered that Tattoo’s has quit on him, which annoys him: “You know how much that watch cost me?” he demands, ever the money man. Retorts Roarke, “Evidently a great deal more than it’s worth.” (Which I personally find interesting, because when they take out their timepieces for comparison purposes, it’s obvious that they both have exactly the same gold pocket watch. Maybe Tattoo’s was a designer knockoff?) Anyway, it’s off to the plane dock, where this weekend the first guests to step onto terra firma are two children, a brother and sister named Tony and Anne Kellino. Behind them is their mother, Evelyn, with her oh-so-proper fiancé, one Carlisle Cranston. Roarke remarks that he’s a Boston banker (why are Bostonians so often portrayed as stiff, rich, too proper and generally unlikeable, anyway?), which naturally causes dollar signs to spring up in Tattoo’s eyes. And sure, Carlisle Cranston could afford full price, except it’s not his fantasy: it’s Anne and Tony’s, and they’ve paid all of fifty-one dollars to have it granted. Tattoo’s so aghast he doesn’t even ask Roarke to explain, to either him or us viewers, what the Kellino kids’ fantasy is. Fortunately, there’s the next group of arrivals to distract him: attorney Douglas Shane, his wife (whose first name we will never learn), his client Jane Howell, and Jane’s fiancé, Bill Jordan. Jane has had amnesia since the age of thirteen, and she and Shane want to know whether she is the long-missing daughter of late multi-millionaire rubber-plantation owner Jonathan Connors. If Jane proves to be the heiress, she’ll receive a cool thirty million dollars. Oh yes, that’s quite enough to impress Tattoo.

Coming back from commercials, we find Roarke heading for a small umbrella-shaded table where Anne and Tony are having some eats with Mom and “Uncle Carlisle”. The kids quite naturally return Roarke’s hug; he clearly has an amazing rapport with kids. Cranston asks about the survival camp Roarke is supposedly taking the kids to; Anne isn’t very happy that the parents have to approve the place, but all the adults insist on it. Evelyn and Cranston want to know where all the other campers are, but instead all they get is the “rest of the party”…namely, the children’s father, Harry Kellino, and his fiancée, Grace Arnold. It’s a rather awkward moment for everybody except the kids, who are of course delighted to see Dad show up. Still Roarke doesn’t explain anything, but by now you know what the story is anyway. That’s probably why we cut to the Shane/Howell party on the way to what is in fact an exact replica of the Connors plantation; the real thing was apparently on some other island, location unknown, but was destroyed after Connors died. Connors was no saint, as Shane tells us while ominous drums thud away in the background: his family exploited the native people for a good five generations, and the natives’ only recourse was voodoo. Bill Jordan establishes himself as the scoffing skeptic from the get-go, but Shane tells him that Connors believed in it and was terrified of it. A “high priest” by the name of Jamu saw to it that the house was burned to the ground once Connors had kicked the bucket. All the while Jane is listening carefully to the backstory; Jordan protests at their staying, but Jane is determined to see it through. She really wants to know whether she’s the Connors heiress. So Roarke takes his leave, and his guests head inside the house — spied upon by Jamu himself from the bushes nearby.

Inside the house, as Jane is trying to figure out whether she remembers anything, a woman appears from the kitchen and Shane recognizes her as Mamala (pronounced “Mama-La”), the Connors nanny. She comes in and peers narrowly at Jane, while Mrs. Shane marvels that Roarke managed to find the woman after Shane himself has spent many fruitless years trying to track her down. Shane observes that Roarke seems to know a lot of things the rest of us don’t! After some suspicious squinting, Mamala grabs the collar of Jane’s blouse and yanks it down to expose her shoulder, where reposes a somewhat lurid crescent-shaped scar. When Mamala asks where it came from, Jane can’t tell her. So Shane explains about Jane’s amnesia and asks if the scar means anything, which merely gets a sniff from Mamala before she abandons them for her work. We close Act I on the spying voodoo high priest, still crouched in a bush. (Which raises the question: since everybody’s gone inside and curtains shroud all the windows, is he watching them through the walls with his patented Voodoo X-Ray Vision?)

Act II opens on two jeeps approaching a lakeside (or maybe pondside) cabin, with the four adults still under the impression that the kids are being dropped off at camp. However, when they get out and actually see the place, Harry and Evelyn are shocked; Harry wants to know if it’s a joke, while Anne exclaims in delight that it looks exactly like the cabin the Kellinos used to rent, presumably in happier days. Evelyn starts to enumerate the differences, including how the original place was overrun with frogs…at which point Tony displays one of said amphibians and suggests, “You mean like this one?” That sets Harry and Evelyn to reminiscing a bit, until Grace deliberately breaks it up. While the adults are examining the place at a bit closer range, Roarke tells the kids that everything is up to them now. Anne protests, “I didn’t think we’d have to…” and trails off when she realizes the parents and stepparents-to-be are all staring at her. Naturally, Cranston wants to know what she means, and Grace adds that she was suspicious of the whole thing from the start when she learned the camp needed the parents’ approval. Then she makes herself thoroughly unlikeable, even by the courtly and ever-polite Roarke, when she remarks, “Real camps exist so parents can get rid of kids!” Roarke’s response is a cool “Really?” (One would think that remark would have turned Harry off his child-despising girlfriend right then and there, but apparently he’s as discombobulated as everybody else, since they all seem to let this pass.) Anyway, that’s when Roarke finally reveals to the adults that Anne and Tony are hoping to pull off a Parent Trap-style intervention; that, in a way, makes it the “survival camp” they were duped into coming to see, because everybody’s going to have to figure out a way to live with one another throughout the weekend. Roarke is about to leave when Cranston lodges a vigorous protest, but Roarke assures him they’ll have everything they need for a weekend in the cabin. Cranston sputters, “This is incredible!” and Roarke, deliberately misunderstanding him, agrees, “Of course…this is Fantasy Island!” On that note, he’s gone…and so are we, just as Evelyn is about to give Anne what-for over the whole situation.

We lose the rest of the day in fact, for now it’s nighttime and the first thing we see at the plantation is our buddy Jamu, gleefully wielding a snake in intricate patterns over his head with candles all but setting the place afire. Cut to Jane in her bedroom, sitting on the canopy bed with a few stuffed animals, examining the room as if to jog her memory. Of course, within moments she sees the snake winding itself around the top of one of the bedposts, and from that point on she’s frozen with pure terror. The snake, naturally, is being voodoo’ed by Jamu, and while Jane gapes helplessly, the snake slithers closer and closer, then up her leg and her arm and over her shoulders. She’s even too scared to scream, just whimpers. Luckily for her, Jordan wanders past looking for her; when his knocks get no response, he comes in anyway, sees what’s going on, grabs a fireplace tool and manages to hook the snake off Jane. We get treated to Jamu’s startled surprise when his voodoo-doll snake suddenly whisks itself right out of his hands and flies off across the hut somewhere. Jordan bashes the real snake to death, and for now Jane is safe. So reassured, we go back to the cabin where Harry totes in an armful of wood to build a roaring fire on this chilly evening. (Hey, wait a minute…isn’t this supposed to be a tropical island? One has to presume, from this as well as both past and future evidence, that maybe Roarke’s manipulating the weather; nobody had ever heard of global warming in 1978, after all.) Anne recalls the summer it unexpectedly snowed at their real cabin, prompting Evelyn to summarily dismiss her reminiscing session; to her credit, she apologizes when she notices her daughter’s face fall. At that point Grace announces she just wants to go to sleep, thinking it might make her like the place a bit better. Everyone else agrees, so good ol’ Uncle Carlisle takes charge and doles out sleeping arrangements: guys in the bedroom, ladies in the living room where they can be warmed by the fire. This, needless to say, does not sit well with Anne and Tony; how in heck is that supposed to aid in getting their parents alone together? Back at the plantation, Mrs. Shane is wandering the halls and drops in on Jane’s room when she hears humming coming therefrom. Mamala is emitting some wordless tune, smoothing the covers over a sleeping Jane. Everything seems all nice and calm and settled for the night, but we can tell by the scene showing us Jamu’s newest machinations that Jane will be facing more mayhem come morning.

Said morning arrives with Act III. The adults seem to have adjusted to some extent; Harry’s off for some fishing, Evelyn and Uncle Carlisle are on the front deck, and Grace is who-knows-where (sulking, perhaps, given her personality). And over on the bridge crossing part of the pond are Anne and Tony; he’s discouraged, she’s still racking her brain for some way to throw their parents together without the future stepparents’ interference. The main thing, she knows, is to get them alone together. Tony doesn’t get it: “What can they do alone that they can’t do with us?” To which Anne asks in disbelief, “Are you sure you’re thirteen?” But before her clueless brother can do more than shrug sheepishly, she spots the barn, and that’s all it takes to sprout an idea in her devious little brain. Tony is still hung up on the mysterious necessity of their parents’ being alone, but Anne is now feeling generous enough to suggest that he might get it in a couple more years. With that…it’s time for a short break of sorts. At the main house, Roarke and Tattoo are strolling down the veranda, and greet a guest as she passes them by; but it takes Roarke three tries before she realizes she’s been spoken to, and turns around to beam at them. She’s your basic stereotypical old-maid type (well, maybe more like middle-aged maid), with her hair in a bun, thick-lensed glasses, an old-fashioned dress topped off with a pink cardigan, and no-nonsense shoes. But she has a three-mile-wide romantic streak in her and an apparent affinity for Victorian speech; she’s “all in a dither”, and when Tattoo (to Roarke’s mild annoyance, for some reason) asks what about, she admits that despite having been granted the most perfect fantasy on earth, she just can’t make up her mind: Robert Redford or Burt Reynolds? Roarke says she’ll just have to solve it herself, which suits her just fine: “Me ‘n’ the boys’ll just have to keep trying!” Once she floats off, Tattoo wants to know how Roarke does it, and Roarke merely responds, “How indeed,” with a rather obvious leer. (Let’s give Montalbán a little break here; he was still growing into the character, and Roarke would tone down considerably in later episodes.)

We’re treated to another glimpse of Jamu spying on the visitors again before joining them in the house, where Jane is tinkling around on the piano. By now they all know Jamu’s out there watching them; Bill Jordan and Mamala have words about it, and Jane reprimands him, before turning to Mamala and asking plaintively why Jamu hates her so much. It’s simply because he’s afraid she’ll restore the plantation, which strikes Jordan as ridiculous. Jane wants to make this clear to Jamu and begs Mamala to talk to him, all the while playing absently on the piano. The tune she’s plinking out catches Mamala’s attention and she tells them it’s a Haitian song she taught Marian Connors. Hmm…could this be Jane’s amnesiac fog trying to lift? … We go unexpectedly back to the main house now; it’s evening once again, and Roarke comes inside shuffling through a few letters before he notices Tattoo on one side of the room, seated at a small elegant table squinting at the disjointed parts of his watch through a jeweler’s loupe and grumbling to himself in French. Roarke admires his stubbornness in trying to fix the watch, but Tattoo’s pretty well had it and says something about writing to Ralph Nader. Roarke then asks pointedly whether Tattoo did as requested and attended to the details of the Kellino children’s fantasy; Tattoo, without ever looking up from the watch, says he did but doesn’t think it will work. At Roarke’s behest, Tattoo finally gives him the loupe, and Roarke advises him about learning the art of patience while making some sort of simple but miraculous adjustment on the watch and handing it back to Tattoo — who discovers that it’s back in perfect working order. Tattoo remarks sagely that this fantasy isn’t as easy as fixing a watch, getting an exasperated look from Roarke, and adds that he’s done all he can, but for the plan to work it has to rain — and it hasn’t rained on the island in at least nine years. Casually Roarke saunters to the window and opens the shutters to stare out, pointing out that it’s really been 9½. (Raising the question as to how there can be so much lush greenery in the face of such a drought. Once again, I guess you gotta blame Roarke.) Before Tattoo can comment, there’s vivid lightning and crashing thunder, and all of a sudden it’s pouring outside. And not just at the main house, but at the cabin too, where everybody is sound asleep except for Anne. Time to put the plan into motion. So she jumps off the couch, goes to Evelyn’s cot, wakes her up and talks her into going out to the barn by claiming Tony’s upset and has run out there to be alone, and needs comforting. At the same time, Tony does his part, wakes up his dad and feeds him a similar fish story about Anne, which Harry also falls for. And as soon as both parents have run out to the barn and discovered they’ve been tricked, the two young conspirators shut them in and drop the restraining bar on the door to keep them there. After a little arguing and some scrounging around for some way to get out, they get the idea to slip a sawed-off…well, saw (sorry) through the crack between the double doors and use it to lift the bar. It works, but when the door opens they find themselves confronted by a bear, which chases them back into the barn and up the ladder into the hayloft. The bear makes for the ladder as if to join them, but gives up for some reason — at which point Harry, instead of pulling the ladder up, shoves it away from the loft like a genius. The bear then proceeds to curl up in the hay and take advantage of a nice dry place to sleep, leaving Harry and Evelyn to face each other all alone, just the way their kids had hoped. Pan through the heavy rain and the lightning to the end of the dirt driveway, where Roarke and Tattoo are looking on from under an umbrella. Roarke wonders if Tattoo thinks it will work out; Tattoo shoots back that he hopes so: does he have any idea what it costs to rent a bear these days? While Roarke’s processing that, Tattoo pulls out a spyglass and trains it on the barn, getting a sharp admonishment from Roarke for his pains. Time to let the circumstances do their work.

Back from another round of ads, we notice first thing that it’s not raining at the plantation house, for whatever reasons. Jane is still playing the piano when Douglas Shane walks in with some papers he’s just discovered. It seems that checking through Jonathan Connors’ ledger has shown him a way to prove Jane’s identity: evidently he had spoken to Connors on the day he took the plantation owner those very papers to sign, and Connors mentioned that Marian’s dog had died the day before and she wanted to bury her beloved pet somewhere in private. Jordan scoffs again, but Shane tells him that since the location of the burial site is something only Marian would have known, it’s the best way they have to get final proof. Mamala verifies it, though Jane of course can’t recall…but she tells Mamala to let Jamu know that she’ll gladly turn the family island over to his people in its entirety if he’ll help her remember where she buried her dog. Jordan raises a very good point: how in heck can she do that when this isn’t the Connors island? Shane has complete faith in Roarke and says he probably handled that thorny little problem. (In this way Roarke can be used as a deus ex machina — a temptation that was undoubtedly too much for some scriptwriters to resist on some occasions, but which fortunately seems to have been confined primarily to the first season when everybody was still feeling their way along.)

So once they’ve convinced a reluctant Mamala, she talks Jamu into the deal, and we are next treated to the sight of a group of natives in the midst of a swaying ritual dance of some kind; they all look spaced out on something, and when the visitors arrive, Jamu puts Jane under the same kind of trance. After a few minutes of her blank-eyed swaying, Jamu stops the whole thing and silence falls while Jane closes her eyes. Jamu blows some imaginary dust off one palm, and Jane lights up (still with closed eyes) and blurts out, “Pepe!” Shane obligingly tells us that was the name of the late dog. Once again the dancers start swaying, and so does Jane, who now turns and leaves the hut with Mamala, Jordan and the Shanes hot on her heels. Jamu retreats to a small casket-like box surrounded by candles to perform yet another of his little voodoo spells while Jane and the others wander around the yard and finally stop near a bush at the roadside. In the hut Jamu blows some sand off the box, and outside Jane “comes to” and asks what happened. When she’s told, she says she remembers exactly where the dog is buried, and Shane brings a shovel, with which Jordan promptly starts digging. And as it happens, he does in fact turn up a wooden box, which sets Jane into a joyful celebration and prompts Shane to suggest that they have some champagne. Before they can do anything, however, Roarke appears, telling them he wants to speak to Jane alone. They agree, and Roarke takes Jane off down a pitch-black dirt road in a jeep — only to be stopped by a few of Jamu’s followers, bearing torches and looking menacing. On that ominous note, we’re back at the cabin the following morning; Cranston wakes up, notices that Harry’s missing and gets all up in arms. Grace is just as peeved that Evelyn is gone. She starts to question Anne, who jumps off the couch as if to escape the inquisition — at which point Harry and Evelyn burst in the door. At Cranston’s and Grace’s demand, they go on to explain how “about 800 pounds of cheap fur coat” trapped them in the barn overnight. Of course, Grace and Cranston don’t buy it, and Cranston insists on knowing what really happened. As if he had to ask: Harry and Evelyn have reconciled. Neither Grace nor “Uncle Carlisle” even try to put up a fight, and both walk out in an offended huff. The kids, of course, are thrilled; Anne wants to know if it means anything, and Harry and Evelyn tell them they’ve decided to try again. As Tony puts it, “it took only six months’ worth of allowance” to make it happen!

Back at the plantation, it’s clear that Roarke and Jane have been gone overnight, and the Shanes and Jordan are worried sick by now. All of a sudden the door slams and in stumbles Roarke, clutching one arm, his impeccable white suit in tatters. Roarke explains that Jamu’s followers stopped his jeep on the road, took Jane and killed her despite his best efforts to protect her. The Shanes are horrified and Jordan looks dazed; while Roarke rests on the piano bench and Mrs. Shane solicitously brings him a brandy, Jordan makes for the kitchen and tells Mamala that Jane is dead, shocking the nanny. Jordan then goes on to accuse her of destroying months of painstaking mental programming that planted suggestions and memories and ideas in Jane’s head so that she’d pull off the fallacy of being the vanished Marian Connors. He’s gone and purged himself in a fit of pique before he notices Roarke standing in the kitchen doorway; and when he has their attention, Roarke extends his hand and Jane steps into view, alive, well and very disillusioned. Roarke avails Mamala and Jordan of the trick he pulled off to get them to confess their duplicity. Jane tells them Roarke told her the truth about Jordan’s scheme and how Mamala was his accomplice, and says accusingly that she really loved Jordan before turning her back on him and walking away. Busted!

The tag at the plane dock sees a very happy Kellino family heading home together; Roarke says they might come back, but Tattoo hopes it won’t be at kids’ prices! Then Jane Howell says she’ll eventually get over Jordan’s betrayal despite her love for him; when Tattoo suggests she must be disappointed about the money, Jane tells him she never wanted it. Tattoo’s reaction is priceless. What’s important to Jane is that even if she still doesn’t know her true identity, at least now she knows who she isn’t. Shane gives in to curiosity then and asks if all that voodoo was really just tricks, and Roarke merely inquires, “Were they?” Shane thinks it’s impossible, but Roarke reminds him, and us by extension, that this is Fantasy Island and anything is possible. Shane has to be satisfied with that; but as they leave, we see Roarke and Tattoo exchange a glance. Do they know, or don’t they? (Personally, my meager money is on Roarke knowing and Tattoo not!)

There are still some holes in the story (the biggest one being the question of how Jordan and Mamala managed to plant manufactured memories in Jane’s head without her cottoning onto what they were doing). But it’s a kick, as always, to spot the actors you recognize: already Lauren Tewes, as Jane, is moonlighting from her “Love Boat” job, and David Hedison and Gary Collins each make the first of several appearances on the island. Young Katy Kurtzman as Anne Kellino neatly shows that a girl can be as diabolical a mastermind as any boy. Generally well done and fun to watch.

 

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