In my early days of leading a camp, we had a fake wedding where we married two of the campers and had “reality TV”-style cameras following them around camp as they prepared for their big day. It was a fun exercise – kind of weird when I think about it now – but the campers were both really good sports about it and everyone had a good laugh. I was reminded of this watching the season finale of Beaver Falls because it’s essentially a wedding episode. Only, there isn’t anything fake, initially, about the wedding taking place between the camp directors’ daughter and the camp’s easy on the eyes Scottish playboy.
But what starts out as a real wedding between Flynn (Sam Robertson) and PJ (Scarlett Alice Johnson) turns into a mock one before the night is over with A-rab (Arsher Ali) and Rachael (Kristen Gutoskie) playing the part of the happy couple to keep up appearances for Lori McBride, the camp’s owner, who shows up unannounced and presumably confused about why there is a wedding reception with an open bar happening in the middle of camp. Barry even says it himself that he was wrong for thinking all of the movies he had seen about American summer camp were making things up; the shenanigans the Beaver Falls staff get into make Meatballs, Wet Hot American Summer and Little Darlings look tame by comparison.
Of course, it isn’t really clear whether camp is still in session since the complete absence of campers not staying in the Chunk bunk continues, right on through male strippers, hard liquor and toga parties. Barry was wrong all right – he’s stumbled upon a bizzaro summer camp universe where, to paraphrase Thurston’s mom from an earlier episode, things are actually more depraved than they are in the movies. Not to mention more ridiculous.
Like an American soap opera or Happy Days when Fonzi jumps the shark, the season finale gets completely out of hand. When he learns of Flynn’s plans to stay in the U.S. with PJ, Barry (John Dagleish) goes mental and proposes to Kimberley (Natasha Loring), who not taking it well, sends Barry to the bar where he meets a woman and is subsequently handcuffed to a cheap motel bed and robbed, PJ’s ring and all. As the ceremony gets closer and the priest – the episode’s comic relief – talks to Flynn about all of the possibilities, Barry enlists the help of Mac (Tom Austen) and Jake (Jon Cor) to rescue him. A-rab, meanwhile, tries to keep Hope from telling PJ about Pam and Flynn by seducing her, only to call her Rachael while they are making out, leaving him little choice but to lock her in the kitchen.
With endless scenarios swirling, the ceremony carries on without Barry and Flynn imagines all of the things that could happen when the question posed for people to speak now or forever hold their peace. Will Bobby (Todd Boyce) spill the beans? Will Hope (Emer Kenny)? Will Pam (Alison Doody) share Bobby’s secret (that he isn’t really PJ’s father)? Will A-rab and Rachael get married instead?
In the end, Flynn elects to pull PJ aside and tell her the truth himself, which ends the ceremony and leads to A-rab and Rachael faking the wedding reception for the owner. Shock of all shocks PJ is mad, not so much that Flynn slept with her mom but that he didn’t tell her about it until their wedding day. Unlike the finale of the first season, Flynn doesn’t run off to a high cliff and contemplate suicide. He’s a different person now as he keeps telling everyone so he runs after PJ in his kilt and eventually convinces her to marry him, after all, with a now toasted priest doing the nuptials.
Barry doesn’t miss the wedding the second go around, but does finally make a stand when Jake confronts Kimberley and tells her she has to make a choice between him or Barry. “I’m out,” Barry tells her, showing that he is perhaps the character who has changed the most. No longer the pathetic guy who will do anything to try and get a girl, he’s self-assured and beyond playing games. He’s even self-assured enough (with his body and swimming) to jump in the lake naked. Thurston, the one camper who was given room to develop in the series, also makes a stand and gets back at Hope in the process when he shows up bloodied from a door that hit him and points to Hope to say that she hit him and he’s afraid she’ll do it again.
If this is the last we’ve seen of Beaver Falls, this episode wasn’t such a terrible way to leave things – Flynn will get to spend the rest of his good days with PJ in the U.S., everyone’s gay friend (Mac) will get to travel to England with A-rab and Barry, who will find some way to make relationships work across the pond with Rachael and Kimberley and Hope will continue her efforts to bring the whole camp down with a thick binder documenting all of the sordid details of what went on this summer she gives to the owner at the end.
Like the end of every good summer at camp, we’ll just have to wait until next year to see.