The entire Andreas family has one brain cell, and only Pearl gets a turn with it.
Pearl was the rockstar of V.C. Andrews' Hidden Jewel, and Jennifer Laporte is the crown gem of Lifetime's V.C. Andrews sagas. To refresh your memory, Laporte swooped in and closed the chapter of the Casteel series during V.C. Andrews' Web of Dreams and excelled too.
Jennifer Laporte is a closer and damned good at it.
She spins gold with the ludicrous plots and craziness, and she keeps you engaged. Inquiring minds want to know if Laporte and Banno need icepacks after carrying this film on their backs like this.
Hidden Jewel eased us up to the early 80s, and the clothes reflected it. It also leaned into the supernatural, mysticism, and mystery that the series abandoned after Ruby, and it played out like a variation of The CW's Nancy Drew right down to the pretty people.
Everyone is so pretty, you know? And Claude thought he was a ten among single-digit numbers. As if, sir.
If he was a ten, why couldn't he find another ten to put up with his misogynistic ass?
The headstrong, determined, fearless Pearl singlehandedly keeping what was left of her family together for most of the movie did not align with the girl who let a basic ass boy like Claude break her heart.
Protect your space, my loves. Wasting precious tears and time on a classless man, you say? Rebuke it!
Once free from the shackles of a f*ckboy, Pearl focused on important things, including spending some time with her family before she went off to school.
Another one of the best parts about this film is how it didn't take itself too seriously. "I remember when I was your age; it doesn't seem that long ago at all" is just perfectly cheeky dialogue, yes?
Pearl and her parents looked the same age. They didn't even try to age-up Ruby and Beau -- their attempts at it were laughable. You factor in that Pearl had to play the adult the entire movie, and it was hysterical across the board.
Is this not what it's like as the eldest first-born daughter in a family? At the rate they were going, kid Pierre could only rely on his sister to ensure he didn't croak along with his brother, and his parents were off on excursions or drowning in their sorrows and booze.
I'm looking at you, Beau. If you're wondering if Beau was perceived any better this time around, the answer is a resounding no.
He and Ruby didn't feel like a happily married couple at all. I would've bet he was carrying on an affair with some secretary, but the Andreas family was living a life of privilege that very well may have still been funded by Beau's trust fund and Ruby's paintings, so he probably didn't have one.
Beau still felt disconnected from everyone and everything around him. And his insistence that Ruby's belief system was rubbish only solidified that he didn't respect all aspects of the woman he claimed to love, and it was he who is trash.
He considered Ruby's faith in mysticism and voodoo as "the only thing she hasn't been able to let go of," which sounds like Ruby needed to abandon her core as a woman from the Bayou to be ideal.
It's the downside of Ruby losing herself in this life of wealth and privilege in the Creole NOLA elite's high society. Beau spoke of Ruby's faith as if it was an inconvenience and character flaw.
It did make you wonder to what extent Ruby carried on with it. It all but disappeared from her life in Pearl in the Mist and All that Glitters. Pearl was equally as insensitive about her mother's beliefs as a woman of science.
Beyond whatever exposure she had with Ruby's box as a kid, it's something Ruby never exposed her children to, and if it was of value to her, then why keep them away from it?
But then, that was at the root of the problems that came to light. Ruby forgot her roots and buried her past, and it came for her.
Among one of many awful offenses, Pearl didn't even know about Paul. No wonder his spirit was unsettled!
It was such utter disrespect to Paul and his memory that neither Ruby nor Beau took the time to tell Pearl about her uncle and how much he loved and sacrificed. It's enraging when you think about it.
Maybe that's why the notion that misfortune fell on the Andreas family because of a hex seemed perfectly reasonable. Ruby was desperate to figure out what she could've done to bring bad "gree-gree" to her family, and the list is pretty damn long.
But their mistreatment of Paul and the Tates was at the top of the list. Hell, she didn't need to go on a quest through Swamp country, revisiting the past to figure that out.
It's a shame that bodies had to drop before everyone could find peace. The twin in possession of a variation of what must be a favorite name, Jean, died from a terrible snake bite, and everything went to hell from there.
Poor Jean. The only one who seemed to miss him and get a chance to grieve, albeit physiologically, was Pierre. Are the Pierres of the family forced to feel immeasurable guilt and grief over the Jeans? It seems that way.
In that sense, their relationship mirrored that of their namesakes. The parallels weren't lost there.
Jean didn't even get a funeral since everyone went from mourning him to worrying about Pierre, and then, it became about other things. Jean was the Paul of the Andreas family, apparently.
Maybe this means Paul has companionship in the afterlife after all.
At least Ruby felt determined to get in touch with her roots and get to the bottom of what was obviously more than coincidence. Pearl and Beau thought she was coo-coo for cocoa puffs, but you can't say Ruby wasn't trying to put in the work (nor that Banno wasn't fantastic portraying all of the manic madness).
Beau, as per usual, was useless. He didn't respect Ruby's beliefs, disregarded her Cajun culture, wasn't helping her grieve, barely handled anything at the hospital with Pierre, and seemed disinterested when Ruby left.
Let's be honest; the only reason Beau was still a factor this late into the game is that Ruby was an artist, so she had an eye for beauty. Beau had about as much value as a painting used for decor.
They must've figured this out, which is why he took that hilarious tumble down the stairs and spent the rest of the film fridged until the women (and John) handled everything else.
By the time Beau rolled in needing surgery and a cast, the poor doctor had to think the Andreas family was cursed. Sorry, there's no scientific explanation for that level of bad luck, and ole doc just minded his business and waited for the miracle to happen.
The reintroduction of Nina and Mama Dede was fun. Also, was Mama Dede immortal, or have the ancestors blessed her by way of Black Don't Crack? The woman hadn't aged an iota since Ruby saw her as a teenager, and I'm pretty sure she was presumably "older" for a solid decade before that.
Pearl's inflexibility around mysticism was irritating. Pearl refused to consider a world where science and medicine and spiritualism and religion coexist. Mama Dede wasn't here for it either.
Pearl, just let them summon spirits in cemeteries and chant by candlelight in peace without all the extra commentary, dammit!
It's only so much running around after her mother exclaiming, "But science," like a redheaded Velma a girl can do.
Fortunately, Pearl's care for her mother and, you know, common sense and decency overrode her distaste for the occult, and she followed Ruby and Mama Dede to the Bayou. It doesn't matter that she probably had her sights on committing her to a Psych facility or something at first. It's the thought that counts.
The real interest of the saga was in anything that centered the family history, Ruby's specifically. So any hint of exploration of that is where the series was the strongest.
Pearl deserved to know more about her mother's past and the Cajun culture of which she was deprived, in favor of Silicone Valley-Esque mini-mansions and douchebags named Claude.
It's the Bayou where she came to grips with the parallels of her deriving from a family of mystics, healers, and the gifted. It's where Pearl realized the irony of her following in her grand-mère's footsteps on the opposite side of a converging spectrum of healers.
She also got to meet Gladys, and again, inquiring minds want to know how Pearl grew up calling Jeanne (seriously, WHAT is with the John obsession?) her aunt, but she didn't know about Gladys or Paul.
Did Jeanne not mention her mother or brother at all when she was around Pearl? How does that even work?
Gladys was bitter as hell and cold-hearted AF, and I wasn't even mad at her about it. If "F**k them kids" was a person, it was Gladys sitting in her wheelchair, silver streaks in her hair, dropping bars about Ruby on the pettiest diss track of all time.
Gladys went from wanting Pearl to herself to implying she could die along with her brothers and her daddy before Ruby bites the bullet too. The woman was ruthless, calling upon the spirits to put a hex on Ruby on the anniversary of Paul's death a decade and a half later.
Gladys had vengeance in her heart.
Did Paul deserve justice? Yes. Did a child have to die for it? Hell no.
But a son for a son is some medieval level vengeance, so checkmate for Gladys.
Pearl wasn't above some medieval-level moves of her own.
Buster's trifling behind was still lurking around the swamp, harping on some promise of a wife from freaking 20 years ago. We all know he probably paid all of $15 and a bottle of moonshine for Ruby; let it go!
He was so obsessed with Ruby that he thought Pearl would be a consolation after the fact, and curse his wicked heart, Buster f*cked around and found out.
Pearl nearly slitting the man's throat and tossing him in that janky cage he built is the type of chaotic goodness a girl signs up for, folks. Honestly, Pearl deserves a medal for all the things she put up with during this film. She didn't sign up for any of her family's bullcrap, yet she had to save all of their collective arses anyway.
Pearl is a queen.
And every queen should have the option of a worthy man by her side.
And John had it all. He was handsome, intelligent, employed, and willing to drop everything to help a woman he barely knew. He wasn't intimidated by Pearl taking the lead and respected her independence and agency, but also, he could play the hero without being an ass about it.
He was humble, non-judgmental, knew when to mind his business, a gentleman, and spices his food.
Finally, a romantic lead I can get behind, and our heroine could get underneath! Claude could never, not even in his dreams.
A large part of the John fangirling could be due to how good it is to see Evan Roderick in something else after bingeing the undeservedly canceled Spinning Out on Netflix.
John was a great partner and sidekick for Pearl as she went on this batsh!t quest to track down her hexed mother in Swampland. And Roderick and Laporte had great chemistry.
Was it good enough to make the fact that Pearl, in the middle of tracking down her slightly crazed mother, after her brother died, and while her other brother was fighting for his life, managed to work up some magic between the sheets with a guy she had only known for two days?
Nah, that part was still ridiculous.
The series can sell the love at first sight part better during the 40s-60's timeline. However, the idea of a girl confessing that it was her first time having sex and she was now in love with a guy she had only known for two days -- and it didn't send him running in the opposite direction or telling her to slow her roll a bit was a stretch.
Speaking of "stretch," and to be fair, she was the one who described John as, um, stretching her, uh, mind. If John wasn't perfect enough, his dick has some mystical powers of his own.
It wasn't Ruby's experience or the long history of healing and mysticism of the Landry women that did it. No, not even Pearl's own visions, sixth-sense, and intuition broke through her walls.
Oh yes, John's penis of reason opened Pearl's mind, body, and heart to the possibility that what they were dealing with was beyond the confinements of science.
By the time we got to Ruby dramatically painting a grim canvas portraying Paul's death and the performance of a seance in the backwoods, Pearl was a believer.
All Ruby had to do was acknowledge her dead brother lover and put some respect on his name. An apology and showing how much she did love him in the form of that painting of him dying convinced ghost Paul that she was sorry for using him.
Good times. She somehow managed to task Ghost Paul with looking after Ghost Jean, so did she really learn?
A surprisingly chipper Pierre decided that he did want to hang out in the land of the living. He even went as far as signing his father's cast on behalf of himself and his brother.
I'm not entirely sure he won't somehow end up possessed with his brother's spirit in the future or something. If that happens, Pearl could put her medical and Bayou healer legacy skills to use.
Yup, a happily ever after indeed. Pearl gets the house that Ruby and Paul lived happily in, her love, John, gets to renovate it to their taste.
And the others get to live happily ever after, too. You wouldn't want it any other way.
Over to you, Lifetime Fanatics. Did you love the conclusion? How much did you love Pearl? Were the mysticism and mystery too much for you?
Hit the comments below and discuss!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.