What is nostalgia if not trying to take yourself back to a different time?
As Jane Harris put it towards the end of the Neighbors series: “Dare to dream, I might recapture time from the past. Over the years, I started to miss the girl I used to be.”
For Australians listening to episode 8903 Neighbors, it’s a nostalgic exercise – and the producers know it.
Maybe you haven’t watched the iconic soap opera since Charlene and Scott left, or since Susan Kennedy slapped the cheeky Karl in the face. Or maybe you last noticed when Delta Goodrem was still Nina Tucker or maybe you came to the Margot Robbie years.
For the vast majority of Australians who wrote lyrics about the end of Neighbors after 37 years, the goodwill towards the show comes not from following it religiously last week but from old memories.
That’s where it is in Australia. Neighbors is a show we all know and love being a part of our culture, even if we haven’t watched it in years. And joke that only the British care.
Because when something you take for granted will always come to an end, there’s a sense of nostalgia.
And nostalgia is all over the final episode with less attention being paid to the newer cast members – though they all have their little moments – with most of the 90-minute episode being given to older characters.
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So where do they all end up? How did Neighbors end?
Mike and Jane
Jane Harris (Annie Jones) and Mike Young (Guy Pearce) are characters from the first era of Neighbors, contemporaries of Charlene and Scott.
Jane’s returned to Neighbors in recent years, which gave producers the opportunity to craft a full ending storyline involving her and Mike, the “escapist”.
Mike rides back to Erinsborough on a motorbike, mysteriously interfering with Clive’s attempts to seduce Jane back. When he visits his daughter Sammy in the office of Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) where he works for him, he and Jane fumble their way to an awkward reunion.
They actually bumped into each other, there were props involved and then they both grabbed the heart-shaped box at the same time, eyes met. It’s sweet.
He takes her on a tour of all the Ramsay Street houses and there are flashbacks to the past when they were kids.
But there are two complications. One of them is Clive, who still wants Jane back but finally gives in to Mike when it becomes clear that the two young ex-lovers are constantly staring at each other. And the other is Jane and Mike’s own neurosis.
She believes her past means she’s too broken to allow herself to hope to rekindle their romance while she needs him to understand that she too came with baggage and that together they can work it out.
He said to her, “Jane, you were the first person I wanted to meet when I came back here. The truth is I still love you. Maybe more now than before. I realize this might be a bit of an exaggeration, but if I were here, we can take it slow and see where it goes.”
Oh yes, because he decided to stay in Erinsborough. He makes an offer on a house on Ramsay Street (because everyone is selling that seems like a silly real estate decision) and asks Susan about a job in high school.
It’s love, after all these years.
Toadie and Mel
The main draw for this episode — and how the writers got everyone back on the show — was Toadie and Mel’s wedding. This is her fourth marriage but at least this one won’t end with her driving off a cliff. He climbed out of the car at one point but that was the extent of his vehicle involvement.
But before the wedding itself, Amy (Jacinta Stapleton) returns after Joel (Daniel McPherson) tracks her down to a bar in Cairns (but obviously filmed in the corner of a dress-up studio) where she’s immersed in her confused daiquiris about any feelings she might have for Toadie. .
Joel assures Amy that he doesn’t love Toadie and never has, so he takes her back to Erinsborough just in time for the wedding, where she’s welcomed at the ceremony and the street party after.
Toadie and Mel donned some alternate wedding threads (she’s in a striped knit shirt and Converse shoes and she’s in gold-patterned pleated culottes) and exchanged vows in their signature style.
After that, they all gathered at Karl and Susan where some old neighbors who couldn’t be there directly messaged through the thread.
Here, a group of ex-residents, in character, send their messages to Toadie and Mel (and Neighbors fans), including Kym Valentine, Jesse Spencer, Carla Bonner, Delta Goodrem, Stephanie McIntosh, Blair McDonough and—its most famous alumnus—Margot Robbi. .
Robbie, as Donna Freedman, says to Toadie and Mel, “Have a nice wedding day, Toadie. And I really love you. My years on Ramsay Street were some of the best of my life.” And you just know Robbie is talking about his time on the show. Awww, that’s great.
They all told Toadie that he couldn’t leave Ramsay Street – because he was going – and based on that, he decided not to.
Everyone was gathered outside in the cul-de-sac and there were many couples whose plans to New York had been canceled to stay in Erinsborough.
In the end, Toadie accidentally releases a balloon into the air and it explodes, showering everyone with sparkles.
Paul and Theresa
Even the old villain Erinsborough gets a happy ending.
After selling Lassiter’s to Shane Ramsey (Peter O’Brien), Paul is ready to go and fly to New York.
But he still has regrets – namely that it didn’t work out with his sixth wife Therese (Rebekah Elmaloglou). He says he left her late.
Inspired by Mike’s attempts to reunite with Jane, things come true for Paul and Therese at Toadie’s wedding. Each guest was asked to write down one word they associated with love and Paul’s word was “respect”. When she reveals this, Therese is out of marriage.
She follows him and they talk on a park bench about where he went wrong but also his fear that he’ll only hurt her again because he knows he’s an asshole. And it was because he respected her that he wouldn’t let her pass him again.
That’s when Therese revealed what she wrote and it was “acceptance”. He tells Paul that he accepts him for who he is and that he didn’t always like him but he always loved him.
With that, they got back together and the New York plans were cancelled. Paul cancels the deal with Shane, who totally agrees with it, and is busy hooking up with Izzy (Natalie Bassingthwaithe).
Susan and Karl Kennedy
The Kennedys have long been the emotional center of the Neighbors and there would not be a final Neighbors without their heavy presence.
After older son Mal (Benjamin McNair) told his parents he was with Izzy earlier this week, things exploded when it was revealed that Izzy was only hooking up with him as an excuse to return to Ramsay Street – and he was having an affair with Shane.
Izzy confessed to the Kennedys that she desperately wanted their approval because if the Kennedys could see the best in her, then everyone else would too. The mall is devastated and Karl and Susan do their best not to say “I told you”.
In their alone time together, Susan is generous to Izzy, telling her that until Izzy finds a way to like herself, she will never be truly happy.
While this was happening, the Kennedys faced the fact that they would be the last remaining residents of Ramsay Street. They were the only ones who didn’t sell their house. In every scene, Susan gets misty eyes, the physical manifestation of every longtime Neighbors fan.
Harold told them that they were the last guardians of this community.
When other events happen and everyone decides to stay, it looks like they have a family back.
At the very end, Susan looks around at all the familiar faces, including some ghost faces (Madge is back, again!), and she notices a special place that many people call home. And that’s where it ends.
Karl, seeing his wife in a trance, said to him, “Where were you just now?”
He replied, “I’m at home”.
Charlene and Scott
Oh yeah, do you think we’ve forgotten the return of Erinsborough’s beloved sons and daughters Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue?
It was heralded as A VERY BIG but ultimately had no impact on the actual story. But it’s great for old school fans.
In an appearance that can only be classified as a cameo, Charlene and Scott drive a green Mini Cooper with a Queensland plate, while snippets of Minogue and Donovan’s song “Especially for You” can be heard in the background.
They stepped out into an empty dead end, looked around and she said “Wow, wow, wow, look at this, crazy, we made it” to which she replied, “Sweet house”.
After realizing that no one was in any of the houses, Charlene looked at the open window and had a mischievous look on her face. The implication was that he would barge in, nod when they first met.
Cut to later, and the party goes smoothly down the road – the same one that is sure to be held when they drive down an empty street at the same time as Toadie’s wedding.
Charlene and Scott weren’t included, they were on the side of one of the houses and Jane and Mike were told they were there. The four run towards each other for a big bear hug, but it’s also clear that Pearce didn’t shoot on the same day as Donovan and Minogue.
Even though there were shots of both sides looking at each other, they were never in the same shot. The same goes for later when Charlene and Scott are perched on the balcony with Jane, Paul, and Harold, facing everyone with a smile, and Mike is there too, but he’s always shown in separate shots.
It’s a bit odd that the lost sons and daughters of Ramsay Street would come this far but not hang out with anyone down below.
But hey, that’s a very special production schedule and guest star challenge.