Oh, welcome! Fantasy Island Season 2 Episode 1 takes us right back into the frothy but thoughtful and magically comforting world of Mrs. Roarke and Ruby.
With awesome guest stars like Lucifer’s Rachael Harris, Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Cheryl Hines, and The Good Doctor’s Jasika Nicole, our takeoff is assured.
Now, whether the landing went smoothly depends on your investment in Ruby and Elena’s respective personal lives.
The only fly in my ointment was Dr. Gina and Ruby parting ways.
After everything Ruby went through in Season 1 of Fantasy Island, I had a lot of fun watching her and Gina kick their heels up together.
They seemed good for each other, and the breakup may be good for Ruby as well.
However, I feel a little blindsided by this. Maybe because it’s been over a year since Season 1 ended. Maybe because we haven’t seen all the little things Gina cites as issues in their vibe.
Listen, I understand. You’re new to this, and I was a safe space. But love should be a little scary.
There may be a narrative necessity to the break. Maybe it doesn’t serve the showrunners to have both Roarke and Rube involved in personal relationships.
For the two people in charge of administering heavy fantasies and gathering personal knowledge, it could be problematic for them to be distracted by loved ones.
It’s also essential that Ruby and Roarke offer different (if parallel) perspectives to their guests.
Ruby tends to shoot from the hip, speaking clearly and with down-to-earth practicality, while Roarke’s diplomatic and multi-faceted approach can often make her advice sound like that of a sphinx.
For example, in the case of cat lady Andi, Rourke tried to put herself in her shoes as a pet lover, initially to confusing effect.
Andi: Do you have any pets?
Roarke: Well, I had a dog. Kind of. His name was Mr. Jones.
Andi: Did he succeed?
Roarke: No, no, no. He reconnected with his wife and returned to the mainland.
Ruby, on the other hand, views pets as an optional addition to life.
Ruby: Tough day?
Andi: My cat thinks I’m a loser.
Ruby: It’s a cat. What does he know?
Andi’s need to know how Bobo/Baron really felt about her is probably not a unique desire.
However, the fulfillment of his fantasy was a harsh truth.
I wondered if the fantasy would manifest as some sort of psychic telepathy or perhaps a body swap.
Of course, transforming from animal to human is an established island specialty (see Mr. Jones on Fantasy Island Season 1 Episode 10), so that works too.
Bobo/Baron as a cat in human form was about as feline in his sentience as we could have hoped.
Andi: Why are you so mean?
Baron BoBo: I’m not mean. It’s just that the truth hurts, Food Lady.
He was also the most effective comedic element in the structure of the story.
Andi’s abrupt awakening to the reality of her life, seen through the eyes of her cat, is a thematic echo of Gina’s criticism of her relationship with Ruby.
Andi has been hiding in her relationship with Bobo/Baron because he’s safe, and she sees his affection as unconditional.
And finally, it is. She is, after all, Food Lady.
Baron: I love you.
Baron: Of course. You are Food Lady. Among my kind, it is the greatest honor. You give me wet and dry food and treats. Everyday. And you take care of my latrines. And you always fill the feeder with birdseed. And when it’s cold at night, you let me climb on your lap and cuddle you. I am very happy. I want you to be too. You don’t have nine lives like me, just this one. I want you to have the best life.
Unfortunately for Ruby, the security she loves in her relationship with Gina isn’t enough for Gina. It also shouldn’t be enough if Gina needs love energy.
I wonder if Gina is looking Young love the energy while Ruby got used to it older the energy of love. Ruby has been married for a very long time. His love for Mel had matured over time.
The bubbly electric chemistry between Roarke and Javier is something very different. Ruby may be a young person on the outside now, but mentally and psychologically she’s old school OG.
Roarke and Javier worked out some trust and risk issues in a fairly idealized process.
From being each other’s secret (even if no one else is buying it) to Javier trying something new to Elena openly acknowledging their relationship, they’ve gone their couple’s way without a real hitch.
Segundo: Focus, Javier, focus. Elenita is a strong dancer. She needs a solid lead.
Javier: I’m not sure.
Segundo: Then you will fail. Salsa is a matter of passion, no doubt.
I suspect it won’t last, but I’ll enjoy the ride while it lasts.
Finally, the honesty Tara and Jessica needed to resolve their lives started as a fantasy that so many people dream of living.
Survivors of mean girl bullying—full of self-doubt and insecurity about their former bullies despite living successful lives after high school—discover life as a queen bee. Admired, respected, envied.
Even for people who haven’t been ridiculed and scorned like Tara and Jessica have been, reunions are tests of personal resilience and cosmetic illusion.
Get used to the truth bombs, ladies, because they’re about to start dropping.
Again, the message was clear. Seeking security is natural and necessary in times of peril and persecution, but it cannot be the limiting factor in life.
Jessica: What happened to us?
Tara: Instead of pushing us to be braver, we just stuck with what made us feel safe.
Tara: We have to stop doing that. We needed to cling to each other in high school, but maybe being each other’s life rafts kept us from learning to swim on our own.
Their breakup makes a lot more sense than Gina and Ruby’s, but that’s because Ruby’s story will continue, while the episodic nature of the guests’ adventures means we need it wrapped up neatly by the time of the generic.
I love how Tara and Jessica complement each other in personality and drive.
Jessica’s need to do good in the world balances Tara’s ability to organize herself on a micro level. Jessica’s shyness reinforces Tara’s need to try harder to be accepted. Tara’s worries about motherhood go hand in hand with Jessica’s desire for romantic love.
Tara: What if I can’t take it? My mother couldn’t.
Roarke: And Jessica was there for you. You made yourself feel safe, didn’t you? That’s what life rafts do. How does it work for you?
Their friendship has been their lifeboat and their tether, but it has also seen them go through terrible times in their lives.
The feeling is that they will continue to support each other, but also give each other a healthy space to grow and achieve their own goals, which diverge from what they sought to do together.
Trust. Honesty. Support your friends. Accept yourself.
It’s a solid and cohesive start to Fantasy Island Season 2. I can’t wait to see who comes next!
Where will the relationship between Elena and Javier go? What will Segundo say? Will Ruby take on more responsibilities in the future?
Can we expect more follow up on Elena’s ghostly cousin? What will be the long arc of the season?
Watch Fantasy Island online and drop your initial impressions and takeaways from the premiere in the comments below.
Diana Keng is an editor for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.