Fantasy Island Season 2 Episode 1 Review: Tara and Jessica's High School Reunion/Cat LadyDiana Keng at .
Oh, welcome back! Fantasy Island Season 2 Episode 1 drops us right back into the frothy yet thoughtful, magically heart-warming world of Ms. 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 take-off is assured.
Now, whether the landing was smooth depends on how invested you were in the respective personal lives of Ruby and Elena.
The only fly in my ointment was Dr. Gina and Ruby parting ways.
After everything Ruby went through on Fantasy Island Season 1, I had a lot riding on seeing her and Gina kick up their heels together.
They seemed good for each other, and it may be that the breakup will turn out to be good for Ruby as well.
However, I feel a little blindsided by it. Maybe because it's been over a year since Season 1 wrapped. Maybe because we didn't see all the little things that Gina cites as issues in their vibe.
Look, I get it. You’re new at this, and I was a safe space. But love should be a little scary.Gina
There may be a narrative necessity to the breakup. Perhaps it doesn't serve the showrunners to have both Roarke and Rube involved in personal relationships.
For the two people in charge of some heavy-duty fantasy administration and personal insight gathering, it could be problematic for them to be distracted by their significant others.
It's also vital that Ruby and Roarke provide different (if parallel) perspectives for their guests.
Ruby tends to shoot from the hip, speaking plainly and with earthy practicality, whereas Roarke's diplomatic and multi-faceted approach can often make her advice seem sphinx-like.
For instance, in cat lady Andi's case, Rourke tried to step into her shoes as a pet-lover, initially to confusing effect.
Andi: Do you have any pets?
Roarke: Well, I had a dog. Sort of. His name was Mr. Jones.
Andi: Did he pass?
Roarke: No, no, no. He reconnected with his wife and moved back to the mainland.
Ruby, on the other hand, very much sees pets as an optional add-on to life.
Ruby: Tough day?
Andi: My cat thinks I’m a loser.
Ruby: He’s a cat. What does he know?
Andi's need to know how Bobo/Baron truly felt about her is probably not a unique desire.
However, the actualization of her fantasy was a hard truth.
I wondered if the fantasy would manifest as some sort of psychic telepathy or maybe a body swap.
Of course, animal-to-human transformation is an established Island specialty (See Mr. Jones on Fantasy Island Season 1 Episode 10), so that works, too.
Bobo/Baron as cat-in-human-form was about as feline in his sensibilities 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 story structure.
Andi's rude awakening to the reality of her life, as seen through her cat's eyes, is a thematic echo of Gina's critique of her and Ruby's relationship.
Andi hid in her relationship with Bobo/Baron because he's safe, and she perceives his affection as unconditional.
And ultimately, it is. She is, after all, Food Lady.
Baron: I love you.
Andi: You do?
Baron: Of course. You’re Food Lady. Among my kind, that is the highest honor. You feed me wet and dry food and treats. Everyday. And you tend to my latrine. And you always fill the birdfeeder with birdseed. And when it’s cold at night, you let me climb on your lap and cuddle. I am so happy. I want you to be, too. You don’t have nine lives like I do, just this one. I want you to have the best life.
Unfortunately for Ruby, the safety she loves about her relationship with Gina isn't enough for Gina. Nor should it be enough if what Gina needs is love energy.
I wonder if Gina's looking for young love energy while Ruby's gotten used to older love energy. Ruby was married for a very long time. Her love for Mel had matured in time.
The sparkling 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 OG old school.
Roarke and Javier worked out some trust and risk issues in a fairly idealized sort of 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 moved along their couple's path with no real hitches.
Segundo: Focus, Javier, focus. Elenita is a strong dancer. She needs a strong lead.
Javier: I’m not sure about this.
Segundo: Then you will fail. Salsa is about passion, not doubt.
I suspect that won't last, but I'll enjoy the ride while it lasts.
Finally, the honesty needed for Tara and Jessica to solve their lives began as a fantasy so many people dream of living out.
Survivors of mean girl bullying -- full of self-doubt and insecurity in the face of their former tormentors despite a successful life lived after high school -- getting to experience the queen bee life. Admired, respected, envied.
Even for people who weren't ridiculed and scorned the way Tara and Jessica were, reunions are tests of personal resilience and cosmetic illusion.
Get used to the truth bombs, ladies, because they’re about to start falling.Roarke
Once again, the message was clear. Seeking safety is natural and necessary in times of peril and persecution, but it can't be the limiting factor in one's life.
Jessica: What happened to us?
Tara: Instead of pushing each other to be braver, we stuck with what made us feel safe.
Jessica: Each other.
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, whereas the episodic nature of guests' adventures means we need it wrapped up neatly by the time the credits roll.
I love how Tara and Jessica complement each other in personality and motivation.
Jessica's need to do good in the world balances Tara's skill at organizing on the micro-level. Jessica's shyness bolsters Tara's need to try harder to be accepted. Tara's worries about motherhood fly alongside Jessica's yearning for romantic love.
Tara: What if I can’t handle it? My mother couldn’t.
Roarke: And Jessica was there for you. You made each other feel safe, right? That’s what life rafts do. How is that working for you?
Their friendship has been their lifeboat and their tether, but it also saw them through terrible times in their lives.
The sense is that they'll continue to support one another but also give each other healthy space to grow and reach for their own goals, which diverge from what they sought to do together.
Trust. Honesty. Supporting your friends. Accepting yourself.
It's a solid and cohesive start for Fantasy Island Season 2. I can't wait to see who pops in next!
Where will Elena and Javier's relationship go? What will Segundo have to say about it? Will Ruby shoulder more responsibilities moving forward?
Can we expect more follow-through 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 a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.