Honestly, it’s been a bleak television year without the presence of Roselyn Sanchez’s Elena Roarke and Kiara Barnes’s old soul sidekick, Ruby Akuda, welcoming us to the magical paradise of FOX’s Fantasy Island.
But 2023 is already looking brighter as the show returns for its second season on January 2, and they hit the ground running with three guests learning new things about themselves and those closest to their hearts.
Meanwhile, both Roarke and Ruby’s respective relationships have progressed since last we saw our hosts. Hot stuff!
The season premiere has the template double plotline, with two separate fantasies provided for two parties of guests visiting the Island. And we have familiar faces popping in as our stars of the week.
In the first, Lucifer’s Rachael Harris and Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Cheryl Hines arrive as best friends since high school Tara and Jessica.
Their requested fantasy is to attend their thirtieth high school reunion and rule the event, showing their classmates the successful and thriving adults they are now, vindicating themselves as the social outcasts they were in high school.
It’s a fantasy we all have whenever reunions roll around.
The specter of who we were — the embarrassments and poor choices of our past, our deep-rooted insecurities — wars with who we are now.
We all want that do-over, that chance to have the dream prom, to dance with the perfect guy, to feel respected, included, and even envied.
As always, the Island provides, and reunion events unfold to perfection, blowing the women’s minds with the heady feel of popularity.
But the Island also teaches its guests with every visit.
Will this glamorous and stylish façade be enough for Tara and Jessica for a weekend?
Will they be able to return to their real lives afterward?
Will their friendship be enough for them after being worshipped and adored by their high school classmates?
Is it that they want their classmates to love and admire them, or is it that they need to feel they deserve to be loved and admired?
The Island has a way of sussing out the critical aspects of the guests’ personal needs.
How will Tara and Jessica be able to accept themselves and each other when the hidden truths about their relationship are revealed?
Our other guest party of two is Andi and her ginger cat, Baron BoBo VonBigglesworth III.
Andi’s life is devoted to BoBo, her best friend and closest confidante.
People’s relationships with their pets can be intense, especially when they don’t spend much time with non-pet friends.
Andi’s connection to BoBo is another level altogether.
Her fantasy? To know that BoBo loves her as much as she loves him.
It’s an eyebrow-raiser, to be sure.
What will the Island do for her? Give her psychic powers? Will BoBo suddenly start speaking in English?
The danger, of course, is that cat emotions are notoriously mercurial. Will Andi have her heart broken when BoBo can express his feelings in unambiguous terms?
Maybe it’s time Andi started cultivating more two-legged people-type friends.
That could be a game-changer.
Speaking of game-changers, from the look of things, Javier and Roarke appear to have settled into the relationship that was teased throughout Season 1.
It’s nice that a friendship as deep as theirs has blossomed into something more intimate.
It does complicate the working relationship, of course.
She’s not only his boss, but the caretaker of the Island, which we’ve learned has a type of sentience she’s in tune with.
We also learned that there are darker aspects to the Island, and Roarke’s position is a lightning rod for problems related to her missing cousin.
Could her affection for Javier make him a vulnerability or a target for malevolent forces?
I suspect Ruby and Segundo may also have some thoughts on the lovers.
After all, Elena’s uncle never had a wife or life partner that we know of.
Is the Island capable of jealousy? Retribution?
Javier’s job as a float plane pilot puts him at the mercy of the weather, poor ocean conditions, and hidden reefs. The Island could make things hard for him.
Ruby’s relationship with Dr. Gina’s still a going concern, but their divergent personalities, not to mention Ruby’s substantially more extensive life experience, may put some stress on that.
Will both hosts manage to balance their romances with their work?
Their relationship continues to be a supportive and positive one.
It’s refreshing to see women supporting women in professional and personal arenas, and Fantasy Island has made it a cornerstone of the series.
Fantasy Island Season 2 has a lot more in store for us, making the interminably long interseason break worth the wait.
As seen in the trailer below, we can expect classic TV faces like Teri Hatcher, James Denton, Andy Richter, and Jason Priestley to guest star.
There will also be newcomers like Looking’s Frankie J. Alvarez and Alexa Mansour from The Walking Dead: World Beyond.
Fantasy Island Season 2 premieres on FOX on January 2, 8/7c. Be sure to return here after watching for an episode recap and review!
The Island is as beautiful as ever. Won’t you join us?
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.