I have to hand it to the writers here: they really surprised me. Repeatedly.
Fantasy Island Season 2 Episode 2 does an excellent bait-and-switch, subverting expectations and hitting us with not one but two significant developments for central characters.
From what could’ve been a hackneyed Mamma Mia premise, the Island works its usual magic and provides thoughtful insights for its guests and audience.
But let’s start with the biggest and coolest reveal — Ruby’s in love with a MERMAID.
That’s what we all assume, right? Isla, the gorgeous tattoo artist Ruby met on Fantasy Island Season 1 Episode 1, who inked her with the art that would open up the Island and a second chance at life to her, is a MERMAID.
Or some sort of Island spirit or nymph. I’m not going to debate semantics, but she’s obviously supernatural. Ruby’s basically immortal now, so a magical elemental partner may be the perfect match.
Roarke: Know what I think you need? Closure. When I had to end things with James, I gathered everything that reminded me of him, then I had a ceremony and I released it. Maybe you should do the same thing.
Ruby: I don’t know. Sounds a little woo-woo-y.
Roarke: Well, we do live on a magical island.
Furthermore, someone with the same perspective on longevity may be a better fit than Dr. Gina because they’d appreciate that comfortable sweater sort of relationship.
Ruby’s an old soul, and while things around her are new and exciting, she likes the stability and steadiness of deep affection.
It was hard for her to let go of her life with Mel, and breaking up with Gina must’ve hurt, but she’s found a home on the Island. Now she just needs someone to share that with.
Roarke’s comparison of her interactions with Javier to walking on hot coals is a contrast in both what she wants in a relationship and how a new relationship fits into her world.
Where Ruby wants a relationship she can depend on to always be there, in the background, as her touchstone, Elena’s inspired by something that’ll take center stage in her life.
A fantasy is a journey. One that will take you to unexpected places where you’ll learn unexpected things.
It occurs to me that each guest’s fantasy is a journey for Elena as well.
Helene’s undoubtedly is.
I’m not sure there’s been a guest quite as defensive as Helene so far in the series.
Granted, she’s lost her mother, and she’s feeling abandoned and desperate.
Helene: My fantasy is to find him.
Ruby: Your father?
Helene: My biological father. Y’know, with my mom gone, I just feel kind of untethered. I want to be connected to something. Like, what if I need a kidney?
There’s a genuinely frightened kid inside that courageous shell, and Alexa Mansour does a good job of letting glimpses of that show through as Helene works her way through the bros at the bachelor party.
And when every option has been exhausted, it’s understandable that she breaks down and cries out for the thing she really needs: her mother’s hug.
Honestly, her daddy options at the bachelor party are actually pretty good.
Much like the Mamma Mia candidates, there’s an obvious candidate, a gay/queer candidate, and an unlikely candidate with a heart of gold.
Mateo’s there as the obvious candidate, a groom-to-be obsessed with the woman who flitted into his life for a day.
When it turns out that his dream woman isn’t Helene’s mother, it’s disappointing but also begs the question of whether he might’ve had multiple trysts in his travels. If so, does that make him less good dad material?
I’ll own that I laughed out loud when they run across Camilla’s burly angry husband the moment they deviate from their original path in Barcelona.
Mateo’s realization that his fiancée is everything he needs and wants in an ideal partner might’ve been more flashbulb than subtle, but it works.
I’d like to know Helene’s reasoning for singling Shawn out as her next potential dad beyond a good smile and Island timing.
Shawn’s fantasy of living without fear is incredibly accessible given the times we are living in.
His conversations with Helene are paced well. And surprisingly frank.
Maybe it’s his lack of fear that puts him at ease discussing his hetero encounters with a total stranger?
Helene: Ok, so you’re absolutely sure you did not have sex with a blue-eyed woman in Belize in the middle of a hurricane?
Shawn: I’m sure.
Helene: Can you just give me a percentage? Cause despite this whole bro vibe, you seem like solid dad material.
Shawn: Hundred percent. I only had sex with a woman once. Bethany… Willen. Michigan, brown eyes, snowing. And I only did it to confirm I don’t want to have sex with a woman twice.
As it is, Helene could do worse than to adopt Shawn as her queer bestie guy-pal. They definitely have a rapport.
Shawn: You’re smart for a Gen Z brat.
Helene: Maybe I’m just here to drop some Gen Z wisdom on your scaredy-cat millennial butt.
And then there’s Eli. I love Eli. Sure, his fantasy seems incredibly shallow, but dreaming of being attractive and popular without trying speaks to how hard he’s been trying all this time.
He also gets a gold star for immediately pointing out the age gap to Helene.
Solid responsibility genes there.
Fantasy Island delivers fantasies, not fairy tales. What you want and envisioned may be different from what you need.
The revelation that Javier is Helene’s biological father is a jaw-dropper.
(Not as much as Ruby and the mermaid, but still.)
It’s a profound complication to Javier and Elena’s new relationship. Similarly, Javier and Elena’s relationship may cramp Helene’s style, too, once she figures it out.
Mansour is credited as a recurring guest star, so I suspect we’ll be front row to see how she and Javier work out their father-daughter dance.
You can always watch Fantasy Island online and relive Ruby’s extraordinary moment on stage.
“May you live in interesting times” is the perennial double-edged blessing, and life on the Island looks to have a very sharp future.
How will Helene fit in? I’d personally like to see her have a sit-down with Segundo. She could introduce him to TikTok while he teaches her samba.
At the back of my mind, I continue to wonder whether Elena’s growing “family” may run into issues with her ill-fated cousin’s spirit.
Could this all be leading to something tragic?
Hit our comments with your best thoughts and theories!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.