Time travel is tricky. Fantasy Island Season 2 Episode 4 provides both the trio of guests and Ruby a portal into 1980s Miami with all the music, fashion, events, and subcultures it entails.
It also does that thing where guests not only learn about themselves, they affect the past in a sort of Island overreach, a problematic plot device whenever it is used.
Conversely, Ruby’s sojourn effectively revitalizes her self-determination and focus. Can’t wait to see where that goes next.
Case in point, “Mystery in Miami” recalls all the issues I had with Fantasy Island Season 1 Episode 7 when Island Magic didn’t provide its guest with tools to survive her life. Instead, it allowed her to escape into her fantasy.
To a lesser extent, the trio in Miami do more than solve the mystery of their missing friend. They change the past to save her life.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate Island Magic. I’m here for it 100%, but sometimes — just sometimes — its fantastical purpose conflicts with the sci-fi mechanics I rely on to suspend my disbelief.
I’m comfortable with the Island as an immersive therapist, holodeck, or temporary memory wipe, but when it activates its T.A.R.D.I.S. powers, I get a little irked.
Elena: I just thought of something nice that I can do for you.
Segundo: As long as I don’t end up back in the eighties. Polyester gave me a rash.
Maybe it’s because Fantasy Island is the ultimate escapist premise, and in order to preserve the sanctity of that escape, I don’t want it muddled with real-life consequences.
The Island is a singular place in our world that allows guests to step into others. But part of the fantasy is that it’s a safe place to try new things, make different choices, see things through a different lens.
When your actions in your fantasy have a direct knock-on effect on the real world, it’s no longer a safe space.
What if the FBI agent had turned out to be Bill? They have no idea what Bill looks like. They would’ve let him straight to Rosemarie, guaranteeing her demise.
We never learn what Rosemarie’s path was before the ladies intervene. We assume it was a bad end because the Island allows the trio to change things, but what if she survived and opened an ensaimada bakery of her own?
She could’ve lived a satisfying life without ever reconnecting with the Minnesotan trio, but for the purposes of the guests’ fantasy, her entire life was rewritten.
(Whenever there’s a tangible purpose to Island Magic, I always relate it to a bit of a Quantum Leap/Ziggy phenomenon. Is there sentience at work?)
When each of the trio has their time with Rosemarie to work out their issues, it’s classic Island Magic therapy.
The Rosemarie in that kitchen isn’t the real woman. She’s a fabrication there to solve the women’s issues.
Nora: I don’t blame you for being a criminal. Sounds so exciting.
Rosemarie: Are you forgetting the shattered table? And the blood?
Nora: I just feel so boring next to you.
Rosemarie: Boring? Or bored? There’s a difference.
The scenes in the kitchen are not about Rosemarie or her disappearance. They’re about her relationship with the women and their willingness to see things differently with her guidance.
You said something once, I remember, about how it was more important to love yourself than be loved by any man. It was bad enough when my husband stopped loving me, but I had to leave before I stopped loving myself.
She’s a projection created from their memories of her and the personal insecurities they harbor.
And all of that is totally removed from the very real danger the real woman experienced in her real life.
All of this is to say that while I love that they resolved the mystery and came out with a better understanding of themselves, I wish Rosemarie could find her own way to the Island without the time-travel shenanigans.
After all, if she was safe from Bill after contacting the agent in the 1980s and testifying, what kept her from finding the women to thank them before now?
Nora: I’ve lived my life doing everything I was expected to do and now…
Rosemarie: …you feel like you haven’t lived.
Undeniably, 1980s Miami is a fun place to have an adventure.
The fact that the FBI agent’s bright pink suit was appropriate attire for blending in says it all.
Meanwhile, I absolutely LURVE that the Island manifested Miami on the exact day Ruby remembers from the Rolling Stone article she read as a housewife, living an event she regretted never being able to experience.
These do-over moments are the essence of Island Magic.
Ruby doesn’t express any regret for her life with Mel, but everyone has moments they missed out on. For her to realize she doesn’t have to feel FOMO anymore is exciting and inspiring.
So when she returns to the Island, intent on seizing the day every day, it is the perfect antidote to her cabin fever and ennui.
Oooh, Isla! There’s so much to look forward to in sorting out that love connection.
I appreciate that Elena’s had the opportunity since Helene joined them to reflect more on Javier and how their relationship can progress with these new developments.
(Roselyn Sanchez’s straight face at Nora’s comment about Without A Trace is pretty impressive too.)
That Javier understands Elena has to come to her own conclusions and choose her own path is just as valuable a character trait.
His recognition that shopping with Helene is dangerous territory also speaks to his pervasive wisdom.
The next step is to see what playing happy families looks like for the three of them. Will Segundo and Ruby get ringside seats or be in on the action too?
As you watch Fantasy Island online, go ahead and speculate whether Marsha or Judy sets their sights on Segundo, compression socks and all.
Where will our next adventure take us? Can the Island do the future as well as the past? Why not?
Hit our comments with where (or when) your fantasy would take you. Would you solve a mystery? Choose a different path? Fix that bad dye job in tenth grade? Sky’s the limit! Go wild!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.