Recommended: The Resort on Peacock
What's The Resort About?
An American couple travels to a Mexican resort to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a less-than-blissful marriage, where they stumble upon evidence from a fifteen-year-old missing persons case. As they attempt to investigate the possible crime themselves, they peel back the layers of a much more complicated mystery.
Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?
At the outset it's very easy to think you have a handle on what of The Resort is going to be. A married couple who are having problems go on a tropical vacation, stumble upon a murder mystery, and become obsessed with solving it. All the ingredients are there for a twisty tale that blends our collective obsession with solving murders with the story of this particular couple's dysfucnction. By the end, the mystery will be untangled in the most unexpected way possible, and our unhappy couple will have figured out some things about themselves in the process.
A lot of The Resort is that. Emma and Noah dive headlong into solving the fifteen-year-old disappearance of Sam and Violet, and it's a rich mystery to be sure. What's known is that these two college-aged tourists went missing in 2007, just as an unprecedented hurricane slammed the resort where they were staying, wiping out all evidence of their disappearance, and washing up an unidentified corpse on the beach. The case remains unsolved.
But that's only the tip of the spear when it comes to what's really happening in The Resort, which morphs and changes shape, becoming more complicated and leaving the audience less and less sure of what kind of show they're actually watching with each episode.
This kind of twisty, genre-bending journey shouldn't come as too much of a surprise if you're familiar with showrunner Andy Siara and executive producer Sam Esmail. Siara wrote the screenplay for the 2020 comedy Palm Springs (also starring Milioti), which presented as a romantic comedy and turned quite unexpectedly but skillfully into a time-travel story. The Resort kicks off with a cryptic epigram about the impossibility of time travel (followed by a second epigram casting doubt on his original statement), and even before the narrative begins its more overt twists and turns, we're treated to interstitial shots of enigmatic vortexes and swirling atmosphere. These touches feel like pure Sam Esmail, whose shows have often used strange visuals and non sequiturs to put the audience off balance.
As Siara's narrative begins to take shape, the nuts and bolts of the mystery are complicated by more existential concerns. It becomes clearer that Emma and Noah's marriage is going through more than just standard ten-year malaise. "I'm starting to forget who I am," Emma says early on, and that sense of whether the people we start off as are the people we're meant to be is a recurring theme throughout, in ways big and small.
Supporting characters add to the intrigue. Mexican actor Luis Gerardo Méndez is tremendous as Baltasar, a security guard who initially presents as an antagonist to Emma and Noah before revealing himself to be quite a bit more. Gisondo and Bloomgarden make for an increasingly compelling doomed pair as Sam and Violet's 2007 story dovetails with Emma and Noah's in present time. Meanwhile, people who initially present as eccentrics or functionaries end up being more integral to the mystery than we thought. And what starts off as a murder investigation starts to break open into something bigger and less grounded in the pedestrian.
If this review feels a bit more ephemeral than usual, it's only because The Resort is best experienced without knowing much about where it's headed or what it's going to be like when it gets there. Siara and Esmail and their tremendous cast have put together something that feels genuinely unique in its jagged edges and shape-shifting tones. It's a put-your-phone-down experience that sneaks up on you in some very fun ways.
Pairs well with
TOPICS: The Resort, Peacock, Andy Siara, Ben Sinclair, Ben Sinclair, Cristin Milioti, Gabriela Cartol, Luis Gerardo Mendez, Nick Offerman, Nina Bloomgarden, Sam Esmail, Skyler Gisondo, William Jackson Harper