The new series was created by Andy Siara
Emma and Noah go on holiday to an all-inclusive resort to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their ailing marriage. Their relationship clearly seems doomed until Emma finds an abandoned phone, which provides the central clue to a 15-year-old unsolved crime. Rather than handing it to the police, the two then embark on solving the murder mystery themselves.
“How long have you two been married?” the couple are asked early on by a hostess. “Ten years” they reply. “Ah the puberty of marriage” she responds and in just a few seconds, one of the key themes of the show is established. We meet the central couple at that point in a relationship where something is wrong, but neither party are brave enough to address it. Watching the death throes of a relationship is never fun and frankly, the majority of the first episode has an oppressive tone as a result, not helped by the epigram at the start of the show that drifts dangerously close to the pretentious. So, when Emma finds a damaged and water-logged phone in the woods, the change of pace is a welcome relief.
Emma puts the SIM into a new phone and unlocks clues to the disappearance of Sam and Violet. Violet is a self-assured young woman seeking existential answers after losing her mum to cancer. And, Sam is a college student on holiday with his parents and his girlfriend, whom he discovers has been cheating on him on the way to the resort. Both young people went missing fifteen years ago and the case has never been solved due to a poorly-timed hurricane destroying all the evidence. From this point, the story flips between Sam and Violet’s chance meeting involving a skateboarding accident and the memorable use of superglue in Christmas 2007, and Emma and Noah in the present day investigating the young pair’s disappearance. The transitions between the two time periods are both seamless and stylish. This show is either someone’s labour of love or their calling card for future work.
If that was all there was to the show, then it might be easy to write it off as any other modern murder mystery, replace the sunny haze for mizzling rain, and you might have any number of Scandi-noir crime-dramas. But, it becomes apparent from the third episode that this show has some weightier ideas on its mind. By episode three, the show starts pulling a few tricks reminiscent of Appendix 81, the supernatural mystery that Netflix shamelessly cancelled earlier this year after just one season. The Resort is written and created by, the writer of Palm Springs, who obviously has form when it comes to playing with time. He also crafts a realistic depiction of marriage at the heart of it.
Emma and Noah are played by Cristin Millioti and William Jackson Harper respectively. Predominantly known for their comedy credentials in sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother and The Good Place respectively, The Resort allows them to flex some more dramatic muscle, while still showing some expert comic timing. What’s amazing about the characterisation is the way it shows two incredibly well-thought-out characters navigating trauma in a completely unshowy fashion. Emma and Noah are what you would get if instead of turning to regicide, the Macbeths went on holiday to Mexico and accidentally found themselves in Lost.
The supporting cast is also wonderful. The enigmatic and exuberant Baltasar (Luis Gerardo Hernández) is a compelling multi-faceted character that feels like he could support multiple mystery stories hung off him, like a Mexican Miss Marple. If there’s one criticism, it’s that Nick Offerman is largely underused for the first five episodes. That said, the sight of the man who brought Ron Swanson to life sporting a crew cut and no moustache seems weird, like some kind of optical illusion. If you can get past that it’s a sensitive and nuanced performance.
The first four episodes are now available on Peacock, Sky and Now TV with the remaining four episodes released weekly. Whether it has a satisfying conclusion to such a compelling mystery remains to be seen, but it’s worth it just for the depiction of a married couple falling in love with each other again.