Baltimore Sun

Harper, Milioti unravel phone’s mystery on vacation in ‘Resort’

- By Nina Metz

An old flip phone is found by an American woman while vacationin­g in Mexico with her husband in “The Resort” on Peacock. The couple have arrived at this lush hotel in the Mayan Riviera for their 10-year anniversar­y. She, in particular, is looking for anything to distract from the boredom and bickering that’s settled over their marriage. And that phone — a banged-up relic from the early 2000s — becomes a welcome distractio­n. An obsession, really.

It’s a digital time capsule, filled with a stranger’s photos and text messages. Turns out, that stranger was another American — a college kid vacationin­g in the same area who went missing 15 years earlier.

Starring Cristin Milioti and William Jackson Harper as Emma and Noah, there’s something fitting about seeing these two actors play a couple; both have resumes filled with stories that look at romantic relationsh­ips from unusual angles.

For Milioti that includes everything from “How I Met Your Mother” to “Palm Springs” to “Made for Love.” For Harper, that encompasse­s “The Good Place,” “We Broke Up” and “Love Life.”

“The Resort” also takes an unusual approach, if not an especially satisfying one. Sam Esmail is an executive producer here along with the show’s creator Andy Siara.

Emma and Noah’s Mexican vacation becomes a strange and chaotic detective story as Emma becomes consumed with the person who was once in possession of that flip phone in 2007, a naive and

restless guy named Sam (Skyler Gisondo). Turns out, he started a fling with a fellow tourist (Nina Bloomgarde­n) that we see in flashbacks — and then, suddenly, these two young people went missing. What happened?

Emma, with Noah’s eventual grudging assistance, is determined to find out. She’s perpetuall­y agitated; he’s more easygoing but concerned about his wife’s state of mind.

The couple teams up with a pair of the resort’s employees, the charming but elusive Baltasar (Luis Gerardo Mendez) and, to a lesser extent, the practical-minded Luna (Gabriela Cartol) and what they unravel together is a weirdly Byzantine back story that is suffused with a plot that goes in every direction but one with a destinatio­n point. It’s a metaphysic­al mystery that they find themselves trying to unravel, but by the end, little makes much sense. Even the journey itself doesn’t feel as meaningful as it should.

You keep waiting for Emma and Noah to have some kind of big fight that tells us more about what ails their marriage, but, as characters, they’re just too thinly drawn. They want

something other than this tension between them, that’s clear. But I’m not sure who they are beyond that.

Like HBO’s “The White Lotus,” this is a show about American travelers in luxury accommodat­ions blundering around with little sensitivit­y or respect or understand­ing — or even interest — in the local dynamics of the place they are visiting. With a handful of exceptions, Mexican people are relegated to background players. But the presence of Mendez’s Baltasar — the son of a wealthy family of thuggish tailors who decided to go his own way in life — gives “The Resort” some muchneeded shape and wit. He’s charismati­c but feels lost in the world, whereas Emma and Noah are just as lost, as well as frantic and miserable. We see flickers from Baltasar’s childhood and they are droll and fun, but there’s no actual reason for this tangent to be folded into the narrative.

There’s a lot of that in the series. Random-seeming stories strung together until finally the show just sort of ends, as much of a mystery as it was when it began.

Where to watch:


 ?? PEACOCK ?? Cristin Milioti stars in “The Resort.”
PEACOCK Cristin Milioti stars in “The Resort.”

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