The Resort Review: Peacock’s Summer Vacation Mystery Starts Strong But Goes Early
There’s a moment that comes towards the end of The complexfrom the first season where, in the midst of a flurry of inexplicable noises and movements, Noah (William Jackson Harper) exclaims: “It’s getting dumber!” It’s a line that functions as a kind of meta commentary on the mystery-thriller-drama-comedy series as a whole, which gets off to a promising start before going completely and irreparably off the rails halfway through.
The complex, premiering Thursday on Peacock, has all the makings of a great summer show. The team behind is exciting, from creator Andy Siara (Palm Springs) to executive producer Sam Esmail (Mister Robot) to director Ben Sinclair (High maintenance), and the premise is intriguing, following a married couple, Noah and Emma (Cristin Milioti, one of the best for playing a slightly unhinged woman), trying to get through a long rough patch in their relationship by celebrating their 10th birthday on holiday in Yucatan. Emma takes a tumble in the jungle one day of their trip and comes across a flip phone hidden in the dirt, which she just discovered belonged to Sam (Skyler Gisondo), one half of a pair of teenagers who disappeared 15 years earlier while staying at a separate resort called Oceana Vista, which has since closed.
The details, when Emma begins to dig into it, are muddled: an oddly timed hurricane here, an unidentifiable corpse washed up there. She becomes engrossed in her quest to be the one to solve the mystery, resulting in a semi-reluctant Noah, who clearly only gets involved in the chaos in the hopes that it will reignite the spark with his wife, along the way.
Do not like
The series raises a handful of interesting themes and questions early on as it moves back and forth between Emma’s investigation and the flashbacks that color Sam’s story, showing how he meets and instantly falls in love with Violet ( Nina Bloomgarden), a teenage girl staying at the resort. with his father (Nick Offerman), which sets off the chain of events that leads them both to disappear. Much of the first three episodes is devoted to drawing effective parallels between Noah and Emma’s long-standing relationship and the giddy, all-consuming young love of Sam and Violet, which is part of what Emma is passionate about the case. Using cellphone photos and context-free texts, she puts together a sense of what the two teenage lovers might have looked like together as she simultaneously erases the very real breakdown that is happening in her own marriage. What happens if you lose who you are in a relationship? Can the tantalizing fantasy of the holidays actually bring clarity to your life? Will the present ever be as good as the past?
It’s frustrating that The complex veers off track before they can find answers. Around the fourth episode, the show gets unwieldy, losing sight of the bond between the two couples as it muddles the plot by over-explaining the central mystery and introducing conveniently important characters late in the game before quickly writing them off. after serving. their goal. He can’t figure out how to satisfactorily wrap up what he started, such as involving the Oceana’s unstable owner, Alex (Sinclair); the role played in all of this by the powerful Frias family, which includes Oceana’s security chief, Baltasar (Luis Gerardo Méndez); and an agreed bereavement guideline that merited further exploration. By the time Violet’s deceased mother’s favorite author (yup), the reclusive Illan Ibbera (Luis Guzmán), shows up, you scratch your head trying to figure out how it all connects.
What makes the series watchable as it descends further into nonsense is its cast, many of whom are forced to make the most of half-baked roles. Milioti and Harper, two of our most charming TV stars, are great on their own and best as a couple, easily selling the chemistry of two people who have been together forever, know each other too well and are too comfortable to leave. , although leaving would probably be better. Gisondo, Méndez, and Gabriela Cartol as an employee of Hotel Luna are also highlights, rolling with the madness and spinning all the gold they can with the gear given to them.
Even before it had a chance to premiere, the show’s trailer earned it comparisons to The White LotusHBO’s dark series about the clientele and staff of an upscale resort turned crime, but Siara doesn’t have Mike White’s clear vision, and The complex, for better or worse, turns into its own thing. At several points, it’s easy to see that Siara wanted to make a thoughtful, slightly surreal show about the nature of romantic relationships and was told to turn it into a thriller to give it far-reaching appeal. I would be interested in watching this show, but until then, just like a mediocre vacation, this one is probably best forgotten altogether.
Firsts: Thursday, July 28 on Peacock
Who is in: Cristin Milioti, William Jackson Harper, Skyler Gisondo, Nick Offerman, Luis Gerardo Méndez, Luis Guzman, Ben Sinclair
Who is behind: Andy Siara, Sam Esmail, Ben Sinclair
For fans of: Research groupbad holidays, madness
How many episodes we watched: 8 out of 8