After a couple of so-so episodes, The Resort has delivered with its mind-bending (mind-leaking?) fourth episode, “A History of Forgetting.” Something here really, really worked for me. It could be the introduction of a new narrator in Luis Gerardo Méndez’s Balthasar, or maybe it’s the very good work by High Maintenance’s Ben Sinclair, who plays resort owner Alex.
It could also be the lack of Noah and Emma, for the most part; God bless ’em, but they were getting to be a little much. We do see them at the beginning of the episode, dragging Balthasar’s thankfully very alive body across the penthouse floor, only to have him wake up and start chatting. Emma threatens him with a golf club, and he asks for their evidence that he did it. He had Sam’s skateboard, they say, and he’s part of the very sketchy Frias family. He’s rightfully skeptical, sweeping away their crumbs of evidence and claiming his family is made of “tailors, not murderers.” However, he says, if he tells them what he knows, perhaps they can come to understand what happened together.
You see, he explains, everything that they’ve been investigating is part of a tapestry of related events, all connected in some respect to the onetime owner of the Oceana Vista, Alexander Vasilaki. A mysterious figure who either stumbled out of the jungle seemingly from nowhere or grew up the son of a couple of hedge-fund managers, Alex envisions his resort as a “factory where we produce memories” and challenges Balthasar, who’s applying for a job, to a thumb war in a show of both dominance and of trust.
Alex is a bit of a loose cannon, but he’s seemingly also kind and benevolent, and after a revelation that Balthasar’s dream job is to be a detective, he gives the tailor full rein over the hotel’s personnel. Balthasar sets about hiring a staff that’s chock-full of lost souls, all of whom need a place to go and someone who can show them a little trust. The first five years of the hotel were, as he says, “the sandcastle days,” when everything seemed free and easy.
Everything started going awry, at least as far as Balthasar knows, right around the taking of that photo Noah and Emma saw of the Oceana Vista staff. It was five years into the hotel’s existence, and after snapping the pic and stepping out to give a speech, Alex becomes distracted, seeming to stare off into the distance at what he believes is an approaching meteor.
Concerned about his bestie, Balthasar asks him what’s up, and Alex reveals that he has memory leakage, which he says is a condition in which memories leak out of his ears, ass, and everywhere else anything can leak, I suppose. He’s staved off most of the effects in recent years by keeping mementos, writing notes to himself about significant events, and creating a mural of the most important people in his life — plus some guy in a sombrero on the beach — but he’s become aware that it’s starting to go too far. He doesn’t even remember his family anymore, and he has developed a primal fear of iguanas.
Alex reveals that he also knows Balthasar is a Frias, reading him a note he’s written to himself about B’s brother coming to the resort and offering Alex a cut-rate deal on staff uniforms as long as he fires Balthasar. Alex refused, but the knowledge that his friend looked out for him almost forces Balthasar to help cover up Alex’s affliction. After all, Alex has taken big swings for Balthasar and helped him create his ideal family at the resort. Shouldn’t Balthasar do everything in his power to protect that?
Unfortunately, Balthasar says, Alex’s slow memory leakage soon became a flood. The owner would accuse staff of lying to or stealing from him, and hotel renovations went unfinished, bills unpaid. When the groundskeeper came to Balthasar with a decapitated iguana, the detective-tailor began to think Alex had gone too far. He was a recluse in a penthouse, unraveling, and who knew what he was even capable of, really?
And then it’s December 26. Balthasar is summoned after Alex drives a Jeep into the resort’s entrance sign. He’s got bloody hands, and he can’t remember anything about what happened the night before, which is significant purely because of what we know about the previous night. After listening to Alex say he’s convinced he was killed by a dinosaur in his past life and pop off to a guest who’s asking about hurricane danger, Balthasar goes to meet Sam’s family, who just don’t know where their son could have gone off to.
Sam’s dad, Carl, is worried about the dick he saw on Sam’s phone, while his mom is just upset he’s not answering his phone when they pay $80 a month for the goddamn bill. Hannah’s justifying just a bit too much as she tries to convince Balthasar that everything’s cool in their relationship, but then she hands the detective a strip of photos of her and Sam. His eyes widen, and he realizes it’s the same kid he saw at the party the night before.
He’s quickly off to the security office, where he has a rendezvous with Luna and one of the resort’s friendly security guards. He asks Luna what she remembers about the party, and they find video of Sam and Violet leaving the staff soiree together. He asks the security agent to leave the room and then zooms through the footage, realizing all too quickly that Sam, Violet, and Alex must have all met up somehow in the penthouse. What happened there is a mystery. There’s no footage of Alex ever leaving the room, only video of him speeding out of the parking garage late at night. In other words, it doesn’t look good for the big guy upstairs. Balthasar then spills the beans about Alex’s condition to Luna before heading off to Violet’s room to look for her. She’s not there, of course, and he heads for the penthouse.
There, he confronts Alex, who’s working on a mural to empty out what’s left in his mind. There’s a Post-it on the chandelier that reads “pasaje,” which Alex says must be important because it’s stuck in such a key spot. He has no idea why it’s important, and thus we must figure that out for ourselves or wait to be told in a few episodes. (Pasaje means “passage” in English, so there’s either a passage out of his room or a passage in the jungle or … who knows.)
Alex doesn’t remember anything about the previous night, except that there was a Christmas party — and he only knows that from the note he left himself. Balthasar spots Sam’s skateboard and questions Alex, who says he’s had it since he was a kid. He hasn’t, of course, and Alex finally realizes that something could be very seriously wrong. Still, couldn’t his bestie just “look the other way one last time,” since the very fate of the resort could be relying on it? After all, Alex says, it’s the “family we always wanted.” If it were to fall apart, where would all the lost souls go?
Torn between two poles, Balthasar hems and haws. Hours later, though, he spies Alex walk onto the beach, strip naked, and run into the water. Alex seems to think he has seen the meteor he has waited on for so long, and while Balthasar tries to save him, it seems that he’s unsuccessful. We’re left to believe it’s Alex’s maimed body that washed up on the beach a couple of days later, especially given the curly hair in the crime-scene photo.
As the hotel is struck by the hurricane, Alex takes over as narrator via a message he’s left on Balthasar’s room phone. “If I can’t remember myself,” he says, “what’s the point?” He tells Balthasar about the green ray that’s visible right when the rising sun cracks the horizon, though the beautiful thought doesn’t seem to be much consolation to the budding detective. Ultimately, we find him giggling inappropriately on a couch with Luna. Violet’s dad stumbles up, and they all realize they don’t have anywhere to go. They’ll ride out the hurricane at the hotel, they say, as all the glass in the big windows starts to break.
And just like that, we’re back in 2022. Noah is rightfully skeptical, asking Balthasar why he’d lie to the police just to protect a guy who had a vague malady. (Does anyone else think it was dementia or Alzheimer’s or brain cancer or something? What could it have been?) Balthasar says he knows it was wrong, and he seems to have gotten a little lost since the events of that night. He tried to go back to the Frias world, though that didn’t take. He has spent the past year studying the penthouse mural, he says, never seeing anything that would make him think it was anything but the “meaningless scribbles of a crazy person.” That is, he says, until that day. Flash-cut to the top of the mural and — bam! — we see that Noah and Emma are actually painted into the picture at the top, not too far from the penthouse pair themselves. What the fuck!
But, seriously, what the fuck? What could that even mean? Has someone been updating the mural? They look like 2022 Noah and Emma, not 2006, and why would 2006 Noah and Emma have been there? Beyond that, in the picture, it seems like the pair are digging in some sort of jungle, and what could that mean? Is time travel real? The Resort’s showrunner and executive producer, Andy Ciara, also wrote Palm Springs (also starring Cristin Milioti), which means it’s certainly not out of the question, but can this show handle any more weird shit? Then again, what’s the meaning of all those squiggly, auralike lines that open each episode? Are Sam and Violet stuck in some cenote somewhere in the jungle, and that’s the only light they can see? I can honestly say I can’t wait to find out.
• I really loved everything Luis Gerardo Méndez brought to this episode. I’ll ashamedly admit I wasn’t incredibly familiar with his work before this, but given that his IMDb says he’s “one of Mexico’s biggest stars,” I can’t wait to dive further into his career and see what else I can get into, precluding the upcoming Mark Wahlberg–Kevin Hart movie Me Time, which he’s in and I will absolutely not be seeing.
• I also really love Alex’s mural. It’s got a cool outsider-art vibe to it, and I’d love to know more about who created it.