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‘The Resort’ Showrunner Answers All Our Burning Questions About the Finale

‘The Resort’ Showrunner Answers All Our Burning Questions About the Finale

From showrunner and executive producer Andy Siara (Palm Springs), The Resort is a comedy-mystery series unlike no other. The premise may start off in a familiar place: married couple Noah (William Jackson Harper) and Emma (Cristin Milioti) decide to vacation in the Mayan Riviera at the Oceana Vista Resort for their anniversary. The two have clearly been out of touch for some time, and the trip itself may or may not make all the difference. When Emma stumbles upon an unsolved mystery connected to the disappearance of two guests at a now-defunct resort on the same island 15 years ago, the couple wanders down a rabbit hole consisting of bizarre twists and turns, unanswered questions, and lots of intrigue and danger. In addition to Harper and Milioti, the series also flashes back to that fateful trip in the past, in which Skyler Gisondo (The Righteous Gemstones)’s Sam finds himself unexpectedly connecting with another resort guest, Violet (Nina Bloomgarden), while on a trip with his parents and girlfriend, Hannah (Debby Ryan). The series also stars Nick Offerman, Luis Gerardo Méndez, Gabriela Cartol, Dylan Baker, Becky Ann Baker, Ben Sinclair, Michael Hitchcock, and Parvesh Cheena.

Ahead of the finale’s premiere on Peacock this week, Collider had the opportunity to speak with Siara about some of the most pivotal reveals in “The Disillusionment of Time.” Over the course of the interview, which you can read below, Siara discusses how Luis Guzmán came to be cast in the role of Illan Iberra, where this episode was filmed, and what it means for the audience not to see what Emma glimpses in the whirlpool. He also talks about how he feels about where the characters end up, whether that final scene lends itself to any second season potential, and if he’d be willing to tell more stories in The Resort’s world.

Collider: I would love to talk, at least in part, about Luis Guzmán in the role of Illan Iberra. How did all of that come together, him being a part of just that one episode?

ANDY SIARA: It was always a very, very important role, from this early series bible that I wrote a few years ago. At that point in the season, both timelines are going to meet the author of this book, and who was the best actor to play the author? It just came out of discussions with the directors, Daniel [Garcia] and Rania [Attieh], and Alton, my co-chair writer, and then Manuel Alcalá, who is one of the producers and writers in the show, too. Who can best capture the energy of what we need this character to be? We didn’t want the full-on trope-y pretentious writer type. The biggest thing to me was that every sentence [of his] contradicts the previous one in a way, and that when we leave this place, it’s like… is it real? Is this Pasaje thing real, or did he really just send the kids off to the jungle to die?

In terms of talking about who would best capture that energy, it just was like, “Oh, Luis Guzmán’s the guy.” We just sent him the script and see if he’d want to do it. He luckily said yes. He was an awesome dude to work with. We talked a lot about Punch Drunk Love and obviously, he’s incredible in that. He’s incredible in anything that he did. He’s also in the DNA of the movies that also inspired the show, in some ways.

Where was this finale episode filmed? Pasaje, once the group reaches it, feels like it’s part of the world, but not quite of the world. Was it a combination of location and set piece? How was that created for the show?

SIARA: I always knew that this penultimate episode was going to be all parties venturing into the jungle. The finale I always wanted to be all underground. There was just me and Ben Sinclair, and we wanted to make sure in the first four episodes [that] we were setting up imagery that will pay off in the finale in a way, and how we bring this Pasaje to life. I’d say this conversation started with us and our fantastic production designer, Brett Panzer, and the three of us throwing around ideas. Then, when Ariel Kleiman came on, he directed the last two episodes, those conversations continued to evolve.

We landed on this final room where they find Sam and Violet, and this whirlpool. In one of in the first ten minutes of the show, there’s this overhead shot of Emma in her Jacuzzi with these jets swirling around. She’s at a point in her life where she wants to go into the water and underwater. I just wanted to make sure we paid off that image where it’s the same overhead shot of a much larger Jacuzzi. She’s the kind of person that, eight episodes ago, would go into the water. Then she decides to not go into the water. That whirlpool imagery kept on popping up in just the making of the show

Once we settled on that, Brett and his incredible team built that entire room. The other parts that had always been there, and I knew I wanted to make sure we get at some point [were] Noah and Emma needed to part ways and Noah needed to do what he couldn’t do in the first three episodes of the show — which is just let her go, because she’s on her own journey here. We called it the waiting room, where they part ways. I knew we needed that kind of thing. We found a cave that was a little too covered in bat shit, so we decided to shoot parts of it, but then really with our actors, we built that part of it. Then the other most important piece was this tunnel that Emma’s character crawls through and then gets stuck in. That obviously had to be built, because we can’t get cameras down into a very, very tight tunnel like that.

Knowing that those were the pieces and knowing that cenotes are an actual thing, but they’re not everywhere. There are caves — but caves with water in them, that’s a slightly more unique thing, and pretty unique to the Yucatan, but we’re filming in Puerto Rico. Knowing we have these pieces that we need to build, me and the producers, location scouts, went looking around everywhere to find the best thing that could capture this feeling, that could have the wonder and awe that warrants the finale and warrants something that is maybe outside of time. This is not something that has been found before either, or not found by the public. I never wanted it to be a giant hole in the ground. I wanted it to be a small entryway, a small hole that sometimes is probably covered up and sometimes not.

We found a couple of different places in the Dominican Republic that fit all the rest of our needs, which is where eventually, they cross this river, and they make it into this giant hole in the ground. That’s why Nick’s character says, “How the fuck did we miss this?” It’s like, how do you miss something this big? The size might be where the kids are, where the room is, where the whirlpool is, but really, it’s once they go underground. Then you’ve now entered into a world, and perhaps everything down there is outside of time. Why is there a raft there? How did no one ever see this giant cenote there? It’s an underground world that sends characters on trials in a way. More ideas came as we found certain locations. It’s Tres Ojos, I think it was called, in the Dominican. That’s where the whole underground river part is, where they’re on the boat and the big opening. Once we saw it, that’s where more ideas came in, too, of let’s make a boat, have a boat that hints at a deeper task here.

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