‘The Resort’ Finale: Andy Siara Explains Pasaje & Those Trippy Ink Blot Shots
[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Resort Season 1 Episode 8 finale, “The Disillusionment of Time.”]
Did you predict The Resort ending? Neither did we. The Peacock dramedy came to a close with its eighth episode on Thursday, September 1, finally solving the mystery of Sam (Skyler Gisondo) and Violet’s (Nina Bloomgarden) disappearance 15 years and several Motorola Razrs ago.
In The Resort finale, Cristin Milioti and William Jackson Harper‘s Emma and Noah finally show signs of reconnecting after appearing to be in a loveless marriage all season long. As we learned in prior episodes, Emma and Noah’s relationship never fully healed after their daughter died just one hour after her birth. Emma never got to see the baby’s face, and she’s been in denial about how much it has haunted her ever since. When she came across Sam’s old Razr in the jungle in the pilot, it lit a spark in her again, making her obsessed with solving this mystery. At first, the obsession started as a way for Emma to avoid Noah. But the more details she discovered about Sam and Violet’s disappearance, the less the already mysterious story made sense.
The only person who believed the unbelievable for much of this tale was Baltasar Frias (Luis Gerardo Méndez), an amateur detective and former head of security for the Oceana Vista — the now condemned resort where Sam and Violet were on vacations with their families at the time of their disappearance. Baltasar, Emma, Noah, Luna (Gabriela Cartol), and eventually Murray (Violet’s father, played by Nick Offerman) banded together to find Pasaje — the supposed “place beyond time” that Alex (Ben Sinclair, who also directed Episodes 1-4) seemingly once found and that Sam and Violet searched for.
If Pasaje were real, like author Illán Iberra (Luis Guzmán) wrote in his book detailing the Pasaje adventure, it could take people back to moments they wish they could change — an appealing prospect for Violet, who didn’t get to say goodbye to her mother before she died, and Emma, who regrets never having seen her daughter. Creator Andy Siara (Palm Springs) wrote The Resort as a story about the dangers of nostalgia, both the allure and the curse of it. And in the finale, we learned Pasaje was real, but diving into its waters came at a cost.
After much fear and physical danger, Emma found Sam and Violet frozen in time in Pasaje in The Resort finale. She made it clear to Noah that should she find it, she was going in. But when that moment came, Emma magically saw her daughter’s face (off-screen, for viewers — we only saw Emma’s reaction to the dream-come-true moment), and then stopped herself from diving in. She pulled Sam and Violet out instead, who hadn’t aged a day. The 20-somethings thought only five minutes had passed since they nearly drowned in that same cave, but it had been 15 years. Emma realized she didn’t want to miss out on 15 years of her life, learning the lesson Sam and Violet didn’t have the chance to learn. (Baltasar, it seems in the finale’s final moments, is eager to jump forward in time. We’ll see if a Season 2 will show that, should one come to be.)
In hindsight, we now know that the ink blot-like shots strewn throughout the season were meant to represent Pasaje, or at least what Pasaje stood for: nostalgia. Siara told TV Insider how those ink blots/”cloud tanks” came together, revealing that in his original pitch for the show, there was no Pasaje — the cave was a dead end, but then “I felt like we needed to give a little bit of a visual gift,” Siara explains.
“This whole thing’s about the allure of nostalgia and the curse of nostalgia and that idea of like, yes, you can go swim in the memories of your past and bask in the warmth of your past and of your memories,” he continues. “But there’s a danger to that, ’cause you will just lose time. Basically, the takeaway from the show is if you obsess too much about the past and your memories, and you don’t let things go, then you’re just gonna lose time in the present day.” The ink blots were about visually achieving that feeling.
The veil in Annihilation was a visual inspiration for the shots. And “even though Ben Sinclair wasn’t directing the back half of the show,” Siara shares, “his DNA is all over this thing. He was the one who really brought in the interchanging cloud tank.” Sinclair is the one who suggested the cloud tanks be designed in reference to halocline effects seen in cenotes — a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater. Cenotes are commonly found in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, where The Resort is set. Pasaje itself is inside a cenote. And halocline is transition zone between density of normal to very salty seawater.
The visual look of the ink blot shots and the pool Sam and Violet were found in were both meant to resemble these natural oceanic phenomena. The pool, Siara explains, showing the pair “trapped in the memories of the past,” and the cloud tanks are meant to visualize the feeling of intense nostalgia and longing.
“What I was attracted to was like a surreal dream, like a visual within a show that does not have dreams,” he says, adding that “it’s a feeling that is both happy and sad at the same time, good and sad at the same time, and beautiful and terrifying at the same time.” There was a cloud tank designed for the moment Emma looks into Pasaje, but viewers didn’t end up seeing it, only Emma’s deep stare into it.
“There was something about this that both achieved beauty and terror at once,” he says of the moment. And that simultaneous beauty and terror is what made Emma jolt herself back into her senses and not lose more of her precious time.
In the end, Emma saw her daughter and Violet saw her mother. But getting what they wanted didn’t take away their grief, it only taught them that they must move forward with it — a lesson hard-won.
The Resort, Streaming Now, Peacock