Apple TV+ comedy Acapulco heads as far into crowded crossroads as possible this week as people learn to be human again. The show about the hopeful staff of an exclusive Mexican resort finds Maximo faced with an important guest who will teach him there’s more to life than success.
Meanwhile, Nora misses Sara and has to stop fighting her heart. Diane has meddled with Chad for the last time. Memo tries to help Hector live for a day, and Julia needs to do some serious reconsidering. The episode, entitled “Money Changes Everything,” finds everyone in transition — and it’s better than we’ve gotten lately from this show.
Acapulco recap: ‘Money Changes Everything’
Season 2, episode 8: Maximo Gallardo (played by Eugenio Derbez in the present and Enrique Arrizon in the past) is in a funk. Young Maximo and his work wife Julia (Camila Perez) have finally confessed their feelings to each other, but it’s entirely too late. He’s dating Isabelle (Gabriella Milla), and she’s marrying Chad (Chord Overstreet). There’s nothing they can do now without ruining at least two lives.
Maximo’s got a distraction, at least, which is nice. Now that the hotel’s head of staff Don Pablo (Damián Alcázar) has retired, Maximo is resort owner Diane’s (Jessica Collins) right-hand man. A very important guest named Ricardo Vera (Osvaldo Benavides) will arrive soon, and Maximo needs to look after him. The rest of the staff is enjoying an otherwise empty resort while Maximo handles the guest. Well … perhaps not everyone.
Memo (Fernando Carsa) is still stressed out because Hector (Rafael Cebrián) accused him of selling hotel guests’ secrets to tabloid journalist Fabián (Bayardo De Murguia). Maximo knows neither Memo nor Hector did it — because he did it and has been hiding it from everyone.
Hector doesn’t know it yet, but Diane’s going to fire him, having grown tired of sleeping with and just generally being near him. Memo learns that Hector is innocent — and that he’s getting fired — so he tries to help Hector have the best day ever at the resort because he feels guilty.
Who ‘corrupted’ whom?
Maximo’s mother, Nora (Vanessa Bauche), is also in a state. She’s been heartsick ever since kicking her daughter Sara (Regina Reynoso) out of the house upon discovering her sexuality. She asks her dead husband to tell Jesus to send her a sign and, at that exact moment, Sara’s girlfriend Roberta’s (Samantha Orozco) father Chucho (Alejandro Cuetara) comes over to complain.
Seems Roberta got outed as gay in her house, too. Chucho blames Sara for forcing Roberta into her queerness. Esteban (Carlos Corona) tries to talk Nora out of believing what Chucho says, but his words of encouragement have unintended consequences. Now it’s Nora who goes on the attack. She’s now convinced it was Roberta who corrupted Sara.
Elsewhere, Julia learns something troubling as she’s helping one of Chad’s old girlfriends (Jocelyn Hudon) to her car to leave Las Colinas. Seems she didn’t just happen down here by coincidence. Diane invited her, which says to Julia that Diane doesn’t think she’s good enough to marry Chad and was hoping Kelli would split them up. Julia confronts Diane, who confesses that she’s been trying to break them up. Julia runs to Chad, who disappoints her by saying maybe it’s for the best.
A very special guest
Maximo takes Ricardo Vera out for a walk on the wild side and makes him realize how much he missed connection and spontaneity. Ricardo rewards Maximo by giving him his card, which it’s implied will help lead the young man to become the rich adult who’s now telling this story. Maximo confesses to Diane, realizing he betrayed himself to get ahead. And then she fires him.
Nora goes to confront Chucho. But she catches him during a local reenactment of the passion of the Christ, so he’s dressed like Jesus, and the town square turns against her. Afterward, she has a heart-to-heart with a woman dressed like the Virgin Mary (Gizeth Galatea). She decides to start trying to let Sara back into her heart.
Then she looks at the love letters Sara wrote to Roberta and sees they aren’t deviant or amoral; they’re just harmless love letters between two teenagers.
Take these broken wings…
Acapulco’s slow crawl back to the sight of Sara and Nora’s argument has been enervating, but it’s good that the writers finally almost remembered that this is the most important thing on the show. (Though, let’s be clear, they don’t act like they know this. They just finally give it the attention the thread deserves.)
At last, Nora finally realizes that her religious beliefs are not compatible with her experience as a person and as a mother. It’s one thing to live your life by a set of principles, but what happens when they tell you to leave behind what you love most in the world?
Still, Nora’s character was insufficiently ragged on by the show’s writers for my liking. Shouldn’t she really learn something about herself after her horrific, knee-jerk bigotry? Should the Virgin Mary really be allowed to throw a … well, a Hail Mary and forgive her of her sins? Seems pat.
Why tackle something this awful if you aren’t prepared to really explore the darkness of the scenario? Whatever. At least we’re almost through the tunnel on this one. It’s nice to have every other sitcom premise wrapped up in the same week, too. I was having fun with this season of Acapulco until a few episodes ago, when it the show reverted to its schlocky sitcom roots. Now I don’t know what to think, but at least this week’s episode proved painless enough.
Watch Acapulco on Apple TV+
New episodes of Acapulco season two drop each Friday.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.