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Acapulco Episode 6 Recap: Máximo Goes to Domino School

Apologies to anyone and everyone reading this for not starting these recaps until Acapulco episode six. I really hope they get a second season! And not just for professional reasons. This show is super duper charming and is starting to stretch out into more and more complicated emotional and cultural territory. If “anyone and everyone reading this” includes Powers That Be from Apple TV: you’ve got a budding hit on your hands with Acapulco. Greenlight this baby.

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And so: Acapulco episode six, entitled “Uptown Girl.” We open on a shot of stately Máximo Manor, still populated by Máximo and Hugo and Rolf and no one else. Unless Acapulco is about to go all Jane Eyre on us and reveal its own Bertha Mason, locked away in the third East Wing or the second sub-basement wine cellar or some other far-flung place. Hugo’s mom – that’s Máximo’s sister Sara, whom we’ve not met in the present – checks in via text, and Hugo is about to write back. Máximo tells his nephew to “impress her” by writing “Que te importa; no seas chismosa,” which the subtitles translate as “None of your business; don’t be nosy.” Hugo parsing those words and spelling them all correctly would be impressive. Recall that this is the kid who dropped “Mi español soy muy bueno” in the pilot episode. I think Máximo might need to teach his nephew a little bit more Spanish first.

Instead, Hugo takes this opportunity to be a little chismoso himself. With Máximo out of the room, he sneaks over to the Chest of Artifacts for a little solo browsing. Right away, he finds what looks like the letter Máximo was reading before Hugo’s arrival in the pilot episode. It’s written in Spanish; the handwriting looks large and a bit unsteady, almost like a child’s. It’s signed “Mariano.” I’ll write up a translation of it in another article. For now: planting seeds for future stories, oh boy!

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Máximo is, understandably, annoyed that his nephew only heard “chismoso” and not “no seas.” He promises Hugo he’ll tell him about Mariano another time. He says Mariano asked him to do “something I don’t know if I could ever do.” “What,” Hugo asks, “like attend your nephew’s school play?” I already said this elsewhere, but I love the chemistry these two have together. And we’re getting a little more about their relationship before the show! Máximo restates his promise, adding that Hugo wouldn’t understand the story if he told it right now. “Especially if I told it in Spanish.”

What Máximo is ready to explain is how the shrimp cocktails he and Hugo are having for a snack reminds him of his first wife, Becca. Hugo is as surprised as we are to hear that Máximo was married. Máximo says she changed his life, “and just in time.” Given that this episode is called “Uptown Girl” and the thumbnail photo is of Young Máximo kissing the blonde we met in “All Night Long,” I think it’s safe to assume we’re in for an accidental and/or fake wedding. I am as here for this premise as I am for watching Máximo eat a shrimp cocktail while wearing white. I have four pets and a five-year-old human, which means I don’t own any clean clothes anymore. This man’s confidence is awe-inspiring.

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35 years earlier, Young Máximo is still fuming over accidentally helping Chad and Julia get closer together. Memo pulls off some deft friendship maneuvering by helping Máximo see his own self-worth while keeping the focus on the thing that actually interests him: the football match featuring all-time-great Mexican forward Hugo Sánchez that he’ll be listening to while at work, courtesy of the $3.50 radio he paid $4 for. Four is Sánchez’s number, you see, and so everything has to align with it today. In telling Máximo to get over his Julia troubles, Memo invokes the Parable of Sánchez, who “went where he was wanted”: he couldn’t stick with a club in Mexico, so he went to Spain and became “the King of Football.” Given that Sánchez is still La Liga’s fourth leading scorer all-time, I think Memo is right – Máximo should forget Julia and sneak away from work to listen to the game with his friend.

I also think that Memo calling for a “High Four!” and putting up four fingers for Máximo to slap is the greatest number-based joke since the Girls5Eva theme song. Thanks to this joke, that song has been stuck in my head all day. And now it can be in yours, too!

About that job of his, though. Hector further rains on Máximo’s parade by telling him (in his most charming Hector fashion) to steer clear of the old, wealthy, high-tipping couple on the other side of the pool. Just as Máximo starts to feel positively soggy, though, a voice calls out, “Hey! What was that about?” And who could be talking to him?

Why, the gorgeous, bikini-clad Becca, of course. The clouds part; the sun shines. After a little flirting, Becca’s parents arrive. They are instantly charmed by Máximo – who really does quite well with the guests, whether or not they have hot daughters – and invite him to brunch. When Máximo protests, Becca’s father asks Don Pablo if it’s alright. His response? “The guest gets what the guest wants.” There’s that W-word again, the one Memo used at least four times. With a smile at least as big as Sánchez’s after Atlético Madrid won the 1985 Copa del Rey, Máximo decides to go where he’s wanted.

Of course, with Máximo getting the morning off, there’s only one person/named character left to wait on Becca’s family’s table.

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Now it’s Máximo’s turn to rain all over Hector’s curly-haired parade and ask him if the kitchen is serving little boy tears despite the early hour. “I could get used to this,” Máximo says to himself. Becca scoots closer.

And things get closer still after brunch, when Becca senses an opportunity to get her parents to stop “smothering” her. She thinks up a quick lie about some Acapulco hot springs Máximo knows all about – you know, the ones that were built by the Mayans and are famed for their restorative properties? (Despite the  Mondale reference in the previous scene, I guess I set my hopes too high wishing for an FDR joke here.) Without missing a beat, Becca’s parents insist she and Máximo go together, since they could be good for Becca. Between this and her mother’s constant references to benzodiazepines, I’m wondering just what Becca’s home life is like. Máximo, however, only has eyes for the fat cash Becca’s father hands him. Oh, and the keys to the rental car. Then, when Becca’s father tells her “I got the extra insurance; don’t worry,” I start wondering about that pesky home life all over again.

(One quick aside from this scene: Becca’s father calls out to Don Pablo and addresses him as “Señor P.” After three repeats of this line delivery, I still couldn’t tell what the guy was saying and had to turn on the captions. It’s because he says “Señor” like the English word “senior.” And yet Don Pablo hears and understands this man, who is no less disrespectful in his casual ignorance than any other tourist we’ve met in Acapulco so far. The idea that Don Pablo would be fluent in not only Spanish and English but also Horribly Mangled Estadounidense English is both astonishing and a mark of the man’s unshakeable dignity.)

Máximo thinks that that was the end of he and Becca’s little con. But then he tells Becca he can understand her recent breakup with her boyfriend because he accidentally set “this girl” up on a trip home for her boyfriend to meet her parents, which basically means that their next trip will be “to the altar.” And she gets a little look in her eye.

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She suggests the two of them actually go out into Acapulco and spend the day together. “You just got the afternoon free, and we have money,” Becca tells him. “And we both have certain people that we do not want to be thinking about, so…do you want to show me around?” Not that Máximo shouldn’t take her up on this adventure? Like, I don’t think it’s going to turn out Becca is a drug addict or a con artist; Acapulco just isn’t that kind of show. (Yet. Always yet.) But he doesn’t hear a single alarm bell. Not even when he says he should change out of his Las Colinas uniform: “I don’t want someone to stop me on the street and order a drink.”

Becca laughs, because she doesn’t see what she’s doing. Máximo smiles, because he’s drunk on temporary privilege (and Hector’s little boy tears). But Don Pablo sees the danger. “Have a good time, Máximo,” he says. “But don’t forget: You are the staff. They are the guests.”

Things aren’t going as well for Memo, who can’t get any reception on his radio way down in the laundry room despite being able to search for it openly when Lupé leaves to call her priest, Father Rámon. He starts wandering the hotel, praying for reception, then stumbles upon a repairman talking on his walkie-talkie in room 310, which can’t have any guests in it for some time. Turns out there’s a major plumbing problem – but Memo confirms that the television still gets “all FOUR channels.” He then ruins his own fun by leaving a message for Máximo with Hector, of all people. Memo, surely Máximo has complained to you about Hector? Surely you know not to leave this information with him?

Meanwhile, in Acapulco, Máximo and Becca pull up outside their restaurant of choice. They walk inside to the sweet, sweet strains of Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer.” Between Acapulco‘s entire run and Ted Lasso’s funeral episode, my researching-that-80s song-I-recognize-but-don’t-really-know muscles are getting a thorough workout this year. Thanks, Apple TV’s music budget!

If Máximo could hear it, surely he would feel a sense of growing dread. This will not end happily, Máximo! But enjoy the lap of luxury while you’re in it. And he clearly is–during their brief, glamorous walk, Becca mostly just looks like a person walking to a place, but Máximo looks like Charlie in every scene inside the chocolate factory.

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And their walk ends after having passed through a sea of waiters in white jackets, at a balcony overlooking a swimming pool and the sea. The whole tableau is heavily reminiscent of what Máximo Manor will one day look (if not feel) like.

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Becca assures Máximo he “fit[s] right in” as a rich tourist. That’s kind of her, I suppose. Except that Máximo bungles the waiter’s offer of a cigar (“Cuban.” “Oh, no–I’m Mexican”) and nearly chokes on the twelve-year-old Lagavulin that Becca orders. Has Máximo even had a drink before? Not something as expensive as that, in any case. Somewhere, Ron Swanson is nodding his approval.

Máximo is also overwhelmed with excitement over being in this particular location, since it’s right where major celebrities got married and/or posed for famous photos during Acapulco’s mid-century heyday. His references to Liz Taylor’s marriage to Mike Todd and “Hedy Lamarr’s famous photograph” are a nice callback to the pilot, where Máximo explained to Hugo that Acapulco was, for a time, the most famous and luxurious resort town in North America, if not the entire world. We’ve gotten a few other indications of Máximo’s genuine interest in and curiosity about celebrity culture. I wonder what part this interest will play in his later success.

But Becca, a journalism major (really?) isn’t interested in all that. She wants to know what Acapulco is really like. (Really?) So Máximo, impressed and with the liquor clearly hitting him harder, takes Becca to the real Acapulco: a street fair in celebration of the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Máximo even gets called güerito by a woman selling baskets. I am temporarily confused, because güerito means “blondie”; we heard it a few times last week, when Chad finally ventured beyond Las Colinas’ safety and security and entered the rabbit warren of danger and criminal activity that is The Real Acapulco. (Spoiler alert: Máximo told him they were meeting a criminal mastermind for coffee, which Chad had forgotten to order; it was actually Máximo’s friend, who explained, in Spanish and with helpful gestures, how to pulverize the octopus when you’re preparing it for ceviche.)

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However, Máximo explains that güerito is also what the locals call anyone who looks rich. As Máximo now does. Fortunately, the liquor is still the only thing going to his head.

I do have a (minor) bone to pick here. The Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe is December 12th. Atlético Madrid, Hugo Sánchez’s team, didn’t play Barcelona on December 12th, 1984. They did have a match that day, but it was against Málaga in the second round of the Copa del Rey. (Atlético won, 3-0; Sánchez scored in the 75th minute.)

Atlético did play Barcelona on the 28th of October that year; Sánchez scored Atlético’s only goal. And he scored in the teams’ second match that season, on February 2nd, 1985. So the timeline in this particular Acapulco episode doesn’t *quite* line up. I’m not complaining; I just like picking minor bones. Enjoy that especially unflattering euphemism. I do these things for you, six people who will read this recap – I do them for you.

Anyway, Máximo and Becca stumble upon a little girl struggling against the literal pull of a group of young boys trying to pull her into a tent.

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Máximo assures her it’s all part of the feast: the boys are trying to rope the girl in for a fake wedding, complete with a fake judge presiding over the whole thing. Becca comments that marriages in New York are all very real, but some of them are just as short. I think we just figured out how Máximo got himself his first “wife.”

“Becca Rosenthal,” Máximo says, his face betraying his heart’s desire, “will you pretend-marry me?” Becca, her heart bursting with happiness, replies, “I thought you would never pretend-ask.” The happy young couple makes their way to the tent; Máximo’s fate is sealed. Aah, well. I hope he at least gets a wedding night before the inevitable heartbreak.

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Back at Las Colinas, Memo has just settled in to room 310 for the start of the match. There’s a knock at the door. He assumes it’s Máximo – so of course it’s Beto, the tall tale-telling bartender, who found out about this setup after Hector goaded him into paying five dollars. Memo has just gotten OK with this new setup when there’s another knock at the door. It’s Mónica, the sleepless event planner, who brought along a plate of sandwiches. Memo, Memo, Memo. Don’t tell Hector anything you don’t want the whole staff to know about (or that he might profit off of).

Back at the fair, the presiding judge is a stern, no-nonsense, respect-commanding eight-year-old. He is Acapulco‘s equivalent of Lyanna Mormont. I will call him Judge Mormont. Hopefully he doesn’t get crushed to death by a Zombie Ice Giant (yet. Always yet.) He reminds Máximo and Becca that marriage is a lifetime commitment, marries them, then calls for a five-minute recess so he can drink a Frutsi. Máximo and Becca enjoy a quick, happy kiss at the altar. Just like with the Lagavulin, Becca looks pleased, but Máximo looks delighted. They share another, rather more passionate kiss.

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Also passionate? The growing crowd of staff members gathered in room 310 for the Atlético-Barca match. Everyone is cheering for Atlético except for Memo, who looks bemused (Tracy Morgan voice: “And that is the correct usage!”), and Lupé, who turns out to be a Barcelona fan.

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Memo is surprised she’s a football fan at all. Turns out she’s also the betting type – Father Rámon, who she called before? That’s her bookie. I love Lupé. I want The Lupé Show. Except I don’t, because too much focus would spoil her strangeness and mystery.

Atlético scores, and Memo asks permission to rub it in Lupé’s face this one time. He talks a big game,

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but then Don Pablo enters the room. (You guys didn’t lock the door?) He wants to know whose idea this was. Everyone stands up and says “It was my idea!” because Acapulco needs an “I am Spartacus” moment here in order to demonstrate how much love everyone has for Memo. Wait – sorry; that’s not for a season or two yet. In Acapulco Episode 6, everybody points at Memo without a moment’s hesitation.

Don Pablo weighs the situation, then tells Beto to move over and sits on the edge of the bed. And then tells Memo to come sit next to him! Again, Memo is flabbergasted. In a suitably quiet voice, Don Pablo explains that if he acts benevolently here, everybody will work twice as hard for him for weeks. He asks how many minutes are left, and Memo says “About five” while holding up four fingers. I could not love this joke more; I couldn’t love Memo’s dedication to it more. I’ve watched this scene several times, and every time his delivery turns me into a giggling idiot. And by now the quick cut to the next scene right after the punchline is itself another punchline. Just perfection. Moments like this are rare; you’ve got to cherish them when they happen.

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Elsewhere in moments, Máximo’s mother and sister, having finished up their morning at Mass, are strolling through a street fair. Acapulco is a big city, so I’m sure this is a completely different street fair than the one Máximo and Becca were just fake-married and are now real-making out at. Probably their paths won’t come anywhere near colliding. Especially since Máximo’s mother says she spent the morning praying for Máximo, who she worries is being changed by Las Colinas. (Hey, Máximo, unrelated question – you got your father’s escapulario back already, right? It’s fine. I’m sure it’s fine.)

Naturally, Nora’s glasses help her see well enough to notice Máximo carrying Becca out of the fake-wedding tent. She isn’t pleased.

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And Máximo is no longer fake-real happy. He assures his mother that this is just a pretend marriage, but all Nora hears is that Becca is from New York and an atheist. Máximo says “Look, a Ferris wheel!” and runs off with his bride, leaving his horrified mother agape.

Back in room 310, there are only two minutes left in “sudden death.” I thought this was a poor translation, since there is no sudden death in standard matches for La Liga or any other major football league. Non-tournament football matches, as we all know, can end in ties.

But the announcer says muerte súbita, which does mean “sudden death,” so now I’m just confused. Anyway, Barcelona scores and wins the match. Lupé tells everyone to suck her mandarins. Don Pablo tells everyone to get back to work. Except, that is, for Memo and Hector – and then Don Pablo tells Hector to give Memo half the money he made telling the staff about the Secret Football TV Party. Hector tries to pretend like there isn’t any money. Don Pablo does Hector the courtesy of not being insulted by such an obvious ruse.

Hector, to his credit, not only forks over half the money – he gives Memo a small smile and a pat on the shoulder. Not fucking bad! If Acapulco can redeem Chad, Hector should be no problem.

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Máximo and Becca spend the rest of the day at the fair in blissful Montage Mode. They pose for pictures; they eat treats; they cuddle. Everything is colorful and serene.

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They wind up dancing on the beach. Máximo says, “I don’t want this day to end.” Becca says, “It doesn’t have to.” She invites him up to her room. Máximo allows himself a very cautious smile, then very gently asks about Becca’s parents. “I think they should stay in their own room.” Máximo is surprised that Becca has her own room. I wonder if he should be. He watched a woman feed filet mignon to her dog on his first day at Las Colinas. I think his oversight here has more to do with the impossibility of allowing himself to think he could sleep with a guest.

But this episode is all about what happens when one of your dreams becomes reality. So Máximo allows himself a proper smile. He and Becca kiss again.

Back at Máximo Manor, Hugo asks his uncle, “What were you gonna do in her room?” His face is the picture of innocence. Máximo is even more cautious here than he was with Becca one scene and 35 years ago. He asks his nephew, “So…you…don’t know yet?” Hugo just looks at him. “Yeah, you know. You don’t know? Wait – you’re messing with me; you know! You don’t know.”

Hugo just looks confused. I am just about rolling on the floor at this point. Máximo lands on this gem: “We…played dominoes, all night long.”

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Voiceover: “And we also played dominoes again in the morning. Twice.”

On the balcony in a soft white robe, overlooking for the first time the true splendor of Las Colinas, Máximo – still in voiceover – tells us he feels he’d “finally found where [he] belonged.” Oh, Máximo. This is the most precarious position you’ve yet been in. There are about to be some hard truths. Not to be confused with the hard (ahem) choices (ahem) you had to make playing dominoes (huge cough and chest grabbing).

Before that, though, Hugo breaks in with my favorite Hugo moment of the show so far. “It’s so weird,” he tells his uncle, “that you guys just played dominoes all night, when you could have been having sex.”

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And now, the unpleasantness. Máximo, back in his uniform and ready for a day at work, presents Becca with a pad and a pen. So she can write down her phone number and address. So he can keep in touch with her. And they can see each other again.

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Oh, Máximo. Becca assures him that she had a great day with him, and that they were both able to forget the people they were trying to forget. “Oh, right,” Máximo responds, keeping it together remarkably well. “That is what we talked about.”

But then Becca twists the knife she could have used for a clean separation. “So, I’m gonna jump in the shower, and I was thinking…” Máximo gets ready for the fourth round of dominoes. “…maybe you could have housekeeping bring me more towels?” And then, before sliding her hands down his body and walking away, Becca says, “Thank you.”

I guess that was about the cleanest and least cruel way to turn a day of escapism and sexy fun times into a messy, cruel memory. If the uniform wasn’t enough of a signal, it is now 100% clear that Máximo is back at work; the fantasy is over. But it’s not gone without a trace, as Becca’s father tells Máximo to keep the sunglasses he borrowed for his magical day. And he accidentally knocks Becca’s New York University cap off of a suitcase while loading the car, then drives off without noticing. There’s something to be said for a life so comfortable that you can wave off a let’s say hundred-dollar pair of sunglasses and completely overlook leaving behind a hat you probably bought on a whim in the first place.

Máximo just stands there, holding his only tangible connection to Becca, wondering what the hell just happened. Don Pablo, who somehow maintains his stern demeanor while also getting kinder in every episode, approaches to reiterate what he said before. The line between staff and guests is one that “always divides us. Even if you don’t think it’s there.” But, after another pat on the back, Don Pablo adds one more thing: Pero tal vez algun día – “But maybe one day.”

Oh, and also Hector tells Máximo to clean up after “some brat” who threw up near the pool. So this day has become quite the meteor crashing into the earth.

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Except that, while Máximo cleans up brat vomit with a hose, Memo approaches with the good news about his own day. He’s even too optimistic to see what happened to Máximo the way Máximo sees it: in Memo’s view, Máximo “got handed a bunch of money, got to drive around in a fancy convertible, drank Scotch at a fancy club” — and he “had sex with a girl from New York.” I guess the dominoes are fully out of the bag now. “You had the biggest winning day either of us have had in our lives!” Memo concludes. The frown is gone from Máximo’s face. I’m still not letting Becca off the hook for the totally crappy way she brought things to a close. And the duo who sings Spanish versions of 80s pop hits at the pool is playing Huey Lewis’ “The Power of Love,” which wasn’t released until June of 1985. So there are a few mixed messages here.

But not for Máximo. Back in the present, he tells Hugo that, though it “took awhile to sink in,” his time with Becca taught something that did change his life. And what was that? “That I,” Máximo says, slowly, deliberately, and with a smile of powerful determination, “could have more.”

Acapulco Episode 6 could have ended right there and been the best one of the season. But we’ve got one more powerful look to go. Back in 1985, Máximo and Memo took the last of their cash from their respective adventures and went in on a meal of shrimp cocktails and beer. They sit on an empty beach, enjoying life for a minute. Or, rather, Memo enjoys life; Máximo is the hungriest for more life than we’ve ever seen him. He tells Memo he’s ready to start turning his dreams into realities. Memo is basically, “Sure.”

Oh, and then he remembers to tell Máximo that he heard Julia and Chad came home early from their trip to visit her family in Colombia. Apparently, they might not be heading down the altar just yet. Máximo says “Qué curioso,” puts his sunglasses on, and looks toward whatever’s beyond the horizon.

This was a terrific episode. Máximo learned a few hard truths about life for someone in his position and chose almost immediately to start being more aggressive with his choices. Memo made a few powerful friends and a whole bunch of good old regular ones. And we found out that Hugo has learned the fine art of lying for the sake of a joke. These are all wonderful developments; let’s see what Acapulco does with them.

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Written By

John is a former academic and lifelong overthinker. He's written many short things and abandoned many long ones. He grew up in the Midwest, currently lives in the South, and would get lost in a different forest every day if he could. He is trying very hard.

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