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Palm Royale 1st 5 episodes

"…the other contestants would always underestimate me."

By 'Vive AkughaPublished about a month ago 21 min read
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Apple TV+'s 2024 show, Palm Royale focuses on the determination for betterment through class and acknowledgement implemented in the story of Maxine Simmons. Kristen Wiig is Maxine Simmons, a woman dedicated to joining the distinguished Palm Royale club and The Shiny Sheet to improve her social standing to where she and her husband belong. Created by Abe Sylvia based on the book "Mr. & Mrs. American Pie" by Juliet McDaniel, new episodes will be released on Wednesdays to stream the 10 Apple TV+ episodes.

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1st episode - "Pilot"

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We are taken to Palm Beach in 1969, home to the prestigious Palm Royale. Maxine tries to seamlessly include herself in the Palm Royale by taking the "back door" and joining a conversation with the 4 ruling ladies. Evelyn Rollins (Allison Janey), Dinah Donahue (Leslie Bibb), Raquel Kimberly-Marco(Claudia Ferri), and Mary Jones Davidsoul(Julia Duffy) are the influential ladies. With her intrusion, she takes this opportunity to introduce herself and mention that the ladies are like family to her due to her knowledge of them. She is noticed and reprimanded by the club manager (James Urbaniak) and Robert Diaz (Ricky Martin). Before being thrown out and having her picture taken, she brings up a point to the manager. She acknowledges that she would need a member to nominate her to initiate the membership process and asks how that would happen if she doesn't know anyone. Feeling underestimated, she heads to shop the closet of her husband's unconscious aunt, Norma Dellacorte(Carol Burnett) which is obvious to be routine.

With the 4 ladies vying to be Queen of the Season, she heads to the nail salon to continue her makeover. She encounters Linda Shaw (Laura Dern) in front of the salon and they discuss. Linda tries to encourage Maxine to join her group supporting the sisterhood. She hands her an invitation to an upcoming circle at the bookstore, "Our Body, Our Shelves" which serves as a safe space for the underrepresented. However, Maxine is uninterested due to her beliefs and the upcoming charity season. While Mitzi (Kaia Gerber) does her nails, she sees Dinah in a lover's quarrel and takes this as an opportunity to get close to one of the ladies. She concocts a car jam between them which startles weeping Dinah who determined to give some compensation, takes her to her physician. In the waiting room, they discuss Maxine's husband and her interest in joining the club. However, Dinah turns down the possibility of a sponsorship from her. Despite mentioning her husband being a pilot and a Dellacorte of "plastics and mouthwash", Dinah alludes to knowing that Maxine is not wealthy. She calls out her outdated fashion as the reason, questioning if she can pay the $300,000 initial fee and $500 monthly.

Doctor Prescott (Albert Malafronte) suggests Dinah do an exam when informed she was also in the accident. She strongly rejects doing so before heading to the bathroom where Maxine follows her. Despite Dinah's hesitance, she shares the real issue with Maxine. They talk about her affair with Eddie (Jason Canela), the Tennis pro at the club turning disastrous with the pregnancy. They discuss her options including trying to book a doctor within the limited timeframe of her husband's return and her honouring with the Volunteer of the Year award. Maxine had encouraged her to have the baby and pass it off as her husband's but the issue of racial difference was made known. Again, Maxine brings up having the baby anyway for love. She agrees that she loves Eddie and knows her marriage will sink but she would never initiate it. She believes love is a lie and only the poor can afford love which Maxine opposes.

However, Maxine's real cause for opposition comes up when Dinah offers to drive her home. Unable to turn down the offer, she heads to the motel with her knowing it's not up to par with her persona. When they arrive, Dinah's shock leads her to claim it as a temporary spot while their house is getting ready. Before leaving, she encourages their continued friendship but Dinah shuts it down. Seeing the invitation Linda gave her, Maxine comes up with a solution to the friendship by suggesting help with her abortion. Dinah accepts this and Maxine heads to the bookstore. She interrupts the ritual led by Linda and Virginia (Amber Chardae Robinson) saying she has a sister in need. This is arranged and they await the day. Maxine updates Norma, steals her necklace and sells it to a Pawn Shop Owner (Tom Ayers) for $20,000. Dinah is at a dress fitting with Grayman (Dominic Burgess) who dresses the ruling ladies of Palm Beach and Maxine comes to support her about it and her plan. Dinah starts the process facilitated by some nurses from an underground collective. Virginia is present due to Linda's absence. She tells Maxine that she's a feminist after she talked about her worries for Dinah and she laughed at that before having to pay for Dinah's treatment.

Maxine helps Dinah recover and she appreciates it saying she may be the only true friend she has. The next day, Dinah asks her to pick up her dress from Grayman and when Maxine asks about the people she probably has for that, she says she has her, her "pal". This leads to their discussion about Maxine getting into the club again since they got closer but she declines again. Maxine tells the story of how she and her husband, Douglas (Josh Lucas) met. He was a pageant judge and failed her with the others for a question about her biggest flaw. She was confident claiming not to have any and this led to her failure. Her husband's reason despite liking the answer was because her success would lead to her progress and then to belonging to the world when he wanted her to belong to him. She explains her point of saying this is to ask for her help to belong. Dinah asks why she wants it so badly and Maxine turns the question on her. She says that Dinah doesn't know what it's like to be a real person because it's scarier than she thinks. Dinah does not appreciate this and she uncovers her knowledge of the Dellacortes. She calls Maxine a liar since she knows Norma as the last living Dellacorte. Maxine brings up the statement of being her only true friend and Dinah denies saying that before asking her to leave. Frustrated, she leaves. She still picks up Dinah's dress and hints to Grayman that there may be something going on with Dinah which Evelyn overhears.

At home, she wears the dress but before fully zipping answers the door to see Dinah who is furious about the effect of Maxine's hint. She calls her fake and asks if there is anything real about her before the appearance of her pilot Dellacorte husband. She is surprised by his existence and intimacy with Maxine who says that their relationship is what she wishes for Dinah. She tells Dinah that she wants to be a good friend to her but she's making it hard. Then, Dinah vouches for her character allowing her payment and membership into the Palm Royale. Seeing Robert allows her the opportunity to relish this saying he probably thought she couldn't do it and that he should never underestimate a Dellacorte. They take her picture off the "do not let in" board and he tells the manager she won't last long there. Maxine attends Dinah's event with Douglas and is confronted by Evelyn. She tells Maxine that she can't forgive what she did to Norma, and before Maxine spirals about the other things, she is informed that the reason is her relationship with Douglas. She says that Norma thought of Douglas as the "apple of her eye" and had high hopes for him but he fell for the tricks of Maxine. She says Maxine doesn't belong there and she would never sponsor her for that. This, the knowledge of her drive and the episode's indication that chaos ensues lets us know that Maxine is in for a lot. This is a good first episode. The characters, motivation and story are established well.

2nd episode -  "Maxine Saves a Cat"

Image Credit- Screenshot from Apple TV on YouTube

The episode starts with Maxine in a fashion war with Evelyn (who asks about Norma) and her usual grasshopper drink. Maxine realizes that she is a temporary member of the club. She requires the sponsorship of three members to solidify her position so she seeks two others apart from Dinah. Douglas introduced himself to Dinah as "Douglas Dellacorte Simmons". Seeing the benefit of mentioning the Dellacorte name, Maxine asks if they could drop the Simmons and go by Dellacorte. He tells her the name comes with a lot of baggage and "you don't have to prove yourself, Maxine Simmons" which she doesn't accept.

With her discovery of Linda being Evelyn's stepdaughter, she asks her for help getting a sponsorship from Evelyn. She asks her in the group and Linda is perplexed knowing that Evelyn doesn't like her. Linda asks, "Why do you want to be where you're not wanted?" and Maxine answers saying, "Isn't that what makes a revolutionary?" which Virginia supports saying "Touché". Maxine breaks into the Dellacorte mansion to get something valuable for presentation at a charity auction. Maxine weaponizes optimism wonderfully. She is supportive of the ladies as well referring to Virginia's label of her being a feminist. She graces herself out of and into situations doing what she needs to do while detecting what she needs to know. Dinah becomes her frenemy using Maxine without returning it. 

She gained Mary's support as a second sponsor after buying a table at her charity auction for fibrosis to match Dinah's goal. Her bidding war with Evelyn and her outrageous bid of $75,000 for what she brought added to Mary's event buzz. Information about the stoned Mabel cat's true worth by her friend and new editor of the Shiny Sheet, Ann Holiday (Mindy Cohn) leads to her spontaneity. Her financial decisions from the bid and clothes worn in the dress war leave her distressed. She cries and opens up to Linda. Linda reluctantly signs for her using her old name, Penelope Rollins and thus acquired her last sponsor. Robert is Norma's pool boy. He had an argument with Maxine who broke in but she uses the fact he hadn't visited her to say he didn't care for her. He goes to visit her and plays the trumpet with a familiar tune that causes an improvement to her state. He tells Maxine who came back to return Mabel. Norma had a twilight stupor allowing her to breathe on her own and open her eyes but not much else and it could be consistent for a while. This, broken Mabel she's in debt for, and her lockout of the hotel for overdue charges leaves her dispirited.

3rd episode - "Maxine's Like a Dellacorte"

Image Credit- Screenshot from Apple TV on YouTube

This episode starts with past Norma calling Robert. The scream was nostalgic to me because it reminded me of her Annie character, Miss Hannigan. Maxine's things are thrown in the pool forcing her to replan and her first step is to send a telegram to her husband. Norma's death would allow the granting of Douglas' inheritance, so a recovery was not great news to her. She heads to Mitzi's for her usual nail touch-up and consoles her for her breakup the night before. She expresses her state and need for a touch-up to boost her mood but Mitzi lets her know that she's the top story in the Shiny Sheet. The events at the auction created an interest in who she is and she is overwhelmed with emotions.

She interrupts the ladies watching a fashion show at Grayman's and they bombard her with questions. Maxine moves into the Dellacorte mansion to host the ladies for cocktail hour so they get to know her more before her takeover of the annual Beach Ball that Norma did. She talks to Douglas over the phone and he tries to stop her from moving in because they don't own the mansion. She says it would count as looking over the family interest. He says he prefers she stayed elsewhere and she's getting carried away but she declines it saying she's having fun and he should come back.

Ann visits her at the home for an impromptu interview and photo op. Maxine answers her questions without any details about her life which Ann is impressed by. Maxine says she will hold the event for the 50th anniversary and hopefully, Norma will wear her crown for the 50th time. With the help of Robert, she realizes she needs to hire catering for the cocktail hour she's arranging. Due to busyness, not many options are available until she remembers Linda's table scaping skill. She joins their circle discussing relationships and Maxine makes it known that she is proud of her man and believes in living for him. Linda helps her with the arrangement and gets to know Robert.

When Maxine arrived at the house, she saw that Norma's room was untidy comparing it to a crime scene. Robert saw a needle as he finally cleaned but Linda who was also close to Norma recognized something he had and took it. After the other ladies leave, Evelyn remains to talk to her. Maxine told Linda in episode 2 that she is accused of trapping him with a baby especially since he was vocal about being wealthy one day. Evelyn exposes her saying she knew her already because she and Norma were close. Evelyn says the Douglas does not have anything to inherit because Norma said she would never give him anything even if he were the last Dellacorte on earth. Instead, it would be going to a cat foundation. Maxine says she always wanted to arrive but because of her she's learned that that's only the beginning of the battle. Maxine tells her that she knows Evelyn's slipping in society but she would catch her and hold on tight. Evelyn hesitatingly agrees to team up with her on the condition that she finds the key to the safe deposit box which holds the Rolodex needed to plan. Maxine tears through the drawers but to no avail before she welcomes Douglas back.

4th episode - "Maxine Rolls the Dice"

Image Credit: Screenshot by me

The episode starts with a flashback to a 1949 event at the Dellacorte mansion with an audio of Maxine saying everyone has money but not everyone is truly rich. Maxine knows the importance of secrets but for her marriage, she's willing to tell him. She wants to tell him about her financial whims and his disinheritance but the strength of this stance dissolves. Unaware that Norma can hear her, Evelyn visits her to search for the key. Realizing this, she hugs her and says she misses her before asking about the key. Despite her search and their communication through eye blinking, she is unsuccessful. Douglas says he would be having his last flight. He believes there's no point in still working when he has her and everything else. Worried, Maxine searches for Linda saying she needs her new best friend. She's panicking because she's a liar, squatter, thief and worse, they don't have the inheritance anymore. Linda encourages her to tell him but Maxine says he's never been more in love with her. Linda consoles her saying she won't get caught and if she does, she may not go to jail. Maxine appreciates Linda saying they really are best friends to counter Linda's previous objection.

Getting home, Detective Rick Cosnett (Tom Sanka) serves her some papers requesting her presence at court. She arrives at court nervous and curious until Robert arrives. He filed for conservatorship for Norma and stated reasons Maxine is opportunistic about Norma. She needs clarification about the concept and the judge (Nicolas Coster) simplifies it by saying, "he who's the nurse, gets the purse." They insult each other airing their opinions and more. After the court is adjourned, Maxine says it's tacky to bring the law into things and he explains his reasoning. He thought she stole the missing item from him as she stole from Norma and did this to protect Norma but Maxine's unawareness lets him believe it's not her. He realizes and then asks Linda why she stole the Rolodex from him. She says she has a secret she doesn't want to get out and she will destroy it because "secrets destroy people". They are cordial again after agreeing it should be with her rather than Maxine. She asks if he wants to meet her father and he agrees.

Before leaving for Raquel's Old Havana Night event and fundraiser for Batista refugees, Douglas tells her he quit his job. Raquel's event is absolutely beautiful and engaging which Maxine believes through her amazement. Evelyn summons her and they discuss. They talk about her search for the key, their impressions of each other, and more. Evelyn hates Raquel's party which signifies the existing and upcoming developments. She says already she feels her casting out. This ties to Linda's point in the second episode about the rigidity of the Palm Royale. Evelyn believes there is a "rise of the common criminal" as Raquel's recently released husband, Pinky (Roberto Sanchez) is involved. Before Maxine is whisked away, Evelyn expresses her appreciation for her husband in her time of loneliness. Eugene known as Skeet (Bruce Dern) is her husband in the same facility as Norma and she talks about the frustration of caring for an ailing spouse. Dinah interrupts them to steal Maxine away. Evelyn tells her not to treat her as if she's invisible and she tells Evelyn to not be invisible then. I was surprised by this but I remembered in episode 1's brief of the ladies, that Dinah was set to supersede Evelyn. After they leave, Evelyn is shown enjoying the "tacky shit parade" she reviled.

Dinah updates Maxine about her and Eddie. Believing it's romantic and won't actually happen, she says that Eddie wants to kill Perry. She says that she's happy Douglas and Perry reunited because they bring out the worst in each other which helps her avoid scrutiny. They were close in prep school and reunited with his return to Palm Beach. They are also potential business partners due to his interest in a real estate deal Perry has in the works. Maxine rushes to Douglas to avoid even more financial whims. She realizes with Robert that Raquel is wearing one of Norma's necklaces she sold and they rush to get it back. He succeeds but Maxine gets him arrested for stolen jewelry which is ironic, to say the least. She utilizes this arrest to request Norma's conservatorship for herself and Robert is bailed out by Linda. She is granted it on the condition that Norma is taken care of in the home. She brings Norma home with Douglas and informs him about everything. He considers killing Norma due to his disinheritance but Maxine stops him. She did this because keeping her alive is important to her condition. She says since she is in charge of everything she could pay them salaries for caring for Norma. It was at this moment it dawned on me that they are truly horrible. She says they could care for Norma through timed flipping and this example allows her to find the key to the safety deposit box.

With her discovery, she meets with Evelyn to uncover the Rolodex in the safety deposit box. They talk about her relationship with Penelope after Maxine defends her choice to be called Linda and it is obvious something may be missing. They access and search the safety deposit boxes but there is no Rolodex to be found and this angers Evelyn who leaves. Alone, Maxine hears a sound in the empty box and she finds a hidden gun and invitation. This invitation alludes to the painful truth that Douglas is Penelope's old fiancé who ran out on her. Distraught, she looks for Douglas, instead she finds Norma trying to say something with no success in understanding.

5th episode - "Maxine Shakes the Tree"

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The episode starts with a bit of their past. Douglas says no one's ever believed in him like she has. Maxine reveals her pregnancy and he is elated saying it's the best thing he's ever heard. We return to the present seeing Maxine still worried about the invitation. She's in disbelief about it and wonders who else knew. This is ironic because she felt secrets spice things up as she told Dinah in episode 2 that "incuriosity is the ultimate aphrodisiac". She vents her frustration to Norma and asks for advice. The miscommunication leads her to confront Douglas with Norma. Douglas's defence is that he just wanted to forget it and it never came up. He claims the day they were supposed to wed was horrible, more so with Penelope shooting her father. This aligns with Penelope or Linda's card in the Rolodex that stated her secret to be attempted murder. He says that after leaving her and wanting to move on, he met Maxine. He didn't know Penelope is who she had been spending so much time with. He encourages her to believe Penelope is crazy because she knew and befriended Maxine. She leaves with Norma as Perry arrives. 

For more on the matter, she headed to talk to Linda but encountered Virginia. Linda burnt her card and hid in the room while Virginia helped her deal with Maxine claiming Linda was not there. Maxine was heartbroken that her newfound friend may have planned to know her without true intentions. She realizes that Virginia knew about Linda's relationship with Douglas and feels awful. Virginia suggests that Linda may have wanted to see what she was like but ended up liking her. She leaves after leaving several messages for Linda but on her way out Robert reunites with Norma who she brought along. Similar to Raquel's assumption, Maxine alludes to their relationship being of a sexual nature and they are appalled by it. Maxine gets the opportunity to continue questioning Douglas with no success. He couldn't give a straight answer but kept blaming Penelope while complimenting Maxine. After it all, she's still curious as to why she would shoot her father but Douglas just wants her to drop everything. Later on, Robert calls her to ask about Norma and if she's received her insulin shot. He makes it a point to say that he's the only person she's rude to which she doesn't accept before cursing at him.

With no one telling her anything, she heads to the Palm Beach Daily News to search through the archives for more information. She finds no new information and decides to get the gun from the safety deposit box to question the victim. On her way to speak to Eugene Rollins or Skeet, she encounters Evelyn and they discuss the situation. Evelyn tells her that Penelope did not want her to marry her dad and her improper aim to shoot her caused Eugene's paralysis. She says that Norma noticed, filed and utilized their secrets to keep the balance in Palm Beach then they show their appreciation. When asked why Eugene didn't want to marry her at first, she admits that she was not wealthy and that's how she was able to recognize it in Maxine. The subject of the gun comes up and Evelyn tells her it's important for the gun to remain in the safety deposit box. She says it served as insurance for a lot of things getting out of balance and Maxine hurries off to return it. Linda hands the Rolodex to the sisterhood group and they wonder how to use it. They doubt the validity but Linda confirms it before they recognize it's true worth as a hub of blackmail for funding. Linda says they should run their first test case on Perry Donahue. Virginia says she's too close to it but she says he's the scummy best man to her scummy fiancé and he's not at the very top of things anyway. They decide to start with him.

Maxine talks to Dinah asking if she knew about it but she says she truly didn't. Maxine feels foolish thinking that everyone was clued into something she didn't. This ties to the episode 1 ending claim of everyone being a liar. Dinah says she's not interested in anything "Before Dinah" and she should consider it too. She encourages her to get a lover to avoid the emotional turmoil and Maxine not liking her husband right now seemingly considers it looking at Robert. Douglas and Perry talked about Perry's plan for redevelopment in West Palm Beach but their nonchalance encouraged Robert to spit in their drinks. Maxine is abandoned at the golf course and has to figure a way out. Linda confronts Douglas in the restroom. Similar to her talk with Evelyn in episode 2, she brings up the fact that they have a deal tied to the situation. She says it's fine if he stays in Palm Beach but needs clarification that the deal is still on. She also says she hopes he treats Maxine better than he did her. Defending her plea, she says he was a perpetual liar and when he tells her this is not appropriate she says she feels the toilet is an appropriate place for a discussion about their relationship. He refers to his past self but Linda objects to that saying, "Was, are, right? Semantics.If you haven't changed." They continue arguing and he says it's hard to be a man having to uphold things. When asked what he's upheld he mentions his 20-year marriage and she goes silent. She feels regretful and says she just wanted to ensure he was not going to talk about their wedding day before Perry's interruption. He says that she's changed and she says he hasn't.

We see Maxine away from the golf course. Ann tries to ask her some questions concerning her pageant accomplishments but she is too drunk to answer anything. Robert intervenes to help take her home and their appearance seems too friendly for the editor who smiles before leaving. Maxine still has the gun in her bag and it's discovered by Robert. As they get home, she flirts with and kisses Robert. She's happy thinking they can finally acknowledge the tension between them in this way but he has no idea what she's talking about. This incident is interrupted by Mitzi who Maxine brought to take care of Norma for the day. Before Mitzi leaves, she lets her know that Perry got her a job at the club and Maxine tells her to be careful. She searches for Robert and looks longingly at how he cares for Norma. She is woken up by Linda's knocks on the door and despite her unwillingness, allows her in to hear the story about the wedding. Linda confesses that she actually wanted to shoot Douglas. She felt he was with someone else but he kept calling her crazy until she snapped. She felt certain that he was with one of the bridesmaids and was fed up. In the flashback, we see Norma handling the situation, telling them what's going to happen. To avoid prison time, Linda is blackmailed into allowing Evelyn finally marry her father. They say it's for her own good but she doesn't feel the same way. Douglas draws their attention asking for a one-way ticket to Chattanooga and $100,000 to keep his mouth shut. They say he's asking for it to meet with the "gutter slut" and we return to Maxine realizing that she is the "gutter slut". Maxine is apologetic saying she didn't know he was with them both but Linda says it's fine because she was saved from a loveless marriage. A call from Douglas interrupts their discussion. He tells her they're about to finalize the deal and reminds her that he loves her which she says she knows. She cuts the line after seeing Linda run. Linda burns the secrets in the Rolodex which panics Norma but allows Maxine to follow her path of freedom by throwing the gun in the ocean.

The 6th episode is called "Maxine Takes a Step." The description states, "With both the Beach Ball and a real estate deal set to take off, Maxine and Douglas need to secure the favor of a visiting prince."

Side-note

Image Credit: Screenshot by me

With the show still ongoing, I have limited opinions. I like Kristen Wiig so I already knew it would be a great time but it's interesting so far. At some point I was reminded of the Housewives shows due to the elaborate parties, fights and more. We may hear other perspectives of Penelope and Douglas's wedding. So far, we've only heard from Evelyn and Penelope so we may get something from Douglas, Eugene or Norma. Ann may write about Maxine again either because of her pageantry or closeness with Robert. It was interesting how Douglas's image continuously lessened. We will be getting more about Douglas and Perry's business which may be tumultuous knowing Perry's character. I feel like Douglas will shoot someone not kill though.

The sisterhood group was supposed to make waves against the elites but with the destroyed secrets in the Rolodex, I don't know what will happen. Linda may have copied some for later use or maybe felt justified in just targeting Perry. Norma's speech is still not coherent but hopefully, it becomes so before the show ends. She has been improving though. I was shocked Maxine actually got Robert imprisoned. I was also shocked that Linda told Maxine about the wedding day but visited Douglas to ensure he never spoke about it. With so many secrets, egos and parties, I look forward to the next episodes.

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About the Creator

'Vive Akugha

I write on various things: social issues, well-being, cinema and out of curiosity. More!

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