A seemingly idyllic luxury family vacation takes a dark turn in the new Hulu series Saint X (now on Disney+ in Canada), starring West Duchovny, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Jayden Elijah and Josh Bonzie.
Saint X taps into the increasingly popular theme of a whodunit for the rich, like White Lotus, Triangle of Sadness and Glass Onion.
In this new psychological thriller series, based on the book by Alexis Schaitkin, Bill and Mia Thomas (played by Michael Park and Betsy Brandt) take a vacation to the Caribbean with their daughter Alison (Duchovny), a college freshman at Princeton, and youngest daughter Claire (Kenlee Townsend), in the early 2000s. Claire is a relatively quiet kid, while Alison is particularly vocal about the hypocrisy of this vacation, where local employees attend to her rich family's every need all day long, but Alison's still an active participant.
Two of those employees are Edwin (Elijah) and Clive aka "Go Go" (Bonzie), who Alison becomes friends with. But when Alison dies during the family vacation, Edwin and Clive are accused of rape and murder.
The timeline in Saint X flips between this 2000s-era vacation and present day where we meet a woman in her 20s named Emily. This is actually Claire, who now goes by a different name, and we see the impact that Alison's death had on her younger sister.
By a twist of fate, Emily ends up in a cab driven by a now older Clive, and the story shifts from a seeming murder mystery to an analysis of coping with grief and how it quickly consumes Emily, even as an adult now.
Welcome to Saint X, streaming April 26 on Disney+ Canada. pic.twitter.com/RwevHg0FIv
— Disney+ Canada 🇨🇦 (@DisneyPlusCA) April 6, 2023
'It just sparked every time'
Both Elijah and Bonzie give powerful performances, with some of the show's best moments coming from the interactions between these two characters, in addition to a particularly emotional moment for Clive near the end of the series.
"It really was just working with Josh, being in the moment with Josh, actor to actor, seeing what he brought and seeing what I could bring to that," Elijah told Yahoo Canada. "Of course it was scripted, but a lot of the moments and the intricacies of our friendship, I think, ... we were surprised by them as well."
"I'm so lucky because Jayden is such a playful, intelligent actor, you want someone that's like that because you feel safe to play and try new things," Bonzie added. "Jayden is an actor who follows his impulses, ... which was so much fun to dive into those scenes, because you never knew what spark would hit."
"But it just sparked every time with Jayden and it was just an actor's dream to work across someone like that."
For Elijah, he highlighted that it was a "dream come true" to play Edwin.
"Edwin is so complex and layered and multifaceted," he said. "A character that has a darkness to him, that also is relatable, is one of my favourite archetypes to play."
"To be given the gift of playing someone like Edwin, at such a young age, it's a dream come true."
Bonzie also stressed how great it was for the actor to be able to play a character whose story goes through several shifts in one series.
"To play someone who appears to be unassuming and that is a bit of an underdog in a way, and then you learn more, and you discover more, that there are so many layers to a person, it was a blessing," he said.
"Every script that I would read, I would just be like, I'd have to pinch myself a little bit."
'Just pause before we jump to conclusions'
While some moments in Saint X can drag at times, the cast for the series is spot on.
In addition to Elijah and Bonzie, we also see West Duchovny (daughter of David Duchovny and Téa Leoni) take a leading role in Saint X, and she has that perfect balance of college-aged naivety, emotion and being a snob at times, as Alison.
"Working with West, who plays Alison, it was amazing," Elijah said about his co-star. "She's great to act with as well."
"We didn't do much talking about our characters, ourselves, but I think instead we explored our characters' relationship on screen, like live, because we knew if the camera was capturing the first time we interacted or found out about each other's aspects, it would bring an element of electricity."
In terms of the ultimate outcome of Saint X (which we won't spoil), Elijah and Bonzie believe there are a few lessons we could take from the series.
"In our rush to sort of want to understand something, to really get to the bottom of something, sometimes we just don't see things the way they are," Elijah said. "I think that's certainly true for this show."
"I'm hoping that people ... just pause before we jump to conclusions, or blame, or [judge], because you just never know what people are going through, or what their story is."
"I think, hopefully, it makes an audience remember to look inward at some of the assumptions that they may make, and think twice about judging or blaming, or categorizing so quickly," Bonzie added.