There should be alarm bells every time Jack comes on screen in The White Lotus. Even though he’s charming, handsome, and incredibly sexy — or maybe because of those things — it’s obvious he’s up to no good. That’s also why he’s so much fun to watch.
Jack (Leo Woodall) has caused trouble from the moment he arrived on the show, flirting with Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) not only because he was attracted to her, but also because he wanted to dominate Albie (Adam DiMarco). He never actually says this, of course, but he gets a gleam in his eye every time he spots Albie in the background, forlornly realizing that Portia isn’t going to choose him.
This feels like foreshadowing. Will Albie’s wounded pride make him lash out? Will he retaliate against Portia for abandoning him, or will he perhaps direct his anger at Lucia (Simona Tobasco)? He could very well be destined to enact his family legacy of treating women like objects, despite his attempts to be a feminist. That would be a very White Lotus move, exposing the entrenched power of misogyny that way.
Then again, it’s not like Jack needs Albie to be his proxy. He’s disruptive enough on his own. In this week’s episode, “That’s Amore,” he rolls through the story like a grenade, dragging Portia along on an all-night date that includes a dine-and-dash, a sprint away from an angry restaurateur, and (oh yeah) plenty of sex. Considering how many characters this season are fighting their impulses, it’s exciting to see him act on pure id. However, history has proven that on this series, pure id also leads to disaster. Back in Season 1, when Armond (Murray Bartlett) chose sex, drugs, and petty revenge over professionalism, it didn’t end well. But the difference here is that Jack behaves this way from the start. He’s already figured out how to thrive by leading with sex and danger. That means he’s probably safer than someone like Portia, who is just waking up to her wild side. When she runs with him down the street, laughing and gasping about not paying for dinner, she could very well be running to her doom.
Then there’s the whole thing with Quentin (Tom Hollander). Though Jack says that’s his uncle, the episode ends with Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) stumbling upon the two of them having sex in Quentin’s fabulous Sicilian villa. Chances are good that they’re not actually related. Is Jack a kept man? That’s fine, of course, but why lie about it? What else are these two hiding? What do the men in Quentin’s gay posse know? What did Jack really mean when he said that the guys at the villa get a little handsy?
It’s even sketchier that Tanya discovered this at the villa instead of at the hotel. Did Quentin and Jack lure her and Portia into this secluded place? The foreboding is intensified because Mike White frames Tanya’s discovery as a fever dream: She’s wandering the halls of Quentin’s house in a sleepy daze, and the camera tilts and swirls to suggest her disorientation. When she encounters them, it’s an uncomfortable shock, not a sexy surprise.
It wasn’t so long ago that Tanya was staring through a sliding glass door at her husband Greg (Jon Gries) while he had a secret phone call with someone. Are these two things linked, or is Tanya’s life just full of people who lie to her about what they’re doing in their spare time? And is it significant that last season, when Armond was discovered having surreptitious gay sex, it was the beginning of his downfall? Is this revelation going to lead to a similar fate for someone here? That’s yet another way Jack could prove he's a hunky harbinger of doom.
Mark Blankenship is Primetimer's Reviews Editor. Tweet him at @IAmBlankenship.