So that’s who was floating in the sea. Despite a rocky penultimate episode, Season 2 of The White Lotus ended quite well: All the big mysteries were resolved, all the major themes resonated, and there was even a payoff with the porcelain heads. Even better, there was still some ambiguity. Every storyline left us with something to ponder, giving us room to interpret certain aspects of the show for ourselves. It’s a sophisticated trick, telling us enough to leave us satisfied while teasing us enough to keep us engaged.
Here are three questions we can chew on while we wait for Season 3:
It turns out Greg (Jon Gries) really was an evil mastermind. In the finale, Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) realizes he was the American cowboy that Quentin (Tom Hollander) fell in love with years ago, and the two of them have schemed to kill Tanya so that Greg can get her money. (Note: Make sure your pre-nup doesn’t let your spouse inherit your fortune if you die.) In badass style, Tanya kills Quentin and his murderous friends, but then she slips and kills herself while she’s climbing off the yacht they trapped her on. It’s dark and funny and ironic, and it’s somehow fitting for a character as clueless as Tanya could be.
But what about Greg? Since Tanya did, in fact, die before divorcing him, he’s going to inherit her money. And since Tanya killed most of his collaborators, he won’t even have to split it. He could very well be a villain who wins.
Then again, Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) is still alive. Jack (Leo Woodall) stole her phone and tried to keep her separated from Tanya, but she stole his phone and called her boss anyway. They were able to share just enough information for Portia to realize that something terrible was being plotted. (It was awfully convenient that Tanya got cell reception on the open water, but we can let it slide.) That means Portia might be able to thwart Greg’s scheme after all. It’s fun to imagine her becoming a crusader. Then again, Tanya was terrible to her, and Jack warned her that Greg was both powerful and dangerous. She might let the whole thing drop.
At least Portia is alive, which feels like a victory for all the less privileged characters. In Season 1, one hotel staffer got killed by a rich guest, and Tanya left another one bereft after teasing her with a promise to fund her business idea. This time around, the everyday folks are surviving. Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grannò) are even thriving. They get the very last shot of the series, walking arm in arm through the Sicilian streets, celebrating how they got everything they wanted. Mia snagged the job playing piano at The White Lotus, and Lucia managed to scam 50,000 euros out of Albie (Adam DiMarco) and Dominic (Michael Imperioli). She didn’t even have a dangerous pimp: He was just a friend of hers who worked at another hotel. In her way, Lucia’s as much of a crook as Greg, but when she runs a game, nobody dies.
And now we have to wonder: Has she done this before? Her whole operation was awfully sophisticated, what with the fake kidnapping and all. How long did it take her to pull it together? How many other men has she conned this way? Did Mia know the depth of her plan? Is Mike White going to release a tie-in novel about Lucia’s criminal empire? (Fingers crossed on that one!)
When Ethan (Will Sharpe) and Harper (Aubrey Plaza) have their passionate make-up sex, they accidentally break the teste di moro in their room. Since the head represents a story about the violent death of an unfaithful spouse, we can interpret its destruction as a sign their marriage will be fine. But what got them there? At the beginning of the episode, Ethan is still obsessed with the idea that Harper and Cameron (Theo James) slept together, and when Harper tells him they kissed for a second, it really does seem like she’s leaving something out.
It all comes down to Daphne (Meghann Fahy). When Ethan explains his suspicions, she responds that he needs to let his wife have a few secrets. She says it’s important not to live as a victim. (Fahy’s performance in this scene is incredible, layered with thoughts and emotions.) Then she takes him on a walk to Isola Bella, a secluded island at the end of the beach by the hotel. The next time we see Ethan, he’s ready to move on.
So what happened? Did Daphne and Ethan sleep together? Or did Ethan just take her advice and let Harper off the hook? And either way, what does it say about both of those marriages that everyone’s moving forward? We get to decide for ourselves, unless we see them all next season. Daphne wraps up the trip by saying “Next year in the Maldives!," which might be a tease for what’s ahead.
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Mark Blankenship has been writing about arts and culture for twenty years, with bylines in The New York Times, Variety, Vulture, Fortune, and many others. You can hear him on the pop music podcast Mark and Sarah Talk About Songs.
TOPICS: The White Lotus, HBO, Adam DiMarco, Aubrey Plaza, Beatrice Grannó, Jennifer Coolidge, Leo Woodall, Meghann Fahy, Michael Imperioli, Mike White, Simona Tabasco, Theo James, Tom Hollander, Will Sharpe