Review: “The White Lotus” delivers in thrilling and faster-paced season two
Review: “The White Lotus” delivers thrilling, fast-paced season
“They’re gonna have to drag you out of here,” says Daphne (Meghann Fahy) to a couple of women soaking in the first day of vacation in Sicily as hers comes to a close. Wading out for one last swim in the Ionian Sea, Daphne covers her mouth in shock as the leg of a lifeless body drifts into view. Panic ensues, but the scene cuts and the viewer is brought back a week in time, where a boat is directing Daphne and eight other enthusiastic vacationers to the White Lotus luxury resort hotel.
Producer Mike White’s status-driven slow-burn first season is followed by a more fast-paced, sexually charged season two of The White Lotus. In an anthology series centering around rich people suffering from first-world problems while on vacation, it’s evident from the second season’s introductory theme music there will be a wealth of parallels to season one.
Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) returns as one of two carryover characters from the last season in Hawaii. The feel-good vacation fling she had in Maui with the other returning character, Greg (Jon Gries), has turned into a seemingly rushed marriage at season two’s opening. The ailment that plagued Greg in Hawaii has disappeared, thanks largely to Tanya’s riches, but that’s the end of the good news for the couple. Tanya’s head-over-heels love for Greg isn’t reciprocated, and his secretive phone calls (who’s Bob?) culminate in his premature departure from Italy, to the surprise and dismay of fan-favorite Tanya. Coolidge plays the oblivious and dazed character of Tanya as nobody else can, with her slow-moving, gullible personality carrying the bulk of the show’s comedic relief.
Meanwhile, employment lawyer Harper (Aubrey Plaza) is tagging along with her husband Ethan (Will Sharpe), who has recently come into a large sum of money after selling his company. The two share the trip with Cameron (Theo James) and his wife, Daphne. The honeymoon phase appears to have worn off for Ethan, who is bored and uninterested in Harper’s attempts to turn him on but has no issue watching porn while his wife reads under the Italian sun.
Cameron epitomizes the frat-boy-finance-bro stereotype as he tries to rope in Ethan, his old college roommate, to business dealings while on vacation. Cameron’s toxic marriage with Daphne is fueled by jealousy and cheating despite having two children together. At times, it’s almost inconceivable that a couple could carry on as if all was normal, but somehow Cameron and Daphne manage. While the two couples have entirely different tastes in everything from hobbies to politics, sexual tension weasels its way in and creates a messy last few days on the island for the four of them.
Several subplots play out, from the grandfather-father-son trio navigating their own family issues that revolve around infidelity to Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grannò), a pair of young, local sex workers who manage to weave in and out the lives of the rich White Lotus guests, instigating drama while collecting cash. Tanya’s assistant, Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), attempts to find a vacation fling of her own while trying not to lose her mind over Tanya’s incoherent and needy demands.
An unpredictable twist awaits those who reach the season’s finale. While it’s a pathetic way to go out, the cause of death for the drifting body revealed in the opening episode is just on-brand enough for White to get away with. For a series whose seven episodes are a build-up to one giant payoff, the importance of the final scenes cannot be overstated.
The comedic aspect of season one is sacrificed for more drama in season two, creating an edge-of-your-seat feel. White has cleaned up the long, drawn-out scenes from season one where it oftentimes felt like nothing really happened, helped along by the latest season’s theme: sex. The series’ style of switching between the perspectives of many characters makes it all the more exciting when two plot lines converge, especially when lust is involved.
While season two of The White Lotus kept its audience on its toes each Sunday by hinting here and there at potential motives for murder in nearly every plot line of the show, viewers ran with conspiracy theories, sparking anticipation for a finale that was tasked with answering almost too many questions in just over an hour-long episode. Sure enough, questions remain, provoking early enthusiasm for season three.
The filming location for season three hasn’t been revealed, but Daphne may have dropped a hint during the final, cringe-worthy dinner with Cameron, Ethan and Harper. After Cameron leads a toast to friendship, travel, and the good life (to the astonishment of Ethan and Harper), Daphne chimes in, “Next year, the Maldives.”