Season 2 of the HBO hitbegan with a dead body, just like season 1, before going back seven days to reveal how we got here. There’s another connective tissue between the two seasons—both follow a week in the lives of the vacationing rich at the fictional White Lotus resort chain (first Hawaii, now Italy), and both feature Jennifer Coolidge at her best Jennifer Coolidge—but other than that, technically this is an anthology series.
That means we can make some inferences about what’s to come based on what happened last season, but showrunner Mike White isn’t necessarily treading familiar territory.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for The White Lotus Season 1.
The question that hangs over every episode: who is the corpse floating ashore in the prologue? And also, how did it get there? How many other deaths were there and how did they happen?, the dead body ends up belonging to resort manager Armond (Murray Bartlett). But what about ? We’ll have to wait until the Season 2 finale for those answers. In the meantime, we can only speculate.
Here’s what we know from episode 5
Season 2, Episode 1, Bye, opens with Daphne (Megan Fahey) applying sunscreen to a beach chair, alone. She will take one last dip in the sparkling Ionian Sea before boarding the plane to return home. As she splashes around, she stumbles upon… what else? — a dead body and runs to shore screaming. Most importantly, her initial response to the body is a genuine “What the hell?” Since she is alone in the water, there is no reason to interpret her shock and surprise as performance. However, as of episode 5, Daphne is he’s starting to look more and more like a completely dissociated psychopath. Also, as we’ll soon learn, it won’t be the only corpse.
Hotel manager Valentina arrives on the scene and is immediately informed by Rocco, another hotel employee, that there has been a death. “Salvatore says other bodies have been found,” he says. How many guests are dead? “A few.” Who is Salvatore? We finally know! In episode 5, Salvatore makes his screen debut as Rocco’s front desk replacement. It also explains what ex-receptionist Rocco was doing on the beach – Valentina moved him to work on the beach to get him away from Isabella, her work crush.
So we have three characters who definitely survive the week: Daphne, Valentina, and Rocco (four if you count Salvatore). Most everyone else is dead. And at least one of the other main characters is dead, along with “a few” we’ll never know. It is also possible that the body count may even increase after the events of the first scene. Let’s take a closer look.
Which characters are most (and least) likely to die in The White Lotus Season 2?
Cameron (Theo James): Between the “Testa di Moro” motif, Daphne’s affinity for her dead husband’s true crimes, Ethan’s theory of “mimetic desire” and Cameron’s debt to sex worker Lucia – who now has an eager white knight Albi at her back, but also angry pimp maybe ?? — Cameron is really starting to look like a missing person. When Daphne runs screaming from the ocean in the season’s first scene, just after she confronts the drowned corpse, a shirtless, tanned man in a squid-print swimsuit catches her on the beach. It is not clear if she knows the man, nor do we see his face. It could have been Cameron, but then why didn’t he have an Aperol Spritz with her before she took the plunge? All I know is that the squid print trunks haven’t resurfaced yet, even though they look like Cameron’s style. On the other hand, the White Lotus loves a red herring — and seems to hate compensation.
Quentin (Tom Hollander): What is Quentin to? The plot deepened in episode 5, and he’s either lying about Jack being his nephew or… no, please not the alternative. Quentin’s interest in Tanya may have seemed like an innocent misdirection last week, but in episode 5 things take a darker turn when he tells Tanya that he would “die for beauty” and that he would still do anything for his lost cowboy love that applies either to Greg or simply to the plot of Brokeback Mountain. He also pokes fun at Tania’s naivety about the “Queen of Sicily”, lending credence to the theory that he’s after her money. Perhaps he’ll meet the same fate as Isola Bella’s matriarch and his crumbling villa after all will also be open to the public.
Burt (F. Murray Abraham): Burt is “quite old” (in Valentina’s words) and has already had a fight in the pool. Now he’s also “concussed” after a collision with the remote. Now is as good a time as any.
Harper (Audrey Plaza): With Ethan’s inevitable discovery of Chekhov’s condom packaging and later the “maybe you should get a trainer” conversation with Daphne, not to mention Cameron’s hand on her thigh at dinner, Harper begins to look more -less of a surrogate for this season’s audience and more of a tragic figure. I wouldn’t be surprised if Daphne orchestrated Harper’s death in a “do whatever it takes to feel better” spirit.
Didier (Bruno Guerri) and Matteo (Francesco Zeca): If several White Lotus guests are to die, it makes sense that at least one or two are secondary characters. Quentin’s band of men with small hats and mustaches just screams collateral damage.
Dominic (Michael Imperioli): Dominique’s sad, lonely walk on the beach in episode 5 seemed like a potential swan song for the “feminist” couch potato. His character can go one of two ways – he either turns his life around or he doesn’t. By this point, he seems to have gotten into the former, taking Lucia off his payroll and even giving up porn. And that might be where his character ends. We know that Dom’s wife was voiced by the inimitable Laura Dern in episode 1. What we don’t know is if Laura Dern will make another appearance this season. According to IMDb, we shouldn’t expect any more Dern-age, which suggests to me that this vacation might be Dominique’s last.
Giuseppe (Federico Scribani): After overdosing on something that was definitely not Viagra, Giuseppe left his piano post vacant. As far as we know, this guy has already kicked the bucket.
Jack (Leo Woodall): If Portia’s love triangle inspires a crime of passion, my money is on creepy Albie to kill and himbo Jack to be killed. Or: Maybe Jack falls off Quentin’s boat on the way back from Palermo.
Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grannot): The trope of dead sex workers has a long and frustrating precedent, and Lucia knows it: “All whores get punished eventually,” she complained to Mia during a drug shame spiral. The jury is out on whether Lucia and Mia count as guests — Rocco was clear in episode 1 that the deaths were specifically guests — but their names were technically added to Di Grasso’s reservation. Between church sex and Catholic guilt, it’s clear that both women have many sins to atone for. Plus, Lucia smashes enemies almost as fast as Cameron. Not only do Albie and Cameron owe her money, but Alessio (pimp or not) seems pretty hot as well.
Portia (Haley Lou Richardson): I take back what I said last week about Portia’s crimes against fashion. Her fits in Episode 5 were adequate penance for her tailoring sins, and she’ll probably survive the trip and leave Sicily with a suitcase of Gilligan knit hats and oversized shorts. On the other hand, assuming Tanya survives (see below), Portia could be a good victim for whatever dastardly plot Quentin et al. have planned.
Ethan (Will Sharp): Like Cameron and Harper, Ethan is absent from the first scene, despite being one of Daphne’s companions. But Daphne specifically tells the newcomers in episode 1 that “we” are leaving in a few hours. If one of her group survives, maybe it’s Ethan? Then again, the antics with the jets in episode 3 seemed to foreshadow some danger in the water, especially since Cameron made sure to express his interest in hiring them back in episode 1. Maybe the dynamic duo aren’t quite ready to hit the waves. And maybe those waves won’t be so calm next time.
Albie (Adam DiMarco): The show’s aversion to retribution suggests to me that the privileged Stanford “nice guy” probably won’t be shown the door.
Greg (John Grice): Was all this talk about Greg’s poor health last season a ruse? Or was he really cured by whatever fancy doctor Tanya put him through? Either way, maybe he’ll get sick again, or maybe the healthy things portend and he’ll die in a different, unrelated way. Or maybe I’m a fool for believing we’ll ever see Greg in Sicily again.
Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge): While it certainly appears that Tanya is setting herself up for a ghostly death by joining Quentin’s group of vacationing gays for a remote off-site party, a bit of extratextual evidence suggests otherwise: Tanya may actually end up being the connective tissue in all future seasons of The white lotus. Mike White hinted to Deadline at the season 2 premiere that he was toying with the idea of bringing Coolidge on for season 3. Unless it’s a backstory, I’m guessing she’ll survive in Italy.
Isabella (Eleanor Romandini): Isabella seems uninterested in the romantic advances of her boss, Valentina. If Isabella succumbs to the crashing waves, it will probably be Valentina’s doing. But that seems like a stretch, since as an employee she wouldn’t have added to the number of dead guests anyway. I also doubt that Rocco would take her death as calmly as he does in episode 1.
Daphne (Megan Fahey): In the first scene of the season, Daphne says she has “a few hours” before she leaves the White Lotus Resort. So she definitely has time to also fall victim to the mysterious presence that killed the other guests, I guess…
The same goes for Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) and Rocco (Federico Ferrante): Both are very much alive in the early moments of the season, but who knows what awaits them in the final. We’ll have to wait and see.
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