After six glorious, sun-drenched weeks, it’s nearly time to check out of The White Lotus season two. With the second run of his adored anthology series, Mike White has built on the addictive chaos of last year’s Hawaii-based debut to create another sparkling set of episodes.
Now visiting Sicily, this year’s White Lotus guests are just as wealthy, and just as f***ed up. Going into the final episode, several storylines are about to reach their peak, and some unlucky holidaymakers are going to end up in body bags.
There’s Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya, whose discovery of an old photo mere moments before an extramarital tryst may imply some darker intentions at play by her latest admirer, Quentin (Tom Hollander). Miles away on a night out, Jack’s (Leo Woodall) boozy “charms” are wearing thin with Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), who is starting to suspect that her boss Tanya may be in trouble.
Meanwhile, there are potential red flags surrounding the Di Grasso men – grandfather Bert (F Murray Abraham), dad Dominic (Michael Imperioli) and son Albie (Adam DiMarco) – and their connection to sex worker Lucia (Simona Tabasco). Is Lucia at risk of true harm, or is it the family who is more likely to get hurt when her and Dominic’s secret inevitably tumbles out?
And we can’t forget the quickly crumbling couples’ retreat. Ethan (Will Sharpe) is growing increasingly suspicious about whether anything untoward happened between Harper (Aubrey Plaza) and Cameron (Theo James) in their locked bedroom, while the enigmatic Daphne (Meghann Fahy) breezily enjoys her time away from motherly duties.
As shown in the opening moments of season two, with a corpse floating in the Ionian sea, we know that several people won’t be leaving the White Lotus alive. But the questions remain – who? How? And, for goodness sake, why?
Here are our theories...
Quentin and his posse of “high-end gays” seem a little too good to be true: they’re rich, they’re generous and they’re the first men in forever who’ve made Tanya feel good about herself.
In episode five, when Quentin first welcomed his new friends at his palazzo, the mysterious Englishman told Tanya that he has only ever been in love once: with a straight American cowboy from his past. It is looking extremely likely that that cowboy is in fact Tanya’s horrible husband Greg (Jon Gries), who left her alone in Sicily.
If it is, then there are strong grounds to suspect that Greg and Quentin are still romantically linked. After all, Quentin did tell Tanya: “I’d have done anything for him. And the amazing thing is, after 30-odd years, I still would.” This begs the question, then: did Quentin befriend Tanya so that he and Greg could run off into the sunset with her money? (She has a half-a-billion-dollar fortune – and there have been numerous references to this and to her and Greg’s prenup throughout the series.)
After the fifth episode, it seemed possible that Quentin was either trying to subtly persuade Tanya to take her own life, or to frame her murder as suicide, given that he took her to Madama Butterfly, the opera in which the protagonist takes her own life.
And it seemed that cheeky chappy Jack could be in on this plan – distracting Portia while Quentin gets inside Tanya’s head. After all, Greg was furious when he discovered, in episode one, that Tanya had brought Portia on holiday.
There are numerous moments in episode six that further add fuel to this theory. Tanya is being plied with an alarming amount of cocaine, which seems like a purposeful move to disorientate and disinhibit her – she ends up having sex with Niccolo (Stefano Gianino).
While in a coked-up state, Tanya also glimpses an old photo in Quentin’s palazzo of two men wearing cowboy hats – could it be a snap of Quentin and Greg? Almost certainly.
Jack, meanwhile, is majorly giving Portia the ick on a night out in another town. He drunkenly reveals that Quentin is actually pretty broke, but that he’s about to come into some serious cash. Could that money be Tanya’s?
He also talks about he’s relieved that he is finally doing something to repay Quentin, who got him out of a “deep, dark hole” – we already know he’s providing Quentin with sex... but is he also helping him top Tanya? Ellie Harrison
Tanya’s sex tape
As pointed out by writer Evan Ross Katz on social media, there’s a mysterious red light in the corner of the room when Tanya and Niccolo start to get all hot and heavy. Not only is capturing this encounter without Tanya’s knowledge gross and violating, but a sign that her night of drug-fuelled sex with a possible mob member won’t just lead to a rough morning after.
If Tanya and Niccolo are being recorded, then the footage could be used by him and Quentin to blackmail her – after all, she’d hate for her absent husband Greg to get wind of her being unfaithful. Since season one, we’ve known that she struggles with the prospect of people walking out of her life, so Tanya would likely pay big bucks for whatever happens in the palazzo to stay right there.
Or, if the photo really is of a young Greg, perhaps Greg and Quentin are secretly plotting together to relieve Tanya of her riches? Though Tanya and Greg have a prenuptial agreement, an infidelity clause could put her money at risk – and having cold, hard proof of her in the throes with another man would only strengthen Greg’s argument in court. In any case: Tanya, you in danger, girl. Nicole Vassell
Tanya the avenger
“Whenever I stay at a White Lotus, I always have a memorable time,” Tanya, the only series two-returnee, said rather ominously in the first episode. I think Tanya’s time will be particularly memorable, probably because she and her assistant Portia are going to murder Tanya’s dodgy husband Greg. His abrupt departure and suspicious phone call earlier in the series made it clear he’s on manoeuvres – “She’s clueless,” Greg said of his wife – but I think the ladies will outsmart him.
Many think Greg is Quentin’s secret cowboy lover, and that the Englishman’s harem are out to steal her fortune. But Tanya has been subject to premonitions and spooky prophecies all through her trip: there was her dream on the plane, when she saw Greg surrounded by “men with very effeminate hairstyles” while his eyes were “completely dead”. Her creepy encounter with a fortune teller, who suggested Greg was having an affair, and that Tanya would be driven to suicide. And, of course, the heavy referencing of the tragic opera Madame Butterfly, in which the heroine kills herself. But what about that painting at Quentin’s fancy pad, which showed a naked woman holding a dagger? I think Tanya is in danger, but she’ll turn the tables on her husband and bump him off herself. Besides, you don’t bring back Jennifer Coolidge unless you’re going to give her a really good storyline. Jessie Thompson
We know from episode one that Daphne survives whatever mass killing awaits our doomed hotel guests. It’s not a wild assumption, then, that our darling, edible-eating, Ted Lasso-watching blonde bombshell is also the one behind said killings. We know that she has a complex relationship with her husband, Cameron, and that she is well aware of his infidelities. We also know that Daphne has affairs, too, and that her children look nothing like the man she married. What we don’t know is why she’s lying alone on her sunbed at the end of the holiday, looking happier and more relaxed than we’ve ever seen her.
The way she reclines by the beach in a designer swimsuit before ambling over to the sea for one last swim is giving major “I just killed my rich husband” energy. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if she has been fooling us all along with her cultural and political ignorance. In fact, Daphne might be the smartest person in Sicily. That is, if she’s managed to kill her husband and catch a few more rays, before she goes home to spend all of his money and have sex with her personal trainer, who may or may not be the father of her children.
My guess is Daphne also planted the condom in Ethan and Harper’s room to cause enough friction in their relationship for Harper to sleep with Cameron, or at least convince Ethan that they did. Either way, there’s a motive for Daphne to frame at least one of them.
Has our murderer been hiding in plain sight this whole time? I think so. Olivia Petter
Di Grasso deceit
The men of the Di Grasso family might feel worlds apart ideologically, but they’re linked by toxic masculinity as much as they are by blood. There’s the young “nice guy” who might not be that nice, the sex addict father who cheats on his wife, and the flatulent patriarch who idolises violence and will go to any length to protect his family. With sex worker Lucia driving a wedge between them, one of them killing her seems a likely end.
As soon as Albie started talking to Portia about being attracted to women who are like “wounded birds”, I felt my teeth gritting. Lucia is someone he thinks he can save, but I think she’s lying about being stalked by her ex Alessio to get money from them. It seems unlikely Albie would take this news well. If she’s not lying, the knowledge that his dad has slept with her, too, will surely not be well received.
Still, it doesn’t have to be Albie who’s the murderer. His grandad Bert has emphasised the importance of family, and is currently feeling a little bruised after the rejection from their long lost Italian cousins in episode six. Wouldn’t he do anything to protect his family, too?
Which brings us on to Dominic, who is hugely uncomfortable with Lucia’s presence, and angry about her continuing a relationship with Albie. A plot where the secret is revealed, leading one Di Grasso to kill her and the others to help hide the body seems like a bleak but plausible end. Isobel Lewis
‘The White Lotus’ season two finale airs on Monday 12 December on Sky Atlantic and Now