The White Lotus: Departures
August 15, 2021 6:52 PM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Season 1 Finale
posted by Tevin (30 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The title is Departures, not The Departed - my bad.

Anyway, poor Armond. Fuck Shane. Fuck the Mossbachers, and fuck Tonya. At least Tonya was cool enough to leave a fat stack of cash to make things a little better.

Good for Quinn getting the hell out of there, I'm very relieved he's not the one who left in a box.

But that image of Belinda and everyone waving with a new Armond swapped in without missing a beat is fucking ghoulish in a way that perfectly encapsulates everything.

This was a great season of TV and I look forward to a second season. Fargo has proved that anthology TV can work, I'll be pleased if it's half as good as that.
posted by Tevin at 7:30 PM on August 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Don't believe the Quinn ending for half a second, it is very author insert gets his happy ending. But I really liked the rest of it. People (guests) flirt with breaking out of the system but in the end decide it is easier or more pleasant to stay in it. Everyone else is expendable or forgettable, the NPCs.
posted by jeather at 9:06 PM on August 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Quinn on the canoe felt very much in the vein of “privileged person gets to rebel against privilege in a privileged way”, just like his sister. Another facet of “rich white people be crazy”, not a counter example. At best (and yeah, pretty unrealistically) he probably got one more morning row while his parents scrambled in Honolulu to fetch him, Home Alone-style. That said, also glad he wasn’t in the box.

Poor Belinda, poor Kai. Trail of destruction and hopelessness, just like the exploitative tourism industry, just on a smaller scale. Armand too, but he was enough of a time bomb on his own; I’m sure he’s dealt with Shanes before, but this time there was a stash of pills in his desk.
posted by supercres at 10:27 PM on August 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

(Not to place any blame on Quinn of course; asking a wealthy 16-year-old about privilege is like asking fish about water. He’s better than his family but I don’t see his ending as entirely innocent and harmless and privilege-bucking on the grand scheme either. Like Belinda, or Kai, or any of the staff, anyone in the resort’s orbit really say no to a guest, or is money always an unspoken coercion?)
posted by supercres at 10:34 PM on August 15, 2021 [4 favorites]

Mod note: (Fixed title)
posted by taz (staff) at 11:04 PM on August 15, 2021

Mod note: Also, looks like this should be episode 6. I've made that change; please let us know if there is a problem with that! Thanks.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:14 AM on August 16, 2021

Taz, thanks for the correction! I tried to select the sixth episode from the drop down menu but it didn't seem to work correctly on mobile.

I don't have any misconception that Quinn and his freedom will last any longer than a night or two but I was so worried he was going to be washed to sea I was just glad to see him happy, even if it's short lived. Maybe this will be the first step in not becoming another Shane, though the odds are not in his favor.

It's interesting that we don't see Shane interact with any law enforcement because of course we don't, we know the outcome already. He won't face any consequences for murdering someone because he was scared because his mother has a cottage industry built up to shield her family from any kind of consequences.
posted by Tevin at 5:34 AM on August 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

I love a cynical dark comedy, but I was really hoping that Armond would make it out alive. That little head bobble Murray Bartlett does after Armond leaves the office for his kamikaze mission is so perfect. His swagger, his performance at dinner, I really should have known that he was in the box.

But, Mark Mossbacher was right: no one gives up their privilege. Not Rachel, not Paula, not Tonya, and not Quinn really. And, yes, I think Paula, even as she accused Olivia of being part of her family's tribe, eventually submits to being part of that tribe too. Who would give up the security and freedom from consequences that money allows?

Maybe the darkest message of all comes to Rachel: you're mediocre and mostly useless anyway, so why fight the trophy wife status?
posted by gladly at 5:59 AM on August 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

It's interesting that we don't see Shane interact with any law enforcement because of course we don't, we know the outcome already.

He does interact with law enforcement- he shakes the hands of two different detectives at the end- emphasizing the fact that he won't face any consequences. Like the detectives are somehow feeling apologetic for Shane's situation. Feels true-to-life but it is galling.
posted by ishmael at 9:11 AM on August 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

I guess Shane could have been interpreted as acting in self-defense, but so many people are not given that benefit of a doubt. Of course Shane gets the positive interpretation, it's a benefit of his class.
posted by ishmael at 9:15 AM on August 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Seemed pretty likely that it'd be Armond after they gave him the Tennyson excerpt to quote last week. Given that he was chock full of Horse, and had broken in to Shane's room and shat in his luggage, the police reaction seems pretty realistic. Rachel could conceivably have caused him some problems if she'd wanted to talk about the feud, but I couldn't tell if she even knew about Armond's death.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 10:49 AM on August 16, 2021

This was pretty and the soundtrack was good but it left me feeling very empty.

Part of Armand’s fatal decision was literally coming out of the closet.
posted by sibboleth at 11:53 AM on August 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

Quinn's definitely going to run some kind of business that steals from Polynesian culture after his 2 days canoeing and advertise himself as really understanding the culture.

Decided that I would like to see season 2 show how the guests are just interchangeable (rich, obnoxious) cogs to the employees.
posted by jeather at 12:15 PM on August 16, 2021

Mike White Accepts the Criticism: The White Lotus creator understands if you feel conflicted about that ending. So does he. An interview in Vulture.
posted by Stanczyk at 12:21 PM on August 16, 2021 [5 favorites]

In retrospect, Armond should have jumped out as a probable death, but I didn't see it coming til the "conducting his last dinner seating" scene. I think I assumed if the death was going to be among the staff, this show was going to off Belinda, because that would be the darkest timeline choice.

Quinn's ending was hilariously improbable, and I can't even decide if it's a happy ending. However, I like Mark Harris's take on it in this twitter thread: I'm still laughing at (and awed by) the specifics of Quinn's rebellion, which is basically that he agrees to help a group of nonwhite people get stronger by serving as their dead weight. It's gorgeous and hopeful, true to character and theme in a way that's so hard to hit.

I do think it's kind of bullshit that Quinn is the one who gets the hopeful ending. I would rather have seen Belinda tuck her business plan in a drawer instead of tossing it in the trash, or gotten some other hint that she was going to move forward with it. My ret con regarding Quinn is that Kai's brothers are in that boat and are going to wrangle some legal defense fund money out of the rich white kid.

I loved this for its mood and music, but I'm not sure it needs a season 2. I hope Mike White is interested in bringing on some other writers who might have more to say about the experiences of the staff at one of these resorts; I can't see the point of another season this focused on the rich, white guests.

I am buying the soundtrack though; hire Christobal Tapia de Veer to score all the things!
posted by the primroses were over at 7:11 AM on August 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I accidentally posted my reaction in the full series thread.

Mostly I am very glad they switched up the soundtrack and did not play Hawaiian music for the final sequence with Armand. That would have just been gross. Not a big fan of what they did choose, but it was better than that.
posted by BibiRose at 5:44 AM on August 18, 2021

I do think it's kind of bullshit that Quinn is the one who gets the hopeful ending.

Eh, I don't think so. I mean, he's kinda the only one who hasn't actually harmed anyone else, unless you count blithely announcing his mother's jewelry price to her face - which, did Dad actually swear him to secrecy or anything? The kid's basically being psychologically abused by his sister, and the parents are letting her do it. He's guilty of nothing but being a teenage boy who jacks off to internet porn sometimes. And when that particular escape from his toxic family is lost, finally with his head out of his phone for a change he gets some real world adventures that wake him up to how shitty his family life really is.

Yeah, yeah, I hear all the comments that "in the real world a kid wouldn't be able to do that, they'll come after him" and yada yada, but I tend to dislike imposing too much of that "in the real world" on things like this. The whole theme of the show is how fucked this cycle of wealth and privilege is, and this is the one place White tries to suggest that maybe there is a way out - just run as far and as fast as you can away.
posted by dnash at 3:17 PM on August 18, 2021 [12 favorites]

I liked the whimsy of Quinn's ending and don't have anything against Quinn, but I feel like the point of the show is that of course the character that gets the whimsical ending is one of the guests, not one of the staff - and I think that ending is supposed to rankle as well as amuse.
posted by the primroses were over at 3:52 PM on August 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

The more I think about this ending the more I like it. It was such a kick in the teeth! So, so dark and dispiriting. I thought it fit the overall tone of the show perfectly.

I particularly appreciated that closing shot with the new staff waving at the new incoming boat, calling back to Armond's opening speech about how the staff had to be interchangeable and replaceable.

What a great show. I'm so impressed at how Mike White turned the whole thing around in just a few months (commissioned at the start of August as a "show we can film in a single location", filming started in October) - and wrote and directed all of the episodes!
posted by simonw at 6:15 AM on August 20, 2021

I half expected to see Quinn among the waving and smiling staff at the end; maybe if they had pushed things out a few months or years he would be. That would in its own way be a manifestation of his privilege: he'd get a job as a busboy or gopher to keep himself occupied - not earning enough to really "live" in Hawaii properly - and then his parents would supplement so that he could still have a nice apartment and car and extracurriculars without the pressures and anxiety that would otherwise accompany a lower-paying job like that. Sort a Pulp/"Common People" thing.
posted by AgentRocket at 2:12 PM on August 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

I don't see why y'all are so anti-Quinn. He seems like the only character that recognizes what's wrong with his life and takes steps to live in a way that seems more morally acceptable and more likely to bring him happiness.

Obviously it's a kind of hokey ending for him, but when he bolted out of the line, I had the strongest emotional response I had to any part of this whole season, which I enjoyed for the most part.
posted by Fister Roboto at 11:11 AM on August 24, 2021 [4 favorites]

I really liked it. Though it's tough to watch when you are not sure what's going on.

The series reminded me of Todd Solondz's movies. Judging from Solondz's commercial success I think it was a wise move to make the guests rich or "mega rich" to appeal to a wider audience. But I feel like same thing could have been shot in Cancun, with middle class tourists.
posted by haemanu at 7:09 PM on August 27, 2021

I liked Quinn's ending because he was the only one of the family at the dinner table the night before who had anything true or of value to say. He was the only member of family who actually connected with nature or had any kind of authentic experience. It felt nice to see someone just, have a nice time for once.

I also really interpreted Armon's death as straight up self defense. He was in their room and had just left his dna all over his suitcase, which he had just complained about. I don't think the show thinks he's getting away with something.

I also had a more romantic view of Rachel's going back to that guy. I thought that she could see in his face in that moment that he had grown up?? And that she could live with the grown up version of him? Because to me his face looked different. It's so funny to me that people can interpret the same scenes in completely opposite ways.
posted by bleep at 9:47 PM on August 27, 2021

Most of it felt really true, with the exception of Belinda’s reaction to Tanya’s inevitable abandonment. Belinda, of all people, would know that Tanya’s promises were meaningless and that the best thing one could extract from Tanya (or any of the guests) is an envelope of no-strings-attached cash.
posted by la glaneuse at 12:00 AM on August 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

I really enjoyed this show. I love the histrionic 1950s social drama movies, things like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or Suddenly Last Summer. This show felt like a 2021 version of that kind of extreme personality clash. Given that it's odd how the ending ended up being so mild. Other than Armond's end the rest was actually pretty chill and reconciled. In totally non-convincing ways.

Did anyone else see ambiguity in Rachel reuniting with Chad Shane at the airport? I read it as her deciding to just make it work with Shane anyway, that she was meek and sorry and would "be happy" just like Shane's mom demanded. My partner saw it differently; he assumed she was resolute in her decision to end the marriage but was just being reconciling and nice to Shane. I wonder if the ambiguity was intended.

I think Paula had the most interesting story of all. She's a fuckup like the rest but in a gentler way. She's put in an awkward position from the beginning sharing a bed in the living room, not knowing the family... And while she destroy's Kai's life with her thoughtlessness, she seemed to mostly suggest the robbery as some horribly misguided way of trying to help him. And she seems to learn something from it all maybe? Or not? Her alienation was compelling to me.

Really worth a read: The White Lotus is as clueless about Native Hawaiians as its characters. Talks a lot about how the Native Hawaiian characters are all just props for the story about horrible rich mainlanders. Kai's 100% a victim / plot device. And Lani is literally written off the show after the first episode. (Pilot casting? Surprise birth plots are always stupid? Dunno.) Even the canoe hunks who briefly accept Quinn are just props. I've been watching this show in parallel with Reservation Dogs and the contrast in native authenticity is intense.

OTOH the show does a great job telling a couple of African-American stories. Belinda's story is just painful and relatable all throughout. Also Paula's story is complex, as I said above. There's a good interview with Brittany O'Grady about playing Paula.
posted by Nelson at 8:28 AM on September 10, 2021 [4 favorites]

The whole Quinn redemption ending was great. I cheered for him and his sort of 1980s-era throwback, triumphant teen comedy ending knowing that it was also going to be a disaster. In this "choose your own adventure" storyline, many paths lead him right back to his family and former life.

In the other thread, someone was dubious that he wouldn't have immediately been collared by mom before the flight even left but I was thinking about that and feeling like with this crew, the parents would have sat together and the girls would have sat together and Quinn would've been put somewhere else. In the ordering of drinks and getting seated, it would have been awhile before they noticed that he wasn't there. Let's just leave aside the protocol for the air stewards to alert when a checked-in passenger doesn't appear to be on board. The mom could also have just said, "let's see when he comes crawling back!"

Because, he will have to. He thinks he can just sleep on the beach at the hotel? He most definitely cannot. He's not a guest anymore. He thinks he's just a guy... everyone who worked at that place knew he was the son of guests, sleeping on the beach in their lounge chairs with their hotel bedding using hotel wifi. Do we do anything about that? Nope. Whatever.

I also thought the ending with Rachel was maybe ambiguous. But, he doesn't care if she's happy. They didn't have the kind of connection where he cares if she leaves him and is happy. He's willing to take an unhappy wife to have the trophy and move forward as is his destiny. I think part of his harassment of the hotel was his desire to flex his newfound place in the world. A rich man with a trophy wife demands the best. Ugh. He's so terrible and good at being terrible.
posted by amanda at 8:07 AM on September 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

That ending was devastating. Seeing Rachel with Shane at the end hurt. Belinda’s abandonment hurt, although honestly she should’ve expected it.

Stupid nitpick: you’re not supposed to scuba dive the day before a flight.
posted by condour75 at 3:53 PM on September 22, 2021

I guess that, other than Arnaud’s death - most of the events shown are absolutely standard in luxury hotels. Obnoxious guest who will never be satisfied. Guest who tries to become patron to another hotel worker. People coming off the wagon. Staff thefts from rooms. Guest who never wants to go home. Mariages which fall apart during the honeymoon. Camouflaged staff pregnancy. The genius of the show was making all of this seem like a modernised, high stakes, take on Agatha Christie’s “Evil Under the Sun”.

I’d love to hear what happened with several of these characters before and after the week depicted.
posted by rongorongo at 12:39 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]

The above linked interview with Mike White provides some interesting context: The White Lotus was filmed at a hotel in 2020. All the actors a crew would have had to go through quarantine- and the situation made it very hard to film off site. So the series, for practical reasons, could not follow Kai or Belinda home, show us Shane and Rachel’s marriage, etc. It had to be written like a play. Interesting that this seems to have made it stronger in more ways than weaker.
posted by rongorongo at 1:11 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]

I just ploughed through this in a couple of days, and by and large really liked it.

What I found most frustrating about Shane is that he's a myopic, spoiled, selfish, egotistical, misogynistic, greedy douchewagon but he is not wrong about the room thing. He was right! Somebody booked and paid for -- in real-world dollars for the hotel where this was shot -- at least a USD$1000 per night room. And they put him in inarguably a worse suite, and then lied to him about it. He's a jerk, but you don't get to steal from people just because they're jerks.

Realizing this then colours the whole series for me -- I wanted it to reduce to "rich people are terrible, and the workers at the resort are put-upon", but everyone is not great. Even the "not terribles" are pretty awful: Rachel is, based on scant evidence, a pretty bad journalist and incapable of self-reflection on that front, Belinda is arguably (failing at) manipulating a clearly mentally ill woman into funding her clinic, even if the mentally ill woman did bring it up first. Quinn's a giant baby with no grounding in the real world, and is going to cause immeasurable pain to the family he's abandoning because some there are some guys he wants to canoe with.

I find it really hard to parse things like this out. Do I like it because it's a complex portrayal of a lot of nuanced characters without clear good guy/bad guy winner/loser divisions? Or do I dislike it because it's a cynical "everything is awful" riff with no opportunities for learning or growth? I dunno. It entertained me while I was watching it, and clearly is sticking with me to the point that I'm bothering to type this, so there's that.
posted by Shepherd at 9:21 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

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