The White Lotus: Arrivederci
December 11, 2022 9:59 PM - Season 2, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Albie asks Dominic for a karmic payment to help Lucia. Tanya grows wary of Quentin's motives. Ethan confronts Cam.
posted by Violet Blue (79 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A slow start, and a dramatic finish. What did everyone think!?
posted by Violet Blue at 10:02 PM on December 11, 2022

I am going to miss having a tiny two-person rave with my wife during the opening credits every week.

It was the most appropriate possible exit for Tanya. I clapped.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:08 PM on December 11, 2022 [11 favorites]

Oh, man, the pacing and misdirection were great. The first half was quiet and even a little bland, but when Tanya went running with the hitman's bag, I was on the edge of my seat! Or: What you said!
posted by Violet Blue at 10:14 PM on December 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Bravo to the stunt person who took that fall- it was really well done!
posted by Bibliogeek at 10:15 PM on December 11, 2022 [7 favorites]

There were clips of an interview with Mike White after the episode ended. I loved that Tanya's self-assisted exit was intentional on the writer's part, that it wouldn't have been right for her to die at someone else's hands.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:22 PM on December 11, 2022 [7 favorites]

Also, as Mike White said in the interview afterwards, with all the dead bodies around, I feel like the connection to Greg can be made (all those phone calls at the very least).

There's no incentive to protect Greg, he's not in the mafia. Matter of fact, he's the perfect patsy to pin it all on if you have to convict someone and get a win for local law enforcement. Although US extradition is tough, I guess.

At the very least, Greg's involvement will affect any settlement and he won't be getting any of Tanya's money. In my humble opinion.

Also so happy that Portia made it out alive. I kept asking her to please please stop talking. Young people should be allowed to make mistakes.
posted by ishmael at 11:58 PM on December 11, 2022 [8 favorites]

I enjoyed the closing scene with Lucia and Mia walking happily together. The Tanya ending was unexpected and dramatic and personally I'm glad she won't be back for season 3- I found her character tiresome and never forgave her for doing Belinda dirty in season 1. Glad Portia made it out alive but she made a lot of terrible decisions - why didn't she try to get away from Jack? Once he dropped her off, why didn't she go straight to the the hotel or the police? They'll certainly track her down and now it kinda looks like she was in on it.
posted by emd3737 at 12:36 AM on December 12, 2022 [6 favorites]

Fucking hell, that was fantastic. Absolute lol @ how many critics (who were given 5 out of the 7 episodes to watch, I think) said variations on "I don't even know why Tanya is here, her plot doesn't involve anything happening at all."

I can't imagine a more satisfying ending to the Ethan/Harper/Cam/Daphne rectangle. Wow, but everything about that was just masterful.

And I'm not sure if I'll be in the minority here or not, but Albie's arc felt deeply satisfying too, and felt like a well-wrought portrait of a young guy who's both well-meaning and naïve to the point that it's a problem. (Plus, Michael Imperioli played Dominic with such tremendous restraint all season long. And I'm not sure I could love F. Murray Abraham more.)

Of course, all that really matters is that Mia, Lucia, and Valentina came out happy. This season officially has a happy ending.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 4:38 AM on December 12, 2022 [11 favorites]

personally I'm glad she won't be back for season 3- I found her character tiresome and never forgave her for doing Belinda dirty in season 1.
I think it was Jennifer Coolidge who said in an interview somewhere that the whole key to Tanya is realizing that she's a narcissistic, anxious wreck, but she's genuinely self-aware about it—not in a "wants to change" way, but in the sense that she's not oblivious to the fact that she's oblivious. So to speak.

I feel like her arc this season will retroactively feel extremely satisfying, in part because Tanya has been right about Greg all along. All her early anxieties, all her obsessive hang-ups over Greg, now feel like her picking up that something is horribly wrong, not knowing how to deal with it, and also questioning herself because... well, because she knows she's Tanya. But it felt extremely satisfying to see her put these pieces together, even in the aftermath of a massive coke-and-cunnilingus binge. Satisfying to see her return to the photo of Greg, satisfying to see her attempt every possible non-violent means of escaping, satisfying to see her blast her way out of her jam, even if she's weeping all the while.

And satisfying, on some level, to see her die, because yeah: she is an awful person who screwed over maybe the single nicest character the show's seen to date. But the thing I find so fascinating about Tanya is that she's an awful person who feels absolutely caught up in the web of her own awfulness, in convoluted ways that she doesn't know how to undo. She knows she's awful and (as she puts it) crazy and she even half-apologized to Portia over it... but she's going to keep on being herself, to the detriment of herself as much as to others.

As a lifelong Jennifer Coolidge fan, holy shit did Mike White write her the role of a lifetime. She'd better be submitted to the Emmys under a different category than Meghann Fahy—I can't bear the thought of seeing those two stunning performances have to compete with one another.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 4:45 AM on December 12, 2022 [12 favorites]

Like...... AGH. Sorry for the triple post, but, leaving aside very reasonable questions about the exact pacing of Tanya's arc, the fact that J-Cool got a scene where she murders three men while blubbering her face off, and then asks one of them whether her husband's been having an affair as he's bleeding to death and then somersaults off of a goddamn boat... idk that sends me. If this isn't art, nothing is
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 4:49 AM on December 12, 2022 [33 favorites]

I appreciated the apparent fakeout with the jellyfish after the fight between Ethan and Cameron broke up. I was convinced that Cameron's body was one of the dead bodies recovered in the first episode. Then he survived the fight with Ethan, but the camera then dipped below the water to reveal the jellyfish. If that was just a pretty jelly and not a pretty and dangerous one, fine, but it had me going.

And, wow, that underwater fight must have been hard on everyone.
posted by emelenjr at 4:58 AM on December 12, 2022 [4 favorites]

I honestly don't know how I feel about the ending - I definitely loved parts of it. It was very tense. I was genuinely surprised. I do feel a bit hung up on some stuff that feels too unlikely.
posted by prefpara at 6:19 AM on December 12, 2022 [5 favorites]

I want to watch more shows where Jennifer Coolidge goes on a casual rampage on a yacht.
posted by bondcliff at 6:20 AM on December 12, 2022 [17 favorites]

The POV during Tanya's killing spree was inspired, all blubbering and seemingly spray-and-pray. Then the opposite angle shows shot placement worthy of John Wick.
posted by whuppy at 7:24 AM on December 12, 2022 [34 favorites]

Glad Portia made it out alive but she made a lot of terrible decisions - why didn't she try to get away from Jack? Once he dropped her off, why didn't she go straight to the the hotel or the police?

I had the same questions, but at the same time, it kinda made sense to me.

A young person, who is thrown into the middle of a murder plot, might not react with the assuredness of someone who is less willing to put up with bullshit from the world.

Even though she has her suspicions, she might not be able to process what's happening to her in real time, and she might say inappropriate things to a dangerous person, perhaps trying to assert herself in a ham-fisted way.

At the same time, she might get frozen in place because of her insecurity and being overwhelmed by the situation, not being able to snap out of it, then lock the doors and drive off.

I don't know how old Haley Lu Richardson is, but I believed her character as someone in their early 20s.
posted by ishmael at 7:29 AM on December 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

I was so SAD about Tanya's death! And like, angry too because the little door on the side of the boat was right there, and there had been a ladder there earlier, so she should've figured out how all that worked, and she shouldn't have just jumped--why didn't she take off those SHOES first?!--but like, those are the kind of bad decisions that build her character. It was only surprising that she didn't somehow manage to kill Portia in the process too. Poor everybody! I really kind of hated Albie, so bland, but at least getting ripped off made him more of a person. (Also I'd been hoping Cam and Ethan would get together the whole show, and seeing that they went with every other permutation than that was such a bad choice!) (I mean, the underwater fight!!! Surely that should lead to, as the closed captions kept saying, smooches?)

But what a great show, and how awkward and funny and awful! People are so terrible!
posted by mittens at 7:41 AM on December 12, 2022 [6 favorites]

Oh man, I loved Portia's writing. There's that bit where she's talking with Jack and Jack's like, "Everything nowadays is so wonderful compared to how it used to be," and on some level it echoes Daphne and Cam saying something similar in response to Harper, but on another level... Jack is literally here as part of a conspiracy to murder a woman, and Portia is losing her shit because her boss told her to stay in her room.

Mike White is really good at entertaining multiple perspectives without choosing between them. It's what I loved about Enlightened, where even the bro-y asshole exists in a universe where, from his perspective, his own actions are totally logical and correct. And one of the themes in both seasons of this show has been that "acknowledging what's fucked-up in the world" is always, always colored by identity and privilege—which doesn't make it inaccurate, but is a contextualization often elided by people who, in their innate self-centeredness, forget that their take on the world is defined by them as much as it is about the world. Harper and Portia are right to feel anxious about the world, but Harper is also a rich woman getting high in Sicily, and Portia is a young twentysomething getting paid to eat elaborate breakfasts. Both halves can be true without negating one another; it's not an either/or proposition.

The bulk of Portia's reactions to things—first Albie, and then Jack—come from a vantage point where the worst thing that'll ever happen to her is she calls her friend and cries a bunch. Even when she's out schwasted with Jack, she doesn't act like she's in any danger whatsoever: she's exasperated, she's a little alarmed, but fundamentally she acts like her worst-case scenario is gonna involve throwing a drink in his face and grabbing an Uber. Up until Jack's late-night semi-confession, at which point she switches over into actual hardcore fear—and it's obviously a pretty new emotion for her, and a major part of it is her not knowing what to do. Because suddenly the world is not following the rules that she's used to, she doesn't have a phone, and she's in a strange city with possibly a violent criminal.

I think that, more than anything, she wants to get back to the part of the world whose rules she understands. She's not going to go to the cops, because that's not a part of her world. Anything that puts her in contact with whatever the hell is happening here is going to pull her away from her little isle of stability, which suddenly looks and feels a lot tinier and more precious than it did a little while ago. (And boy does Albie suddenly seem a lot more appealing, for all his wishy-washiness!)

I feel like there's such a fascinating difference between Portia and, say, how Cam reacts to being punched. Even when Ethan clocks him on the jaw, Cam is fundamentally living in a world whose rules he totally understands. They might leave him feeling miserable and cuckolded, but it's all a part of that same world. As opposed to Ethan freaking out over Harper's infidelity, which throws him into a similar "I don't know what the rules are anymore" situation. (And Harper gets thrown there when Ethan and Cam have their drug-fueled night, and Cam gets thrown there when Daphne spends the night with Harper unannounced. The only one who never seems to feel that is Daphne, who perfectly understands the rules of the world she's living in, with the exception of Tanya's body showing up on the beach.)

Man. I love Mike White and I loved the first season of this show, but this season was something special. YMMV, but for me, this felt like one of the best seasons I've seen of a TV show, period.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 8:04 AM on December 12, 2022 [25 favorites]

Agreeing with all of the prior comments on how great this finale was.

Tanya's death was *chefskiss*.

Also want to give a nod to the actor that played Essex "nephew" Jack. Wonderfully creepy performance there. The scene where Portia gets left on the side of the road was fantastic from both actors.

Remember, wherever you go in life, be kind to the locals.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:22 AM on December 12, 2022 [10 favorites]

I just want to give a shout out to Daphne's face-acting this season. For a seemingly shallow, naive character, SHE KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT TF SHE'S DOING. And that last scene, where you see the little flit of pain across her face -- like shit, he did it AGAIN, on the same trip, and with HER -- it's masterful stuff.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:51 AM on December 12, 2022 [12 favorites]

Mike White is really good at entertaining multiple perspectives without choosing between them. Hard agree.

Anyway, overall I enjoyed the finale, but I'll break my comment into things that worked for me, and things that didn't.

Things that worked for me:

-Portia's plot line: I found her reaction very believable. I mean, when she started her supposed day trip with Jack, he was still a hunky English lad to her - in less than 24hrs, she's forced to confront the fact he's part of some evil scheme. That's going to produce a degree of incomprehensible shock - and thus denial - in most people. And as has already been pointed out, by the time she seemed ready to take charge she didn't have a phone, didn't entirely understand where she was, in a place where she didn't speak the language, with a man who was stronger than her and wouldn't leave her side (the one moment Jack leaves her, her inclination is not to run but warn Tanya, which is rather generous of her). A part of her kept believing Jack would really take her back because the alternative was too terrifying to consider. And it would appear that she was still holding on to some hope that Tanya wasn't dead by the time she runs into Albie at the airport.

-Tanya's death: Glorious. Yes, maybe a bit of leap of faith to believe she'd hit 3/5 of "the gays" but given the potential for ricocheting bullets in small was a leap of faith I was able to take. Tanya, unlike Portia, is able to act decisively when required. And while her final fall was frustrating to watch (I wanted to tell her, just jump in the water next to the boat, or you know, use the ladder), totally believable that this character - in her total state of shock - would not make a good decision. Ultimately it is her, and not Greg, who ends up with dead shark eyes.

-The underwater fight scene: Besides being tense, Cameron's ability to just take it, and then act like everything is normal at dinner, perfectly reveals what a psychopath he is - and so, he will always be more of the alpha male. Sadly, Ethan still doesn't recognize that this is not a contest worth fighting.

-The ability of the writing/acting to still leave it ambiguous whether Daphne is happy or deeply sad: my interpretation is that she has figured out a way to deal extremely well with her husband's short-comings, but that will not be sustainable once her children leave home. And of course, it would not be sustainable should Cameron ever not make enough money for her "trainer" and wardrobe and fancy vacations.

-Albie's arc: that he is so unfazed that he gave 50k euros to Lucia and then she ghosted just shows how out of touch he is from the world, as Dominic worries. And yet, it appears Lucia did provide a real service for him - his dialogue with Portia at the airport is more confident - he may more like his father than he's willing to admit, but he also seem's capable of growth.

-The joy of Lucia and Mia at the end: Americans (especially rich ones) generally over-estimate how much people from less wealthy countries want to come to the US, and that final scene is a nice view to the contrary - why would she want to go to LA when she can be a queen of Sicily?

Things that didn't quite work:

-Tanya's murder plot: As much as I love her final scene, looking back, the whole plot doesn't quite make sense. If the goal is to make her "disappear" why do a whole elaborate outing with sex and drugs? Was that just to separate Portia from her? But then, wouldn't it be easier to just have Jack take Portia on a sight seeing day trip, and Tanya for a ill-fated boat ride?

-Ethan and Harper's ending: they are presented as now both being happy/resolved, but did Ethan learn anything? At best, he has learned Daphne's "wisdom" that if your partner does something that makes you feel bad, just do whatever makes you happy. It does not appear he's learned how to communicate better or recognize his own short comings. The breaking of the ceramic head would seem to imply they've overcome the standard heteronormativity bullshit around jealousy, but I'm not convinced (at least with Ethan).

-Ethan + Harper fight: Overall good, but I wanted Harper to say something along the lines of "I only flirted with Cameron to get your attention, which clearly worked." Yes, she tells him the real problem is their relationship and his lack of desire, but I wished she had forced him to connect the dots between his behavior and her, very slight, indiscretion.
posted by coffeecat at 9:29 AM on December 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

It felt weird that Ethan and Cameron nearly punch it out to the point of hospitalization or drowning and then later that day they have shared wives and glasses of champagne, before going back to their married lives. I guess that's just how the rich live.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:35 AM on December 12, 2022

But what did Ethan and Daphne get up to? I don’t think he could hide it if he did anything with her. But she’d be irritated, I think, if they didn’t do something to “get back” at their partners.
posted by amanda at 9:42 AM on December 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

I assumed that they definitely fucked. I mean, they fucked, right?
posted by kbanas at 9:49 AM on December 12, 2022 [13 favorites]

Reddit seems to agree. I suppose this is the transformation of Ethan and Harper into Cam and Daphne. They don’t have a chance of wearing it so well, though.
posted by amanda at 10:18 AM on December 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

Valentina's arc had a very satisfying end to me. Her tryst with Mia woke her up to her life's potential, and rather than being stuck in her narrow, obsessive, resentful past, she chose to cast it off and be happy. To welcome Rocco back to the front desk to rejoin Isabella, to fulfilling Mia's dreams of becoming the permanent hotel's act, and agreeing to go out with Mia and Lucia to meet potential dates. And she looked gloriously beautiful and free in the final scenes. All of the local staff had happy endings.

Albi turned out to be wiser than he first appeared. When he realized that Lucia had taken him for a ride, it confirmed what he might have hoped wouldn't have happened, but it seemed like rather than holding it against her or making it into a thing, he decided to just move on. Better to be generously kind for your own sake (even if it is your dad's money), than always holding people at a distance, worried about what they will steal from you, becoming bitter and jaded. I liked that about him. I don't actually get that he was ever that naive, really. The way he dangled his power to bring his mother back to his dad was kind of scary and not exactly that of a 'soft and sensitive' boy they all made him out to be. The airport scene with him and Portia exchanging numbers was so perfect, especially the succinct way they summed up their affairs. Portia, "He was deranged".

In the scene on the beach with Nathan after he told Daphne of his suspicions of Harper and Cameron, she looked first hurt for herself, but also hurt on behalf of Ethan. It was hard to tell the latter, but I am choosing to believe it because it makes her a more complex and enigmatic character -- and her leading him offstage to do and say, whatever, culminated in Ethan and Harper's reunion. Where that goes is anyone's guess, but at least for the moment they are happy.

Ah, Tanya. I really thought they were going to get her with a recording of her having sex with the hitman/gigolo. I mean, why go to all the bother of setting her up with him? Maybe to have Tanya trust him enough to go off in a boat with him?? That didn't make a whole lot of sense. But whatever. It was a fabulously messy and Tanya-esque scene on the boat. I loved watching Quentin's nice guy act dissipate as Tanya continued to stall getting on the 'dingy'.

Things are not going to go well with Greg once they start looking into Tanya's death. And Jack, what will happen to Jack? His character was perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all of them. So I guess there was one staff sacrificed, and it was him.

And will we see any of this season's characters in the next one?
posted by nanook at 10:22 AM on December 12, 2022 [5 favorites]

With the strange murder plan: Greg and Quentin both wanted to give Tanya some sort of "great day" before ending her. And maybe the death boat back was plan b?

When Cameron said "...that's why you think I invited you here?" I really, really wanted him to say what we all think is the real reason (that he has no money).

Ugh, it was so good I want to watch it all, all over again...

(I'm also re-watching Twin Peaks now, and am struck at how the mystery of the dead body in the first episode really was water-cooler peak television in the 90s. I think I hate all the murder/crime shows, but apparently not!).

Can Mike White get away with not having a dead body in Season 3???
posted by armacy at 10:44 AM on December 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

And will we see any of this season's characters in the next one?

If I had my way, I wouldn't mind seeing Dominic and his wife (i.e Laura Dern) on a vacation intended to get their "spark" back.
posted by coffeecat at 11:25 AM on December 12, 2022 [10 favorites]

When Tanya is about to make her doomed leap off the yacht, she mutters "You've got this, girl!" as an attempt to psyche herself up for the jump. Someone on Twitter noted that this was by far the most Survivor-type moment from the show to date. (As you may or may not know, Mike White is a former contestant* and still huge fan of the TV show Survivor—so much so that he casted two fellow former contestants of the show as the beachgoers with whom Daphne converses in the season's opening scene.)

*Fun fact: it's not the only CBS competitive reality show on which he's appeared. He and his father were contestants on a season of The Amazing Race.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:55 AM on December 12, 2022 [6 favorites]

Yes, I learned about his reality TV obsession in his interview on the New Yorker Radio Hour podcast. I didn't realize he cast former contestants though!
posted by coffeecat at 12:09 PM on December 12, 2022

Not only was he on those shows, he and Jeff Probst of Survivor are close and he even helped Survivor retool and revive to make the story arcs more compelling. I learned that on the Prestige TV podcast.
posted by lunasol at 12:47 PM on December 12, 2022 [5 favorites]

I feel like someone waking up after a night of debauchery - head still reeling, a little bit sick, a little bit embarrassed (I was so obsessed with trying to guess the ending and mostly completely wrong), but also kinda amazed. What a ride!

The ending really had everything one might hope for in a White Lotus ending - senseless tragedy (Tanya dying in an accident after having successfully defended herself), reaffirmation of the status quo (all the initial couples leaving together, even Portia and Albie), enabled by not too small a dosis of cynicism (the corruption of Harper and Ethan to the ways of Daphne and Cameron), people learning all the wrong lessons (this time about the healing, marriage kitting effect of lying and cheating), and also moments of grace (Valentina reinstating Rocco, getting over fruitless pining, ready to explore her sexuality more fully; Lucia and Mia living it up in Sicily).

There's once again a fair lack of any poetic justice (Quentin and his co-conspirators had it coming, but Greg might still get away with it; at any rate, we don't get to see his come-uppance), but in a way, that feels right. Honest. Poetic justice can be a very dangerous idea. Too much poetic justice could have ruined the happy ending for Lucia and Mia, so I'm not missing it too much.

Of course all my own theories were extremly off, because I was too keen on seeing something bad happen to Cameron, which made me read into all kind of things (Hunting clues to guess the ending of TV-shows in line with my worldview is my Q-Anon). Him getting merely punched felt a bit anti-climactic. Acting like nothing happened at dinner does make him seem like a sociopath, but also, I guess, the guy can take a punch. He seemed so wonderfully serene floating in the water, after the other tourist had to stop Ethan from drowning him. Probably just revelling in his victory, having clearly gotten under Ethan's skin. Or maybe just at peace with getting his just deserts. There are fairly awful people who are still capable of thinking, "Guess I had it coming", and Cameron might be one of them.

I think I was also a bit too desperate to see Daphne as more in control than she ultimately turned out to be. Sure she succeeds in persuading both Harper and Ethan of the empowering effects of adultery, but since she apparently didn't have much of an ulterior motive after all, she wasn't exactly doing herself much of a favour with that, at least in Harper's case. She seemed genuinely upset at the idea of Cameron and Harper. And that makes all her previous interactions with Harper seem more genuine too - she was really just trying to share her wisdom with another woman. In many ways, the ending vindicates her - the couple's waning sex life is reinvigorated; the moor's head, the symbol of tragedy resulting from deception, is shattered; these deceptions won't end in death. You can cheat and get away with it.

Someone suggested above that Ethan and Harper won't wear it as well as Cameron and Daphne - but I think those two are not wearing it too well either. Daphne may be the one least disturbed, most aware of the rules - but to me, she's also the saddest of the four, the most resigned. These secrets she shared with Harper weren't part of a scam after all, but a genuine attempt at bonding, revealing genuine cracks in the facade, with genuine pathos shining through. It's clear to me that she has to work very hard to keep up the veneer.
posted by sohalt at 12:51 PM on December 12, 2022 [10 favorites]

If the Murder Team was working from a plan given to them by Greg, they wouldn’t have accounted for Portia, who Greg had insisted Tanya send away. So perhaps Jack was originally intended to play the hitman/gigolo role, and they had to improvise and recruit the new guy once Jack had to be reassigned to diverting Portia instead.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 1:10 PM on December 12, 2022 [5 favorites]

Can Mike White get away with not having a dead body in Season 3???

The next season is about "maybe a kind of satirical and funny look at death in Eastern religion and spirituality" so almost definitely not, but it would be a good subversion if they were able to avoid.

I was too keen on seeing something bad happen to Cameron

As I said in the last episode, Cameron is almost like a more evolved, closer-to-Patrick Bateman version of Shane from season 1. Shane was the entitled spoiled frat boy who could not let little things go. Cameron is a psychopath who doesn't understand why it's uncouth to throw yogurt at the help but at the same time is practiced enough to adapt to social norms. And thus, he, like the elite class of psychopath giants of industry that he typifies, does not experience anything truly bad happening to them, in our current system. Ethan, as a newly-inducted member of that class, gets into a wet brawl with him but nothing further.

And as I noted, both he and Daphne have a virtual open relationship. This episode reinforces it from both sides. Meghann Fahy's completely magnetic and eerie Stepford Wife activation sequence after Ethan tells her about Cameron's infidelity has already been praised. And there's also Cameron tardily, even begrudgingly, going to talk to "his" blonde children. Both sides knows the expectations they're supposed to live to, and dutifully live up to them. They don't seem to truly resent each other for it. And oh hey very Game of Thrones move, eh HBO?

I guess the takeaway is that extreme wealth and privilege skews romance and traditional norms of monogamy, and it sure is goofy and scandalous to middle class bourgeois audiences like us, yet it's completely expected when we think about royals and celebrities, the rich and famous. Wonder if that's how the ancient Sicilian nobility might have lived.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:17 PM on December 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

(Also I'd been hoping Cam and Ethan would get together the whole show, and seeing that they went with every other permutation than that was such a bad choice!) (I mean, the underwater fight!!! Surely that should lead to, as the closed captions kept saying, smooches?)

posted by mittens

Same. I am surprised they didn't go there, after hinting at it more than once.

Great episode; I am going to digest and then possibly return with more thoughts! Love reading everyone else's commentary - as soon as I finished the episode, I rushed to see what Fanfare was saying.
posted by unicorn chaser at 1:33 PM on December 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

And there's also Cameron tardily, even begrudgingly, going to talk to "his" blonde children. Both sides knows the expectations they're supposed to live to, and dutifully live up to them. They don't seem to truly resent each other for it.

_Begrudingly_ seems to suggest some resentment, and as I said, Daphne has moments where she does seem deeply sad. Her insistence on not being a victim does sound to me at times a bit like faux bravado, a bit like protesting too much. But yeah, they're both clearly above certain bourgeouise ideas of morality, and one can kinda see their point.

I mean, I wouldn't say their little games are working perfectly out for them, but they do seem to work better than Ethan's and Harper's initial ideas of honesty. It's really a sight to see how often those two are trying to have a honest conversation, and Harper at least indeed has a fair amount of very honest, open, vulnerable moments, and it's accomplishing nothing whatsoever. Only playing mindgames can get get her husband interested in her again.
posted by sohalt at 1:39 PM on December 12, 2022 [6 favorites]

I ended up liking Albie a lot more than I thought I would (even though the scene at the airport where all three DiGrassos's heads are turned by the pretty girl suggests he's more ready now to embrace questionable family traditions; but it's a bit refreshing too; before he seemed to be over-compensating in his need to not be like Dad, now he's maybe more relaxed). Just like Cameron he’s redeemed a bit by his ultimate ability to take a punch. He gets dumped for the fun caveman, and handles it gracefully. Then he gets scammed by the broken bird, and doesn’t seem too bitter about it either.

I did predict that Albie and Portia would sorta reconnect in the end, at the airport at the latest, and I thought that it would be a bit depressing, mostly motivated by bitterness and convenience after the disappointing endings of their holiday flirtations. And maybe one might still read it like that. But their interaction does seem a lot more at ease now, and you could also imagine that with all that experience behind them, they might now indeed make a decent match - or at least be a bit less likely to fall for a certain type of wrong person again, now that they got their fantasies about fun cavemen and pretty broken birds out of their system.
posted by sohalt at 1:46 PM on December 12, 2022 [6 favorites]

It's also revealed that Cameron doesn't spend much time with Daphne generally - when she's with Harper in Nono she says he's a workaholic and isn't home a lot - hence her "trainer." As long as wealth insulates them from much of life's stresses, their relationship is functional I suppose, but I wouldn't say they are #relationshipgoals by any means.

I wonder if part of Albie's new perspective is that even though in a sense Lucia played him (she's too savvy to pass up a good opportunity), he's able to believe (perhaps not wrongly) that it's possible she did enjoy her time with him to a degree. Sure, not enough to pack up her life and run away with him to LA, but as a "nice guy" he probably was a hell of a lot better than her usual clients. Certainly she seemed to be more genuinely relaxed around him compared to Dominic and then Cameron/Ethan. I, like others, groaned at Albie's initial "I guess nice guy's finish last" line to Portia when they first met. There seems enough reason to believe he's starting to realize he can be both kind and sexual - that these don't have to be contradictory impulses.
posted by coffeecat at 1:55 PM on December 12, 2022 [6 favorites]

I wonder if Jack was supposed to kill Portia, but something about her- her earnestness, her willingness to go on an adventure, her honesty, perhaps- won him over and he decided to let her go.

Maybe he just didn't feel right about not giving her a "final nice day in Palermo".

It did feel like there was a change in plans.
posted by ishmael at 2:02 PM on December 12, 2022 [9 favorites]

I think Jack's job was to keep Portia occupied long enough for the murder to take place and then drive her back to the resort the next day. There was likely a contingency plan in place such that—in the event that Portia discovered the plot (or even just started to get suspicious) Jack would either take her back to the palazzo to be disposed of by the hitman, or else "take care of" her himself.

By instead dropping her off at the airport and giving her a cryptic warning, he was bestowing mercy on her. Actual character development for Jack, of all people!
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:23 PM on December 12, 2022 [5 favorites]

The next season is about "maybe a kind of satirical and funny look at death in Eastern religion and spirituality"

I suppose a twist could be that the deaths don't happen on the final day of everyone's vacation (so convenient!) but rather in the middle, and some of the episodes are about the aftermath. Which frankly I could see being darkly hilarious - less for whoever cares about the dead, but presumably there will be some guests still wanting to milk their vacation for all it's worth but perhaps feeling somewhat guilty about it. Like, if a guest dies in the fancy infinity pool, for how many hours/days is it considered gauche to swim in it?
posted by coffeecat at 2:30 PM on December 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

Can Mike White get away with not having a dead body in Season 3?

I'm going to predict that at least one prominent dead body in the season 3 opener will be Tanya's, transported by someone (surely not Greg, hopefully not Portia) to a fancy resort to be disposed of according to her highly idiosyncratic last wishes. Closes the loop with what she herself was doing in the first season (though I'd assume cremation would be too impersonal for her and for the show).
posted by nobody at 2:49 PM on December 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'm going to predict that at least one prominent dead body in the season 3 opener will be Tanya's

Or - assuming that White's statement about rehiring Jennifer Coolidge for season 3 wasn't a complete mislead - possibly her appearance in a prequel? While I agree that the Tanya character could be grating, she won me over every time, and I'd love to see how she got that way. A vacation with her mother at some faux-spiritualist retreat White Lotus during the late 90's or early 2000's in India could be a rich source of material.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 4:24 PM on December 12, 2022 [5 favorites]

So Albie makes his mom's love something that Dom needs to pay for, which is a very comfortable transaction for Dom. It might just work.
posted by cocoagirl at 5:55 PM on December 12, 2022 [5 favorites]

But yeah, they're both clearly above certain bourgeouise ideas of morality, and one can kinda see their point.

As long as wealth insulates them from much of life's stresses, their relationship is functional I suppose, but I wouldn't say they are #relationshipgoals by any means.

I think Daphne and Cameron's relationship is portrayed as one notch better than just functional, because we see in their private scenes that they show a lot of apparent affection for each other, both in a lovey-dovey way and in a sexually charged way. And in public, they act like moonstruck teenagers to an obnoxiously emetic degree.

A couple interpretations for why that might be. Maybe their infidelities are a sort of kink, adding an extra sexual frisson, as Stewart Lee would call it. Or maybe because they spend so little time with each other, they are more able to idealize one another and not get in each other's way as Harper and Ethan might do.

So perhaps Ethan going with Daphne to the island could be innocently interpreted as him getting a little much needed away time and space from his partner, allowing them to reconvene when both have relaxed? (Probably not but it's nice to keep a wholesome path open.)
posted by Apocryphon at 6:06 PM on December 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

My friends and I have only-semi-facetiously been privately texting one another about how Cam-and-Daphne is our collective dream relationship, as a data point. It's a surprisingly mixed-gender ideal.

To be unnecessarily clear, there's a lot in the Text of them that's not actually healthy or good, obviously. But their genuine affection for one another, mixed with how each one's mind games seem to affect the other, had a lot going for it. Mike White has been pretty clear in interviews that his intent was to subvert the good couple/bad couple paradigm, by rendering Ethan and Harper as a specific cultural ideal of what a healthy couple looks like and Cam and Daphne as that same culture's ideal of what unhealthiness is, but—by his estimation—Cam and Daphne have a relationship model that's flawed but ultimately works for them.

I think the context behind the social circle I've been watching this group of friends with is that we are all, culturally speaking, far more Ethan-and-Harper than Cam-and-Daphne, and we are also mostly past the point of being burnt out by said culture. Not in the reactionary Red Scare kind of way, but enough that joking-but-meaning-it fixation on Cam/Daphne as our OTP was cathartic and fun. (Minus the adultery and non-consent, obvs.)
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 6:54 PM on December 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

Or - assuming that White's statement about rehiring Jennifer Coolidge for season 3 wasn't a complete mislead - possibly her appearance in a prequel?

it's not too late for The White Lotus to decide that ghosts are real

c'mon, mike, don't let us down
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 6:55 PM on December 12, 2022 [4 favorites]

Daphne seems ... not super excited about their overall arrangement and it seems like a lot of work!
Does she initiate her affairs on her own, or is it all in reaction/revenge to Cameron's?

Does she ultimately wind up resentful like Dominic's mother?
posted by armacy at 7:22 PM on December 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

Maybe, or she ends up accepting it like Rachel's mother from season 1, the happy trophy wife.

Cameron-Daphne definitely seem comparable to Shane-Rachel, just much further along the relationship.
posted by Apocryphon at 7:57 PM on December 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

Personally I'm glad to see the back of Tania. She's made my skin crawl ever since we first met her at the beginning of Season 1. It's a great performance by Jennifer Coolidge, but I really don't share you guys' affection for the character. It was everyone else in the show who made it worth watching for me.

The POV during Tanya's killing spree was inspired, all blubbering and seemingly spray-and-pray. Then the opposite angle shows shot placement worthy of John Wick.

In that scene, every third shot or so, she lowers her aim to shoot someone already on the floor. That's not "I just need to get out of here": that's someone finishing off a guy she's already incapacitated.

So Albie makes his mom's love something that Dom needs to pay for.

Not quite. He says in that scene that he's already spoken to his mother on Dom's behalf - and that's before he knew whether Dom would cough up the 50,000 Euros or not.

The bulk of Portia's reactions to things—first Albie, and then Jack—come from a vantage point where the worst thing that'll ever happen to her is she calls her friend and cries a bunch.

True, but it's worth remembering that she's not a member of the same "no-consequences" club the series' rich folk are. Fleeing Sicily immediately after her employer's unexplained death is going to prompt some awkward questions from both US and Italian police, I'd have thought- particularly as Tania's belongings and DNA are going to be found on board a boat where three or four men were shot dead. Tania was a rich white woman, after all, and that's not the kind of death that can be ignored or swiftly swept under the carpet. In the world of the show, there'd be half a dozen podcasts investigating at at the very least.

I'm not saying Portia would go to jail or anything, but I don't think she'd be able to walk away from it all quite as easily as she thinks either. Jack, on the other hand, will have the nous to make himself very hard to find after all that's happened - not just hard to find by the police but also by Greg and his (possibly mobbed-up) friends. If I were them, I'd be at least a little worried about what either Portia or Jack might be able to tell the cops.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:34 AM on December 13, 2022 [5 favorites]

Great season. Have been digesting the ending since Monday morning. RIP Tonya. Hopefully, they pin the blame where it all belongs on Greg.
RE: Daphne & Ethan. Embarrassed to say that it did not occur to me one bit that they fooled around when they went sightseeing until my partner brought it up. Then, it occurred to me that maybe Daphne did it to not only get back at Cam, but at Harper as well.
I don't normally watch many things more than once, but White Lotus might make the list of things I do.
posted by oldnumberseven at 4:25 AM on December 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

I loved the show but I felt quite depressed by it in the end. I felt downcast by the underlying theme of this series being the ultimately transactional quality of human relationships. I really dislike the idea of Greg getting away with all of Tanya's wealth, although Tanya was not my favourite character; she was only looking for someone who would value her for her, and where'd she end up? Dead in the water. Poor thing. I really disliked her in season 1, so I'm not saying she was a saint or anything, but I did feel like she was a bit of a tragic figure. I felt like Albie and Ethan and Portia were like her, similarly lost, but they didn't get burned to the same degree. I definitely felt like they left Sicily as tarnished versions of themselves.

Yeah I didn't feel that Cameron and Daphne were couple goals either. Daphne's obvious hurt (beautifully acted!) when Ethan told her that he suspected Cameron and Harper had been sleeping together made it clear that she makes the best of a bad situation.

I had to think about Lucia and Mia for a while. I was like, why is it okay for them to end up happy when Mia almost killed someone and Lucia misrepresented her feelings for Albie and they are both deeply transactional in every single relationship they conduct except with each other? Is it just because they're charismatic and beautiful* that it feels okay? But after reflecting on it, I felt like, to a degree, they were more honest than anyone else in the show. I say to a degree with Lucia does screw Albie over, but I feel like she does it pretty kindly, and the show is at pains to point out that Albie's family wealth is such that $50k is a drop in the ocean for them. But yeah so I felt like their happy ending as joint queens of Sicily felt earned, to me.

*I am OBSESSED with their styling - their outfits and make-up are *chef's kiss*
posted by unicorn chaser at 5:25 AM on December 13, 2022 [5 favorites]

The most Tanya moment is when she asks the yacht captain if he speaks English, and then when he says no, she gives him the show’s only full info dump - IN ENGLISH - about the entire Greg and Quentin murder conspiracy. Darkly hilarious.
posted by caviar2d2 at 8:46 AM on December 13, 2022 [15 favorites]

I thought it was the moment when she questioned the dying Quentin about Greg's infidelity. "Yeah, yeah, you're bleeding out, but this is all about me."
posted by Paul Slade at 9:07 AM on December 13, 2022 [8 favorites]

I really, really doubt that Greg is going to get away with it. Mike White has teased bringing Jennifer Coolidge back, and beyond that, hasn't he also said that Tanya's story thread is continuing in the next season somehow? I might be misinterpreting the fan chatter.

Anyway, I highly doubt that this is the last we'll hear of Greg. Even if he does, it's highly unsatisfying for it to just happen offscreen. This is something they are definitely going to revisit, guys.

Is it just because they're charismatic and beautiful* that it feels okay?

They're clearly of a much lower and unprivileged socioeconomic class compared to all of these wealthy imperialist tourists. They are local indigenous laborers, they just don't happen to be official staff of the White Lotus (well, until the end).
posted by Apocryphon at 11:51 AM on December 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

thought it was the moment when she questioned the dying Quentin about Greg's infidelity. "Yeah, yeah, you're bleeding out, but this is all about me."

While also ignoring that while we’re unclear on whether Greg had an affair, she definitely had.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 11:52 AM on December 13, 2022 [3 favorites]

The most unbelievable thing to me was Portia had Tanya's number memorized. Also that Jack would leave his phone. But what am I complaining? I loved it!
posted by Catblack at 3:17 PM on December 13, 2022 [11 favorites]

O Sole Mio:
Che bella cosa na jurnata 'e sole,
n'aria serena doppo na tempesta!
Pe' ll'aria fresca pare già na festa...
Che bella cosa na jurnata 'e sole.

What a beautiful thing is a sunny day!
The air is serene after a storm,
The air is so fresh that it already feels like a celebration.
What a beautiful thing is a sunny day!

I love that a knowledge of Italian language and culture - but strictly what as understood by a casual - probably American - tourist - is woven into this series. Episode 1 is "Caio" and this one is thus, of course, "Arrivedeci". Mia serenades the guests with Dean Martin's "That's Amore" and - here "O Sole Mio". And Tanya's demise is accompanied by - what else? - "O mio babbino caro" with its lyrics all about throwing yourself into the Arno because of loving somebody in vain. Its interesting to see this tourist level Italian juxtaposed with with actual Sicilian characters (and music popular with Italians such as Fabrizio de André's Preghiera in gennaio) and I think the show conveys how real knowledge of a language builds a wall of understanding that few English speaking tourists get to cross.

Not to overlook the English songs either - Same Cook's "The Best Things in Life are Free" - covered by Mia and sung over the closing credits, sums up the recurring themes of taking time to appreciate love, beauty and joy while you have them:
The moon belongs to everyone
The best things in life they're free
Stars belong to everyone
They cling there for you and for me
posted by rongorongo at 1:42 AM on December 14, 2022 [4 favorites]

Compilation of Tanya's clues to her fate.
So - in my understanding: "Shark eyed" Greg signs a pre-nup with Tanya that leaves him nothing if the couple should divorce but everything if she should pre-decease him (a pretty standard contract, I suspect). Then he arranges for the two of them to go to Sicily where his ex, Quentin and his friends will give her a good send-off before murdering her and having her body wash up on a beach - allowing all parties to share the ample proceeds. (There is some indication that Quentin has done this before with other wealthy ladies). Greg did not expect Portia to be present however - and hence some additional arrangements, involving Jack, prove necessary. Matteo alone has some remorse and won't come on the final boat trip. Tanya - and her hired fortune teller, accurately foretell everything but neither we, the audience, or Tanya herself probably does not take even herself seriously enough to give her premonitions much credence.
posted by rongorongo at 3:03 AM on December 14, 2022 [3 favorites]

I didn't quite buy that Harper and Ethan were so happy at the end but I was intrigued. I thought Harper's body language suggested she thought she might be pregnant-- either actually, like people sometimes say they can tell about five minutes in, or in a fantasy way. Taking Daphne's advice, and getting what she wanted out of the deal? Or maybe a real rapprochement with Ethan.
posted by BibiRose at 3:58 AM on December 14, 2022

Greg will get away with it. He's rich, everything happened when he was thousands of miles away in a different country, and almost everyone involved is dead. If Tanya's story continues next season it will be because Greg goes to another White Lotus.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:33 AM on December 14, 2022

Killers with flair? It’s an amusingly complicated plot.
posted by amanda at 9:24 AM on December 14, 2022

BrainPilot’s Episode 7 Explained covers a few details and theories not yet mentioned here. (Nothing about the symbolic significance of Daphne’s new freckles though - maybe that’s just me?)
posted by rongorongo at 11:32 AM on December 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

The BrainPilot episode reminded me of how much I enjoyed Portia's acting as Jack gets more and more spun out and annoying. I wish I couldn't recall more than one instance in my younger years when a dude I was with seemed to be getting more and more "deranged." The complicated and gut twisting opposing emotions of politeness, cool girl aspirations, dawning fear, and the racing mind are familiar to me. The house party out in the boondocks where your ride has disappeared and his "friends" are now high on coke and doing crazy shit. The married guy who gives you a ride home but stops on the side of the road somewhere between work and home and it's dark and rainy and he "just wants to talk for a minute." Ugh. Her acting was so spot on, I was riveted.
posted by amanda at 5:47 PM on December 14, 2022 [20 favorites]

My take is that Jack was absolutely instructed to kill Portia on the last day: she would otherwise have been the only one who could make a link from Tanya's washed up body to the yacht she too had travelled on and hence to Quentin and co. Maybe Jack relented from doing so in the scene where she confronted him in the car. At that stage, Alex knew her death would have gone from being a surprise attack to a risky struggle.

At the end of the show the police have Tanya's corpse, as well as the yacht with the other bodies there - so there is a clear link thus far. The forensics (and any yacht survivors questioned) will reveal Tanya as the shooter - and it is thus easy to deduce she had been abducted with intent to murder; an attempt she foiled. Any autopsy - or witness interview will reveal the blow to Tanya's head and it will therefore be easy to rule her final cause of death as misadventure.

Therefore, I think that Greg is going to get inherit Tanya's half billion just as he wanted. There is an old picture of him by Quentin's bed which could implicate him - but I'm not sure the police would make the connection - or choose to pursue it too much, given Quentin's connections. Greg was out of Italy at the time so can play the distraught partner without anybody questioning his sincerity.

... Except for Portia. From her phone conversation she alone knows Tanya's theory about Greg organising the whole thing and about his connections with Quentin (Alex, also knows that Portia knows something - but Greg's identity is not something she quizzed him about).

So Greg is a recurrent character from Season 1, we know he has had several wives and at this stage we can make a good guess about what happened to them. Only Portia knows this secret - but does she care enough to do anything about it? These are the characters I'd especially like to see in Season 3, for this reason.
posted by rongorongo at 10:14 PM on December 14, 2022 [3 favorites]

That jump-scare when Portia is walking and Jack lunges out of nowhere (before they head off for sightseeing in the pre-finale episode) terrified me.
posted by armacy at 6:47 AM on December 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

I loved Jack in that scene in the car with Portia! I thought he was doing a great version of that thing con artists do when they are confronted and do a sort of extinction burst and go on the offensive. But I think you may be right that he did Portia a very big favor here.
posted by BibiRose at 7:50 AM on December 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

Some Random Thoughts on The Plot Against Tanya:
  • As a simple murder plot, it's definitely too convoluted
  • Why would Tanya's lawyers put a morality/fidelity clause in the prenup that applied to her behavior? (Is there any in show evidence for such a clause?)
  • If there was such a clause, maybe it pays Greg less than if she dies, but they get that done so they have a payday even if the murder part doesn't work out
  • Maybe murder wasn't even part of the plan (the infidelity providing more than enough of payoff) and Quentin was just getting snappy because he was so ready to just be done with her
  • Though if murder wasn't on the menu, why would It be necessary for Jack to babysit (or kill) Portia at that point?
  • Maybe it was just about murder the whole time and Quentin couldn't bear to murder someone without giving them a good time first
  • It's obvious why they wouldn't want to kill her on the boat, but as depicted Palermo seems like a great place for a body to disappear; or why not just throw her off the boat?
  • Why hire an assassin and a gigolo when you can get a twofer? Good job, Quentin

posted by thedward at 2:45 PM on December 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

thedward: I think that, in the end, the speculation about the fidelity clause in the pre-nup was triggered by the apparent attempt to frame Tanya with Niccoló in the previous episode. But, in the finale ,we see Niccoló is being introduced to her, not for blackmail purposes, but so that he can plausibly take her off the yacht on a date. Tanya's conversation with Portia reveals the two elements of the pre-nup she was concerned about were:
1) What would happen should the couple divorce (Tanya retains pretty much everything).
2) What would happen if she pre-decease Greg (Greg gets pretty much everything).
- So their pre-nup is actually pretty standard and the plot with Greg and Quentin is simply to target the second part: they are going to, murder Tanya and then have her body be discovered in some way that signals death by misadventure. To achieve that they need to befriend her, get her away from the hotel, separate off Portia (who also needs to be killed since she would otherwise be a witness), then set her up with Niccoló as a lover, to prepare for the final act.

There is every indication that Quentin and encourage have done this exact thing before and that the wealth thus obtained is the source of the well maintained Palazzo and the yacht. Likewise, this may not be Greg's first victim fed to Quentin: we know he been married a few times before.

But the unexpected (to Greg) arrival of Portia on the scene makes everything much more complex and risky: Portia needs to be eliminated as a witness - but there also needs to be some kind of explanation as to why both she and Tanya should have gone missing at the same time. My money would be on them framing it as a car or boat accident with both of them as passengers.
posted by rongorongo at 12:05 AM on December 16, 2022 [3 favorites]

I don't get why Portia would need to be killed—there are dozens of other witnesses (from both the White Lotus and the palazzo party) who saw Tanya being wined and dined by Quentin and crew. In the end, the only reason she needed to be offed was because she'd started to grow suspicious.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:12 PM on December 16, 2022

Cameron's arc was fascinating to me. I mean in a big way he has no arc at all, but the take away from the season for him is that he knows exactly what his life is, exactly how lucky he is, and he enjoys it as much as he can. That's why he's able to toast with Ethan hours after they almost drowned each other. Because why should he be upset about...anything really? I appreciate portrayals of white male privilege where the character actually grasps their privilege. Honestly one of the biggest generators of violence and suffering in the world right now is white dudes thinking they are victims. Cameron grasps that he's the least victimized person on the planet. If a dude isn't going to be an active anti-racist ally, (and let's face it, very few of even the most enlightened guys clear that bar), then being like Cameron is basically the least harmful thing he can be.

I think Albie was able to move on so easily from Lucia scamming him because he was able to separate getting his dad to pay his "karmic debt" from actually helping her. They were overlapping but separate transactions in his mind.
posted by dry white toast at 10:53 AM on December 17, 2022 [3 favorites]

It sounds like Cameron does a lot of insider trading, and would gladly have roped Ethan into it too. Which, shame on Ethan if he had gone for it, but he was never going to and neither was Harper. I'm glad they just suggested that issue rather than going deeply into it-- it would be a big derail for a show like this-- but I have a feeling that Cameron is doing a lot of damage in a lot of areas. Whatever you may think of the stock market, it is clear the Cameron just dngaf about any of the ripple effects of what he does.
posted by BibiRose at 6:46 AM on December 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Hmm, I... watched this. I was really impressed with the cast; overall I find this show to be pretty poorly written (with occasional flashes of inspiration) and not half as smart as it thinks it is, but the actors truly worked it. For me, the season would have been stronger as 3 or 4 episodes, trimming the glacial pacing and embracing the fun, dumb plot-driven vacation flick lying under the surface that it aimed desperately to subvert but wasn't, imo, substantial enough to succeed at.
posted by dusty potato at 6:19 PM on January 6, 2023 [2 favorites]

Killing Portia would have been too suspicious, with her boss turning up dead elsewhere about the same time. All Jack had to do was keep her away. Jack was a douche. Sloppy and undisciplined. It's possible he might have been instructed to off her, especially once she had contact with Tania. But that might have been a bridge Jack wasn't ready to cross.

That being said, it's still unclear if the plan was to murder Tania. Sure, the guy to presumably do the job had a gun. He also inexplicably had rope and duct tape. It's safe to presume some nefarious shenanigans were afoot. Though there are other possibilities. The easiest would have been to throw her off the boat and let her drowned corpse wash up the next day. A corpse with a bullet hole or bound/taped up would have raised too many red flags. Possibly there was a ransom scam planned rather than murder?

I like to think Tania's dad was an old Marine who took his daughter to the range every weekend where she learned how to handle a pistol and make every bullet find its target. In any event, I'm happy she didn't go down without a fight.

For a bit, I was worried Mia was going to be one of the corpses that turned up. After drugging the piano player and taking his job, he would certainly have motivation to get his sketchy cousin to fix her for good. It's one thing to grift the rich tourists, another to work schemes on fellow locals. The happy grifters lead a pretty perilous life, despite the carefree ending for now.

I liked Valentina's arc, though she had a strange job, for someone so bad at reading people.

Ethan was so uncomfortable in his own skin. Everything about those two couples was just ick.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:38 PM on January 7, 2023 [1 favorite]

This season reminded me a little of Fantasy Island. Not because it's on an island and they wave at and welcome the guests, but because in this season a few characters directly wish for something, then they got it with varying amounts of cursèdness. Tanya got to be in a dramatic exciting movie-type plot. Portia got adventure. Mia got to be a singer. I suppose Greg got what he wanted too.

Meghann Fahy did great work with Daphne who was kind of low-key fascinating. It was interesting to wonder if she really had been "normal" ever, or was she just in her element with psychopath guys in the first place. I lean towards that she's always been a shark because she seemed to be flourishing, and she'd won the cheating war forever by cuckolding Cameron in the literal full sense.

I feel like Harper and Ethan were not interesting or deep enough; they didn't really hold up their end of the dynamic. They fizzled out into cheater drama. By the 2/3rds point I didn't even care if they were involved in the promised dead body/death thing. They just turned into a big whatever. A squandering of Aubrey Plaza.

I feel like there's not even really anything to say about the Di Grasso x Lucia storyline. They didn't really do anything with grandpa being accident prone, just a red herring that he might die I guess. I'm just glad they didn't develop his farting. Mia's character is kind of interesting because she is opportunistic and direct, and she manages to be sincere.

Portia was also really interesting. Some strange outfit choices though lol. I was surprised she didn't take a taxi when Jack fell asleep. I understand being passive though. The thing is, she did not learn how to not be passive. She just learned that adventure is not for her after all. She was a mouse who got toyed with by some cats and lived to tell the tale.

I thought Coolidge did a better job as Tanya this season. I loved the pathetic little sobs that she'd throw in. I felt that in my heart, a child's pain of having to do something they just don't want to do and wishing someone would make it better. And it was great when she did them even as she's gunning down all her would-be killers.

My SO called it immediately that Quentin was in cahoots with Greg. I thought they were just doing it for proof of infidelity, and I continued to think that up until the rope and duct tape came out of the bag. It's a little weird how they wined and dined Tanya so much, but I suppose it makes sense. "Why would they do all that then just kill her?" is a question for the cops.

The idea that Greg has done this before and was going after it in S1 is pretty fun.

I laughed really hard when Tanya remembered Didier, but called Hugo "what's his face".

All in all I liked this season a fair bit, but I think the middle part belabored some points and didn't develop things very much. It felt like it could have been an hour or two, or three, shorter.

Also, compared to last season, the jewelry game was not up to par. However, the sunglasses game stepped up.
posted by fleacircus at 1:21 PM on February 11, 2023 [2 favorites]

my god those four needed to have a foursome. i mean c'mon.
posted by entropone at 1:46 PM on March 31, 2023 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend Mickey Angelov's video essay "The White Lotus and the power of perspective". He talks about how the show uses shifts in perspective from one character to another - particularly as we get towards the end of the series - as a way to create mystery: we've been following Harper for a number of episodes - but now suddenly switch to Ethan - for example.
posted by rongorongo at 5:07 AM on May 10, 2023 [1 favorite]

Also want to give a nod to the actor that played Essex "nephew" Jack.

Right? He did a pretty good job at being weirdly menacing, cute and romantic, haunted and drunk, all the things. When I looked him up on IMDB I was surprised he hadn't been in more stuff.

I don't have strong feelings about whether we'll see Coolidge in S3 I'm just hoping we're done with the underwater camera.
posted by jessamyn at 8:28 PM on July 13, 2023

Well I watched this late but my impression was that plan A was to encourage Tanya to just kill herself from overindulgence at the party. I mean, that seemed like quite a lot of drugs, mixed with alcohol and whatever prescription drugs she was already taking. Plenty of witnesses to say she was partying hard so no real investigation to discover ties back to Greg. “Oops she must have fell off the boat while we were sleeping” seems like more of a plan B.
posted by mikepop at 7:29 PM on July 26, 2023

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