Creator Mike White Unpacks Season 2 Finale Deaths, Ties Loose Ends & Teases Season 3 – Deadline

SPOILER ALERT: The story includes details about the Season 2 finale of HBO’s The White Lotus.

The slow burn second season of HBO’s The White Lotus continue to simmer until the finale’s last minutes that resolved the show’s signature whodunit mystery.

At the end of the episode, creator, writer and director Mike White revealed more details about the shocking finale, calling it an “operatic conclusion” for Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya, as well as a “happy ending with dark clouds on the horizon” for the two couples – Ethan and Harper and Daphne and Cameron.

The show upped the ante from the first installment with not one but four dead bodies but to be fair, only one was a main character, Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya, and her fate had been foreshadowed by the tragic Madama Butterfly opera she watched midway through the season.

“When I stay at a White Lotus, I always have a memorable time, always,” Tanya said ominously in the Season 2 premiere as series creator Mike White brought back Season 1’s breakout character for a second go-around which became Tanya’s final act.

The vacation didn’t start well for her when her husband Greg left and she discovered that he may be cheating on her. Things got from bad to worse when she got involved with some shady characters, led by Quentin (Tom Hollander), and spent much of her time in his villa in Palermo.

The penultimate episode started piecing together the con Tanya was at the center of with the revelation that Quentin’s mysterious long-lost cowboy love is likely Greg when Tanya saw an old photo of them in the villa. Quentin tried to throw her off in the finale by claiming the name of the guy was Steve but the signs were already there.

Portia’s suspicious about Jack, who had been intentionally keeping her away from Tanya, grows after she does not find him on Instagram and her phone mysteriously goes missing in the morning. By the time she uses Jack’s phone to call Tanya, she is on the yacht headed back to the hotel.

“I have a weird feeling something bad is going to happen,” Portia tells her, and the two piece the mystery together. Portia shares that drunk Jack admitted that Quentin had no money but was expecting a windfall. Tanya realizes that her prenup would leave all her money to Greg if she dies while a divorce would leave him with nothing. Oh, it also was his idea for the two of them to come to Sicily.

Panicked, Tanya fumbles with her phone and drops it in the ocean. As the yacht is anchored and her paramour, Niccolò, who has mafia ties, arrives to take her to shore, she knows pretty well what awaits her. After stalling for awhile, she asks to go to the restroom and grabs Niccolò’s duffle bag, locking herself in a bedroom. Her fears are justified as she finds a rope, duck tape and a gun inside. She takes the gun and, when the door opens, she just starts shooting randomly. She still manages to kill Niccolò, Quentin and Didier but then, while trying to get from the yacht to the dingy, she somehow decides that it would best if she jumps in over the railing of the yacht in her dress and high heels. She doesn’t make it, instead hitting a metal bar and falling into the sea.

“In the end of last season, Tanya is sitting with Greg in the last episode and he’s talking about his health issues and she says, “I’ve had every kind of treatment over the years, death is the last immersive experience I haven’t tried” and I was thinking, it’d be so fun to bring Tanya back because she’s such a great character, but maybe that’s the journey for her, the journey to death. Not that I really wanted to kill Tanya because I love her as a character and obviously love Jennifer but we’re going to Italy, she’s such a diva, a larger than life female archetype, it felt maybe we could devise our own operatic conclusion to her life and story,” said White.

“I just think her dying at the hands of someone else felt too tragic. It felt like she needed to give her best fight back and that she, in a way had some kind of victory over whoever was conspiring to get rid of her. so it just made me laugh to think like she would like take out all of these cabal of killers and that after she successfully does that and she just dies this death and that’s so Tanya,” he added

While Tanya appeared on course for a tragic end, the finale did try to throw fans off by having Ethan and Cameron fight in the water, around the spot where Daphne would later find the floating body.

Ethan stormed out to find Cameron after Harper admitted to him that she and Cameron kissed when they went back to their rooms. Cameron is taking a swim, and the two wrestle in the water with each coming close to growing but eventually beachgoers break up the fight.

In the end, Ethan and Harper rediscover their passion, Cameron finally pays Lucia, and Ethan and Daphne may or may not have had a thing when they walked into a secluded area together.

“The question of whether Harper and Cameron did more than the kiss, I think probably that’s just all that happened. At the same time, there’s some time that isn’t really accounted for and I think that’s why it’s like eating at Ethan,” White said. “Did Ethan and Daphe have some kind of a dalliance on the island or whatever happened? That allows him to let go of the jealousy that has been brewing with him. It kind of brings back that first kind of sexual charge that happens in the beginning of relationships and sometimes fades away over time.”

“By the end you’re like, well, maybe what Ethan and Harper needed just a small dash of what Cameron and Daphne have. It feels like Cameron to me is like one of those guys that’s not really going to change. Some of the unspoken things between them, you wonder if that’s going to ultimately catch up with them. It is somewhat of a happy ending although there’s dark clouds on the horizon too,” White added.

A resolution everyone saw from a mile away, Albie got played. He asks his father for 50K euros in “Karmic payment” to help Lucia whom he had seen getting “abducted” by her supposedly violent pimp in exchange of him putting in a good word to his mom for him.

His father is blunt, telling him he won’t get far in life if he is such an easy mark. He still wires the money to Lucia, and she does leave Albie just like his father said she would.

Lucia and Mia emerged as the biggest winners of Season 2. Lucia got the money she was after, while Mia, through sexual favors, got manager Valentina to make her temporary and then permanent piano player at the resort, firing Giuseppe when he returned after Mia had drugged him to a point he passed out.

“The end of the show, you see the three generation of men and there’s this attractive woman who crosses they all sort of gawk at her and my hope is that Dominic does change so there is a little bit in the texture of it that their relationship with women is going to always be fraught with the sexual desire,” White said.

White also addressed what might happen in season three of the show, which was renewed last month.

“The first season we highlighted money and then the second season is sex and I think the third season, it would be maybe a kind of satirical and funny look at death in Eastern religion and spirituality, it feels like it could be a rich tapestry to do another round at White Lotus,” he said.

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