White Lotus season 2 tackles a totally different topic.

It starts with a corpse. Daphne (Meghann Fahy), one of the well-heeled vacationers who bask in Sicilian luxury in the second season of The White Lotus, has just taken one last dip in the Ionian Sea before she and husband Cameron (Theo James), her brother financier, return to the United States after their week-long stay. She just gushed to two newcomers about the great time she had – the staff are so caring, the food is amazing and, my god, the wine. “Italy is so romantic, you’re going to die,” she tells them. “They’re going to have to drag you out of here.”

Moments later, Daphne bumps into a body in the shimmering blue water, who we’re told is just one of many resort guests who have just met a fatal end. (How much? The best an unhappy janitor can handle is “a few.”) big little lies, whose tactic he borrowed – the corpse assures us that not all of the show’s characters, many of whom seem incredibly isolated by wealth and privilege, will end the week the way they started it. Someone is going to get what happens to them. But on this season, the morbid flash-forward hardly seems necessary. From the moment White Lotus guests step off the speedboat and arrive at the quay in Taormina, there is death in the air.

It has nothing to do with the pandemic, which is never explicitly mentioned and barely comes back. The show comes closest to acknowledging the cataclysm of recent years is when Haley Lu Richardson’s Portia, the harassed assistant to Jennifer Coolidge’s daffy heiress Tanya – one of only two characters returning from the first season – comments that she has spent the past three years indoors, doomscrolling on her phone. But in the shadow of Mount Etna, whose impending presence White periodically reminds us of, a calm surface is no guarantee of safety. There is always something ready to burst or threaten to drag you down. The rooms of the Lotus Blanc are decorated with examples of Brown, “Heads of Moors”, ceramic vases inspired by the local legend of a woman unknowingly seduced by a married man who cut off her head in exchange for her deception. Ruined statues and cracked frescoes stare with time-worn eyes, remnants of an empire that once seemed so mighty it could never fall – and did.

Aside from Portia, who depending on how you look at it, is either the resort’s lowest guest or its most privileged employee, the one vacationer who seems bothered by all of this is Harper (Aubrey Plaza), a labor lawyer who suddenly found herself went into the 1% by selling her husband’s business. Ethan (Will Sharpe) does his best to get to grips with the good life, reconnecting with his college roommate Cameron, who has plenty of advice on how to spend his newly acquired fortune. But Harper can’t relax, can’t even fall asleep without Ambien, because of “everything going on in the world.” What exactly this “everything” means is difficult for her to say, perhaps because she is not used to being asked. Cameron and Daphne just stare at her for a moment, like animals reacting to an unfamiliar sound, and then they say, like what? “I don’t know,” mocks Harper, “just the end of the world.”

The world, of course, always ends, and it always has. It’s one of the sharpest moments in White’s writing, which slips between sharp caricatures and soft targets, to see that Harper’s anxieties are not ipso facto superior to Cameron’s and Daphne’s obliviousness. Of course, they’re isolated to an absurd extent – they not only don’t read the news, Harper fumes, “they don’t even read Lily.” But she also has her blind spots, so focused on the outside world that she can’t see herself at all. She despises the other couple’s overt displays of affection, which, I mean, come on, so are obviously for show. But if she notices how her own husband is withdrawing from her, how their agreed-upon goal of having a child has been blocked by the extinction of their sex life, she doesn’t seem to understand why this is happening, let alone what to do. on this subject.

The White Lotus isn’t a whodunit, because we don’t know who was made, but it evolves like a mystery, coaxing (sometimes forcing) us to understand its characters, then making us think we’ve all been wrong, and then it may also be wrong. We have the Di Grassos, three generations of American men who have come to explore their Sicilian roots, easily spotted at first: Bert (F. Murray Abraham) is an elderly horndog who makes up for being married for 53 years to the same woman recently died flirting with every woman unfortunate enough to cross her line of sight. Dominic (Michael Imperioli) is a Hollywood producer who did something bad enough to make his wife and daughter give up on the trip, and his son, Albie (Adam DiMarco) is a recent Stanford graduate so steeped in new sensibilities that he can barely speak. to a woman without asking permission first. But the grandfather shows subtle signs of cognitive decline as well as a blind understanding of his own past, and Albie’s delicate ideals collide with a vein of aggression both passive and otherwise – the family peacemaker has some. enough of his role.

As in the first season of The White Lotus, shit tends to go down. White is less interested this time in the high-low dynamic between guests and staff – only resort manager Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) appears as a significant character in five of the seven episodes sent to reviewers ahead of time. And aside from Harper’s joke that she and her husband are Cameron and Daphne’s new “various white passing friends,” he largely avoids race (which, given how the first season handled its native Hawaiian characters, is probably for the best). Even wealth plays a lesser role, since almost all the main characters are rich this time around, with the exception of Portia and two young Italian girls: Lucia (Simona Tabasco), a prostitute, and her friend Mia (Beatrice Grannò), whom Lucia learns how to make a quick buck sleeping with tourists while she works on her singing career. What really interests him is sex, what keeps relationships together and breaks them, which can lead us to heaven or sink us to earth (a pop song from the first few minutes evokes “sacred love and profane love”), a currency that makes sense even to the wealthy, and – not least – one of the most powerful ways to make us feel alive even in the midst of death.

Although the mock-baroque score would have us believe otherwise, there’s not enough screwing The White Lotus to call it a sexual prank (premium cable or not, HBO is too puritanical for that). But there’s a lot of talk about it, about the sex people had or shouldn’t have had, the things they did to get it, and the ruin it caused in their lives. Even Lucia, who starts out liberated and sexually outspoken, ends up hastily making the sign of the cross after an encounter, lest anyone forget that this season is set in a Catholic country. In the first episode, Tanya persuades her husband (Jon Gries) to have sex, only to physically throw him aside because she has a dissociative view of him with eyes as lifeless as a shark’s. (Their marriage is not, shall we say, at its best.) Surrounded by memento mori, they just want to forget.

During the first weeks of the pandemic, there was a brief resurgence of interest in the “The Masque of the Red Deathin which a group of wealthy revelers attempt to protect themselves from a plague but end up dying a horrific death. We don’t know how The White Lotus‘ the victims will die, but chances are it won’t be pretty, and no pleasure or privilege can save them from their spell.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *