(Warning: This piece contains many spoilers about Sunday’s season finale of “The White Lotus.”)
Some were addressed definitively Sunday night, some not so much. But the biggest question about the show’s future — Will there be another installment? — was already answered last month, when HBO announced its renewal.
With that in mind, here’s a rundown of the questions answered in Sunday’s finale, the mysteries left lingering from the Sicilian escapade and what we already know about Season 3:
Who died in the Season 2 finale?
Several people, it turned out, after scatterbrained socialite Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) finally picked up on a plan hatched by her husband, Greg (Jon Gries), and his co-conspirator Quentin (Tom Hollander) to kill her on a boat in the Ionian Sea and divvy up her billions. Sensing the danger aboard Quentin’s yacht, as she wined and dined with his band of accomplices off the coast of Taormina, Tanya grabbed a bag meant to bring about her demise — filled with rope, duct tape and a pistol — and shot Quentin, Didier (Bruno Gouery) and Niccoló (Stefano Gianino) in a teary-eyed rampage.
But the body we see in the season’s opening scene — a flash-forward in which White Lotus guest Daphne (Meghann Fahy) bumps into a corpse while wading into the ocean — is none other than Tanya. Having seemingly escaped the assassination attempt, she gets spooked by the yacht’s fleeing captain, then slips while trying to jump to a smaller boat below, knocking her head on the railing and drowning under the Sicilian moonlight.
Speaking on HBO’s post-episode recap, White explained the decision to bring back Coolidge — who won an Emmy for the show’s Maui-set first season — and kill off her character.
“I love her as a character, and obviously I love Jennifer,” said White, who wrote and directed all seven episodes. “But I just felt like, you know, we’re going to Italy, she’s such a diva, larger-than-life female archetype — it just felt like we could devise our own operatic conclusion to Tanya’s life and her story.”
When it came to the manner of her demise, he added: “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 she would take out all of these cabal of killers, and that after she successfully does that, then she just dies this derpy death. It just felt like, ‘That’s so Tanya.’”
Will Greg get away with his plan?
Greg didn’t appear in the finale after leaving Sicily for a purported work obligation earlier this season, but he would seem to be the big winner of the episode’s events, considering he’s in line to inherit Tanya’s fortune and no longer has to split it with the deceased Quentin.
But Tanya’s assistant, Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), did make it out alive, after being dropped off near the airport by Quentin’s so-called nephew, Jack (Leo Woodall) — who may or may not have been assigned to whack her before getting cold feet. Even if Portia is rattled enough to stay quiet, Italian police quickly came across the blood-soaked yacht, and White hinted that the fallout of that investigation could find its way into a future season.
“It’s possible that, I think, Portia is just scared enough to leave it alone,” White said. “But the fact that all of those guys die on the boat feels like there’s got to be somebody who’s going to track it back down to Greg. But maybe you’ll have to wait to find out what happens.”
Did Cameron and Harper hook up?
The finale leaves this matter intentionally hazy. Finally giving in to her husband’s suspicions, Harper (Aubrey Plaza) admits to Ethan (Will Sharpe) that she kissed his college roommate Cameron (Theo James) after doing shots at the hotel bar and rendezvousing to their rooms. Yet Ethan remains unconvinced, accusing his wife of telling a half-truth and speculating they did more than just kiss.
“I think probably that’s just all that happened,” White said. “At the same time, there’s some time that isn’t completely accounted for, and I think that’s why it’s eating at Ethan.”
Did Daphne and Ethan hook up?
Unclear, but probably. In his anger, Ethan finds Cameron’s wife, Daphne, sunbathing on the beach and tells her about their respective spouses’ indiscretions together. After a devastating moment of introspection from Daphne, in which she processes the betrayal in real time and promptly calculates her retribution, she leads Ethan to the isolated island of Isola Bella before the scene cuts away.
When Harper confronts Ethan about their future together later that night, her husband surprisingly caresses her face and kisses her, leading the couple to rip off their clothes and get intimate for the first time all trip.
“Did they have some kind of dalliance on the island?” White said of Ethan and Daphne. “Whatever happened, it allows him to let go of the jealousy that’s kind of been brewing in him and it kind of brings back that first sexual charge that happens in the beginning of a relationship that sometimes fades away over time.”
Is Cameron the father of Daphne’s kids?
This question goes unaddressed, though the finale hints at an answer. In Episode 5, Daphne all but admits to Harper that she had an affair with her trainer back home. After dwelling on his “blond hair and big blue eyes,” she shares a photo of her two kids in which her older child sports, you guessed it, blond hair and blue eyes that very much do not resemble her husband’s darker features.
Although Cameron and Daphne seem to be on solid ground when the finale ends, we do get a brief scene in which Daphne calls for her husband to talk to his kids and Cameron seems none too enthused — implying, perhaps, that he knows they aren’t actually his children.
“Some of the unspoken things between them, you wonder if that’s going to ultimately catch up with them,” White said. “It is somewhat of a happy ending, although there’s dark clouds on the horizon, too.”
Does Valentina get a happy ending?
More or less. Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore), the temperamental White Lotus manager clumsily exploring her sexuality in middle age, wakes up in bed with sex worker and aspiring musician Mia (Beatrice Grannò) early in the episode. Although Mia gently resists her advances, she promises to help Valentina find a “real lesbian for a lover” before suggesting that they spend one more night together.
Was Lucia running a scam on the Di Grassos?
Yep! After beginning the show as an escort hired by sex-addicted Hollywood producer Dominic Di Grasso (Michael Imperioli), Lucia (Simona Tabasco) successfully wins the heart of his naive son, Albie (Adam DiMarco), convinces him that she’s endangered by a controlling pimp and cons him into asking his father to give her 50,000 euros.
Although Dominic sees the scheme for what it is — even calling his son “a mark” — he wires the money anyway as a “karmic payment” for his own infidelity. Albie eventually realizes he got played, as Lucia silently slips away from his room in the morning, but he still thanks his father and puts in a good word to Abby, his mother and Dominic’s estranged wife. But when we last see the sexually frustrated De Grasso clan — Dominic, Albie and grandfather Bert (F. Murray Abraham) — all three men still gawk at the young woman who strides past them at the airport.
“My hope is that Dominic does change,” White said. “But there is a little bit in the texture of it that their relationship with women is going to always be fraught with this sexual desire.”
Lucia, meanwhile, triumphantly strolls through the streets of Taormina with Mia at episode’s end and shares a hug with the man who had been posing as her pimp — confirming there was never a threat at all.
What do we know about Season 3?
After placing Season 1 in Hawaii and Season 2 in Italy, White suggested he’s planning an Asia-set third season in an October interview with Deadline.
“[Coolidge] is my friend and everybody loved her in the first season, and I was like, ‘I can’t go to Italy without Jennifer,’” White said. “And maybe that’s still the case. Like, maybe you can’t go to Japan without Jennifer, either. There are so many fun actors we’ve worked with so far, so it’s just kind of, like, who’s available.”
Although the promise of Coolidge’s continued involvement may have been a misdirection — or a hint at a prequel story — White doubled down on the idea of taking “The White Lotus” to Asia in HBO’s post-finale breakdown and indicated a third season will be focused on mortality.
“The first season kind of highlighted money, and then the second season is sex,” White said. “I think the third season, it would be maybe a kind of satirical and funny look at death and eastern religion and spirituality. It feels like it could be a rich tapestry to do another round at White Lotus.”