There are spoilers in this review of The White Lotus.
The White Lotus Season 2 Episode 1
It’s challenging to identify one specific factor that makes The White Lotus such engrossing television. Some of the best actings of 2021 were showcased in the first season, which was originally intended to be a standalone miniseries. Jennifer Coolidge and Murray Bartlett won Emmys for their respective roles.
The opening title sequence is ripe for examination, and the series’ composer, Cristobal Tapia de Veer, did a fantastic job of transporting the spectator to this fictionalized image of Hawaii that is equal parts menacing and effervescent.
Last but not least, each episode’s satirical comedy is overt while also managing to be awkward and real. Characters engage in talks with each other that confound the audience and cause us to reflect on conversations we may have had in the past.
With themes and textures that are easily adaptable to a completely new cast of characters placed against the background of a setting thousands of miles removed from the first season, The White Lotus is a nearly ideal mix of anthology qualities. Similar to how the pilot episode, Arrivals, opened the season back in July 2021, the second season’s opening episode, Ciao, does the same.
There’s a scenario that, by chance, takes place one week later, when the visitors we’re about to get acquainted with are about to wrap up their trip to Sicily. When a woman discovers a drowned body laying on its back in the ocean off the edge of an Italian beach, she decides to take a swim in the breathtaking seas there.
She alerts the hotel employees after becoming alarmed by the situation, giving the spectator a close-up glimpse of the kind of resort this is. Similar to the personnel at the White Lotus hotel in Hawaii, they aren’t all that interested in taking care of the little things around here, and anyone who dares to stay there will die as a result.
The story then moves back seven days to the present, which is where the remaining seven episodes will take place (many thanks to HBO for treating us to an extra hour of this amazing series!). The visitors disembark from their arriving boats, eager to claim their hotel room keys and begin ogling the attractive locals’ chiseled bodies in Europe.
One of the two returning characters from the first season is Tanya McQuoid, played by Jennifer Coolidge. The other is Greg, who is now her husband (Jon Gries). Before, there was an unusual relationship between the two, where Greg seemed to like Tanya’s eccentricities.
With the beginning of a new season comes the passing of time and the marriage, and Greg no longer accepts Tanya’s flaky ways but instead chafes at many of them.
He complains about Tanya’s diet and inability to lose weight when he thinks she has consumed all of the complimentary macaroons in the hotel room. He also exhibits understandable disgust when Tanya leaves him when they are in the middle of making love while suffering from severe blue-balls.
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A greedy rich boomer who would ordinarily represent the Karen stereotype is somehow made sympathetic by Coolidge, who also makes us picture Karen as a misunderstood middle-aged lady searching for her calling.
Even if each new character has its own distinct and humorous personality qualities, I want to concentrate on a group that appears to be the second season’s standout performers.
Three generations of men seeking to reconnect with their Italian heritage include F. Murray Abraham (who just knocked his character in Cabinet of Curiosities out of the park), Michael Imperioli (oh my god it’s Christoph-a Moltisanti!!! ), and Adam DiMarco.
Bert, Dominic, and Albie Di Grasso appear to be well-intentioned tourists, but as certain layers of their lives are peeled back, we begin to suspect something might go wrong. Dominic has a shattered marriage, Bert is addicted to flirting with women who may be his great-granddaughters, and Albie is just trying to maintain his sanity despite the chaos in the family.
Ethan and Harper Spiller, played by Will Sharpe and Aubrey Plaza, as well as Cameron and Daphne Babcock, are two more brand-new characters (Theo James and Meghann Fahy).
The marital couples already seem like they would work well together, and Cameron changing into his swimming trunks in Harper’s direct line was a possible foreshadowing of future infidelity.
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What makes The White Lotus unique is how these individuals begin to interact and influence one another’s journeys. This was only occasionally done in the first season, which made it both satisfying when it did happen and upsetting when it wasn’t utilized more.
As the second episode airs the following week, I’ll keep an eye on this. But after this first episode, I’m delighted to say that showrunner Mike White and crew appear to have more than earned HBO’s second season renewal!