An arousal of morale is the theme of The White Lotus Season 2 premiere


HBO’s critically acclaimed The White Lotus explored privilege, power, and colonization in its first season. Now, the anthological series is placing the pressure on the roiling politics of sex, and we’re about to witness a sea change.

Showrunner and director Mike White has moved the fictional five-star White Lotus resort from Hawaii to Sicily, introducing us to an (almost) all-new menagerie of affluent patrons and their abettors. These include married couple Harper (Aubrey Plaza) and Ethan (Will Sharpe), who have been invited for a getaway by Ethan’s former college roommate, Cameron (Theo James), and his wife, Daphne (Meghann Fahy). Ethan and Harper are newly rich, with Ethan having recently sold his startup company, while their traveling companions have long been “atrophied” by their gargantuan wealth. Meanwhile, generational divides are apparent in the Di Grasso family, in which patriarch Bert (F. Murray Abraham), his Hollywood executive son Dominic (Michael Imperioli), and Dominic’s son Albie (Adam DiMarco) awkwardly navigate the elephant in the first-class suite that is Dom’s serial cheating on Albie’s mother. Lastly, the tender-hearted, harebrained heiress Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge) is a familiar face amongst the Sicilian arrivals. It’s Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) and Greg (Jon Gries), her newlywed beau, who’s along for this ride this time.

Like the previous season, Episode 1 (titled “Ciao”) sets the stage for a murder mystery to unfold. It opens with the delightfully fizzy Daphne, who strikes up a conversation with new arrivals to reminisce on her weeklong vacation. “Italy’s just so romantic,” she says. “You’re gonna die. They’re gonna have to drag you out of here.” On that optimistic note, Daphne leaves them to take one last dip in the glistening Ionian Sea. All is well until she feels something touch her underwater—then the floating body comes into focus. Apparently, there are multiple bodies to be retrieved from the sea, according to a hotel staffer’s report. But, the identities of the killed and the killer(s?) won’t be given to us so easily, and the show takes us back seven days prior, to our ensemble’s arrivals.

Greeting the guests is Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore), this season’s high-strung, perfectionist hotel manager, who routinely cracks the whip on her band of complacent hirelings. While the guests step off their ivory yachts, Lucia (Simona Tabasco), a sex worker hired by one of the guests, watches them with Mia (Beatrice Grannò).

As the new guests settle into their rooms, they’re also introduced to the seeming omnipresence of colorfully painted ceramic head statues, tastefully situated all around the resort. They’re based on testa di moro, a legend about a Sicilian girl who was seduced by a Moorish man. Upon discovering that her lover already had a wife and children, she cut off his head. “It’s a warning to husbands, babe,” Daphne jokes. “Screw around and you’ll end up buried in the garden.”

It’s clear that there is no chemistry between the co-vacationing couples. Harper is initially cold and standoffish, refusing even to pick up a champagne flute to collectively toast to their impending holiday together. But we can very quickly glean that she’s threatened by Daphne and Cameron—by their profuse PDA, their disregard for world affairs and voting, their shameless cocooning in their income bracket. She fears how her and Ethan’s newfound riches might transform them to behave similarly.

Suspicion of their companions only increase when Harper and Cameron venture into her suite alone so that Cameron, who lost his luggage en route to Sicily, may borrow a pair of Ethan’s swimming trunks. As Harper rummages through her bag of toiletries in the bathroom, Cameron undresses right behind her—his bare butt in full view and reflecting off the giant, obvious mirror Harper is standing right in front of. She’s baffled—and, now, indignant. (Meanwhile, Cameron is the evident frontrunner for this season’s resident entitled douchebag; though, unlike Shane from last season, he commands an altogether more cunning and calculated presence.)

The foursome aren’t the only ones facing marriage woes. Tanya arriving to the White Lotus with a crap ton of baggage (interpret that how you see fit) and Portia only enrages Greg, who demands that she send her assistant home from their romantic vacation immediately. Tanya obeys—kind of. More specifically, she tells her jaded attendant to “lay low and not come out of your room.” You know, in case Tanya ends up needing her emotional support later on in the trip.

This sends Portia into hysterics. She retreats to one of the sun-beds that border the resort’s pool, crying into her phone as she confides in a friend. “She’s a miserable mess,” she says. “If I had a half-billion dollars, I would not be miserable. I would be enjoying my life.”

During a poolside conversation, Portia meets Albie, who has escaped his grandfather’s bumbling and farting company. As they chat, Bert makes his way down the staircase leading to the pool and accidentally falls into the ground. Albie runs to his rescue, worrying that his 80-year-old grandfather could be suffering from a concussion, but the felled Bert is now only preoccupied by Portia’s presence. “Who’s the girl?” he asks his grandson.

It’s this hyper-masculine treatment of women that pits Di Grasso against Di Grasso against Di Grasso on their multi-generational trip. Both Albie and Dom view Bert as a senior pervert, with his unending attempts to flirt with any breathing woman within six inches of him. Though, Dom’s streak of infidelity doesn’t win him any points either. “No girl should have to be exposed to an old guy’s junk,” Albie tells them both over dinner. Bert retorts, “It’s not like it was ever so beautiful to look at anyway. I mean, it’s a penis, not a sunset.”

Lucia and Mia attempt entry into the hotel, but are swiftly confronted and escorted out by Valentina. There’s a subsequent, deliciously delivered exchange between Lucia and Valentina, the latter of whom disparages Lucia’s occupation. “At least, I don’t have sex for money,” Valentina says. Provoked, Lucia throws back, “Who’d pay to have sex with you? Uptight, ugly bitch!” Brava!

Forced to skulk outside the hotel until they can sneak their way in, Lucia tries to convince her friend to have a threesome with her and her still-unknown client so that they can make double the money. Mia seems intrigued by Lucia’s life, but ultimately declines the offer, citing a recent heartbreak as her inability to participate.

When the duo are finally able to evade Valentina’s watch and enter the resort, they set up base at the hotel restaurant’s bar, where Mia becomes entranced by a singing piano player. As the night goes on, Lucia leaves the bar to fulfill her appointment, giving Mia the opportunity to approach the singer, Giuseppe. She reveals to him that she, too, is a musician, aspiring to have a job that allows her to perform in the way he does. Giuseppe only seems to half-register what she’s telling him before he asks her how much she’ll cost for the night. It’s a shocking question for Mia, who leaves immediately—but not before throwing her drink in his face.

Meanwhile, Lucia materializes before her client’s door. She knocks and—lo and behold—Dom answers. Is anyone surprised? The two drink, engage in idle chit-chat. Dom is kind of a bummer (after all, he did just call his ex-wife in an outrageously failed bid to win her back hours prior) and doesn’t give Lucia much to work with, conversation-wise. Finally, he ends her misery. “It’s hard for me to make conversation right now, but you are very beautiful,” he says. The fact that you’re here makes me happy.”

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Marta Lopez

I am a content writer and I write articles on sports, news, business etc.

By Marta Lopez


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