HBO Max’s smash hit, which follows a week in the life of the vacationing rich, is technically billed as an anthology series. That means season 2, which premiered in October, stands alone and doesn’t have a ton of connective tissue with the first season. But the two seasons do have a few things in common.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for The White Lotus seasons 1 and 2.
Both seasons take place at the fictional White Lotus resort chain, although at two different locations (first Hawaii, now Italy). Both seasons are absolute catnip for Jennifer Coolidge devotees. And, of course, both seasons begin with the promise of a dead body, before zooming back seven days to reveal how we got here.
, that dead body ended up belonging to resort manager Armond (Murray Bartlett). But what about ?
Here’s what we know as of episode 3
Season 2 episode 1, “Ciao,” opens with Daphne (Meghann Fahey) applying sunscreen on a beach chair, alone. She’s taking one last dip in the sparkling Ionian sea before getting on a plane to go home. While she splashes around, she comes across — what else? — a dead body, and runs to shore, screaming.
Then hotel manager Valentina arrives on the scene. She’s season 2’s Armond, and she’s promptly informed by Rocco, another hotel employee, that there’s been a death. “Salvatore says other bodies have been found,” he says. How many guests are dead? “A few.” Who is Salvatore? Not sure.
So we have three characters who definitely survive the week: Daphne, Valentina and Rocco (four if you count Salvatore.) At the most, everyone else is dead. And at the least, one of the other main characters is dead, along with “a few” others we’ll never know. It’s also possible that the body count could even increase after the events of the first scene. Let’s take a closer look.
Which characters are most (and least) likely to die in The White Lotus season 2?
Showrunner Mike White knows how to stick the landing, so at least one of the deaths has to be a character we care about. Whether that means someone we love or someone we love to hate is immaterial. And since Daphne is alone in the opening scene, that raises an obvious question about the whereabouts of her three travel buddies.
Cameron (Theo James): When Daphne comes running and screaming out of the ocean in the season’s first scene, just after her brush with the drowned corpse, a tanned, shirtless man in squid-print swim trunks catches her on the beach. It’s not clear whether she knows the man, nor do we see his face. Is it her husband, Cameron? Maybe, but then why wasn’t he sipping an Aperol Spritz with her before she took a dip? All I know is the squid-print trunks have yet to make a second appearance, though they do seem like Cameron’s style.
Other clues in favor of Cameron’s demise:
- Episode 1’s ubiquitous “Testa di Moro” motif, the mistress-severed head of a man who was stepping out on his family.
- Daphne’s affinity for true crime shows about women who kill their husbands .
- “You’re gonna die,” Daphne gushes to some resort newcomers on the beach. “They’re gonna have to drag you outta here.”
Then again, The White Lotus loves a red herring — and it seems to hate a comeuppance.
Ethan (Will Sharpe): Like Cameron, Ethan is absent from the first scene, despite being one of Daphne’s travel companions. He’s also at least considering adultery at this point. Ethan’s still a bit of a cipher. It’s tough to say whether that’s because he’s not worth the audience’s allegiance enough to kill off in the first place, or because he’s about to release the kraken on us all and go out in a blaze of glory. (Maybe those squid-print trunks are his??)
Harper (Audrey Plaza): Harper observes and adjudicates the leisure class in much the same way the couchbound popcorn-cruncherati does. That makes her this season’s audience surrogate, and thus the de facto main character. Last season’s everyman figure was Armond, whose tight-lipped smile is recognizable to anyone who’s ever had extended contact with “the public.” And look what happened to him.
On the other hand, Daphne tells the newcomers specifically that “we” leave in a few hours. If someone from her party survives, it could very well be Harper in a Testa di Moro-powered gender solidarity twist.
Outside Daphne’s party, there are other potential victims to consider.
Greg (Jon Gries): Was all that conversation about Greg’s poor health last season a ruse? Or was he really cured by whatever fancy doctor Tanya got him in touch with? Either way, maybe he’ll fall ill once again, or maybe the health stuff was foreshadowing and he’ll die in a different, unrelated manner. And does he have adultery on his Bingo card? It kinda seems like it.
Bert (F. Murray Abraham): Bert is “quite old” (Valentina’s words,) and he already took a tumble at the pool. Now’s as good a time as any.
One the one hand, if there are multiple dead bodies, it makes sense that one or two would potentially belong to smaller characters, like hotel worker Isabella, pianist Giuseppe or sex workers Lucia and Mia. On the other hand, Rocco does specify that it was a guest who drowned. He also says, “other guests have been killed.” That said, the jury’s out on whether Lucia and Mia count as guests, since their names were technically added to the Di Grasso reservation.
Isabella (Eleonora Romandini): Episode 3 hinted at a frisson of romance (or lust?) between Isabella and her boss Valentina. If this pans out, it’d be The White Lotus’s second time showing a queer tryst between hotel manager and underling. We saw what happened to the last hotel manager, and there’s a long, disappointing precedent for queer love stories ending in death. So Isabella is definitely on the chopping block.
Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grannò): Another long, disappointing precedent: the dead sex worker trope. So far Lucia has not technically earned the title, but with her musical aspirations she has more to lose than Mia, in terms of audience allegiance.
Giuseppe (Federico Scribani): There’s something creepy about the hotel bar pianist, and I don’t just mean the fact that he propositioned Mia. If he died, maybe Mia could snag his job.
After only three episodes, it’s anyone’s guess where the season goes next. Could these other White Lotus guests leave the resort in a body bag come day seven? Sure. But they could just as likely survive the week.
Portia (Haley Lu Richardson): Like Harper, Portia is a bit of an everywoman, just peeking behind the curtain of how the other half lives. Her story seems to be trending toward the traditional love triangle, though. This may mean someone is killed on her behalf, but she’ll likely survive.
Dominic (Michael Imperioli): While I’d love to see the “feminist” lech kick the bucket, at this point I don’t see any reason to believe he’ll do anything other than either turn his life around or, well, not turn his life around. Dying before he gives monogamy a fair shake would be a real cop out.
Albie (Adam DiMarco): The show’s aversion to comeuppance suggests to me that the privileged Stanford grad “nice guy” is probably not going to be shown the door. Plus, he’s practically a child, and that’d be… dark.
Quentin (Tom Hollander): As of episode 3, all we know about Quentin is that he exists, and that he’s got his eye on Tanya. I could go either way on him.
Wilder things have happened in the world of television, but it would take a Dallas season 9-level twist to kill off these confirmed-live characters.
Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge): Tanya may end up being the connective tissue across all future seasons of The White Lotus — Mike White hinted to Deadline at the season 2 premiere that he’s toying with the idea of bringing Coolidge along for season 3. Unless it’s a prequel season, I’m guessing she survives Italy.
Daphne (Meghann Fahey): In the season’s first scene, Daphne says she has “a few hours” before leaving the White Lotus resort. So she definitely has time to also fall prey to whatever mysterious presence killed the other guests, I suppose…
The same goes for Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) and Rocco (Federico Ferrante): They’re both very much alive in the first moments of the season, but who knows what’s in store for the finale. We’ll have to wait and see.