[This story contains major spoilers to the season two finale of HBO’s The White Lotus, “Arrivederci.”]
The final episode of The White Lotus delivered on its premiere setup — revealing whose dead body has mysteriously washed ashore at the resort chain’s location in Sicily, Italy.
The hit HBO series has, over the course of the second season’s seven episodes, introduced a who’s who of characters, all of whom arrived at the White Lotus’ shores on their own vacations, but who almost all become intertwined by season’s end. The only person who was confirmed to survive was vacationing wife Daphne (Meghann Fahy), who uncovered the body while taking a dip in the water.
Could the deceased be a result of the presumed extortion plot surrounding billionaire Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge)? Did one of sex worker Lucia’s (Simona Tabasco) several hotel clients kill her over money, jealousy or secrecy? Or, could Daphne herself have enacted revenge on her philandering husband, Cameron (Theo James)?
Like a high-stakes game of Clue, all of these theories and more were a possibility heading into the conclusion of Mike White’s addictive whoddunit dramedy, which deliciously explores the rich and miserable. The final hour, however, revealed an ending even more sinister than had been predicted.
Tanya (Coolidge) was revealed to have been the dead body who Daphne swam upon, after the fan-favorite character fell to her death from a yacht after coming thisclose to escaping what appeared to be a hit on her life. In the penultimate episode, Tanya was partying with Quentin (Tom Hollander), the wealthy gay stranger she had been gallivanting around Sicily with ever since her husband, Greg (John Gries) all-but left her during their vacation, when she came upon a curious photo of what appeared to many eagle-eyed viewers to be a photo of a young Greg and a young Quentin. The leading theory heading into the finale was that Quentin was working with Greg to facilitate Tanya having an affair, so Greg could gain access to her money in a divorce (the pair had a pre-nup).
Tanya, however, comes upon the darker truth after a troubling call from her assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) confirms that Quentin and his “nephew” Jack (Leo Woodall) are indeed not who they appear to be, and Tanya realizes Greg has likely put a hit out on her over the money. Now stranded on Quentin’s yacht with two of his friends, Tanya is told that the man she slept with the night prior is arriving to take her from the yacht back to the island on a dinghy boat.
Terrified for her life, Tanya swipes the bag her “paramour” brought with him, uncovers a gun and shoots and kills her attacker, along with Quentin and one of the other men. The surviving man and captain flee for their lives, and when a nervous and scared Tanya makes an attempt to de-board the yacht and make it onto the dinghy, her stiletto catches the railing and she flips over, presumably hitting her head on the way down, and she falls into the water to her death.
As Tanya’s body sinks, the camera zooms in on her face while playing the music from the iconic and tragic Madam Butterfly, which Quentin had taken her to see a few nights prior. The three-act Puccini opera, it turns out, had foreshadowed the tragic death of season two’s heroine.
The ending answers the biggest burning question of the season, yet leaves much to still explore surrounding both Tanya’s fate, as well as the endings for the rest of the main ensemble, including the foursome of Daphne and Cameron, and Ethan (Will Sharpe) and Harper (Aubrey Plaza) after a revealing week of infidelity for the two marriages. One thread that is neatly tied up, however, is Portia and Albie (Adam DiMarco), who leave the White Lotus hopeful for a romantic connection after being betrayed by Jack and sex worker Lucia (Simona Tabasco), respectively, with the latter being revealed to have conned the American men she sleeps with, also including Albie’s father Dominic (Michael Imperioli).