[This story contains major spoilers to the season two finale of HBO’s The White Lotus.]
The ending to The White Lotus may wrapped up an ensemble-worth of loose ends. But it also left several questions unanswered, with viewers wondering just how everything went down over the course of the second season’s seven episodes.
Whether fans still have questions about the sex lives of the fantastic four — Cameron (Theo James), Daphne (Meghann Fahy), Ethan (Will Sharpe) and Harper (Aubrey Plaza) — or just how exactly Quentin (Tom Hollander) and his “high-end gays” were in cahoots with Tanya’s (Jennifer Coolidge) husband Greg (Jon Gries), Mike White left a lot of plot points up for interpretation.
The finale revealed that the body Fahy’s Daphne found in the first episode of the Sicily-set season belonged to Tanya, who died when she tried to flee Quentin’s boat after discovering he and his friends weren’t as nice as they seemed. “These gays, they’re trying to murder me!” she tells Quentin’s yacht captain before she freaks out, grabs local mafia member Niccoló’s gun and goes on a shooting rampage before accidentally falling off the yacht to her death.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Coolidge, James, Leo Woodall, who plays Jack, and Adam DiMarco, aka Albie Di Grasso, and tried to piece together some answers following the White Lotus finale on Dec. 11. See what they said — along with some of the other cast, and creator White, in other interviews — as the conspiracy theory game continues on after The White Lotus: Sicily said, “Arrivederci.”
What comes next for Albie and Portia (Haley Lu Richardson)?
Adam DiMarco to THR after the finale: I have no idea. I’m sure they text each other at the very least. I feel like maybe they date for a bit. They have so much history now, and a genuine connection that was built organically (not on an app) that it would be hard to ignore each other.
Is it possible for Tanya to come back for a potential third season despite her death?
DiMarco: Yes. She has to come back! Maybe she has a twin. Or season three is a prequel!
Jennifer Coolidge to THR after the finale: I guess any way to bring back Tanya would have to be a prequel to White Lotus 1. Or flashbacks (laughs). I’m just sad, you know, I’m just sad. There was a very depressed Tanya in White Lotus 1 and then for White Lotus 2 Mike says, “She’s recovered from her mother’s death when we start White Lotus 2, Jennifer.” But the most sort of continual emotion of Tanya was always grief. I’m sad I couldn’t have played a happier Tanya! Because there are so many possibilities when someone’s not depressed; when someone’s depressed, it’s hard to get through the day. Who knows what she could have done?
Who really is Jack?
Leo Woodall to THR after the finale: That is a big question. There is a bit of mystery about him, isn’t there? His relationship with Quentin obviously never got fully explained. But I remember at the start of the gig, I sat with Mike, and he just kind of said, “Look, Jack’s just a working-class boy who’s suddenly been given loads of money, and he’s on his own little adventure with a couple of” … Mike didn’t say this next bit, but one of the conversations was whether his relationship with Quentin is straight-up transactional. Even that was a bit of a mystery.
How did he get involved with his “uncle”?
Woodall: I don’t know if I’m allowed to say. There were bits in the scripts that didn’t make the cut. But I think he would have been a tie to someone else that he knew. I think Quentin got a smile for Jack, saw him and maybe thought that he liked the look of him and saw that he would have been in a rough place, knew that he could help him but also benefit from it. It’s clear to me that he’s known him for a little while. It’s not just like someone he’s just met for the sake of this kind of this task of Tanya and then Portia. It’s clear to me that he’s known him for a long time and he cares about him a lot, and he feels indebted to him.
What comes next for Jack?
Woodall: I think it’s going to be really, really crap for him. I really do feel for him. I think Quentin being gone, he’s going to be very lost, and he’s going to be very hurt, very upset, and he’s probably going to be very angry. Maybe he’d like to go and hunt down Greg or something. I don’t really know. But I think in the immediate future, post-Quentin death, he could go back into that deep hole.
Is Dominic actually going to be a better person?
DiMarco: I hope so. This truly feels like his last chance. If he can commit to getting help, I think he has a chance.
Did Albie learn his lesson to not be, as his father put it, “a big mark”?
DiMarco: Definitely. I think Albie has now developed a healthy amount of trust issues. Hopefully, he can protect himself and his heart more going forward.
What were the characters actually eating every night at the hotel restaurant?
DiMarco: Michael [Imperioli] and I would joke about this a lot. I would ask him “Dad, why are we eating dinner at the hotel again? Can we go out to a restaurant? There are literally so many good ones around here.” And he would say “Albie, why would we leave the hotel? The White Lotus has the best restaurants in the world with the best chefs. Why would we leave?”
Was the volcano real or just a metaphor?
DiMarco: The volcano is real and it’s also a metaphor. Mount Etna is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. I think it even erupted a few times while we were out there.
Is Greg coming back for the next season?
Mike White in his after-the-episode with HBO: I think as far as like, what happens to Greg and the conspiracy of Tanya’s death, it’s possible that I think Portia is scared enough to just leave it alone, but the fact that all of those guys die on the boat, it feels like there’s gotta be somebody who’s gonna track it back down to Greg. But maybe you’ll have to wait to find out what happens.
Does Mike White write these one season at a time, or did he have like five in mind when he first started out?
White: The third season will be a “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.”
Haley Lu Richardson to THR during the season: I actually got all seven scripts before we started filming, and so I read them all and knew the ending. (Laughs.) We also filmed the show completely out of order. So all seven episodes were like one giant, 800-page movie or whatever, and we were filming it all over the place. So from start to finish, we all knew what happened in the show.
Will Sharpe to THR during the season: We did have all the scripts, and I think I’m right in saying that even before I read them all, they talked me through a sense of the general shape of the series for everyone, including Ethan’s arc. And that was what got me really excited about playing him.
Theo James to THR after the finale: I don’t even know if Mike has settled on where he is going to shoot [season three]. And in terms of which characters are returning, if any, I couldn’t tell you. But obviously, to work for Mike again, with his great directing and amazing acidic writing, sign me up.
Why did the “high-end gays” go through such an elaborate plan to kidnap Tanya, when they could’ve just killed her outright?
Woodall: I remember us all kind of having conversations about it. I had a lot of conversations about it, but it was unclear to me why they were doing what they were doing, the way they were doing it, and why, like you say, they didn’t just kidnap her and kill her. Maybe because it was meant to be a bit more covert than that. But I remember reading the moment where Tanya sees the photo, and it was described as someone that looks like Greg, and I just thought, “Wow, I love that it’s not fully, fully revealed that it’s Greg,” but you’ve seen the picture. You’ve seen the picture.
Does Greg get the money since Tanya died?
Coolidge: It’s terrible that Tanya dies. Greg gets all the money, and he doesn’t even have to share it with Quentin [who was carrying out the hit on her], because Quentin is dead. So it has a sad taste in your mouth. … Yeah. I think Greg should get it. He should definitely have to pay for all the misery he caused Tanya. He should definitely get his comeuppance.
What happened with Daphne and Ethan on the island?
Meghann Fahy to Vanity Fair: Who knows what they did there. I don’t think that she does that to get back at Cameron or anything. I genuinely think in her strange way that’s like an empathetic thing that she’s doing, the way that she’s trying to take care of these people.
White: Did [Ethan and Daphne] have some kind of little dalliance on the island? Whatever happened, it allows him to let go of the jealousy that has been brewing with him. And it kind of brings back that first kind of sexual charge that happens in the beginning of relationships and sometimes fades away over time. By the end, you’re maybe like, “Well, maybe what Ethan and Harper need was just a small dash of what Cameron and Daphne have.”
James: I remember asking Mike and his retort was, “I don’t know! I’m not sure.” So he wanted it to be as cloudy as possible, but what else is she leading him to do? Are they going to look at some rocks or something? (Laughs.) I doubt it. But yeah, it’s probable. … There must be an exasperation on her part now that Ethan has come to her and called it what it is. Not only has Cameron clearly fucked a random person on their holiday, but now he’s potentially slept with his friend’s wife. So getting even would make sense and, in a funny way, perhaps it’s a narrative that Cameron understands. Perhaps it’s the only one he understands.
Are Daphne’s kids really not Cameron’s? And, does he know?
James: Well, interestingly enough, the flossing was an ad-lib, and then Mike was like, “Oh, that’s interesting. I like that in a kind of Cameron way. There’s something carnal about whatever the mouth and the teeth represent.” So the idea that he takes his time to come in suggests that perhaps there’s some disgruntlement there. Honestly, I’m not sure, but I never thought he knew. I think he can’t know because his whole being is made up of bravado and assuming he’s the king of his small jungle. So the idea that he would be aware that he had been cuckolded might send him into spasm, although, if he has knowledge, that’s also some interesting layering.
Did Harper and Cameron really only kiss?
Aubrey Plaza to Seth Meyers after the finale: I think I grabbed a little more than [Cameron’s butt]. But, what does my husband do? That’s the real question.
Will Harper and Ethan last?
Plaza: I was really gunning for doing some takes where maybe we weren’t so happy. Maybe they’ll be OK. But I have a kind of fantasy that Harper divorces him and takes all of his money.
Will Daphne and Cameron last?
James: I imagine there’s a reckoning to be had in that relationship. Clearly, Daphne is playing a role, but she has greater wisdom than perhaps she lets on. And for someone with more depth than just a Stepford wife, there’s probably going to be a breaking point. However, having said that, there’s a certain old-school quality about their relationship, and sometimes, with a relationship like that, if there’s enough enjoyment, then the idea of rocking the status quo is something that keeps a couple together for a long time.
Will the Di Grasso men change?
White: At the end of the show, you see the three generations of men, and there’s this attractive woman who crosses, and they all sort of gawk at her. You know, my hope is that Dominic does change, but there is a little bit in the texture of it that their relationship with women is gonna always be fraught with this sexual desire.
Will anyone from season one or two return to season three?
James: Yeah, I packed [Cameron’s] bags [for the Maldives]. He’s going to be wearing volcanic red hot boy shorts and a pink g-string. (Laughs.)
For the full interviews with the cast, head here for THR’s White Lotus coverage.