35 details you might have missed in 'The White Lotus' season 2
Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the finale of "The White Lotus" season two.
The HBO drama's second season was set in Sicily and included references to Italian art and cinema.
There were also a number of cameos and details that foreshadowed Tanya's self-inflicted death.
The show's memorable theme song has been remixed for the new season.
From the very beginning, the difference between season one and season two of "The White Lotus" is shown in how the song that plays over the opening credits has been altered to reflect the setting for the second season.
While the theme for season one, titled "Aloha!" created a sense of unease with its hypnotic drum beats, the new theme – named "Renaissance" for those wanting to stream it – features an operatic vocal riff that builds and builds before the beat drops.
Both were composed by Juan Cristobal Tapia de Veer, who told BuzzFeed that it was intentional to make the new variation sound "club-friendly."
He said: "It feels like a party and just an all-out celebration. When the beat drops, we're going through those chords. It feels big to me. It feels very emotional and like we're getting into a journey."
The two women Daphne is seen chatting to on the beach in the opening scene are contestants from the reality show "Survivor."
Angelina Keeley and Kara Kay are contestants from season 37 of the CBS reality show, "Survivor: David vs. Goliath," in which "The White Lotus" creator and showrunner Mike White also competed.
While their cameo was just a bit of fun, following on from fellow "Survivor" season 37 star Alec Merlino's portrayal of a bartender in the Hawaiian resort in the first season, it does tell us a bit about Daphne (Meghann Fahy).
Like Keeley and Kay, Daphne is also a survivor – although she likes to phrase it a different way. Throughout the seven-episode season, she is seen repeatedly telling other characters that she is "not a victim" of life when confronted with her husband's infidelity and other transgressions.
There is another cameo in the first episode during Dominic's tense phone call with his wife Abby.
If the voice giving Dominic (Michael Imperioli) a verbal dressing down on the phone during the premiere sounded familiar that's because it belongs to "Little Women" and "Jurassic Park" star Laura Dern.
Her performance is uncredited, but Entertainment Weekly confirmed it was indeed Dern, who previously collaborated with White on his 2007 film "Year of the Dog" and his short-lived HBO series "Enlightened."
Although she never appears on-screen, Abby's role in the series is an important one. It's ultimately the chance of a reconciliation with her that sways Dominic to give his son Albie (Adam DiMarco) money to help Lucia (Simona Tabasco).
Tanya's clumsy arrival at the White Lotus' Sicilian resort foreshadows her fate in the season finale.
Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) displays her trademark haplessness as she attempts to disembark from the boat while wearing a pair of towering heels when viewers are reintroduced to her at the beginning of the season.
She almost takes a tumble into the Ionian Sea as concierge Rocco (Federico Ferrante) leads her off the boat and hotel manager Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) watches on with a concerned expression on her face.
The moment neatly mirrors the very last time viewers see Tanya alive in the season finale as she tries to escape from Quentin's (Tom Hollander) yacht after blindly shooting at her new friends and leaving them bleeding out.
As she tries to jump onto the dinghy below, she hits her head and drowns.
It was Lucia's plan to con the Di Grasso family all along and the real job of her "pimp" Alessio is revealed in the first episode.
After Lucia begins sleeping with Albie, she tells him that her pimp Alessio (played by an uncredited actor) wants to "control" her, and the only way she can be free of him is if she pays him a lot of money.
Later, Alessio makes an appearance to prove that these aren't empty threats. He first pops up during Albie and Lucia's ice cream date and then again when the Di Grasso men hire a car to go visit their long-lost relatives. On both occasions, Lucia acts scared of him, sparking concern not only in Albie but in his father and grandfather (F. Murray Abraham) too.
However, Alessio can actually be spotted for the first time in Lucia and Mia's (Beatrice Grannò) introductory scene in episode one. As they make their way to The White Lotus hotel, they pass Alessio on the street, and they say "Ciao" to one another.
Lucia adds in Italian which is not subtitled, that she will call him later.
This friendly exchange, along with the fact that he appears to be wearing a uniform, shows that he is not her pimp at all, but a bellboy at a neighboring hotel. Lucia has roped him into playing the part of her fed-up pimp to make her plight as a poor prostitute in need of saving even more convincing.
The adjoining door between Harper and Ethan and Cameron and Daphne's room is highlighted in the first episode, meaning it was inevitably going to be used at some point.
In an awkward moment in the first episode, Harper (Aubrey Plaza) insists that she, her husband Ethan (Will Sharpe), and their friends Cameron (Theo James) and Daphne wouldn't require instructions on how to use the adjoining door between their two suites.
The fact that audiences' attention was drawn to the door so early on meant that it was only a matter of time before it would be used by one of the characters. As viewers saw in a later episode, the door being open became a point of contention in a fight between Ethan and Harper over whether or not Cameron had been in the room with Harper.
However, vases that appear to be a symbolic omen of infidelity were also pointed out in the first episode but they proved to be a red herring.
As Rocco explains to the guests during the first episode testa di moro busts which appear all over the hotel relate to the legend of the Moor's head. The pair of handpainted ceramic vases depict an older man and a young woman who, as the story goes, fell in love when the man came to Sicily.
But the woman discovered that the man has a wife and children back in his own country and so in her fury cuts off his head. To keep him with her forever, she repurposes him as a vase for her basil which she proudly displayed on her balcony for all her neighbors to see.
Daphne and Cameron are seen interpreting the meaning behind the vase differently. While he sees it as a warning from one man to another ("If you come into my house, don't fuck my wife"), Daphne instead sees it as a cautionary tale that husbands should heed lest they want to endure the wrath of their wives.
"Screw around and you'll end up buried in the garden," she says.
Given that Cameron later cheats on Daphne in the hotel with Lucia, it felt like the ending of the Sicilian story would foreshadow Cameron's own fate, but instead, he leaves at the end of the trip without any repercussions.
Interestingly, the vase is knocked off the table and shattered in the finale during Harper and Ethan's frenzied lovemaking. They take no notice of it and continue to clamber over to the bed, which itself could represent them breaking free from their fears about each other's faithfulness.
The artwork we see in the characters' rooms appears to tell us something about each guest. In Albie's room, there is a painting of the martyr Saint Sebastian.
The painting, titled Saint Sebastian and completed in 1495 by Italian Renaissance painter Pietro Perugino, shows the saint standing naked except for a small cloth around his waist. Two arrows pierce his upper body while he looks upwards at the sky.
According to Britannica, Saint Sebastian was the patron saint of soldiers, athletes, and those who desire a saintly death. He was also known for protecting people from plagues. As the story goes, he was tied to a post or tree and shot with arrows, though this did not kill him.
The moment that the camera lingers on the painting is when Albie is shown mirroring the pose while receiving oral sex from Lucia in episode four.
It's rather ironic, of course, but makes the audience consider Albie as a "martyr" himself. He wants to protect the world from men like his father and grandfather who have treated women badly their whole lives. Like the two arrows, they try to infiltrate his worldview but are not successful.
It could be posited that the plague he protects people from is toxic masculinity, as exhibited in his critique of "The Godfather" as a film that perpetuates male fantasies and stereotypes.
We can't forget that he quite literally wants to be a savior to Lucia and free her from sex work, without actually questioning whether she enjoys it or finds it empowering.
Ethan and Harper's room features an image of Greek warriors Achilles and Patroklos.
Framed on their suite wall is a reproduction of a painting of the Greek warrior Achilles binding the wounds of his friend Patroklos which comes from a kylix vase that dates back to 500 BC.
Audiences see the artwork by the door to the bathroom in the suite, most notably when the couple begins arguing after Harper criticizes Cameron and Daphne. Ethan defends his former college roommate and accuses his wife of being too quick to judge him.
It can be interpreted that Cameron and Ethan's friendship is like that of Achilles and Patroklos from Greek mythology, with the two having a bond that the women in their lives don't understand.
As in many interpretations of the myth, Achilles and Patroklos are portrayed as being in a same-sex relationship, there are also homoerotic undertones too, which made many audience members wonder if there was something more to Cameron and Ethan's enduring friendship.
Tanya's Italian dream of living like Monica Vitti in her most famous film ends up coming true (sort of).
In the second episode, Tanya lives out dreams of emulating Italian movie star Monica Vitti in her breakout movie "L'Avventura," complete with a Vespa ride through the cobblestone streets of Sicily and a dinner of "pasta with giant clams."
Her husband Greg (Jon Gries) is more than happy to indulge her before he announces that he has to cut their romantic getaway short to fly to Denver on business.
However, it turns out that Tanya's "Adventure" – as the film's title translates to in English – continues to play out even after she takes off her Vitti-inspired all-pink outfit and Greg leaves.
The film centers on a man named Sandro who leaves his lover Anna for her close friend after she complains about his long business trips when they're supposed to be enjoying their vacation.
Although Tanya clearly sees herself more like the film's blonde bombshell, Claudia (Monica Vitti), she ends up resembling the spurned lover Anna (Lea Massari) who goes missing during a boating trip on the very same waters that Tanya ends up dead in.
The series pays homage to "L'Avventura" for the first time when Greg takes a clandestine phone call on the terrace outside his and Tanya's room
The terrace that Greg stands on while making his clandestine phone call at the end of episode two appears to be the same one that Vitti stands on in the final scene of "L' Avventura."
Both the 1960 film and the second series of the HBO drama were filmed at the San Domenico Palace Hotel luxury hotel in Taormina which is a former convent that dates back to 1374.
However, it appears that it was almost a coincidence that they filmed in the same hotel, as according to The Observer, "the producers of The White Lotus visited about 70 hotels" before choosing the San Domenico Palace Hotel.
The tribute to "L'Avventura" continues in episode three when Harper and Daphne venture out onto the streets of Noto.
The scene, which sees Harper ogled by a bunch of Italian men as she descends the steps of Noto Cathedral is a shot-by-shot recreation of one scene in particular from the Michelangelo Antonioni-directed movie.
However, according to White, this ended up happening quite spontaneously when cinematographer Xavier Grobet realized that they were filming in another one of the film's memorable locations.
He added to the outlet that he wanted to "lean into the archetypal Italian men coming onto a woman on the street," given the series' overall appraisal of sexual politics as they relate to men and women of means.
The dress Tanya wears in the finale links her to a doomed character in "The Godfather."
During the final, Tanya is seen wearing a pink floral print dress which viewers were shown earlier on in the series on the mannequin meant to represent Michael's wife "The Godfather" who was famously blown up by a car bomb.
Although the character of Apollina doesn't actually wear the floral dress in the 1972 film, it is what audiences see a mannequin of the doomed character dressed in during Bert, Dominic, and Albie's "Godfather" sightseeing tour in episode two.
Costume designer Alex Bovair explained to Page Six that the subtle moment of foreshadowing "almost didn't happen," as there was a wardrobe mix-up, meaning Tanya's dress was accidentally returned before they could use it.
However, they managed to pull it off and it was able to give eagle-eyed viewers a hint at what was to come for Tanya from the first moment she appears in the finale.
Harper's wardrobe was similarly inspired by classic cinema and her outfits are a nod to Audrey Hepburn.
Bovaird told Page Six that Audrey Hepburn was the "style muse" for Harper and drew inspiration from her 1953 classic "Roman Holiday" in particular. As a result, Harper is seen wearing very structured but feminine clothing items.
Describing the look as "'50s elegance," the costume designer told the outlet: "She arrives in a pristine white suit, very guarded and sharp … When she starts to unwind, her costumes get more lively."
Although her style strays slightly – she begins to mimic Daphne's wardrobe at one point and even wears a dress that Daphne picked out for her – by the end of the season, Harper has returned to her signature style.
"In her final dinner scene she wears a very girly, romantic dress – she looks vulnerable, finally," Bovaird said, adding that in the scene her hair is even styled to make Harper look more overtly like Hepburn.
Jack's wardrobe, meanwhile, was inspired by the reality stars on "Love Island UK."
Jack's (Leo Woodall) likeness to a contestant plucked straight out of the British reality show "Love Island" was not lost on viewers and it turns out it was entirely intentional.
Bovaird said that his character "reminded me of the guys on" the dating show, which has become known for its male contestants and their rather interesting wardrobes.
She told Vogue: "He's cocky, boisterous, frisky and not afraid to wear color. I wanted his stuff to look like it was from the British high street, but we were in Italy, so he wears Superdry, a vintage silk shirt that looks like it's from Top Man, and shorts that I had to shorten to make them more like Love Island shorts. All of that was just so fun."
Tanya's fate was foreshadowed when Quentin took her to see "Madama Butterfly" after comparing her to a tragic "heroine."
Quentin tells Tanya that she is "like the heroine of her own Italian opera" in episode four after she recounts her life story to him.
Seemingly inspired by his own words, in the next episode, he is shown whisking her off to see the Giacomo Puccini opera "Madama Butterfly" which tells the story of unrequited love not too dissimilar to Tanya's own predicament.
In the three-act opera, a Japanese girl named Cio Cio San finds herself unsure how to carry on after her lover, an American naval officer, spurns her and runs off with another woman. In the end, she can't stand the idea of her lover with another person and kills herself.
While Tanya doesn't die by suicide as the titular opera character does, after she learns that Greg is in love with someone else, she finds herself in a frenzied state that ultimately leads to her death. It's not necessarily self-inflicted, but you could certainly argue that it's a tragic one fitting for Tanya's third and final act.
Daphne subtly hinted at the way she gets back at Cameron's cheating when she shows Harper a photo of her children after discussing her blond and blue-eyed trainer.
In episode five, Harper confesses to Daphne that she suspects their husbands cheated on them during the night out in Noto.
Daphne is oddly serene and shrugs it off, saying that, while she doesn't believe something happened, if it did, Harper just needs to do something to make her feel better about it. A moment later, she begins to tell Harper all about her trainer named Lawrence.
"He's so handsome. He has blond hair and these, like, big, blue eyes," Daphne gushes. "He's really funny too. I spend more time with him than Cameron sometimes, 'cause he's so busy at work. Such a cutie."
She then offers to show Harper a photo and after scrolling through her camera roll, passes her phone over to Harper. However, when we see the screen, it's not a picture of her trainer but instead of her two young children – one of whom also has blond hair and blue eyes.
The implication is that Lawrence is actually the father of Daphne's children, not Cameron – who incidentally has dark brown hair and brown eyes.
It can be debated whether Daphne actually meant to show a photo of her children at this moment. Her mind could've accidentally wandered to them because when she thinks of Lawrence, she thinks about their blonde, blue-eyed children together.
On the other hand, we've come to learn by this point that Daphne deliberately plays "games" with people — like booking a last-minute overnight stay without telling anyone. This could have been another one of Daphne's games and her way of telling Harper how she copes with Cameron's infidelity without spelling it out.
The name of Tanya's divorce lawyer might not be familiar to audiences, but Mike White included it for a sweet reason.
In episode five, Tanya tells Portia over breakfast that she thinks her marriage with Greg is over and that she has reached out to her divorce lawyer for some advice.
"You know, I talked to Billy Offer last night about getting the marriage annulled," she says.
Although the name might not ring any bells to audience members, it's a subtle name-drop from White, combining the name of his own entertainment lawyer, Robert Offer, and his son, Billy Offer, who also works in Hollywood.
"Robert Offer has been my lawyer for over 25 years and I have known Billy since he was a toddler," the director explained to The Wrap. "A perk of writing a TV series is giving shout outs to people I love and respect!"
Audiences originally learned that Greg was a cowboy in the first season.
Before the reveal that Greg is Quentin's former lover thanks to a poorly placed photograph of the two of them, it's actually teased in episode five when Quentin opens up about the straight cowboy from Wyoming that he fell in love with.
He ominously says he'd have done anything for this mystery man and still would – even 30 years later.
Some fans may recall from season one that Greg works at the Bureau of Land Management and actually met Tanya while he was visiting Hawaii with some of his colleagues. While Greg's job sounds fancy, as viewers of "Yellowstone" know, it's actually another way of saying you're a cowboy.
The English football team Jack supports has a checkered history with Palermo and hints at his violent side.
In episode six, audiences come to learn that Jack passionately supports the English football team West Ham United.
Not only is he shown to have the club's logo – two hammers crossed over each other – tattooed on his arm, but after he attempts to start a fight with an Italian man on the streets, he is heard belting out the club's unofficial song.
As he drunkenly stumbles down the streets of Cefalù with Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), he launches into a rendition of "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles."
Jack's rendition of the song doesn't raise any eyebrows, but it's possible that hearing that particular football chant perhaps would not have gone down with the locals in Sicily given the fact that hundreds of West Ham supporters once took to the streets and exhibited hooliganism after losing to Palermo in 2006 UEFA cup match.
The brawl took police in riot gear more than an hour to bring the situation under control and resulted in more than 17 individuals needing hospitalization, according to a Guardian report at the time. Twenty West Ham supporters were arrested for violence against public officials and forced to go to an Italian court.
The inclusion of this detail might have been used to alert audiences to Jack's darker side, which is capable of destructive and violent acts. There's a reason why Quentin has chosen him to play the part of his "nephew" in his plan and tasked him with keeping Portia busy.
We don't know whether Jack was supposed to kill Portia, or simply return her to the resort so that Niccolo (Stefano Gianino) could carry out a double hit, as in the end, the Essex lad decides to let Portia escape.
Dropping her off at the airport, he tells her to get on the next flight out of Sicily before tossing her missing phone out the car window.
The imagery in the title sequence provides clues about the character's storylines, which viewers can fully appreciate by the finale. The credits begin with F. Murray Abraham's name while showing a man wooing a woman while being watched.
As we learn in the season, Abraham's character Bert was unfaithful to his wife for much of his marriage.
He always thought he was good at hiding his womanizing ways, but as Dominic reveals to him and the audience, she always knew he was cheating on her and died "miserable" because of it.
Jennifer Coolidge's credit comes up as we see a woman in a tower. Next to her is a monkey who she has tied on a chain leash.
Audiences know from season one that Tanya is rich — as in, half a billion dollars rich — so depicting her as a princess trapped in a tower is fitting. Not only does it speak to her place in high society, but it also foreshadows the way she is whisked off to a palazzo during the second half of the season.
The monkey on the chain could imply how the only people around Tanya are those who she has on her payroll, as she ends up spending much of her trip with her assistant, Portia.
Next up, we see Adam DiMarco's name. Like his character Albie, the figure shown is trying to win over the affection of a woman by being romantic.
The figure of the young man can be seen holding an instrument and playing for the object of his affection, attempting to woo her by showing his talent and aptitude for music, which as the saying goes, is the language of love.
Albie, too, spends the season trying to attract Portia by being gentlemanly and considerate, who instead is much more swayed by Jack's lovable rogue ways. When Albie tries similar moves on Lucia, it's beside the point as she has already agreed to sleep with him as she is under the impression that he is paying for her services.
Meghann Fahy's name appears next to two cherubs, which represent Daphne's two young children.
As we learn by the end of the season, Daphne doesn't care about much in life (she doesn't remember if she voted or not), but she does care a lot about her two young children who are awaiting her return to the US.
Her children are literally cherubic with their blond hair and blue eyes and this very characteristic hides Daphne's way of coping with her husband's cheating in plain sight.
Mia, played by Beatrice Grannò, is represented as a sphinx in the credits.
A sphinx is a mythical creature with the head of a human, the body of a lion, and the wings of a falcon – and in this case, the breasts of a woman.
They were often seen as spiritual guardians and statues of them were erected outside tomb and temple complexes. Mia could be seen as some sort of guardian of The White Lotus Sicily hotel by the end of the season, having successfully seduced the hotel manager and usurped the male piano player.
The name of the actor playing Greg is shown alongside a couple who appear to be riding away on a donkey.
This one feels fairly obvious. As viewers saw, Greg bows out of the series at the end of the second episode as he says he has to fly to Denver for work. We never actually see him again in the show (aside from the throwback photo Quentin has in his house).
The couple represents how Greg is in love with someone else, just as Tanya suspects, while the donkey's knowing glance over his shoulder to the viewer hints at the fact that not all is what it seems when it comes to Greg.
Speaking of Quentin, Tom Hollander's name flashes up on the screen as we see a man reaching out across to touch a godlike figure.
Like the figure seen here, Quentin holds a desire to have something which he cannot have. He recounts to Tanya during the fourth episode his ill-fated affair with an American cowboy which ended in heartbreak.
Sabrina Impacciatore's name appears as we see a woman attending to two women who recline on a bed.
It quickly becomes apparent throughout the season that Impacciatore's character Valentina is a lesbian, and is shown displaying the same care and attention for the object of her desires, Isabella (Eleonora Romandini), as she does her employees.
Michael Imperioli's name appears alongside a male figure on his knees in supplication as a woman tosses a necklace into the waters behind them.
Imperioli's character Dominic, like his son and father, is represented by a male figure in a scene with a woman. However, in sharp contrast to the other two, this man is being rejected by his lover.
This scene could represent the outcome of Dominic's attempts to win back his wife, which is left up for audiences' interpretation at the end of the season. Like Dominic, the man here has gifted the woman an expensive necklace which she is seen tossing away.
After this, Theo James' name flashes on the screen as we see a finely sculpted classical statue... that is being peed on by a dog.
Right before James' name appears, there is a close-up of the statue's genitalia, which is a nod to Cameron's memorable nude moment in the first episode.
The statue itself is meant to represent how Cameron sees himself as God's gift to women as it bears a resemblance to the famous statue of David carved by Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo which is considered a masterpiece and the ideal male form.
The inclusion of the dog cocking his leg up to relieve himself at the statue's base, however, undermines this and playfully knocks Cameron down a notch.
Aubrey Plaza's character, Harper, is represented by a bird clipping the wing of another bird.
While birds can represent a few different things in classical art, in this instance, it seems to speak to Harper's competitive nature and how she butts heads with all three of her traveling companions.
Haley Lu Richardson's name appears on the credits as we see a lamb next to a daydreaming maiden.
Again, this one doesn't feel hard to interpret. Portia, like the lost and lonely lamb, attached herself to Tanya (the daydreaming woman) because she can't see a better option out there.
Will Sharpe's Ethan appears as a man looking down as he presents a woman with a bowl of fruit.
The fruit here could represent Ethan's newfound wealth, and the man's reluctance to look the female figure in the eyes foreshadows Ethan's experience with Lucia and Mia in episode two.
Next, Simona Tabasco's name appears as we see a leopard slinking around a column with a bird in its mouth.
A statue of a sphinx was used to represent Mia, and now we see another feline creature to represent her best friend, Lucia.
While Mia wanted to become a mainstay at the hotel and become its lounge singer, Lucia is happiest when she is prowling around the corridors and looking for her next prey.
Lastly, we see Leo Woodall's name appear as a man stands over another man in front of some crumbling columns.
The man sitting here is shown to be in a state of disarray, with no shoes on, which could represent the "fucking hole" that Jack said Quentin pulled him out of.
It's very likely that Jack found himself in such a desperate position, drunk on the streets of Sicily, before being taken in by Quentin.
Catch all the details by streaming both seasons of "White Lotus" on HBO Max:
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