The White Lotus Season 2 Episodes 1 & 2 Set The Scene For Another Adventure In Intrigue

Ready to check in again? Personally, my bags are packed, and I'm happy you'll be joining me through the seven-episode arc that is the second season of HBO's "The White Lotus." Consider me your concierge, and let's get acquainted with this season's offerings. If you're joining us this time around, you probably eagerly lapped up the first Hawaii-set season of the show —  and it would be hard to blame you. It blew up in a big way, and that's why we're here, this time in Sicily, an island off the coast of Italy. The show was equal parts biting social commentary, raucous comedy, and palpable mystery full of intrigue, a combination which writer-director and creator Mike White has proven to be uniquely skilled at. White's biting scripts have given the show an authenticity that allowed it to blossom into something more than a six-episode miniseries, and now, we're here to see what kind of first-world problems he'll be satirizing for us in the Mediterranean with a host of new characters. Let's dive in.

As seems to be customary in what little "The White Lotus" tradition we have so far, the first episode's opening sequence sets the scene for what's to come. Daphne, one of the show's main characters played by Meghann Fahy, connects with two tourists on the beach, lamenting that it's her last day in Sicily and how jealous she is that they are just starting their trip. She makes her way into the ocean for one last dip ... and comes face to feet with a floating dead body

Like I said, it's a "White Lotus" tradition being cemented into the canon.

Just off the boat

From here, we meet Valentina, the hotheaded manager of the White Lotus Sicily played by Sabrina Impacciatore. Her staffer informs her that one of the guests drowned in the Ionian Sea— the guest Daphne found — but even worse, there are also "other bodies" of guests who have been "killed." I note the phrasing because it's purposefully ambiguous, leaving everything up to the imagination about the details of these deaths. That seems to be the cornerstone set-up that creator Mike White wants to make commonplace in this series as if he's saying to his audience, "Here's the mystery, get ready to solve it."

Naturally, we then backpedal about a week. After all, we gotta get down to the bottom of what happened, and the best way to do that is to start from the beginning. Couples Harper (Aubrey Plaza) and Ethan Spiller (Will Sharpe) and Daphne and Cameron Sullivan (Theo James) arrive on the Italian island by boat, and on the way there, there is an emphasis on the main difference in their relationships despite their friendship. The Spillers are at odds with one another, bickering on the boat and turning from one another in exasperation. The Sullivans look on with sad, awkward interest before falling back into the throes of their own seemingly perfect love, laughing, kissing, and canoodling with each other. It's definitely something to keep an eye on, as there's no reason why White would choose to show us this if it didn't play into the plot somehow.

The locals get involved

But it isn't just the Spillers and the Sullivans who will be part of the fold during this seemingly idyllic week in Sicily. The Di Grassos are also on the boat, three generations of men who have come to the old homeland to discover parts of their family history. There's Bert, a totally saccharine and horny grandpa played by F. Murray Abraham, his son Dominic (a contemplative sex addict going through a rough divorce of his own fault played by Michael Imperoli), and Albie, Dominic's genuinely kind and charming son played by Adam DiMarco. Returning from last season, Jennifer Coolidge reprises her role as Tayna, who sits blissfully on the boat's deck in a lounge chair while her young assistant, Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), watches on with a palpable, but not cruel, dislike for her employer.

Though they aren't on the boat, there is another set of characters who seem to be important to this week-long tale. As the guests are arriving, we meet two young local women named Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grannò). Lucia is a sex worker who has been in contact with Dominic online, and the pair plan to hook up while he is in town. Mia is less open to the prospect of exchanging sex for money, but she goes along with whatever her friend wants with such little convincing that I have a feeling we will see just how far this character is willing to go in no time. That said, the girls aren't treated too well at first by the hotel staff; Valentina throws them out early on, but Lucia is determined to make her money. She's one of the most compelling characters the show gives us, and it's clear she's only going to get more interesting.

A love too good to be true?

If you can believe it, Tanya is not only still with her perpetually coughing lover Greg (Jon Gries) from season one, but they are now married, and he is waiting for her at the resort — but he hasn't been answering Tanya's texts. That's the first red flag we get from him. Once they meet, he goes off on her about her bringing her assistant because the trip was supposed to be "romantic" and makes her "get rid of" Portia for the week, relegating her to her room until it's time to leave. She doesn't do a good job of it, though, as she keeps spending time at restaurants and at the pool in an attempt to not totally waste her time there. At the pool, she meets Albie, and the pair hit it off, but not before Grandpa takes a tumble nearby.

On the subject of things in rooms behind closed doors, Dominic reaches out to his estranged wife via phone — yes, the disembodied voice of Laura Dern — which gives us a bit more insight into his wrongs. It appears he did something bad enough to his wife that she decided to stay home from the trip and keep their daughter home as well, which seems to bother Dominic because his son is there and supposedly unbothered, which his wife disputes. Then she berates him, shrieking and crying incredulously for him to leave her alone before hanging up. Needless to say, whatever Dominic did—probably cheated but maybe something more too — it was bad with a capital B.

Never trust someone who likes Ted Lasso

Meanwhile, Harper has her suspicions about Cameron, telling her husband in their room, "You sold your company and got rich and now he's your best friend?" She asserts that she feels Ethan's college roommate will proposition him on the trip with some kind of "money-making scheme" or opportunity, and honestly, she isn't wrong to feel that way. Harper notes that Cameron is friends with Jeff Bezos (ew) and is a general "douche" who, well, seems like he would be into crypto mining and other scams of that nature.

At lunch, Cameron reveals he's being investigated for sexual misconduct at work, which, like I said, totally tracks. Harper and Cameron butt heads because she's a lawyer who—what luck—works in employment law, and doesn't feel that claims like the ones against Cameron are typically "bogus" like he of course does. The Spillers open up about their worries for the world but, as expected, the Sullivans reveal they don't actually follow the news because everything on it is framed in a way to "freak everyone out." Daphne says, "What can you do? We vote, we donate money. You can't obsess." White continues to strengthen the line between these two couples, even using "Ted Lasso" as a barometer (The Sullivans like it, but the Spillers find it gauche). To add a little fuel to the mystery fire, Daphne mentions that she watches a lot of Dateline at home, and is pretty into the ones where husbands murder their wives. Hint hint, nudge nudge.

Wait, what just happened?

The tension between Harper and Cameron becomes pretty thick, and it seems it is something we'll be dealing with throughout the season—especially after what happens when they go back to the Spillers' room to get Cameron a swimsuit to borrow after the airline lost his bag on the flight in. He drops trou in the middle of their hotel room (and you definitely heard about the full frontal nudity in the scene), which naturally makes Harper feel totally weird as she shuffles around in the bathroom looking for sunscreen. It's a hell of a set-up for a dynamic that will surely evolve in ways that will probably surprise us over the season's arc. Earlier upon their arrival, one of the hotel staffers tells both couples about the legend of Testa di Moro, a man who cheated and got his head cut off, because of a bust of the figure in their room. Even though Cameron is a total wife guy, it seems like that story device could be a nod to what's to come for him down the line. After all, foreshadowing can be anywhere, and this bathroom scene says a lot about what might happen a few episodes from now.

Back in Tanya's room, she and Greg have sex, but it gets weird and she pushes him off. Everything is kind of off about them this time around; There has been tension from the first moment they connect at the hotel, and though he seems healthier physically, his true colors seem to slowly but surely be rising to the surface. He gives Tanya hell for eating a whole sleeve of macaroons, of which she claims she only ate three. He even mentions that she can't expect to lose weight if she continues to eat food and not remember it. It's not a good look for him, and it puts the audience in a place where we start to lose our trust in him. I'll explain more in a minute but those instincts seem to be right on point.

You can relate to that, can't you?

Dominic has Grandpa sleep in Albie's room that night so he can be monitored after his fall, but the father really uses it as an excuse to get with Lucia in his room later that evening. The young sex worker brings her friend to the hotel bar with her, and she ends up having a mini date with the bar pianist, who doesn't take her seriously as a musician when she reveals to him that she also sings and plays. She throws a drink in his face when he assumes her to be a prostitute, even after she tells him she isn't.

Tanya and Greg go to the hotel restaurant for dinner, where Portia is there, literally just trying to eat a meal. Of course, she's pressured to leave, but not without a knowing glance at Albie, who is dining with his father and grandpa a few tables away. Grandpa calls out Dominic for cheating in a subtle way, mentioning how he flirts with young women because his desires have never aged. "You can relate to that, can't you?" he asks his son pointedly. At a nearby table, the Sullivans and the Spillers continue to be complete opposites, with the Spillers bickering over what to order and share and the Sullivans quickly agreeing on a dish with ease.

Being the diverse friends

Post-dinner, the Sullivans are seen talking smack about the Spillers in the same way the Spillers did about them when they arrived and settled in—the only difference is they're sickeningly annoying as a couple, laughing and giggling and being in love while the Spillers are totally boring and working in silence in the next room. After questioning what exactly the Sullivans are up to, Ethan notes that "it's good to have diverse friends." But Harper corrects him: "We're their diverse friends. Their white-passing diverse friends." She goes on to tell Ethan about the moment with Cameron in the room earlier that day... and shockingly, he doesn't think it's weird. His response is off-putting for sure, and I can't help but wonder how much he's willing to let slide when it comes to his college roommate.

Later, Tanya finds the two missing macaroons she didn't eat and brings them to Greg, who is whispering on the phone to someone behind a closed door in their hotel room. He claims it's a work call, and then makes a snide remark about how yeah, she didn't eat those two macaroons but she did eat "a whole panna cotta at dinner, so." If you're like me and you came into this season excited that Tanya and Greg were endgame, you might be hoping at this point that they break up by the end of the week. He clearly doesn't deserve her, nor did he truly "see" her as he claimed to in Hawaii.

Waking up in Sicily

The first episode of the season ends with an encounter between Dominic and Lucia in his hotel room that night. It's awkward and Dominic even tells her straight up that he doesn't have the capacity for conversation because of the stress of his life. He just wants sex, and she obliges... but something tells me this arrangement is about to get complicated fast. Episode two opens on our guests hours later in the middle of the night, with Lucia leaving Dominic's room early and Ethan heading out for his daily run as the sun starts to rise.

Harper wakes alone, and the Sullivans wake in each other's arms. Tanya wakes up to Greg sitting next to her in bed, staring strangely out into space. He claims he's fine, but it's a weird moment, and Tanya is visibly shaken by it. He watches with disdain as she drops things at the breakfast buffet afterward while trying to load up her plate. Full disclosure, if my husband gave me the eyes while I treated myself to Italian breakfast pastries, we'd have a problem, but luckily, Tanya's back is to Greg when it happens. Later, she asks Greg to fulfill her dream Italian vacation day with a Vespa ride and a romantic dinner, to which he agrees, so you forgive him for like, a second.

Portia is, of course, also at breakfast, but sneaks away—noticed by Greg, actually—when she sees her boss enter the buffet space and finds Albie, whom she sits with. She meets Dominic and gets reacquainted with Grandpa, who sees her as another attractive young woman to flirt with. He and Dominic get into it about Abby, Dominic's estranged wife, and why she and their daughter aren't on the trip, though it's clear Dominic doesn't want to say too much despite his father's berating. Grandpa invites Portia with the group on a local outing, which she agrees to after Albie doubles down.

A lack of morning sex

Harper gets roped into sitting with the Sullivans at breakfast, revealing that she's alone because of her husband's running routine. While Cameron steps away from the table to take a heated phone call about his lost bag, Daphne tells Harper that he's a patient guy, but when he hits the end of his rope, he'll "lose it." It definitely feels like a foreshadowing type of conversation, but this show is also great at red herrings, so it seems like it might be too early to tell. However, she claims they "never" fight.

When Harper gets back to the room, she awkwardly finds her husband watching porn, which upsets her. He doubles back and claims she doesn't enjoy morning sex, and isn't a morning person like he is. She offers to help him finish, but he says no and goes to shower. Harper follows him in and starts complaining about the Sullivans again, to which Ethan asserts that she's threatened by the couple. That assumption pisses her off, but the pair both agree that they have a solid relationship no matter what is going on with their friends. Another hint hint, nudge nudge moment if I've ever seen one.

Put it on my tab

Remember how I said the relationship between Dominic and Lucia was going to get complicated? Here's where that begins. Dominic separates from the group as they head out on their local excursion and brings Lucia and Mia into the hotel to make sure they get access at the front desk. Valentina, the hotel manager, previously kicked the girls out on grounds of prostitution, so she knows Dominic's ruse is just that, and, in order to keep them out, tells him the girls' names must be on the room for them to have hotel access. Reader, this idiot—yes, I do think this is a bad enough call to warrant the name-calling — up and has them added to the reservation without a second thought. Dominic tells the girls not to go overboard, that they can charge some food and drinks to the room but nothing excessive, and they excitedly agree. He also notes that he can't be seen with her. But these aren't the kind of girls who would listen anyway, and they immediately rack up a huge bill at a boutique in the resort.

On the beach, Cameron mildly confronts Harper about thinking he and his wife are "materialistic" after Ethan mentions Harper wants to start a non-profit. The concept prompts Daphne to explain how if she's had a lot to drink, she ends up donating "all the money" to as many charities she comes across while "scrolling."

Love is in the air?

The one-upping these characters have been doing with each other since they arrived comes to a minor head here, with Harper claiming she doesn't think the Sullivans are "materialistic" before dismissing herself for a swim. Cameron can't let a dead dog lie, though, and he follows Harper out to sea, where he confronts her again with the notion that "it's important" that she likes him and his wife. Harper feels noticeably weird about the encounter but tells him that she does, in fact, like them both. We see something different on her face, but Cameron takes her at her word.

That night, Mia convinces the bar pianist, whom she previously threw a drink on, to let her perform one song during his set. He does, and somewhat shockingly, it's an utterly spellbinding and simple rendition of "The Best Things In Life Are Free." Elsewhere, Portia and Albie travel to a local restaurant for a dinner together, but Tanya and Greg show up on their Vespa directly after. During their meal, Albie reveals that his father cheated on his mother "again" and got caught, which is why they aren't on the trip. He claims he doesn't want to be like his dad, proclaiming, "I refuse to have a bad relationship with women." On the one hand, it's noble, but on the other, it comes off somewhere in red flag territory. Albie hasn't given us a huge reason to distrust him, but people on this show are rarely entirely as they seem, right? After dinner, he walks Portia to her room and kisses her before making plans to hang out with her the next day. So we've got at least one new couple in the books this season. Well, I guess two if you count Lucia and Dominic.


At the hotel restaurant, the couples are having dinner when it's revealed that Ethan and Harper are trying for a baby despite not feeling all that great about bringing a child into the modern world. Ethan lets it slip, much to Harper's silent surprise, that their sexual schedules are opposite, with Ethan being a morning person and Harper being more of a night owl. Daphne tries to make them feel better about it by saying that it can be hard to sync up with your partner, especially when kids are in the picture. She claims mothering is "stressful" work for her, but parenting isn't as stressful for her husband. "The last one almost killed me," Cameron retorts before the couple reveals Daphne had an emergency C-section with their last child but the baby's heartbeat became undetectable during the process. It's a humanizing moment for these characters, giving the audience space to sympathize with them and, ultimately, complicate their loyalties within the story. It's a move that makes you question everyone, because no one truly knows a stranger's story, and in turn, what they're capable of.

At another table, Bert tells Dominic that what his real sin was in his transgressions was "being sloppy" in his cheating. He tells his son to fix things and get his act together, but his attraction to Lucia, or maybe just what she can offer, tugs at him as he sees her across the restaurant and they make eyes.

Cracks in the facade

Tayna thanks Greg at dinner for making her Italian dream come true before he drops the bomb on her that he has to go to Denver for two days (mind you, this trip is only a week) to take care of important work business. It turns into a pretty sizable fight, with Tanya claiming that Greg doesn't actually like her and that he won't be returning in a few days as he says before storming off. Back at the hotel, Harper tells Ethan that she doesn't love the way Cameron treats him, but promises she'll be more fun around the other couple. She proposes sex, but he rejects it, and they cuddle instead. It isn't the best end of the night for them but they close it out in a solid place, while the Sullivans talk crap about them and have sex in their room.

Life is full of temptations

Lucia and Mia offer their thanks—you know what kind—to Dominic that night in his room. He explains to Lucia that he's a sex addict and, after the talk with his father, he needs to get a handle on it to "turn his situation around" with his wife. But his resolve doesn't last and soon the girls are inside, blasting music, drinking with him, and getting in his hot tub. But instead of closing out on Dominic's conflicted bliss this time around, the episode goes out on a secret, hushed phone conversation Greg is having with someone on their balcony late at night, presumably the someone he had the last one with. 

"She's clueless, as usual," he says to the person. "I'll give you a call when I get in tomorrow. I love you, too." Tanya watches on as he carries on his call, never the wiser. It sets up any number of outlandish responses from Tanya, whom we know to be a slightly unpredictable firecracker of a woman, especially when she's been backed into some kind of corner. In a way, this is the storyline I'm most excited to see come into full view, but no matter which way you slice it, there is a lot going on at "The White Lotus" in Sicily this season—and we're along for the Vespa ride.