The White Lotus Season 2 Episode 1 Recap: Ciao

Image Credit: Fabio Lovino/HBO

After the immense critical and commercial success of the first season of ‘The White Lotus,’ HBO’s biting satire drama series about the guests and staff of the eponymous hotel, a second season was greenlighted, even though the original plan was for the show to be a limited series. In season 2, the setting is different, as are most of the main characters. While the first season takes place in Hawaii, season 2 introduces us to the guests and staff of the Sicilian branch of the hotel chain. Jennifer Coolidge reprises her role as Tanya McQuoid, the troubled multi-millionaire who invokes revulsion and sympathy in equal measure. Tanya’s boyfriend-turned-husband, Greg (Jon Gries), also makes his return. The other characters are new additions this season, and most of them are entitled and privileged in various degrees.

In season 2 episode 1, titled ‘Ciao,’ the central mystery of the season is established in the very first sequence. We learn that several guests are dead, though it is unclear who they are and why they are dead. The story then shifts a week back and restarts with the guests’ arrival at the hotel. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘The White Lotus’ season 2 episode 1. SPOILERS AHEAD.

The White Lotus Season 2 Episode 1 Recap

Like season 1, the second season of ‘The White Lotus’ begins with a flashforward. One of the main characters of the show, Daphne Babcock (Meghan Fahy), chats with a couple of new arrivals about how wonderful her stay at the White Lotus has been and how she wishes that she doesn’t have to leave. Daphne then walks into the sea for one last swim and discovers a dead body, prompting her to swim back screaming and alert the authorities. The victim’s identity isn’t revealed; we only know they are white and one of the guests at the White Lotus.

The local law enforcement seems to think that their death was caused by drowning. The second season makes it quite clear that it’s not the manager like in the first season by not only revealing the victim is a guest but also showing the manager of the Sicilian branch, Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore), in the flashforward scene, very much alive and realizing that she is about to have the worst day of her career. It is then revealed that quite a few guests are dead. This effectively raises the stake from what it is in season 1 and complicates the narrative.

Image Credit: Fabio Lovino/HBO

The episode then shifts back to a week before and depicts the arrival of the guests (again, just like in the first season). We are introduced to Ethan Spiller (Will Sharpe),  a tech genius who has recently made millions by selling his company, and his employment lawyer wife, Harper (Aubrey Plaza). The couple has come to Sicily as the guests of investment bro Cameron Babcock (Theo James) and his stay-at-home wife, Daphne. There are also three generations of Di Grasso men. Bert (F. Murray  Abraham), his son Dominic (Michael Imperioli), and Dominic’s son Albie (Adam DiMarco).

In this season, Tanya has an assistant, Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), who has some inclination about what an apathetic monster her employer can be. Tanya tells Portia to remain hidden after Greg expresses his displeasure about the assistant’s presence at what was supposed to be a holiday for him and his wife. Two local sex workers, Mia (Beatrice Grannò) and Lucia (Simona Tonasco), round up the cast of characters. Mia and Lucia are this season’s Paula and Olivia, though they are not remotely the caricature of the modern-day college liberalism the latter two are.

The White Lotus Season 2 Episode 1 Ending: Who Are Dead in the Flashforward?

The core mystery that is set to drive the plot in the second season of ‘The White Lotus’ involves the deaths of multiple guests mentioned in the flashforward. Although we don’t know who they are and what circumstances led to their deaths, we can speculate about it from what we know. The first victim whom Daphne finds can’t definitely be Cameron. Her reaction would have been entirely different if it were her own husband. We can rule out Ethan and Harper for the same reason.

Image Credit: Fabio Lovino/HBO

The first season underscores the ability of the privileged class to avoid consequences for their actions while the less fortunate inevitably suffers because of it. If that is the prevalent theme in season 2 as well, we can narrow down the list of potential victims to Portia, who seems to see the trip to Italy as a way to escape the constraints of her life in America. Unfortunately for Portia, she has associated herself with Tanya. Albie is also a potential victim. Although he is very much part of the privileged class, he is the least offensive member of a family where the grandfather is either a shameless flirt or an elderly sexual harasser, depending on who you ask, and the father appears to be loathed by other members of the family if his conversation with his wife is any indication.

The two sex workers are also potential victims. We know they can get into the hotel even when the staff is actively looking for them. Perhaps when their bodies are found, the initial investigation erroneously catalogs them as guests.

 Who Contacted Lucia?

Image Credit: Fabio Lovino/HBO

As the guests arrive at the White Lotus and are received by the hotel staff, Lucia and Mia watch them from afar. We learn one of the guests arriving on the 12 o’clock boat contacted Lucia. It is later revealed that the person is Dominic, a successful Hollywood executive. This scene, combined with his earlier interaction with his wife, heavily implies that Dominic is a sex addict, and that fits the pattern of the Di Grasso family. The scene also allows both Lucia and Mia an entry among the guests of the White Lotus.

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