The White Lotus is back, and it started off much the way the last season did: at the end. This time, though, we’re at a White Lotus resort in Sicily, and there are multiple murders over the course of a week.
Despite that spicy setup, the episode was a bit of a drag, but I’m trying to excuse it because it’s essentially a pilot episode. We’re given brief introductions to lots of new characters, but nothing substantial enough to be satisfying. The only person we spend enough time with is Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya McQuoid-Hunt, who is now married to that awful BLM (Bureau of Land Management) guy.
Because we’re already familiar with much of Tanya’s neuroses and Greg’s blandness, we jump right into their dynamic. After they arrive (separately), Greg berates Coolidge for bringing her assistant, Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), and in an attempt to make up for that, Tanya turns to the bedroom. Coolidge is the only woman left in Hollywood who can walk: Her saunter out of the bathroom, tits first like an old-school pageant queen, then rubbing her new husband’s foot on her cheap-looking negligee? Iconic. Greg, typically, ruins it, rebuffing her by citing “swamp crotch.” Gross.
What followed was the funniest (and saddest) scene in the episode, in which Tanya and Greg finally get it on—only for Tanya to push him completely off the bed because she was surprised, and we realize she’s dissociating during sex. Later, she later finds him having a whispered conversation that sounds like he wants a divorce. It’s such a bummer, and makes me want to reintroduce her to the UPS guy.
We also get to know the other Americans at the resort. Portia, the aforementioned assistant, has been banished to her room and is actually taking her captivity seriously. She’s on a free trip to Italy, her boss tells her to essentially stay in her room for the whole week, and Portia listens?! Couldn’t be me.
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Aubrey Plaza’s Harper Spiller and her husband Ethan, played by Will Sharpe, have good chemistry, but very little physical love for each other at the moment. Conversely, their travel companions, Theo James’s Cameron Sullivan and Meghann Fahy’s Daphne, cannot keep their hands off each other. It’s uneven in a too obvious way—but also feels like a problem that will iron itself out: Either their relationships will shift, or some of them will be murdered.
Finally, there’s the three generations of Sicilian American men traveling together: F. Murray Abraham as grandfather Bert Di Grasso; Michael Imperioli as son Dominic; and Adam DiMarco as grandson Albie. The first two generations are misogynists, but Albie seems like a sweetie who wants to smooch Portia after a poolside meet-cute. These men have the weirdest and most fun dynamic so far, which includes conducting a very open and detailed conversation about penises over dinner. (The grandfather still considers himself virile by the way. Albie thinks young people shouldn’t have to see such old dicks.)
I respect how quickly Mike White can pull together a show, particularly in comparison to Succession, HBO’s other show about the uber-rich and perpetually sad. I cannot wait to see who gets murdered and who does it. (Sorry—but they’re all fictional!) My money’s on at least one of the victims being one of the Italian sex workers who keep trying to sneak onto the resort property, killed by either the grandfather (who is suggested as having dementia) or father (who is hiring the woman).
- A Theo James dick shot in episode 1 is a promising sign of things to come.
- Haley Lu Richardson (Tanya’s assistant Portia) must go on all the same auditions as Zoey Deutch.
- I cannot even think about Greg’s repeated “How do you expect to lose weight?” comments to Tanya.
- “It’s a penis, not a sunset” was a great line. Give Mike White another award.
- Valentina, the uptight resort manager, doesn’t quite scratch the same itch as Murray Bartlett’s Armond from season 1, but she could grow on me.