Cameron and Daphne walk through poison vials, and yet the whole affair seems to have injected Ethan and Harper’s marriage with some needed suspense and mystery, leaving them in an eerily happier place than where they started, even if it could eventually evolve to a game of endless dishonesty and vengeance. Sex for Cameron and Daphne seems to be both pleasure and punishment; their relationship is maintained by willfully shrugging off each other’s infidelities. They both seem psychotically competitive enough that even if the arrangement doesn’t make them happy, they are all determined to win in the marriage.
DM: I think Mike White tied it all together perfectly. If you think about it, all the guests and staff actually came away happier – except doomed opera heroine Tanya – and with more sex – except Bert, who at least got a semi-final thanks to a hug from Mia. Even Portia had the adventure she seemed so desperate for, even if it meant being left alone in a creepy neighborhood threatened by the Velvet Mafia.
Tanya’s storyline was ridiculous, but so was that character. Her running around that boat and going to the post was shocking and tense, but also downright camp. I will miss her next season! Oh, and the last shot of Mia and Lucia was perfect – including the reveal that Lucia’s “pimp” Alessio was really just a friend who worked at another hotel (Side note: I went back and watched the first episode of this season and greeted Lucia Alessio actually resurrected in her very first scene walking down the street with Mia (the signs were there!).
But really, I’m just in awe of Meghan Fahy’s performance as Daphne in this episode. This was a character I completely misjudged and got more complex as the season progressed (if you watch the first episodes this weekend you’ll see she’s working harder than some of the staff to keep the mood light-hearted among her group!). The climax scene of this finale with Ethan (Will Sharpe) featured some of the most amazing capital-a-acting I’ve seen this year, as we watch her reckon with her husband’s infidelity and the betrayal of yet another friend (again), choosing instead to be lenient. Emmy!
Are we surprised who is dead?
JW: Unfortunately not. It felt like Tanya was walking dead all season, barely aware of her surroundings. That her immediate follow-up to her carnage was “Is Greg having an affair?” that says it all. And if she had used 2% of her brain, she could have easily left the yacht. Hashtag Darwinism.
ET: Not really. Tanya’s lack of perspective and her dependence on those around her make her a tragic figure. She has no resources! She doesn’t know how to forge connections with people! You tell me you saw Jack fucking his “uncle” and you didn’t think to tell Portia? You tell me you suspect your husband is having an affair and you don’t send 20 private investigators after him? She’s as rich as God, and she has no common sense. She is prone to flattery from anyone, so she would always suffer. I also think that Quentin is essentially the same as Tanya – unreasonably obsessed with a man who doesn’t love him, and it also made sense that he would go down with the ship.
DM: Yes, even if it felt like this last episode or two made no secret of where it was going. l used to be surprised she went out the way it was Gunfight at the OK Corral – or, to use a more appropriate movie metaphor, The godfather.
VW: There were giant, flashy, Vegas-style signs pointing to Tanya being the victim, especially after the opera. “Seppuku,” she said. “I can relate.” Still, Tanya was such a vicious emotional bloodsucker in season 1 that it was hard for me to imagine her character making a 180 and becoming a victim in season 2. I even wondered if she’d be the one whose privilege allowed her to get away come up with murder this time. I suppose she would have gotten away with shooting everyone else on the boat if it wasn’t for herself. Perhaps this was her “karmic payment” for unknowingly abusing people with her wealth.
What about who committed the murder?
ET: Many people suspected that Tanya would be killed off: Greg’s sketchy character, the clues about Greg and Quentin’s relationship, and that sad story about the betrayed wife and Isola Bella all pointed to her being the central figure this season. But I don’t think there would have been anything interesting about her murder the way these parched aristocrats had planned. The path was marked too strongly. All that tension in the finale was because we knew that Portia and Tanya were in big trouble, and structurally it made sense that there would be some kind of reversal.
JW: I actually suspected that Tanya was going to be the killer – but, like, after she shunned Greg + Quentin, not because Portia put her in the path of “Oh shit! I’m in danger gurrrrrl!” I clutched my pearls as Tanya made her way to the ladies’ room to get the black murder bag, and screamed as she opened fire seemingly everywhere, but somehow managed to kill three people. I’m disappointed we didn’t learn more from Quentin himself about his plot/intentions.)
VW: I was so distracted by Niccoló and the murder weapon that I thought he would get the job done. Tanya was stranded on a yacht anyway. I did not imagine she can point and fire a gun; the woman can hardly walk in a straight line! Who could have foreseen Tanya’s tragically clumsy ‘seppuku’? She tries to be brave and get off the boat, and her last words, “You got this,” uttered just before entering the water, really touched me. Sometimes you just can’t save yourself, and she’s a woman who really can’t seem to do anything.
What kinds of foreshadowings were evident in this season?
ET: Well, they literally deployed Chekhov’s gun. That was pretty funny. There were a lot of cultural references — The godfather was a good one. On TikTok, people interpreted the similarities between Tanya’s outfit and the Apollonia mannequin as certain doom for poor old Tanya.
JW: Well, certainly not 90% of what TikTokers served me over the past two weeks.
VW: This whole season was just a foreshadowing. Mike White leaned even more into the murder mystery dynamic with the audience, and I’m glad he decided to have some fun with us.
DM: Two things immediately come to mind that show how death haunts Tanya. The first is the story that Quentin tells Tanya about the rich old Swedish lady who was thrown into the sea upon her death by the thugs who were looking for Isola Bella. That’s pretty much how Tanya met her end, except she took out a few along the way.
The other is that wonderful moment in the second episode when Tanya was cosplaying as an Italian movie star that hotel manager Valentina thought was Peppa Pig. “I’m Monica Vitti,” Tanya insists.
“Monica Vitti is dead,” says Valentina.