‘The White Lotus’: The Show’s Most Chilling Moments



CNN

The critically acclaimed series “The White Lotus” – which explores the lives of affluent guests in the playground of a luxury resort and the problems they encounter while interacting with locals and each other – was created by Mike White, who can be considered a maestro of shrinking.

If there’s any doubt, all you need to do is peruse some of his impressive previous work, such as “Enlightened” from ten years ago – in which Laura Dern played a well-meaning corporate employee whose lack of self-awareness is akin to a superpower. (“White Lotus” and “Enlightened” are from HBO, which, like CNN, is part of the same parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery.)

But with multiple Emmy-winning “Lotus,” White, who has said his own “threshold for awkwardness is very low”, has more than come into its own, creating scathing portraits of on-paper great hotel guests who (sometimes) become quiet monsters as they try to escape their problems and relax while on vacation.

In honor of the imminent end of the shenanigans at The White Lotus in Sicily for the second season finale this weekend (don’t worry, there’s one more season coming, even though the show was originally intended to be a one-off limited series), here’s a look back at the most spine-chilling moments from seasons 1 and 2, arranged in levels of creepiness.

While some viewers were pissed that pregnant Lani (Jolene Purdy of “Donnie Darko” fame) was never seen again in the show’s first season after giving birth at the resort in the debut episode, the move highlighted how fleeting and expendable hotel staff and hospitality service providers can be observed, which in turn further widened the gap between entitled White Lotus guests and the staff who stubbornly tried to accommodate them. Still, it’s one of the first slap-on-brow moments of many in the series to see manager Armond (Murray Bartlett) forget Lani’s name multiple times – even after her water breaks in front of his reception desk. (“Honorable” mention: Emmy winner Bartlett’s off-the-wagon hotel manager also gets major points for the final episode of the season, for an insane scatological act that ends up being more downright gross than ridiculous).

Jennifer Coolidge (center) in Season 1 of

Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge) is a woman whose navel gazing knows absolutely no bounds, and it comes to a head when she embarks on an extremely awkward journey in season 1 (she’s one of only two characters to appear in both seasons) on a small boat named Shane (Jake Lacy) and Rachel (Alexandra Daddario) – who thought they would have the ship to themselves for a romantic dinner (in fact, this couple goes through an array of creepy moments throughout the season, especially when Shane’s mother, played by White regular Molly Shannon, surprises the honeymoon couple with a bizarre visit). While the viewer can enjoy Tanya’s frenzied display of emotion, the look on Jake’s face is enough to make anyone want to jump overboard.

Haley Lu Richardson and Adam DiMarco in Season 2 of 'The White Lotus'.

Season 2 of the show introduced a team of mostly new characters, with perhaps the most bumbling Albie (Adam DiMarco) – a sweet-natured young man on a family trip with his father and grandfather. When he meets Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) – the duped personal assistant with a rather bleak view of her situation – he feels he’s hit the jackpot, at one point telling her he’s attracted to “wounded birds.” .. what the expected effect. Still, the couple tries to cement their union, largely because there’s no one better around…that is, until the arrival of flirtatious Briton Jack (Leo Woodal), who takes Portia to a party shack directly adjacent to where the dumped Albie dutifully on her watch. her with a stored chaise longue. Shrink.

Murray Bartlett in Season 1 of 'The White Lotus'.

While there are two sex scenes in the series where women walk in on men – one in each season – it would be inaccurate to mention Tanya’s testimony of Jack and his “uncle” Quentin (Tom Hollander) towards the end of the season. 2 as chilling, partly because she doesn’t get caught. But when season 1 wellness worker Belinda (Natasha Rothwell) and hotel guest Shane open the door to Armond’s office – and find him engaged in a very NSFW sexual act with his underling Dillon (Lukas Gage), the cringiness is beyond the charts, because 1. they are working, and 2. in recovery Armond is clearly spiraling here.

Sabrina Impacciatore (L) and Eleonora Romandini in 'The White Lotus' Season 2.

Sometimes it’s the smaller scenes that are the loudest in terms of “eeeeek” on the awkwardness scale. With White Lotus Sicily manager Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore), White has beautifully built a driven and capable employer that nevertheless has a pretty big blind spot. Throughout Season 2, Valentina barks sharp orders at her male staff (as well as men at a nearby cafe), but when she sees her crush Isabella (Eleonora Romandini), her voice softens and her substantial guard comes down – so much so that she doesn’t realize how inappropriate it is to gift her employee jewelry. The look on Isabella’s face is all you need to turn off the TV and take a break.

Kekoa Scott Kekumano in Season 1 of 'The White Lotus'.

Even though you could see it coming from a mile away, the way things turned out for Kai (Kekoa Kekumano) – after she was urged to steal by Paula (Brittany O’Grady) to try and get out of debt and not have to working for a company that in turn stole land from its ancestors – is cringe-inducing and heartbreakingly realistic in equal parts. What’s worse is that while Kai’s life is seemingly ruined, Paula is able to put behind her the mess she unknowingly caused.

Natasha Rothwell (L) and Jennifer Coolidge in 'The White Lotus' Season 1.

Part of what made “TWL” season 1 so remarkable was how it commented on different class levels and the innate and almost automatic racism and elitism that happens when they mix. Add in Tanya’s particular brand of “alcoholic crazy” narcissism (her words, not mine), and it makes for a trainwreck-level mess. The final conversation between Tanya and poor Belinda (again)—who had sent her a good-faith business proposal after Tanya pitched the idea of ​​helping her start her own wellness business—is perhaps the most devastating moment on the show. Tanya’s ability to look up and look out of herself at this point, just enough to be pathetically apologetic, is disappointing to say the least, while Belinda collapses into I-should-know-better tears. “The last thing I need in my life is another transactional relationship,” says Tanya, holding a thick envelope of cash in her purse, which she hands to Belinda to avoid too much guilt before heading out the door.

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