“White Lotus” season two pairs satire with suspense in a new flipped mystery

Everything seems fine until it’s not, and then you’re left to put the pieces together

Austin Winslow, Staff Writer

If you still haven’t seen the new season of “White Lotus” on HBO Max, you are surely in the minority.
This comedy-drama TV series features Audrey Plaza, Theo James, Jennifer Coolidge and Michael Imperioli from “The Sopranos” all in one talent-packed cast.
Both seasons follow dramatic storylines concluding in a tragic death during the final episode. And both opening episodes start with the scene of the death, while keeping the identity of the victim a secret until the much-later murder scene.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler. Because the fact that someone dies isn’t the point. What matters is the identity of the victim.
“White Lotus” is different from many other drama shows in that most of the drama is saved for the final episode. Part of the suspense is that nothing is put together until the last minute.
Everything seems fine until it’s not, and then you’re left to put together the pieces from previous episodes.
I enjoyed this aspect as I was able to watch the show with friends and speculate on how the events of earlier episodes were going to come together.
Coolidge’s character, Tanya McQuoid-Hunt, is placed further into the spotlight after getting married.
She befriends a group of gay Italian men, and continues to wreak havoc on her own life with her emotional personality and naive confidence in the well-meaning nature of other characters. This contributes to the suspense, and Coolodge’s acting contributed generously to my idea of what was going to happen in the end.
Meanwhile, Harper Spiller (Audrey Plaza) and her husband Ethan are on vacation with Ethan’s college friend Cameron Sullivan (Theo James) and his wife.
Tension builds when Harper expresses discontent with the shallow nature of the other couple, and as she begins to notice flaws in her own marriage as well. Plaza was probably my favorite actor in this season because of the complex character she portrays.
This season felt slightly less egregious than the first season, but still hits on many points of social criticism.
For example, James’ character builds a persona off of his lavish lifestyle and disingenuous relationship with his wife. When it turns out later in the season that things aren’t quite as they seemed, it critiques the relationships of the wealthy and how much priority is given to emotional comfort.
I found Cameron Sullivan’s relationship with his wife particularly representative of this downfall because of the mutual acknowledgement of their imperfect relationship and the unspoken ways it manifests.
Finally, Coolidge’s character Tanya works through her suspicions with her new husband Greg, with naivety that comments on inherited wealth and its recipients. I liked how Coolidge’s acting points to this conclusion, often in humorous ways, including Tanya’s lack of social awareness.
Season one is entirely different from this new season, which adds to the impact for me. Coolidge’s character is the only tie to the previous season, which means there aren’t many strings attached.
One common theme is that what happens to the wealthy families in both seasons appears to be humorous commentary on their position. But the satire differs between seasons one and two.
The hyperbole in the characters’ actions tells people how not to act (towards the hotel staff, for example), while also being really funny. When a third season is (hopefully) released, I hope to see this theme of criticism and comedy continue to develop and potentially tie the seasons together.
The only way to fully understand the complicated reality of “White Lotus” season two is to watch it in its entirety.
While it is not a show you can play in the background of your schoolwork, it’s worth the time in laughter (even in the final episode, if your sense of humor is a little dark like mine).