Mike White breaks down ‘The White Lotus’ finale’s most shocking moment

Still image of HBO's 'The White Lotus'
Photo via HBO

Spoilers ahead for the season 2 finale of The White Lotus, “Arrivederci…”

Well, we finally learned whose body was found in the water at the beginning of season 2 of The White Lotus. Viewers were shocked to learn that it was none other than returning character Tanya McQuoid, who died falling off the yacht during her escape attempt and boinking her head — but not before singlehandedly taking out a faction of murderous gays and one mafia-adjacent.

Although she finally put the scheme together, which was evidently orchestrated by her husband Greg (John Gries), who seemingly worked with Quentin (Tom Hollander) on a plot to murder her so he would inherit her fortune and they could split the cash — Tanya ultimately died as stupidly as she apparently had lived. But at least her death will not have been in vain, as fans are have been mourning the character with an outpouring of memes that will keep her alive in our hearts.

After the finale aired, HBO ran a short featurette with series creator Mike White who explained why it had to be Tanya all along, and how the cards were actually in play all the way back in the season 1 finale, via The Wrap.

“In the end of last season, Tanya is sitting with Greg in the last episode and he’s talking about his health issues and she says, ‘I’ve had every kind of treatment over the years. Death is the last immersive experience I haven’t tried.’ And I was thinking it’d be so fun to bring Tanya back because she’s such a great character, but maybe that’s the journey for her is like a journey to death.

And not that I really wanted to kill Tanya because I love her as a character and I obviously love Jennifer. But I just felt like you know we’re going to Italy, she’s such a diva, larger-than-life female archetype, it just felt like we could devise our own operatic conclusion to Tanya’s life and her story.”

However, White also explained why Tanya had to die in a way that only Tanya could. Sure, she could have climbed down the back of the yacht’s ladder to reach the boat, or just jumped in the water, or used one of the dead men’s phones to call for help. Or even just waited out the situation!

“I just think her dying at the hands of someone else felt too tragic. It felt like she needed to give her best fight back, and that she in a way had some kind of victory over whoever was conspiring to get rid of her. So it just made me laugh to think she would take out [this] cabal of killers and that after she successfully does that, she just dies this derpy death. It just felt like that’s so Tanya.”

White also teased season 3, which the series has already been renewed for. If the pattern continues, it only makes sense that a season 2 character will turn up in a new location with a cast of all new characters. And there are loose strings left hanging! After all, Portia knows things, and surely Greg isn’t in the clear? At the very least, Portia might put it together why Greg really, really didn’t want her in Sicily when they first arrived.

“I think as far as what happens to Greg and the conspiracy of Tanya’s death, it’s possible that I think Portia is scared enough to just leave it alone but the fact that all of those guys die on the boat feels like there’s gotta be somebody who’s gonna track it back down to Greg. But maybe you’ll have to wait to find out what happens.”

Season 3 can’t get here fast enough.