Warning: This post contains minor spoilers for episode four of The White Lotus.
In the first few moments of The White Lotus season two, Daphne (Meghann Fahy), one of our new guests vacationing in the Sicilian hotel, finds a drowned body drifting in the ocean. A hotel staffer, Rocco (Federico Ferrante), proceeds to inform the hotel manager that “other guests have been killed,” and when pressed for a number, he simply replies “a few.” Immediately, it is made clear that unlike the first season of the Mike White show, this second installment boasts a high body count. Very much like the first season, we are whisked back a week before any of the chaos began.
Let’s see if we can figure out who the dead guests are.
Who couldn’t it be?
Let’s remind you about this season’s new guests and Italian locals. There is the aforementioned Daphne, Rocco, and hotel manager Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore). We know for certain that they are alive, although that doesn’t mean they aren’t involved in the deaths (more on that later).
Who could be dead?
Joining Daphne for the holiday is her husband, the philandering Cameron (Theo James), his old college friend, and newly wealthy, Ethan (Will Sharpe), and his wife, Harper (Aubrey Plaza). The only returning characters from season one are Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) and her current husband, Greg (Jon Gries). Tanya has, much to the annoyance of Greg, brought her assistant, Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), along on the vacation. Tanya later strikes up a friendship with Tom Hollander’s Quentin, and Portia strikes up a more-than-friendship with Quentin’s nephew, Jack (Leo Woodall).
Rounding up the guests is a family of three-generations of Italian-American men. There’s the loose-lipped Bert (F. Murray Abraham), his sex-addicted son, Dominic (Michael Imperioli), and Dominic’s Stanford graduate son, Albie (Adam DiMarco). Also present are two Italian locals, Lucia (Simona Tabasco), a sex worker Dominic approached online prior to his arrival, and her friend, Mia (Beatrice Grannò), an aspiring singer.
Are there any clues?
Much like season one of The White Lotus, Mike White hasn’t left many breadcrumbs as to the identities of the dead guests. In fact, the show (perhaps to its credits), hasn’t spent much time bogged down with the murder mystery element. However, there have been some choice comments made by the characters which were either intended as clues or red herrings. Like any good detective, we’ve taken these clues to compile our list of possible dead bodies.
Who are our guesses?
If anyone “deserves” to die on the show, it is probably James’ condescending cheat, Cameron, but that’s not enough to qualify him for our list, so let’s see what clues there are pointing to his death.
Rocco, in the first episode, details the fable of the “Testa di Moro” to Cameron, Daphne, Ethan, and Harper. In this story, a Moor arrived in Sicily and seduced a local girl. When she found out that he had a wife and children, she cut his head off as retribution. As if to hammer home the point, Ethan asks, “So if you put one of those outside of your house, what are you saying?” to which Cameron replies, “If you come into my house, don’t f*ck my wife.” Daphne quickly adds, “It’s a warning to husbands, babe—screw around and you’ll end up buried in the garden.”
We later find out that Daphne is aware of Cameron’s infidelity, so was this just a random remark, or was it actually a warning to her husband? A warning he pointedly doesn’t heed. Is it a coincidence that Daphne was the one that found the body in the ocean? If she was a murderer, would there be any better alibi than a whole beach of people who witnessed you frantically discover the drowned body?
At the time of writing, Cameron has not paid Lucia and Mia in full for the night they spent together. Will he settle his debt or shortchange them? I could see why being cheated out of your payment would make someone very angry—maybe even angry enough to confront Cameron in front of his wife and friends. If Cameron continues to cross more and more people as the week goes on, I wonder how many enemies he would have made by the end of his vacation? More importantly, how many would want to see him dead?
2. Lucia and/or Mia
Speaking of Lucia and Mia, their drug-fueled night with Cameron followed by a very hurried and embarrassing evacuation in the subsequent morning has very different effects on them. Lucia begins to feel a sense of shame and sadness about what she must do to make money, eventually venturing into a red herring-heavy dread. “And now we are going to be punished…all whores are punished in the end,” she says to Mia. That isn’t ominous at all, is it?
Mia, on the other hand, comes out of her experience with Cameron liberated. “Having sex knowing exactly what you’re going to get out of it is not so bad,” she explains, much to Lucia’s dismay. Mia is now emboldened to sleep with Giuseppe, the lounge singer who promises to help her music career, in an old chapel, no less, under the watchful (and judging) eyes of several religious paintings. It feels like the type of sudden and steep decline that could only be punctuated by a hard stop, for example mourning your best friend or even your own death.
If anything, the biggest clues as to Lucia and Mia’s potential demise might be in the first season. As evidenced in the first season, Mike White doesn’t seem particularly interested in giving the terrible, privileged elite their comeuppance. If anything, his work probably argues that the privileged are bubbled off from the repercussions of their actions, and the people who suffer the most are the hotel staff who are on the receiving end of the guest’s whims. If any character(s) was to continue this theme, I would expect it would be the local sex workers who have now engaged in sexual activity with three of the hotel guests.
“[T]his is such a beautiful view. I wonder if anyone has ever jumped from here.” Those are actual words that Tanya says in episode two. Now, this could just be another eccentric comment from a very eccentric character. Nonetheless, it finds itself on the red herring pile.
Another layer on that pile is the story Quentin relays to Tanya about the Swedish woman who owned a house on a nearby island— Isola Bella. She refused to sell it to the “powerful, local investors,” and her body is then found at the bottom of the rocks. This story opens up the possibility that one of the deaths could have been for financial gain. Greg is pretty livid about the prenup he had to sign before marrying Tanya. Considering he is visibly unhappy in the marriage, could killing her be the best way to get out of the relationship while also not losing his money? Of course everyone thinks he has traveled back for work so that could be a good alibi.
Taking a step out of the TV world for a second, Tanya is definitely the only character it would make real-world sense to kill. Her storyline is the only continuing one from season one, so her death here would bring an end to that story while simultaneously avoiding the temptation to bring her back for future seasons.
Honestly, we don’t have any tangible reason to believe that the recently arrived Jack is one of the dead bodies floating in the ocean. However, the first time we meet him is in the pool, so there could be a bit of thematic symmetry if the last time we see him also is in a body of water. Jack has struck up a connection with Portia in recent episodes. His death could directly affect a working-class character who has been open about her mental health struggles that have only been exacerbated by her demanding boss.
Okay, we admit, the options are getting a bit far-fetched now, but there’s a method to the madness. Isabella is conspicuously absent at the beginning of the season when we find out about the dead “guests.” Valentina, the hotel manager, has also been growing closer to Isabella in recent weeks. Her death would create a personal connection for Valentina, again corresponding to the theme of the working class being on the receiving end of the tragedy.
Granted, some of our options are a little more credible than others, but that’s part of the fun about a show like this; the dead bodies could be exactly who you expect or someone you never considered at all. I guess we’ll just have to wait to see what White has in store for us.