Season 2 of HBO’s smash hitbegan with a dead body, just like season 1, before zooming back seven days to reveal how we got here. The question hanging over every episode: who is the dead body floating along the shore in the prologue? And also, how did it get there? How many other deaths were there, and how did they happen?
Warning: Spoilers ahead for The White Lotus season 1 and 2.
There is other connective tissue between the two seasons — both follow a week in the life of the vacationing rich at the fictional White Lotus resort chain (first Hawaii, now Italy), and both feature Jennifer Coolidge at her most Jennifer Coolidgey — but other than that, it’s technically an anthology series. This means we can make some inferences about what’s to come based on what happened last season, but showrunner Mike White won’t necessarily retread familiar territory.
, the dead body ended up belonging to resort manager Armond (Murray Bartlett). But what about ? We’ll have to wait until the season 2 finale for these answers. In the meantime, all we can do is speculate.
Here’s what we know as of episode 6
Season 2 episode 1, Ciao, opens with Daphne (Meghann Fahey) applying sunscreen on a beach chair, alone. She’s taking one last dip in the sparkling Ionian sea before getting on a plane to go home. While she splashes around, she comes across — what else? — a dead body and runs to shore screaming. Crucially, her initial response to the body is a genuine “What the fuck?” Since she’s alone in the water, there’s no reason to interpret her shock and surprise as a performance. However, as of episode 6, Daphne is starting to seem more and more like a fully dissociated psychopath. Also, as we will soon learn, this is not going to be the only corpse.
Hotel manager Valentina arrives on the scene, and she’s promptly informed by Rocco, another hotel employee, that there’s been a death. “Salvatore says other bodies have been found,” he says. How many guests are dead? “A few.”
So we have three characters who definitely survive the week: Daphne, Valentina and Rocco. At the most, everyone else is dead. And at the least, one of the other main characters is dead, along with “a few” others we’ll never know. It’s also possible that the body count could even increase after the events of the first scene. Let’s take a closer look.
Which characters are most (and least) likely to die in The White Lotus season 2?
Bert (F. Murray Abraham): Bert is “quite old” (Valentina’s words), and he already took a tumble at the pool, followed by a run-in with the remote control, which left him “concussed” and conspicuously bandaged. Now’s as good a time as any. Plus, what else is his “there is no homecoming” speech but a self-eulogy?
Didier (Bruno Gouery) and Matteo (Francesco Zecca): If several White Lotus guests have to die, it makes sense that at least one or two would be minor characters. Quentin’s coterie of men with little hats and mustaches just screams collateral damage.
Greg (Jon Gries): I don’t know if all that conversation about Greg’s poor health last season was a ruse, but what I do know is that Greg is up to something, and it involves Quentin. Tanya finds an old photo of a young Greg and Quentin in episode 6, all but proving a popular fan theory that Greg is Quentin’s Wyoming cowboy. My guess is something goes awry with the plan to scam Tanya and, since we’re pretty certain she survives (see below), it’s Greg — and maybe Quentin? — who don’t make it home alive. Then again, The White Lotus loves a red herring — and it seems to hate a comeuppance.
Quentin (Tom Hollander): It’s clear by now that Quentin is non buono. Besides likely being in cahoots with Greg, Quentin et. al have a high likelihood of death-by-drowning by the mere fact of their impending boat ride. To return to The White Lotus resort, the whole palazzo party crew will need to hop aboard. It would be a fitting twist for this show if the dramatic death reveal ended up being a run-of-the-mill marine accident. Or, perhaps Quentin will meet the same fate as the Isola Bella matriarch and his crumbling villa will eventually open up to the public, too.
Ethan (Will Sharpe): All three of Daphne’s travel companions are absent from the first scene. But Daphne tells the newcomers in episode 1 specifically that “we” leave in a few hours. If someone from her party survives, it’s possible it’s Ethan. Then again, episode 3’s jet ski antics seemed to foreshadow some danger in the water. Perhaps the dynamic duo isn’t quite done running waves. And perhaps those waves won’t be as calm the next time around. If the boat wreck theory doesn’t pan out, maybe it’ll be a game of jet ski chicken instead. Or maybe Ethan leaves the resort early in a fit of despair and ends up in a boating accident entirely separate from the other guests.
Harper (Audrey Plaza): Daphne may be cool with her husband’s infidelity, but probably not if Harper’s involved. In Noto, Daphne explicitly invoked girl code and asked Harper if she was trustworthy. Now that Harper may have done the deed with Cameron (or at least made it look like she did), I wouldn’t be surprised if Daphne were to orchestrate Harper’s demise, in the spirit of “do what you have to do to make yourself feel better about it.”
Portia (Haley Lu Richardson): As of episode 6’s last scene, Portia is onto Jack, which suggests she may just have time to save herself from whatever nefarious plot Quentin has planned. However, she’s another easy candidate for collateral damage, and she’ll likely spend some time on a boat next week. Still, Portia has atoned for her earlier sartorial sins and thus will probably survive the trip and leave Sicily with a suitcase of Limited Too knockoffs and crocheted Gilligan hats.
Jack (Leo Woodall): I could go either way on Jack, and I think the arc of justice within the White Lotus universe is probably equally ambivalent. (Is he a victim or a villain here?) In favor of his death: I see a boat in his future. In favor of his survival: he’s too young to die!
Dominic (Michael Imperioli): Dominic’s sad, lonely walk on the beach in episode 5 seemed a potential swan song for the “feminist” lech. His character arc can go one of two ways — he either turns his life around, or he doesn’t. By this point, he seems to have made inroads on the former, releasing Lucia from his payroll and even turning from porn. And this may be where his character ends. We know that Dom’s wife was voiced by the inimitable Laura Dern in episode 1. What we don’t know is whether Laura Dern will make another appearance this season. According to IMDb, we should not expect further Dern-age, which suggests to me that this vacation may be Dominic’s last.
Albie (Adam DiMarco): The show’s aversion to comeuppance suggests to me that the privileged Stanford grad “nice guy” is probably not going to be shown the door.
Giuseppe (Federico Scribani): After overdosing on something that was definitely not Viagra, Giuseppe has left his post at the piano bench open. For all we know, this guy’s already kicked the bucket. Either way, he’s not technically a guest, so I doubt he adds to the body count.
Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grannò): The dead sex worker trope has a long and disappointing precedent, and Lucia knows this: “All whores are punished in the end,” she lamented to Mia during a drug comedown shame spiral. But that seems too obvious and, honestly, too cliché. I’d rather see the two local ladies scam Albie all the way to Los Angeles and reinvent themselves far away from creepy Alessio, never to be seen in Sicily again.
Cameron (Theo James): Between the “Testa di Moro” motif, Daphne’s affinity for dead-husband true crime shows, Ethan’s “mimetic desire” theory and Cameron’s debt to sex worker Lucia, Cameron is really starting to look like a goner. When Daphne comes running and screaming out of the ocean in the season’s first scene, just after her brush with the drowned corpse, a tanned, shirtless man in squid-print swim trunks catches her on the beach. It’s not clear whether she knows the man, nor do we see his face. It could’ve been Cameron, but then why wasn’t he sipping an Aperol Spritz with her before she took a dip? All I know is the squid-print trunks have yet to make a second appearance, though they do seem like Cameron’s style. However, there’s absolutely no way, given Daphne’s reaction, that the dead body we see in episode 1 was Cameron’s. There’s also no way she’d be so chipper prior to discovering it, if her husband had already been found floating earlier.
Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge): Though Tanya certainly seems like she’s getting set up for a spooky demise by joining Quentin’s ragtag group of vacationing gays for a mafia-sponsored cocaine palazzo party, a bit of extratextual evidence suggests otherwise: Tanya may actually end up being the connective tissue across all future seasons of The White Lotus. Mike White hinted to Deadline at the season 2 premiere that he’s toying with the idea of bringing Coolidge along for season 3. Unless it’s a prequel season, I’m guessing she survives Italy.
Isabella (Eleonora Romandini): If Isabella does succumb to the crashing waves, it’d likely be Valentina’s doing. But this seems like a stretch, since, as an employee, she wouldn’t add to the dead guest count anyway. I also doubt Rocco would recount her death as calmly as he does in episode 1, now that we know they’re not only involved, but engaged to each other.
Daphne (Meghann Fahey): In the season’s first scene, Daphne says she has “a few hours” before leaving the White Lotus resort. So she definitely has time to also fall prey to whatever mysterious presence killed the other guests, I suppose…
The same goes for Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) and Rocco (Federico Ferrante): They’re both very much alive in the first moments of the season, but who knows what’s in store for the finale. We’ll have to wait and see.
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