The Best Reactions to ‘The White Lotus’ Season 2 Finale


Spoilers below.

The White Lotus season 2 ended with a bang. Well, a few bangs—that’s what happens when Tanya McQuoid gets her hands on a gun.

Episode 7, “Arrivederci,” turned out to be a swan song for Jennifer Coolidge’s fan-favorite character, who put together the troubling pieces of why her husband Greg left her on their vacation to Sicily, and why a group of glamorous British expats have eagerly welcomed her into their circle. They’re connected, Tanya realizes while on the phone with her assistant Portia: Greg insisted they go to Sicily, organized for Quentin and his friends to kill her so he could get the insurance payment (which was much more than he’d get if they had just divorced, given their prenup), and planned to pay Quentin a cut. Portia backed it up with her own revelation—that Jack mentioned Quentin had no money and was about to make a windfall.

And in the volcanic finale—literally, Mt. Etna erupts in the distance between scenes—after Quentin invites dealer Niccoló onto the yacht, Tanya steals his bag, finds a gun inside, and kills everyone on the boat but one guest and the captain. The only thing she doesn’t do is make it out alive. In her attempted escape to shore, instead of going down the stairs and swimming to the adjacent dingy, she tries to jump from the deck of the yacht onto the smaller boat, banging her head on the way down and dying. The next morning, it’s revealed that the body Daphne finds on the beach is Tanya’s.

In a post-episode interview on HBO’s Unpacking The White Lotus, show creator Mike White explains his decision to kill off Tanya, and points back to a line she says at the end of season 1: “I’ve had every kind of treatment over the years. Death is the last immersive experience I haven’t tried.”

White said, “I was thinking it would be so fun to bring Tanya back, because she’s such a great character, but maybe that’s the journey for her, is a journey to death. And not that I really wanted to kill Tanya because I love her as a character and 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 deviser our own operatic conclusion to Tanya’s life and her story.”

But of course, having Tanya get killed by another character didn’t feel right. She had to go out in her own “derpy” blaze of glory.

“I just think her dying at the hands of someone else felt too tragic,” White said. “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 that she would take out all of these cabal of killers and that after she successfully does that, then she just dies this derpy death. It just felt like so Tanya.”

Her whole final sequence was one that got people talking. Viewers tweeted their way through the grief of her death, shock of her body count, and pure adoration of Coolidge’s performance.

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Before Coolidge’s final bow as Tanya, though, she delivered an iconic line: “These gays, they’re trying to murder me”—a desperate plea to the yacht captain, who didn’t understand a single word she said except for “gay.” The moment she uttered that quote, I knew it was a meme waiting to happen, and sure enough, Twitter delivered.

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But don’t let that memorable scene overshadow another incredible delivery by Coolidge earlier in the episode. The way she warned Portia about Jack—“He was kinda fucking his uncle”—during their stressed-out phone call also deserves an award.

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After the initial surprise of Tanya’s death, questions about season 3’s storyline start to loom. What will happen to Greg? Will he still get any of the money he schemed for, or will he get caught for orchestrating his wife’s murder? (Even though she ultimately did die by accident.) With Tanya’s assistant Portia still alive, there’s a chance she could report Greg’s doings or try to confront him. But, considering her awful decision-making in the finale, maybe we shouldn’t trust her with the responsibility of bringing Greg to justice. After all, in that last episode, she willingly got in the car with Jack knowing he was a part of Quentin’s plan, chose the worst hat and sunglasses possible in the airport shop, and then reunited with Albie and still asked for his number.

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If Portia doesn’t return next season, her wardrobe will certainly be missed.

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Elsewhere at the resort, Meghann Fahy’s performance as Daphne was also a big talking point of the night. When Ethan told her that something might’ve happened between her husband Cameron and his wife Harper, she conveyed a multitude of emotions with both subtlety and depth, without even saying a word. And who knows what she and Ethan did together on their “walk” to Isola Bella shortly after.

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Meanwhile, there’s this very plausible theory about Cameron:

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And the fans continued to worship Aubrey Plaza (as they should).

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Albie, however, elicited a universal facepalm when he approached his father for 50,000 euros for his new lover, Lucia. As he admits in the end, “She played me.”

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At least Lucia is thriving, and so is Mia.

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