If episodes 1-3 of THE WHITE LOTUS were telling us who the new season 2 characters are, then episode 4 is showing us who they really are.

We get some insight into the inner workings of couple Cameron (Theo James) and Daphne (Meghann Fahy) while Harper (Aubrey Plaza) and Ethan (Will Sharpe) begin to unravel. Meanwhile, Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) and Albie (Adam DiMarco) feel the heat of a new character, Jack (Leo Woodall.)

For me, the most interesting characters in the second season are our sex workers with a heart of gold, Mia (Beatrice Grannò) and Lucia (Simona Tabasco.) The pair continuously find themselves in the right and wrong places at the right and wrong times throughout. Tabasco, in particular, presents her character with such believable earnestness and heart; it really worries me that she may end up being the dead body we saw floating in the water in the season’s opening scene. That’s one of the great things about this series—as wrapped up in the lives of these rich privileged characters as we get, it’s easy to forget that just a few days from now, someone will turn up dead.

Another character who’s starting to take shape is hotel manager Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore.) Our ill-fated hotel manager from season one has me worried about Valentina’s fate; however, it’s nice to see her character begin to branch out and bloom.

And finally, I’d be remiss not to mention the series’ MVP, Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge.) Her bipolar moods and pitiful codependence issues are somehow delivered in a believable and sympathetic way, despite her total lack of touch with reality and complete inability to comprehend the woes of someone who doesn’t live an affluent lifestyle. Coolidge is a master, and it’s nice in this episode to see her smile a bit more, thanks to a group of frivolous but fun gay men.

Altogether, season two has impressed me so far. It continues the themes of privilege and now expounds rather effectively on toxic masculinity—a theme I foresee being explored even more through Leo and Albie’s interactions. Also, Aubry Plaza’s Harper finds herself in a brilliant nod to a famous Monica Vitti scene from Antonioni’s 1960 film L’AVVENTURA in a scene exposing and caricaturing the Italian male gaze.

The lush Sicilian setting provides the perfect location for a dramatic and shocking inevitable finale. I can’t wait.

THE WHITE LOTUS is available on HBO.

Ricky J Duarte

[He/him/his] Ricky is an actor, singer, and writer in New York City. Passions include: theme parks, Disney villains, and watching horror movies with his cat. He's also the host of the RICK OR TREAT HORRORCAST podcast.

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