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THE WHITE LOTUS Season 2 Premiere “Ciao”

by Alexandra Mitchell
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I’m much later in the week than I intended with this review so I’m gleefully going to dive in, wasting as little time as possible in getting to the good stuff. I appreciated the new introduction, tying in the new location for this season as well as new musical vibes. I was ecstatic when the casting for this was announced! Not only does Jennifer Coolidge return but we see new faces including Aubrey Plaza, Tom Hollander, Theo James, Will Sharpe, and Michael Imperioli. Set in Sicily, Italy, I see things getting hot and heavy for some folks. Part of my huge interest in the show is the premise based around it being a hotel chain and the ability for them to go anywhere. I hope the show continues to succeed because I want to know where else they might go.

We start on the beach with some young women chatting. Two have just arrived but one woman, Daphne (Meghann Fahy) is set to leave in a few hours. Desiring one final swim, she ventures out into the water only to find a dead body. Things escalate once the manager gets there and we find out there’s actually a few people dead. Oh my, time to flash back a week and see how it all started. Similarly to season one, we see the manager Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) preparing for arrivals. Valentina seems to have a similar energy to Armond but we’ll see if she’s as annoyingly amusing. She’s fending off prostitutes at least. A date is arriving on the boat, so Lucia (Simona Tabasco) has come to see if she can figure out who it is, bringing her friend Mia (Beatrice Granno) along with her.

Guests arriving include Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge) though with her assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) and not her new husband Greg (Jon Gries). Trouble in paradise already for the new couple since he’s not thrilled she brought her assistant along. I’m not entirely sure how long this has been post season one events, but their recently new marriage seems tense already. Perhaps this vacation is what they need. We also have a family coming to honor their heritage including a flirty grandfather Bert (F. Murray Abraham), a mildly frustrated father Dom (Michael Imperioli), and a quiet grandson Albie (Adam DiMarco). Lastly are two couples getting away together as friends, though clearly there’s tension. Harper (Aubrey Plaza) is mildly awkward and trying to figure out how to play nice with her husband Ethan’s (Will Sharpe) friend, Cameron (Theo James) and his wife, Daphne (Meghann Fahy). The couples are clearly not super familiar with each other nor comfortable around each other. It bodes well for a dramatic season.

The cinematography invites you into the warm Mediterranean atmosphere though with more of a refined air of history and respect for the ancient architecture around. The atmosphere of season one was far more lush and wild being in Hawaii. It will be interesting to see how the environment plays a role in this season. We return to Tanya and her husband. She’s trying to keep things in the mood and focus on them, but she doesn’t tell her assistant to go home or go somewhere else. She tells her to stay there and just lay low in her room. I get in part why Portia is upset, but also I mean I guess you could chill by the window? You’re still in Italy and likely didn’t pay to get there. But things aren’t good between the couple and it bubbles to the surface. He’s frustrated over her annoyance at her weight but no changes to her food habits. She’s dealing with some mental stuff that causes added stress. In the end, hushed tones and overheard whispers create discord and distrust.

Screen-Shot-2022-11-05-at-7.19.15-PM-265x300Flirty grandpa isn’t making any progress with the ladies but not for lack of trying. Turns out he’s still quite virile as he announces at dinner, much to the annoyance of his son and shock of his grandson. Albie is making eyes at Portia and after their meet-cute by the pool, I sense some potential nakedness between them. Then there’s Dom, who had an unfortunate phone call with his wife back home. Full details aren’t given, but it’s implied there was some douche choices on Dom’s part and man alive, she’s fucking pissed. But he’s on vacation and needs to enjoy himself a little bit I guess… The sneakiness of the girls needing to get in the building was quite amusing. I couldn’t stop giggling over “That’s one fast slut.” Lucia meets her date and things go about how we would expect them to. I did feel bad for Mia having to fend off the drunk singer who assumes she’s there to prostitute herself.

Then there’s the couples. Aubrey’s performance is stunning and in particular had my entire sympathy during the drinking scene. She really doesn’t have anything in common with these people and in fact, is quite the opposite to them in certain situations. It’s reasonable to ask how these people would end up being in proximity to each other and why. It still seems odd that they would stay friends even after just becoming friends that way in college. People evolve and change and I find it a bit weird this would still be an involved friendship unless Harper is right and Cameron wants to ask Ethan for money. But she agrees to play nice and does her best to try. Given Cameron’s choice in where to drop trou, I’m concerned he has ulterior motives of some kind either making a move on Harper or merely making a power play in manipulation. He knew what he was doing. I don’t believe it was an accident in any way, shape, or form. He’s far too sure of himself to not be that manipulative. Theo James is brilliant at playing an absolute knob. I’m curious to see what more happens this season but especially what could unfold in this foursome. Episode two of the season airs tomorrow night, Sunday November 6th at 9 p.m. EST on HBO.

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