Mike White Explains Why He Killed Who He Killed On Last Night’s Season Finale Of “The White Lotus”

December 12, 2022 / Posted by:

Last night, White Lotus fans said “Arrivederci!” to the show’s sexy Sicilian second season. This finale had everything: cheating (duh), scamming, wrongful termination, crimes against fashion, and… MURDER! Most importantly, the identity of the floating body was finally revealed. Obviously, a giant, throbbing ***SPOILER ALERT*** for the rest of this post…

In the first scene of the first episode of Season 2, Daphne (played by future EGOT-winner Meghann Fahy) discovered a floating dead body in the Ionian Sea. Then, resort employee Rocco (Federico Ferrante) informed manager Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) that there were a few other dead guests. Now, my money was on Cameron (Theo James), one of the Di Grasso men (Michael Imperioli, Adam DiMarco, and F. Murray Abraham), or Tanya’s (Jennifer Coolidge) shady-ass husband, Greg (Jon Gries). But I was wrong. Creator Mike White shocked everybody by killing off his muse, Jennifer Coolidge!

On the plus side, Jennifer’s Tanya went out in a blaze of glory (and ridiculousness). The character is on a yacht with “the gays,” led by Tom Hollander’s Quentin, when she realizes her new friends are plotting to kill her. This whole time, these mysterious Europeans were working with Tanya’s husband, who wants her dead so he can inherit her fortune. After dropping her phone in the ocean, and many, many glasses of white wine, poor Tanya locks herself in a bedroom with cocaine dealer Niccolo’s bag and finds rope, duct tape, and a gun. Her worst suspicions confirmed, Tanya grabs the gun and murders Niccolo, the French guy, and Quentin. Panicked and out of bullets, Tanya decides to jump from the side of the yacht into a dinghy to get back to shore. But she slips, hits her head on the dinghy, and drowns. It was all very Natalie Wood (if Robert Wagner is to be believed).

Kudos to Mike White, cuz he totally had me fooled. Like everybody and their mother, I thought Jennifer Coolidge would show up for every season of White Lotus! But, alas. In a post-finale featurette, Mike explained his reasoning. Apparently, in the first season, Tanya told Greg that she’d experienced all kinds of health treatments over the years, but “death is the last immersive experience I haven’t tried,” via TVLine: 

He wanted to bring Coolidge back as Tanya in Season 2, “but maybe that’s the journey for her: a journey to death. Not that I really wanted to kill Tanya, because I love her as a character and obviously love Jennifer, but I just felt like we’re going to Italy, [and] she’s such a diva, a larger-than-life female archetype. It just felt like we could devise our own operatic conclusion to Tanya’s life and her story.”

Mike adds that he really didn’t want Tanya to get murdered:

“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 she would take out this whole cabal of killers and that, after she’s successfully done that, she just dies this derp-y death. It just felt like that’s so Tanya.”

Mike also teases that the story of what happens to Greg and Tanya’s assistant, Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), may not be over yet. He says, “Maybe you’ll have to wait to find out what happens,” and revealed that the planned third season will likely be set in Asia, via Variety:

“The first season kind of highlighted money, and then the second season is sex,” White said. “I think the third season would be maybe a satirical and funny look at death and Eastern religion and spirituality. It feels like it could be a rich tapestry to do another round at White Lotus.”

Here’s Mike talking about the season finale:

Rest in peace, Tanya McQuoid-Hunt (and various evil gay men). Now, if the next season is about death, maybe Jennifer could come back as a waterlogged ghost? Wait, can ghosts travel, or is Tanya stuck floating in the Ionian Sea from here to eternity? Sigh. How depressing. And absolutely fabulous.

Pic: HBO

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