Who dies in The White Lotus? And did they deserve it?

August 16, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
HBO, Weekly TV
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From the very first episodeThe White Lotus promised us a body. All throughout, we knew that someone would leave the swanky resort in a coffin, and while this mystery didn’t drive the series forward, it certainly hovered, specter-like, over the entire story. Everyone became a potential victim — and a potential suspect. The matter of who was deserving became rather moot since virtually all of the resort’s guests were awful. But it was never obvious who’d bite it. Even the finale, “Departures”, saved the revelation for its final moments, and moved on from it just as quickly. Just as every rich, white, privileged guest at the hotel is basically interchangeable, so are all their bed linens neatly turned down in preparation for the next visitor. By the time they’re gone, it’s like they were never there in the first place, even if they leave a body behind. Who died in The White Lotus becomes a question as moot as who deserved to. Everyone acts like it never happened anyway.

Who dies in The White Lotus?

To the extent that it matters, it was Armond, the put-upon hotel manager who was probably on balance the least deserving of the fate, who ended up in that coffin. In a way, it could only ever have been him, since he was the only unifying figure in separate story strands that only occasionally overlapped. The show suggested at various points that it could be anyone, from Quinn, who took to sleeping on the beach, to Tanya, who took to sleeping with a man who had some “health problems”. Red herrings, all of them. In the end, it had to be Armond. After the season he’s had, death is the least of his problems.

But since Armond weaved in and out of everyone’s lives, his death and the circumstances surrounding it touched on everyone’s personal narratives, and it’s only when you examine the sequence of events that led to his demise that you realize how neatly constructed the show was, and how everyone had their own part to play in what happened, even if they were nowhere near at the time. Shane might have killed Armond physically, but everyone contributed in one way or another.

Consider Paula and Kai. If she hadn’t fallen for the young hotel staffer and convinced him to break into the Mossbachers’ safe, then Shane wouldn’t have felt the need to put the pineapple knife by his bedside to defend against potential intruders. If Shane hadn’t resolved to ruin Armond’s life in petty revenge for a perceived slight, then Armond wouldn’t have been fired, and wouldn’t have gone on the drug binge that emboldened him to break into the Pineapple Suite and take a dump in Shane’s luggage. If Rachel hadn’t finally plucked up the courage to tell Shane that she made a mistake, then she would have never secured a separate room, and Armond would never have had the chance to break in. Shane wouldn’t have returned early. And so on, and so forth.

All roads led to the same, inevitable destination. It’s a kick-yourself moment — or a stab-yourself moment, as far as Armond is concerned, since he walked right into the knife. As I said in my recap of the finale, Shane is too much of a baby to actually stab someone. You can tell by how immediately apologetic and regretful he was, having realized what he did. But that, of course, didn’t last. Why would it? Shane is rich and white, and privileged. Like all the guests of the White Lotus, he has a superpower. He’s able to just board a plane and leave all this behind.

The second season of The White Lotus has already been commissioned, and it’ll concern a new version of the resort, elsewhere, with new staff and new guests. But what will be different, really? And, perhaps most crucially of all, who’ll die in that one?

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