The White Lotus season 2 ending explained – who died in “Arrivederci”?

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: December 12, 2022 (Last updated: January 18, 2024)
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The White Lotus season 2 ending explained - who died in "Arrivederci"?


A crackling, just-right finale equal parts funny, terrifying, and brilliant. Mike White somehow managed to stick the landing on an inferior second season.

This recap of The White Lotus season 2, episode 7, “Arrivederci”, contains spoilers for The White Lotus season 2 ending.

It’d be difficult to say that anything about “Arrivederci”, the second season finale of The White Lotus on HBO, was really all that surprising. While most of us probably didn’t foresee action heroine Jennifer Coolidge, we at least saw most of the turns coming, perhaps by design. Nevertheless, though, this was a cracking ending to an inferior outing, a brilliant bit of payoff to a lot of clever writing and subtle misdirection. Mike White, it turns out, knew what he was doing all along, and the execution of even the most predictable beats was such chef’s-kiss excellence that I felt bad for ever doubting his intentions in the first place.

I have – in retrospect foolishly – declared on these very hallowed pages that crowbarring Tanya into the second season seemed like a mistake. And why wouldn’t I? She was doing the same shtick and the second season wasn’t about that shtick in the same way the first was. She felt surplus to requirements, her presence a bit of writerly self-indulgence in service of a few easy gags and bits of physical comedy. Oh, how wrong I was.

The White Lotus season 2 ending explained – who died in “Arrivederci”?

A few weeks ago, it became obvious that whatever was going on with Tanya and “the gays” was probably going to result in at least one but probably several, corpses bobbing around in the Ionian Sea. Once Tanya stumbled upon Jack having sex with his “uncle” in Episode 5, it was clear something was amiss. That idea was only solidified in Episode 6, where Tanya literally got in bed with the Sicilian Mafia. I’d be lying if I said I knew she was going to stumble around a yacht with a pistol and gun down everyone present before eventually tumbling to her own death in a fittingly on-brand accident, but I suspected she’d be in some way related to whatever demises were coming. All that foreboding opera is never an accident, you know?

So, yes, it was Tanya who died in The White Lotus Season 2. It was her corpse – still wearing that replica dress from the set of The Godfather – that Daphne found while taking her final swim. It was also Quentin and the gays and what we presume to be a Mafia hitman who died, all shot by Tanya in a bit of wild self-defense, eyes closed and muzzle flashing directly into the camera in the season’s best bit of bleak physical comedy, right on the back of its most effective moments of legitimate suspense. The motive was implied – Tanya found a photo of Greg in Quentin’s bedroom and theorized with Portia that he might be trying to bump her off to swindle her outside the strict terms of their prenuptial agreement, with an apparently broke Quentin having presumably been set to benefit handsomely from arranging the matter. But it was never confirmed, perhaps for the best.

But what happened to everyone else?

You could, in a way, summarize everyone else’s storyline thusly: Everyone got played by someone hot. Think about it. Albie was swindled into giving Lucia fifty grand of his dad’s money to “save” her from an abusive pimp who was clearly in on it with her. Valentina was seduced into giving Mia the only thing she has wanted throughout the season, which was the gig playing piano in the hotel dining room. Portia found herself being aggressively babysat by a handsome Essex geezer, which eventually saved her life in a way, but ultimately led her right into the jaws of the lion when she could have just remained lounging poolside with nice-guy Albie, and everyone would have been much better off.

Or would they?

You must wonder. Consider the above, for instance. In exchange for Dominic paying Lucia’s “debt”, Albie put in a good word for him with an off-screen Laura Dern, and it seems like his marriage might be repairable after all despite him having spent most of the week having threesomes with prostitutes. In spending the night with Mia, Valentina was able to find herself. Jack took Portia to the airport and warned her away from the hotel, which means she was the last to put two and two together about Tanya’s death, but also meant she survived and was able to get Albie’s number in the airport. Maybe they’ll end up together after all.

White uses the four-way dynamic of Ethan, Harper, Cameron, and Daphne as a kind of alternative future in which everyone somehow gets what they want and must figure out a way to live with having gotten it. We learn, for instance, that Harper did hook up with Cameron as revenge for having discovered that used condom in the hotel room, but really as a protest for Ethan’s lack of attraction to and intimacy with her. Ethan went nuts about it, had a fight with Cameron in the sea, and then spent an afternoon with Daphne during which – it’s very much implied – she made him feel a little better about the situation, if you know what I mean. On the back of this, Ethan and Harper rekindle some of their lust; that both had to cheat on the other to do so doesn’t bode well for their relationship, but that’s the point. Eventually, we all become some version of Daphne. Living is about figuring out how to recontextualize everything that happens to us, and everything we do in response, as somehow necessary and valuable. “Every cloud has a silver lining,” we say. “Everything happens for a reason.” Even if it doesn’t, we’ll pretend it did all the same.

These four are already thinking about going away again next year. Maybe we’ll see them there.

You can catch The White Lotus season 2, episode 7, “Arrivederci” exclusively on HBO.

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