Like the first season of ‘The White Lotus’, the second also has a touch of mystery. On this occasion Daphne, Meghann Fahy’s character, finds the body of a drowned guest on the beach. Soon we learn that there have been more bodies. Cut and, from the end of a vacation, we go to the beginning a week before.
Thus begins ‘Ciao’, the first episode of season 2 of ‘The White Lotus’, the (now) HBO Max holiday anthology. By the way, from here spoilers.
As it happened in season 1, Mike White uses the welcome sequence to give us some first brushstrokes of what these guests are like… and their hosts. Thus, we see Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) as an authoritarian manager who doesn’t hesitate to scold hotel employees when things don’t go the way she thinks they should.
time to settle down
The first to get off the ship are the DiGrasso (F. Murray Abraham, Michael Imperioli and Adam DiMarco), who travel to Sicily to reconnect with their Italian roots; a couples double (the Babcocks of Fahy and Theo James and the Spillers of Aubrey Plaza and Will Sharpe) whose relationship is lukewarm, to say the least; finally our Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) traveling with her assistant portia (Haley Lu Richardson).
We are getting to know these through, too, of the indiscreet eyes of Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grannò), two young Sicilian girls. The first is a prostitute who has been contacted by one of these guests. Who we will know almost at the end of the season.
In this first episode, Mike White dedicates himself to the installation of these guests in the hotel and incidentally it’s already getting them into some trouble. For example, we see how Greg (Jon Gries) has not been amused at all that his wife has traveled with his assistant. Unable to get rid of her in case he needs her, Tanya decides it’s best if Portia stays hidden in her room.
But that does not seem to be the only problem between the marriage since we also have a weird sex scene after which Greg reproaches Tanya for having eaten the macaroons. Dominic’s (Imperioli) marriage is also not going well (not to say that he is broken) with a harsh call to his wife (voiced by Laura Dern).
Little by little we are exploring the frictions in the different groups, especially between double partners and their visions of the world. There we have Harper (Plaza) who sees the other marriage as frivolous and not aware of her privileges. Despite her friction, a certain sexual drive between her and the character of James can be seen.
Night comes and Lucia and Mia “sneak” into the hotel. Convinced by her friend, Mia catches the attention of the pianist who entertains dinner at the restaurant. She goes wrong when he is mistaken for a prostitute. Meanwhile, we discover that the identity of Lucia’s “client” is Dominic.
Thus ends a magnificent first episode that, in my opinion, removes most of the flaws that the first season had from ‘The White Lotus’. I think this is a result of how well outlined the characters and their conflicts are from the beginning, providing a greater sense of satire.
In addition, we learn in this first hour about the testa di moro, the Sicilian legend about romance and betrayal that is omnipresent on the island through decorative busts and that will be the leitmotif of these seven episodes. Something that is added to the symbolism that White already used in the previous season, with the sea as a claim to primal instincts.