The White Lotus is currently airing its second season after the staggering success of the first, seeing another group of rich and privileged tourists return, this time to Italy for a mysterious set of events and some comedic moments that are equal parts amusing and unsettling. The hit HBO original series follows the lives of the locals as well as tourists, and features a lot of symbolism alluding to the tragic end that we see a glimpse of at the start of the season.
There are a lot of visual iconography throughout The White Lotus Season 2, and we can see how these images are tied to the characters on-screen. Between the Renaissance-style Italian art in the opening credits to the sculptures littered throughout the hotel, there are definite clues in the pieces we see on-screen. Here’s a breakdown of the art in The White Lotus season 2.
The Italian Statues in the Hotel
Season 2 of The White Lotus has been heavy with art references throughout. The White Lotus resort in itself is set up with lots of art pieces, which seem insignificant at first, however, we learn quickly that in The White Lotus, it’s very rare that something is accidental. We see references to statues at the beginning of the series with explanations that seem like foreshadowing. We learn that the colorful dotting around the White Lotus hotel are actually rooted in 11th-Century Italian history.
This history is rooted in the story of Testa Di Moro, which goes: Moor seduced a local girl, but she soon found out that he had a wife and kids back home. She becomes jealous and enraged and decapitates him as a result, turning his head into a clay pot so that he can stay with her forever. The pots in the hotel are reminiscent of this, and this is interesting given the themes of possessive love explored throughout the series. Daphne jokingly warns that this is a tale waning husbands to “not screw up,” and this definitely seems like a word of warning for things to come.
There is a second reference to statues when Harper and Ethan are lying in bed, in the premiere episode, and she recounts an encounter she had with Cameron earlier in the day — the scene that made Theo James go viral — that she found strange; however, after Ethan reassures her that the encounter was not weird, Harper lets it go, and they go to sleep. The couple can hear Cameron and Daphne in the other room, and Ethan takes a long glance at the Testa di Moro statue in their room. Now that we know the context of the ending and the betrayal that he faces, the reference of the statue in this scene is particularly significant.
Art in the Opening Credits
The opening credits of The White Lotus Season 2 was a hit among fans, with the theme song being an instant viral sensation. The show’s opening credits were created by Mark Bashore and Katrina Crawford, who mentioned that every second of the credit sequence was an opportunity to tell the show’s story (via Mashable), and each frame spoke to characters in some way. Each credit shows a different artistic image for different characters, which have a direct relation to their character on-screen and how their stories will unfold. This is another example of how it’s clear that nothing in The White Lotus is done accidentally.
Jennifer Coolidge’s title card, for example, shows a woman clinging onto a monkey that has been chained up, which in art history has been attributed to men trapped within their own sexuality. Coolidge’s character seeks sexual validation from her husband while also seeking the lavish lives of the men who take her away to extravagant excursions, showing her being pulled by a variety of men and their lifestyles. We also see Ethan depicted as not being able to look a woman in the eye, explaining his lack of connection with his wife, and characters such as Portia depicted as a literal lost lamb. Each character’s title card tells us something about their story and character.
How Did Art Predict the Ending?
Theories as to how The White Lotus would end were circulating over Twitter and Tik Tok since Season 2 began. It was clear that a character was going to die, and lots of theories as to who this might be sprung up. In the end, the events were surprising as we discovered that Tanya’s husband was, in fact, after her money all along and enlisted his old friend Quentin to help him murder Tanya so that their prenup could be overridden. Portia realized Quentin and his friends’ real intentions and warned Tanya, who, out of fear and desperation, murdered the men on the boat before falling to her own death.
One of the most explicit images in the opening credits showcases a scenic landscape of a castle on fire with a boat sailing beneath it. The image also displays a person watching it all happen from the beach and two men hiding underneath a stone arch while performing oral sex. This scene is eerily symbolic of the ending and shows how art served as a huge method of foreshadowing throughout the series, with the ending being represented right before our eyes from the beginning.