The White Lotus S2E7: “Arrivederci” — Enjoy the Ionian Sea While You Still Can (Season 2 Finale)

Ethan and Cameron argue on the beach
Photograph by Fabio Lovino/HBO

The following contains spoilers for The White Lotus S2E7, “Arrivederci,” the Season 2 finale (written and directed by Mike White)

Mount Etna on the eastern coast of Sicily is known to erupt from time to time, often lighting up the sky several times a year. The images we saw of the eruptions in the season finale of The White Lotus Season 2, “Arrivederci,” served as the perfect backdrop for the volcanic revelations that would unfold over the course of the last 75 minutes of the season.

Many might say that, just as Mount Etna can be counted on to explode with some regularity, the shocking twists and inevitable deaths in this finale were not surprising at all. But just because you know a volcano is going to explode doesn’t make it any less beautiful and disruptive.

Where do our guests find themselves on check-out day at The White Lotus resort, and who has made their final trip as we settle into the last day in Sicily?

Albie, Dom, Bert, and Lucia

The day opens with such possibility for the three Di Grasso men. Albie still has Lucia rescued safely in his bed where no one can hunt her. Instead of spending time hunting for his next hook-up, Dom is browsing his phone’s photo album (but his wife is clearly NOT Laura Dern in the photos!), and growing ever-emotional over the family photos that he knows he is at risk of never taking again. Bert is recovered from the “banshees” that kicked them out of their house the day before and is back to being “a little aroused” when Mia hugs him before sitting down to the piano for the day at The White Lotus.

But the possibility of a peaceful last family day quickly turns into negotiation and compromise. Albie insists his father transfer 50,000 Euros to Lucia so she can break free from the bed-hopping life she wants out of. Albie told her he wants to bring her to Los Angeles, and this large early-termination fee is the only thing that will free Lucia from her responsibilities.

Albie considers it his father’s “karmic payment” for all of the horrible things he has done to their nuclear family and as a way for him to finally do something good for someone. In return, Albie admits, he will help smooth things over with his mom and sister, which will go a long way to helping repair the fractured relationship.

The Di Grasso men all changed, and all stayed the same
Photograph by Fabio Lovino/HBO

The possibility of finally turning that corner apparently appeals to Dom more than seeing his son live a life attached to a prostitute Dom was with just four nights earlier. And even though he thinks Albie is “a big mark” and will never make it in life trusting people that way, his son is actually right in that the 50,000 is nothing to Dom and the chance to save his family is everything. He makes the transfer assuming Albie will be just the latest notch on Lucia’s bedpost con.

When Albie wakes up the morning of their departure to find, in fact, that Lucia has left without a trace, we learn that he still made good on his promise to play mediator between Dom and his wife. The smallest sense of progress is made when his wife actually answers Dom’s call and says they should talk when he gets home.

The three men head to the airport without a single female companion with them and 50,000 Euros lighter in the bank account. But the lack of attachments just lets them all ogle the first attractive female they see at the airport who shows them a twinkle in her eye.

Like father, like father, like son. Just as it always was.

Ethan, Harper, Cameron, and Daphne

Ethan wakes up at The White Lotus with visions of Harper and Cameron making love right next to him in the bed, so even a good night’s sleep can’t keep him from spiraling down. He is convinced Harper is lying to him about when she and Cameron were up in the rooms alone and will literally not stop talking about it until she comes clean.

When Harper calls Cameron “an idiot” at breakfast, that’s Ethan’s last straw. He knows that is Harper’s tell and verbally squashes Harper until she does finally admit that, yes, they kissed before Ethan came back to the room, but that was all that happened. From this, Ethan deduces that the trip back to the room that afternoon would have been for much more than kissing if he hadn’t shown up, so he leaves to find Cameron to exact some upper-crust elite rage on his former roommate.

Ethan finds Cameron swimming in the ocean and starts the best underwater fight scene since James Bond fought Silva’s henchman inside a frozen lake in Skyfall. Sadly, random tourist guy breaks it up before either can get the upper hand. But Ethan is finally able to get in all the verbal jabs he has wanted to use on Cameron since the vacation began:

“Is this why you invited us out here to this dumb f*cking vacation?”

“I make more money than you now, is that what you need to feel better about yourself?”

“We are not friends, and this is not some girl I have a crush on, this is my f*cking wife!”

Who does Ethan run into on the beach after he and Cameron go a couple of rounds? Daphne, whom Ethan decides needs to hear the truth about what went down. But much like the speech that Harper got in Episode 5, Ethan gets a slightly more Stepford Wife-ish version of the “I don’t think you have anything to worry about….you don’t have to know everything to love someone…you do whatever you have to do to not feel like a victim” speech.

Daphne explains to ethan how not to be a victim
Photograph by Fabio Lovino/HBO

Those words hang in the air as Daphne invites Ethan to walk with her to the private island grotto that she “really wants to see before we leave.” What exactly happens on that small island will forever remain a mystery to the viewers, but it changes Ethan’s demeanor forever.

The cycle of deceit is seemingly complete now that Cameron and Harper had their afternoon delight and Daphne and Ethan explored the grotto together. And as Mike White puts it in the director’s commentary after the episode, “it brings back that first kind of sexual charge that happens in the beginning of relationships.” The evolution of NPR-listening, non-sexual Ethan and Harper into just another wealthy Daphne and Cameron couple is complete.

But as the four leave the resort and await their flights, they are each happy. That happiness is a product of secrets that live right beneath the surface of the relationships, but Ethan and Harper learned what it is they need to finally be content together.

Tanya, Portia, and Quentin’s Italian Circus

After we caught a glimpse of Greg in a photograph with Quentin in Episode 6, it comes as no surprise to viewers that the murder mystery aspect of the show focuses directly on the crew making their way back to The White Lotus from Quentin’s Palermo palazzo.

Quentin and his friends have a plan for Tanya
Photograph by Fabio Lovino/HBO

Portia awakes in a hotel room with Jack to find her phone missing. Tanya awakes from her cocaine-fueled romp with Niccolo to learn they are headed back to Taormina via the yacht. The two remain individually suspicious and cautious until Portia finds time to pinch Jack’s cell phone and connect with Tanya.

Portia reveals what Jack admitted in Episode 6 about just being around Quentin because he got Jack out of a deep hole. Tanya reveals to Portia that she caught Jack and Quentin having sex and that they are not uncle and nephew (HBO likes to save their incest for House of the Dragon, apparently). When Portia unveils the part about Jack understanding Quentin is about to come into a large windfall that will save their palazzo, the two finally put the puzzle together that Quentin is out to kill Tanya.

The prenup that Greg and Tanya signed gives Greg nothing if they divorce, but if Tanya dies, Greg gets everything. Quentin, his merry friends, Jack, and the mafia-connected Niccolo have been brought in to facilitate the unloading of Tanya’s wealth while Greg has an alibi back in the states.

Of the entire crew, Jack is the only one who has a change of heart. Perhaps he sees a broken person in need of help much in the way Jack was when Quentin rescued him. But instead of doing whatever it was he was supposed to do with Portia, he drives her and leaves her near the airport, with a warning that she should stay out of sight and not try to get involved with Quentin’s plan.

The plan was to dock the yacht and have Niccolo escort Tanya back to the mainland under cover of night. While on the way, Tanya figures she is sure to meet a watery grave, so she hijacks Niccolo’s gun and goes all Tony Montana on everyone who is on the boat.

Seeking an escape, she slips off the yacht while trying to reach Niccolo’s boat, hits her head, and falls into the sea, only to be discovered by Daphne the next morning, bringing the series full circle from its opening scene. Our one carryover from Season 1 does end up dying in the end, but at least she went out on her own terms and finally was able to put to rest all of the many demons that were tormenting her since the first episode of Season 1.

albie and portia reconnect at the airport
Photograph by Fabio Lovino/HBO

At the airport, we do see that Portia is going to make it home after all. She has made herself up in her best scarf and sunglasses disguise, the very definition of a wounded bird in need of rescue.

Cue Albie, who appears at just the right time to escort Portia back to her nest, with a 12-hour plane ride for them to get reacquainted. In the end, they both found the person they needed was each other.

They are both genuinely excited about the journey ahead. But as for the rest of us, we reluctantly check out of The White Lotus, knowing we will be back, but not yet knowing when.

Written by Ryan Kirksey

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