Season 2, Episode 4, “In The Sandbox”

Simona Tabasco and Adam DiMarco

Simona Tabasco and Adam DiMarco
Photo: Courtesy of HBO

It’s probably best The White Lotus: Sicily doesn’t constantly remind us that we’re careening toward a finale wherein guests (plural!) meet their ends. Just as in season one, we’re just given that frame on episode one and then we’re asked to live day in and day out following the guests and workers at the hotel. So much so that there are times when I forget the death ball is what’s constantly hovering every interaction we witness. That is, until a character like Lucia (Simona Tabasco) utters a line like “All whores are punished in the end” (similar to the line a few weeks back when Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya wonders whether anyone’s jumped out from the beautiful view at the hotel ). They’re small jolts that keep you guessing as to how it is that the eventual tragedy will unfold.

Will it be an accident? We’ve seen Bert fall and complain about his health already. And then, of course, there’s Giuseppe offering us yet another instance of health complications taking center stage.

Will it be murder? Those decorative Moorish heads surely set up such a violent ending. As does the story about the house on the island nearby.

Will it be both, perhaps, as it was back in season one? Mike White does love himself a swerve wherein the show’s moral compass need not be compromised, so…maybe.

In any case, I worry about Lucia and Mia (Beatrice Grannò) since they do feel like they’re the ones who are compromising more than one Di Grasso—not to mention the likes of Cameron (Theo James) and Ethan (Will Sharpe) . Add in poor collapsed Giuseppe the pianist, not to mention the many “sins” they’ve committed under the nose of one strident Valentina, and you can begin to believe Lucia that they may well be punished by season’s end, like some tragic heroines in an Italian melodrama. All they need is to somehow canoodle themselves into Tanya’s storyline and they’ll be squarely in the show’s narrative bull’s eye.

Then again, the episode ends with Albie (Adam DiMarco) collapsing in bed after being serviced by Lucia as White lingers on a portrait of Saint Sebastian wallowing in agony and ecstasy after being pierced with many an arrow so…it really could be any one of ourguests. Except Daphne (Meghann Fahy); she’s the only one White made sure to introduce us to in that opening prologue.

But enough about death. We should talk about the homoerotic bedroom talk between Ethan and Cameron (“I want to be inside you”) after they wake up from their debauchery-filled night, right? Or maybe about the way Tanya does feel like the heroine of an Italian opera, even if her adoption by a cadre of amusing gays on holiday is as fun and cringey as you’d imagine? Or perhaps, yet again, about Portia’s outfits, which have gotten increasingly hilarious, and yet keep garnering her the attention of gorgeous boys with accents? (And yes, we should probably also talk about Leo, the bad boy to Albie’s nice guy.)

Tom Hollander and Jennifer Coolidge

Tom Hollander and Jennifer Coolidge
Photo: Courtesy of HBO

But really, we should pause and break down why it is that Harper (Aubrey Plaza) chooses not to confront Ethan about the condom wrapper she finds in the couch in their hotel room. On the surface this should be an easy question to answer. After all, the condom wrapper confirms her greatest fears and she’s clearly paralyzed about what that means about Ethan, about herself, and, obviously, about her marriage. But, and here’s perhaps my attempt to unravel every kind of marital drama ever depicted on stage and screen, couldn’t she just have asked about it rather than strategically leaving it on the bathroom counter hours after she first found it when she truly realizes it is eating at her from within?

Missed communications and miscommunications are at the core of great tragedies and funnier comedies. It follows they’d be equally as necessary in biting satires where the key thing being explored is the way in which couples do and do not talk to one another about their needs and wants. For as much as she complains about Daphne and Cameron having a for-show only relationship, she falters when she sees the smallest of cracks in her own. ‘Tis a pity because it’ll surely backfire.

Then again, she’s done no different than Tanya who kept to herself the fact that she heard Greg on the phone talking to someone who we’re led to believe is his mistress. Humans are feeble folks when it comes to tackling such issues head-on. Because who wouldn’t rather have a ball drinking and having finger food (a must!) with a gaggle of rich gays than wallow in complicated conversations about one’s insecurities about who you’ve married? You can’t blame Tanya or Harper for their choices. But perhaps you can learn from them. You better not let anything fester lest you find yourself being shipped on a plane in a body bag. Did Armond teach us nothing in season one?

Stray observations

  • An episode after Daphne playfully referred to her husband as a “naughty boy” here we have Jack being introduced as a “naughty nephew.” I wouldn’t think twice of the word except it so conjures up so much of socially sanctioned “boys will be boys” rhetoric. (But also, you can’t deny Leo Woodall, like James, makes this rascal of a “bad boy” who doesn’t mind when gay guys cup his ass and looks great in his sexy underwear, a total goofball of a dreamboat. )
  • I wasn’t the only one who felt Mia was having her Roxie Hart moment with Giuseppe right? Only, instead of reaching for her gun after hearing he maybe wasn’t going to make her a star right away, she found herself aghast at the fact she’d given him the “wrong” pill earlier. Oops! (But also, wouldn’t you have done the same?)
  • I’m going to need an art history major to walk us through the many paintings White and his production design team have assembled to adorn the many rooms at the White Lotus: Sicily. They all seem so overdetermined with meaning that, as with the opening credits, you’d likely be able to track the season’s arc just by examining them all as a whole.
  • What do we make of Tanya’s treatise on female friendship (“Most women are drips, but it’s not their fault. They have a lot to be depressed about,” she muses)? Especially after we’ve heard similar from Daphne, even as she’s tried to make herself available to a begrudging Harper?
  • More awkward Valentina flirting, please!

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