Caution: spoilers ahead.
The time for checkout has arrived, and no extension will be permitted. Our Sicilian vacation at The White Lotus has come to an end—and while many were scammed, cheated, or concussed, they left Taormina with smiles on their face, Aperol Spritzes in their bellies, and preliminary plans for another getaway (“Next year, the Maldives,” right?).
While we were wrapped up in the individual vignettes this season—and they did cross over at certain points—it’s easy to forget that each group was completely separate from the next. Aside from seeing their brawl in the ocean, the Di Grassos didn’t know about the swingers melodrama playing out in the connecting rooms of Cameron, Daphne, Ethan, and Harper. And Albie made it clear he had no interest in looking into who wasn’t making their flight home when he heard about the death at the resort. (Why should he? All three in his party were accounted for.) While only the gays and Tanya were toted away in bodybags at the end of “Arrividerci,” we were forced to say goodbye to all of the characters once the credits rolled. Mike White has hinted at bringing back another fan favorite next season—but more likely, the third iteration will welcome another new slate of guests, leaving our Sicilian friends to the annals of television history. It felt appropriate to honor the memory of our fallen (both literally and figuratively) friends.
It seems like there was a fan for every character this season. Albie was suspected to be a secret asshole, but many stood by the genuine (to a fault) nice guy. Cam was an asshole, but his good looks and one-liners kept him in the good graces of some. Portia, though, couldn’t catch a break. No one seemed to be rooting for the Gen Z prototype, and while many could likely relate to the quarter-life crisis she wailed about throughout seven episodes, there was about as much empathy for her “struggle” as her lack of a sense of style.
That didn’t change when we watched Portia trapped in the large arms of Jack while he quickly decomposed into a more disgusting version of the raucous-but-hot nephew we once knew. “Arrivederci” had many “yell at the screen” moments, but I couldn’t help gritting my teeth in anger every time I saw Portia’s lack of action on screen. She toyed with defiance a few times, but continuously returned to bed with Jack, got in his car, and accepted his stonewalling at every turn. Portia pleaded for a life of adventure, but she proved she is not cut out for one. Maybe that is why, in the end, she returned to safe (albeit a tad boring) Albie. Maybe she’ll go back home more content with the life she left behind. At the very least, she’s free of her job, and thanks to an abrupt change of plans—and Jack’s change of conscience—she’s now free of that wardrobe as well.
The Italians really won this season (more on that in a bit). The Americans left with a beautiful vacation behind them, yes, but also some traumatic experiences that will no doubt flood them when they land at their respective destinations and the last Spritzes start to wear off. But Valentina was one of the undisputed champs. I will admit, it took me a while to see what others saw more quickly in the hotel chief of staff. But when she woke up in bed looking as angelic as ever in white lingerie and gaslit a maid into thinking it was her fault for walking right into an unbooked room, I couldn’t help but smile. That’s our Valentina, perfectly sculpted butt and all. In the course of just a week, she learned lessons about others and herself that it takes some decades to understand, and she ended this chapter with a new identity, plus a date to some fun gay clubs.
Yes, Albie was, at times, insufferable with his whole nice-guy schtick, but in the end it seems the scorned people of the Internet let their own “too good to be true” experiences cloud their judgment of him. Because it turns out Albie really was a nice guy. However, if he is still one upon his return to Los Angeles, I’d be surprised. The sweet demeanor turned off a whole audience and drove Portia away (it took getting abducted by a burping Brit to bring her back). But more dramatically, of course, it cost him (or at least his dad) €50,000 and his dignity. Bert and Dom have a questionable relationship with women, and Albie tried to fight that development within himself, but with one decision, Lucia changed the trajectory of this man. If that isn’t a villain origin story, I don’t know what is. It seems like now, Albie will become the guy we expected him to be all along, fulfilling the prophecy of toxic masculinity.
While the episode did end in murder, the real crime of The White Lotus season three is that Meghann Fahy walked away without a Golden Globe nomination. She should get one for this last episode alone—no, for just the scene in which Ethan reveals his suspicions of Cam and Harper’s affair. The close-up shot of Daphne’s beautiful freckled face as she internalizes the information, processes it, and decides how to respond was absolutely brilliant. I envied Daphne from day one. She floated through life in a bubble, hurting anyone before they could hurt her, staying one step ahead in her Prada heels. But Daphne was a heartbreaking character in so many ways, and while it was hard to feel sympathy for a woman of such immense privilege, the castle she built around her life was clearly crumbling around her. I just wish we could be there to see it fall, because Fahy would no doubt provide an exhilarating performance. Mike, I’m begging you to bring us to the Maldives with Cam and Daphne. Invite the kids, too—we can find out for sure whether or not Cam is the real father.
Lucia and Mia
All hail Lucia and Mia, the femme fatales of the season. With nary a room reservation, the duo scammed their way into a week at The White Lotus; enjoyed drinks, food, and clothes without dropping a cent; and walked away with €50,000 and a new job. Was this Lucia’s plan all along? Did she mark Albie when she first saw him on the boat? Or, was it when she watched him wait around all day at the pool for Portia, as she flirted with Jack? Maybe Lucia played her cards as they were dealt, and just so happened to end up with a winning hand. I need a Masterclass in hustling from the two of them, because clearly they know something the rest of us do not.
Mike White is officially the Taylor Swift of television. The man has been dropping Easter eggs since the season one finale, and few picked up on any of it: “Tanya can’t die,” we said. “That’s the one given.” We assumed she would return for season three, and that White wouldn’t kill off his good friend, Jennifer Coolidge. But in episode six of season one, Tanya quipped, “I’ve had every kind of treatment over the years. Death is the last immersive experience I haven’t tried.” Now, she’s done it all, and she didn’t even need Belinda’s help.
Before meeting her end in the Ionian Sea, though, Tanya did learn an important lesson. This woman went through life constantly doubting herself and everyone around her, looking toward psychics and seers to tell her the things she didn’t believe she could see herself. But in the end, her instinct was right. She was right about Portia, she was right about Greg, and she was right about the gays. It took her a while to get there, but once she looked past the yachts, glasses of moscato, and never-ending parade of compliments, she was able to use her instincts. Unfortunately, her gut didn’t tell her to use the stairs.
Goodbye, Tanya. You will be missed—for your meme fodder, your impressively bad takes, and your delusional lease on life. Hopefully, someone sprinkles your ashes into the sea and gives you the send-off you deserve.