The White Lotus broke through in 2021 in a huge way, delivering a compelling story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
In its transition from a limited series to an anthology, there were concerns about whether there would be a fresh enough plot that would stand up to the first.
After watching the first half of The White Lotus Season 2, I can confidently say that the series manages to transport viewers to a new White Lotus resort, complete with mostly new characters, conflicts and, of course, a new mystery.
Jennifer Coolidge is back as Tanya, and she continues to dominate every scene. The stories remain balanced well, meaning Coolidge gets as much time on-screen as the new series regulars.
Despite Coolidge being the main attraction for fans of the freshman season, there is plenty of plot to go around, and the switch to the Sicily-set resort gives the sense that this is a new story, completely independent from the first.
It’s easy to pick up on what happened with Tanya in the first season based on the early dialog alone, making the second season a solid entry point for new viewers who haven’t witnessed the masterpiece The White Lotus Season 1.
Part of the beauty of The White Lotus is that it can tell many stories that you think won’t collide … until they do.
It’s a testament to the writing from the creator Mike White, who keeps this world together, despite the characters and arcs going in different directions. It shouldn’t work, but it does.
The new cast includes Sabrina Impacciatore, Aubrey Plaza, Meaghann Fahy, Theo James, Michael Imperioli, F. Murray Abraham, and Will Sharpe.
Thankfully, the quick wit and characterization that made the first season a success remain.
Murray Bartlett was positively unhinged as hotel manager Armond in the first season, and Impacciatore’s Valentina is another formidable force as the manager of the Sicily resort.
Valentina is well aware of what’s happening in her hotel, paying close attention to everyone and observing their actions.
She’s forward-thinking and isn’t the kind of person to allow guests to speak back to her. She’s very different from Armond in many respects, and the examination of how people handle positions of power continues to be one of the driving forces of the series in its second season.
People go to the White Lotus resorts for their exclusivity. You expect a certain level of discretion, which means something is always happening behind closed doors.
The characters played by Plaza, Fahy, James, Imperioli, and others all have thrilling stories and secrets that come to the surface.
The shot choices are beautiful, showing Sicily in all its picturesque glory and the grandeur of everything White Lotus resorts offer.
The second season gets off the ground running, taking viewers into this world of satire at the beginning of a week that will change all of their lives.
The first half of the season is confident, comical, mysterious, and addictive, but it doesn’t quite reach the fun of the predecessor. That’s not to say it’s bad; it’s just that the freshman season set a very high bar.
At its core, The White Lotus Season 2 has plenty to offer and your patience will be rewarded when we peel away at the desires and mysteries surrounding the new guests.
Check out the official trailer below.
The White Lotus Season 2 premieres Sunday, October 30, on HBO and HBO Max.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.