The White Lotus, Season 2

By Joanna Langfield

Season two of this deliciously addictive morality tale isn’t as good as season one. It’s better. I think.

Critics have been allowed to see five episodes of Mike White’s revisit to the devilishly tempting resort group and what five episodes they are. Tighter and more self-confident, we are still on similar structural (and oh so plush) grounds. A flawlessly beautiful guest gushes to newcomers about what a great time she had at the Sicily compound. Wading into the Ionian Sea for one last swim, she literally bumps into a dead body. We are told there are a few of them. And, flashing back to the week before, when this group of guests arrived, we’re off, finding out how we got to where we are now.

Writer/director Mike White has once again assembled a canny mix of actors; some may be more experienced than others, but all are in top form. It’s impossible not to be somewhat seduced by the complicated yet still somehow irresistible group of characters; the father, son and grandson visiting their heritage, the two uber-rich young couples who seem to have it all, the mysteriously generous man who reaches out to the newly cuckolded Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge is the only returning actor) and her frustrated assistant, the seemingly all business hotel manager and the effervescent call girls who, among other things, tie the group together.

When I say seduced, I do so purposely. While the first season looked at privilege, this one, while admitting same, whirls also around the world of sex and the power, games and brutality it can bring. So far, there’s no nasty vicarious joy watching these players get theirs. We find ourselves liking even the smarmiest of them too much. Maybe that’s life. Maybe this is what Mike White is telling us. Is it possible he’ll screw up the ending, making my appreciation of this chapter deflate like a balloon? Maybe. But so far, I’m all in and loving it.