If The White Lotus resorts hope to survive one other tourist season, they really must do something about all these murders. In the primary season of Mike White’s hit HBO series, Maui hotel manager Armond meets the improper end of a pineapple knife after one in all his guests catches the staffer defecating in his suitcase. In season 2, Italy doesn’t fair significantly better than Maui: The bodies are positively piling up as manager Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) does frantic damage control on the coast of her Sicilian resort. We learn from fellow worker Rocco (Federico Ferrante) that a minimum of “a couple of” guests have been murdered this go-’round, their corpses flotsam for the Ionian Sea—much to the horror of guest Daphne Sullivan (Meghann Fahy), who discovers one such body as she enjoys a last-minute pre-departure swim.
Which leads us to the query at the center of White’s sneering comedy, each this season and last: Who did the killing, and why? Only two episodes in, we only have a lot evidence to go on, though already a couple of culprits seem likely. (Surely you, too, can imagine Jennifer Coolidge with a knife in her hand.) Still, White loves a red herring, so we best not be too precious with the lowest-hanging fruit. With that in mind, let’s lay out the mystery before us and take a couple of stabs—er, swings—at unveiling the victims.
Theory #1: Albie is the murderer. Or one in all them.
In season 2, we’re introduced to a wide-ranging solid that features three generations of Di Grasso men: Bert Di Grasso (F. Murray Abraham), the grandfather; Dominic Di Grasso (Michael Imperioli), the daddy; and Albie Di Grasso (Adam DiMarco), the son. Bert is a womanizing installment of the Old Guard, proclaiming family values while making moves on virtually every young woman who crosses his path. Dominic is more subtle but no less vexed, having seemingly lost his marriage over an as-yet-unclarified infidelity. (Or infidelities.) He reveals to local sex employees Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grannò) that he’s attempting to kick his sex addiction, and hiring two young Sicilian women to parade around his hotel room isn’t helping matters at home.
Only Albie seems to have excised the sexual entitlement of his pedigree. During an episode 2 dinner with the listless young assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), he reveals he’s a “nice guy,” the “peacemaker” of the family, who looks the opposite way when Bert and Dominic wink and flirt. Still, he has no desire to follow of their footsteps himself. Such an attitude, he claims, has made his escapades with potential partners tougher: When women realize he’s a “nice guy,” they appear to lose interest. When Albie later walks Portia back to her hotel room, he kisses her outside the door, which seems to take her by surprise—and never a wholly welcome type of it.
It’s far too early to proclaim Albie an incel or anything of the type. But White is clever enough to know the alarm bells the term “nice guy” is certain to set off in a segment of The White Lotus’s viewership. All too often, men use their supposed “nice guy” status to justify a sexual entitlement no less insidious than Bert and Dominic’s own, just painted with a more palatable veneer. If these men are so nice, why wouldn’t beautiful women wish to sleep with them? Especially “pretty wounded birds,” to whom Albie says he finds himself most attracted. Oof.
White has made it obvious The White Lotus season 2 is all about knotty sexual politics, particularly between heterosexual men and ladies. It’s possible, then, that the showrunner is positioning Albie as incel-adjacent, wherein case the youngest Di Grasso just might—perhaps unintentionally—hurt someone in retaliation for a rebuffed attraction. That said, it’s just as likely Portia might harbor a murderous streak, especially if Albie refuses to take a touch.
Theory #2: Lucia and Mia are the murderers.
A recurring image throughout The White Lotus season 2 is that of testa di moro, the legend of the Moor’s Head. So the story goes, a Sicilian girl was once seduced by a Moorish man, only to find he was already married—with children. In response, she sliced off his head. Such Moor’s Head busts populate guest rooms at The White Lotus’s Sicilian property, a visual reminder (and instigator) of our solid’s adulterous suspicions.
It could stand to reason, then, that the actual plot this season might mirror the legend. Lucia and Mia are each Sicilian girls who, as of episode 2, have gotten increasingly immersed within the goings-on of the hotel guests (and their sexual proclivities). Straight away, they appear to have little interest in love; they’re at The White Lotus for business, to benefit from the gaudy lifestyles of the lads and ladies who feed off their island. But should emotions run hot, violence is removed from out of the query.
Theory #3: Greg is one in all the victims—because he’s already dying.
For those who watched season 1 of The White Lotus, you’ll recall that Coolidge’s Tanya McQuoid-Hunt first encountered her now-husband Greg on the Maui resort where Armond met his end. As of season 2, they’re now married, though Greg’s shed much of the charm that made him likable within the show’s first chapter. This time, he’s work-obsessed, critical and controlling, which throws Tanya’s own acute paranoia right into a tailspin.
Her concerns calcify in episode 1, when she overhears Greg on the phone in the toilet, telling an unknown caller, “Look. Listen, I don’t wish to fucking speak about this right away, okay? Yes, I’m going to. Yeah. This shouldn’t be the time.” When Tanya asks who he’s talking to, he explains, “It’s work. It’s Bob.”
Later, in episode 2, Tanya crawls away from bed to find him on the phone again, saying, “Yeah, she’s clueless as usual. I’ll be home tomorrow, offer you a call after I get in. All right, yeah, I like you too. And I stay up for it.”
Our first instinct is to assume he’s cheating on her. (That would definitely fit the themes swirling around this season.) But, again, White often is determined by these moments to make broader claims about class, sex, and gender. What if this can be a mere misunderstanding, a case of bad timing and fear festering into irrationality? Do not forget that, during last season’s Hawaiian adventure, Greg revealed he was coping with an illness. By the point this Sicilian trip comes around, he seems healthy and spry, but what if the disease has returned? And what if he’s keeping it from Tanya to save lots of her the anxiety? If that’s the case, he might be talking to a friend, a co-worker, even his child (which might explain the “I like you too.”) And if that’s the case, Tanya’s inaccurate suspicions could prove lethal.
Theory #4: Greg is one in all the victims—because he’s cheating.
But perhaps Greg really is cheating. When Tanya desires to have sex with him in episode 1, he doesn’t seem too thrilled about it, plus he’s on the phone with “Bob” on vacation! Some fans on Reddit appear to think he’s secretly gay, or perhaps bisexual. Might such a secret send Tanya right into a jealous rage?
Then there’s the matter of a prenup: In episode 2, Greg mentions that he and Tanya can’t break up since it’d leave him destitute, especially if he didn’t have a job. Might he be scheming behind her back to inherit her money, should she—I dunno—experience a tragic cliff-diving accident?
Theory #5: Daphne is faking it.
Ah, but we’ve yet to debate the pair of perfectly ill-suited double-daters on this vacation. Daphne, who discovers the dead body bobbing around in episode 1, is the radiant, mind-bogglingly wealthy wife of Cameron (Theo James), with whom she shares two children. Cameron—a self-assured finance bro with the chiseled stature of, well, a Hollywood actor—belies no insecurity in his marriage, which seems airtight at the same time as lawyer Harper (Aubrey Plaza) attempts to poke holes along with her disapproving gaze. She’s arrived in Sicily with husband Ethan (Will Sharpe), Cameron’s college roommate and a newly wealthy tech genius. At nearly every opportunity, Harper clashes with Cameron and Daphne’s sociocultural myopia, but there’s no denying a current of warmth running between Cameron and Harper because the long, sun-baked days roll on.
If The White Lotus continues down this road, because it’s all but assured to, might Daphne be far more than the sweet, simple-minded housewife she seems? Might she have faked her surprise at encountering a dead body within the ocean? In that case, she’s quite the actress, but that’s the fun of a show like this one. The characters proceed to surprise you—until they don’t surprise you in any respect.
This story shall be updated.
Lauren Puckett-Pope is an associate editor at ELLE, where she covers film, TV, books and fashion.