Spoiler alert! If you have not seen or intend to see Episode 6 of “The White Lotus” titled “Departures,” proceed with caution.
Six weeks of awkward dinners and judging people by the pool comes to an end Sunday night with the Season 1 finale of HBO’s “The White Lotus.” Now we’ll find out who, if anyone, breaks free from the hotel’s tense socioeconomic hierarchies – and who ends up dead.
Before you check-out of “The White Lotus” — a series that’s had us laughing, crying, cringing and experiencing virtually every emotion in-between — be sure you’ve read my recaps for Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Caught-up? Good. Let’s pack our bags and hustle to the airport inordinately early.
As dawn breaks in Quinn’s (Fred Hechinger) room, AKA the beach, he wakes up just in time to join the local guys he’s befriended on their morning canoe trip. As his paddle glides through the water, you get the sense that this is the first pure moment any guest has had on the island all week.
He returns to the hotel to announce, to his parents’ (Steve Zahn, Connie Britton) horror, that he will not be leaving with the family the following day but staying in Hawaii as a member of his new friends’ canoe team. Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) says, “I support you Quinn. Follow your dream, paddle to Fiji,” and her comment shockingly ends there.
Back at the newlyweds’ room, Shane (Jake Lacy) has been worked into a tizzy after hearing about the Mossbachers’ brush with near-certain death. Now that he and Rachel (Alexandra Daddario) are staying in the biggest suite at the hotel, they are automatic targets, he says.
“Ugh, I just wish I had a gun or a baseball bat or something,” the entitled white man in the pink polo shirt laments with zero irony.
He eventually asks Rachel how her facial went, not having noticed that his wife is in tears.
“I think I made a mistake… getting married to you,” she says before launching into a monologue about not wanting to be a “plus one” her whole life, which, of course, he takes as her blaming him for being more successful than she is.
Rachel finally calls him out as the “baby man” he is, to which he replies, “Now, we are starting down a very dark road and you better be sure you really want to go there.”
Poolside, Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) and Greg (Jon Gries, who played Uncle Rico in “Napoleon Dynamite,” yep, that’s where you recognized him from) discuss their future. He even invites her to stay with him at his home in Colorado. Score!
Meanwhile, the Mossbacher scuba diving excursion has finally materialized. The family is bonding, the scenery is desktop wallpaper-esque and Paula (Brittany O’Grady) is puking over the side of the boat — not from sea sickness but her involvement in the Great Bracelet Robbery. As they set sail to get back to the island, she drops Kai’s (Kekoa Kekumano) necklace into the ocean, “Titanic” style.
At the front desk, Armond (Murray Barlett) learns that he’s going to be fired tomorrow, implying that his axing was at Shane’s boneheaded command.
“F—ing douchebag f—er f—ed me,” he growls to Belinda (Natasha Rothwell).
Mad as hell, Armond ushers Dillon (Lukas Gage) back to his office to do the remainder of Olivia and Paula’s drugs.
“F— this place,” he proclaims, snorting a line and throwing up double-birds.
Back at the room, Olivia sics her mean-girl monotone wrath on Paula.
“Why are you so down? Worried you might be going to jail?” she prods, adding that she’s not going to rat her out but still thinks her friend should regret what she helped arrange.
“You won’t understand,” Paula replies.
“I’m not my parents.”
“But you are. Actually, you are.”
The confrontation ends in tears, Olivia’s to be exact, and she leans on Nicole for support, a sight I never thought I’d see.
Across the hotel, another bestie breakup is unfolding. Belinda, the look of hope on her face as heartbreaking as ever, makes some small talk with Tanya about Greg before Tanya drops the bomb.
Acknowledging the toxic patterns Belinda’s helped her break, Tanya says that she cannot help with her business because “the last thing I need in my life is another transactional relationship.”
In a true gut-punch of a moment, Tanya comes back to retrieve her sunglasses, pays no mind to Belinda crying at her desk and scurries back out the door.
Later on, a coked-up Armond heads out to dinner with the unmistakable ear-to-ear grin of someone doing their crappy job for the very last time.
Every table at this “last supper” has its own vibe. Paula stares daggers at her travel mates as they discuss becoming a “boat family,” Shane feigns empathy for Rachel that quickly crumbles into disdain and Greg lets it slip to Tanya that his health isn’t in the best place, to which she replies, “I’ve tried a lot of treatments over the years, death is the last immersive experience I haven’t tried.”
Afterwards, Rachel books a last-minute session with Belinda to figure out whether she’s going to leave Shane. When Rachel finally asks for the long-suffering spa attendant’s advice, she replies, “You want my advice? I’m all out.”
As the night goes on, Armond gets more and more loaded with the young staff members, eventually hatching a plan to exact revenge on the architect of his undoing.
He wanders into the empty Pineapple Suite, where he finds a suitcase of folded polo shirts, each in a more “you can’t arrest me bro, my dad is a lawyer” shade than the last. Armond then unzips his pants and defecates into the suitcase. As he begins peeing in the s—case to complete the job, the door suddenly clicks open, leaving him seconds to sprint into the bathroom and hide.
Shane enters and, after taking just a little too long to notice there’s a fresh turd in his room if you ask me, grabs the knife hidden under his nightstand, assuming that the pooping intruder is also there to steal his Sperry topsiders too.
Shane rounds the corner of the bathroom at the worst possible moment, the blade jamming directly into Armond’s abdomen. Bewildered, Shane has nothing to say but, “Oh f—, I’m sorry,” as Armond stumbles and falls backwards into the tub.
We cut to the same airport terminal where we started in Episode 1, with our guests collecting their luggage and resort attendants wheeling away a box labeled “human remains.”
In a moment, honestly, just as shocking as the last scene, Rachel approaches Shane and assures him, “Everything’s fine, I promise. I’m happy,” as they embrace. Rachel, he’s not just a douche anymore, now he’s a MURDERER! To quote Tyra Banks, “We were rooting for you, we were all rooting for you! How dare you!”
Meanwhile, Tanya and Greg depart together, Tanya having just spread the last of her mother’s ashes into the ocean, without the drunk sobbing this time.
Just as the Mossbachers are about to board their flight, Quinn gets caught in line behind the rest of his family. Mark tries to wave him over before giving up and getting on the plane, giving Quinn permission to go live the life he wants.
The final shot sees Belinda and the rest of the staff not so lucky to be able to escape their own stations in life as they wave in a whole new group of guests… and thus, the cycle starts all over again.
Even in the era of “Peak TV,” I often struggle to find shows that don’t rehash the same tired dramatic tropes, aren’t nihilistic for the sake of being nihilistic and, frankly, that are actually funny. “The White Lotus” has been a tropical breeze through a television landscape that is often far more ham-fisted, self-serious and emotionally-detached than it needs to be.
I couldn’t be more excited to see what writer-director Mike White does with Season 2. In the meantime, I’ll be checking my privilege and reprogramming my brain to not despise Jake Lacy.