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Thursday, March 23, 2023

‘The White Lotus’ Finale Recap: Who’s in the Box?

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “The White Lotus” finale.

“The White Lotus” opened with a mysterious coffin being loaded onto a plane and only one character (Jake Lacy’s Shane) who we know is safe. In the season finale, we finally learn who’s in the box.

But first, it’s a new day at The White Lotus, which means Quinn (Fred Hechinger) wakes up on the beach and immediately joins the Hawaiian rowers for a morning canoe sesh; Shane awakes next to a nearly paralyzed Rachel (Alexandra Daddario) with an unwelcome “Hi bubba”; and Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) begins confronting Paula (Brittany O’Grady) before being interrupted by the harrowing sounds of her parents having sex.

The day prior, Paula facilitated the burglary of Nicole’s (Connie Britton) bracelets — a plan that quickly went awry as Mr. and Mrs. Mossbacher made an unexpected return to the suite, catching Kai (Kekoa Scott Kekumano) red-handed, with Mark (Steve Zahn) tackling the hotel staffer before he punched back and ran off with the jewelry.

Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) wakes up next to Greg (Jon Gries), whose cough is getting worse, and at breakfast, Mark, a.k.a. “Superman in a scuba suit,” shows off his shiner. Rachel breaks down in front of Belinda (Natasha Rothwell) (“It’s not a big deal… it’s just my marriage”), and Quinn returns from Hōkūleʻa practice with an epiphany. (“I’m thinking I’m not going home. I think I wanna stay here.”) The family shuts him down, but not without some condescending encouragement from Olivia: “I support you Quinn. Live your dream; paddle to Fiji.”

Rachel returns from her facial, cheeks shiny from tears, and tells Shane she “made a mistake” marrying him. (“I don’t wanna be a plus-one my whole life.”) Shane, of course, laughs and warns his wife that she “better be sure” this is what she wants.

Armond (Murray Bartlett) delivers good news to the Mossbachers — Kai has been caught and their jewels have been recovered (uh oh for Paula). Tanya delivers good news to Greg — she’ll rent a house in Aspen and “keep the party going” with him (uh oh for Belinda). Later, Quinn and Mark celebrate their scuba school graduation on the boat while Paula blows chunks and tosses the necklace Kai gave her in the ocean.

In the hotel lobby, Armond gets an upsetting call (“Randy’s coming tomorrow to fire me. This fucking douchebag fucker fucked me, Belinda”), so he invites Dillon (Lukas Gage) to join him on his ketamine-fueled Kamikaze mission.

Olivia finally calls Paula out: “You’re the one who stole, yet I’m the bad guy?” And Paula claps back: “You’ve stolen too… Well I guess it’s not stealing when you think everything’s already yours.” Tanya delivers the final blow to Belinda’s dreams (“The last thing I need is another transactional relationship”) and gives her an envelope full of cash as a consolation prize.

At this point, we’re only halfway through the episode and no one has been murdered yet. But a blasted Armond is handing out menus, and revenge is a dish best served — inside a suitcase?

At dinner, Olivia finds her place in the family, Shane heads to the bar and Greg gives the woman who brought her mother’s ashes on vacation some peace of mind: “I’ve had some health issues… don’t be surprised if I suddenly just drop dead.”

Armond escalates his binge, Olivia silently comforts a guilt-ridden Paula and an exhausted Belinda tells a desperate Rachel she’s done handing out advice.

Meanwhile, in the Pineapple Suite, an emboldened Armond takes a dump in Shane’s luggage, and his embattled nemesis returns just in time. Hiding in the closet, the hotel manager plots his escape, but Shane grabs the knife meant for slicing the room’s titular fruit and — whoops! — accidentally stabs Armond, who stumbles backward and bleeds out in the bathtub.

The sun rises, and Quinn enjoys a teary-eyed morning on the beach while Tanya properly scatters her mother’s ashes in the water. In the airport, back where it all started, Shane reconvenes with Rachel, who convinces him (and herself) that she wants to stay in the marriage. Tanya and Greg share a laugh, Nicole flaunts her recouped bracelets, and Paula and Olivia stare at more literature. As the Mossbachers board their flight home, Quinn — the last remaining hope of the show — turns around and bolts out of the airport. He wants to live, and he will.

After a week of wreaking havoc on The White Lotus, it seems as though all of the former guests are OK, having left their mark on the hotel and its staff and then moving on without a second thought. As Shane watches his victim’s body lifted onto the plane, his focus lies elsewhere — he has his wife back, and she’s “happy.” To wonder whether Armond’s death was tragic or satisfactory — uncalled for or deserved — is beside the point. Shane — the special chosen baby child of the hotel — got what he wanted after all and left The White Lotus unscathed, finishing up his stay in Pineapple Suite and preparing for the second leg of his honeymoon in Tahiti.

As Quinn paddles out to sea with his canoeing buddies, the camera focuses on Belinda, who fakes a smile as she stands alongside the other employees (Armond has already been replaced) and waves to the next round of arriving guests. Rest assured: they’ll create their own chaos at the resort, leaving a brand new mess for someone else to clean.

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