HBO’s The White Lotus: New Day (Episode 2) Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On this week’s episode of HBO’s, The White Lotus, New Day, tensions begin to grow within the resort’s vacationers and staff forcing some to find their own kind of medication and mediation to stay afloat.
Last week, we saw Olivia (Sydney Sweeny) and Paula (Brittany O’Grady) act as these gossip queens that sit and judge those around them. They think that they’re above it all, especially Olivia’s family and this vacation, and that doesn’t change much this week. Even though they’re hanging out on a beautiful Hawaiian island resort, all they really want to do is indulge in the all the drugs they brought. The fact that performing ASMR is basically a drug for them is pretty hilarious and that sequence is superbly crafted with how it creates an experience for viewers. That sound of their water bong bubbling oddly gave me small chills. Their “conversation” with Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) is trippy hilarity with how spaced out the two of them are, but this ends up leading to them leaving their bag full of drugs behind which causes some interesting ripples.
For Olivia and Paula, their insecurities start to show as Olivia is clearly a little upset that Paula isn’t being up front about this busboy she’s talking to. Although they’ve been a pretty tight unit thus far, even scoffing at Olivia’s mother Nicole’s (Connie Britton) success, this busboy seems to be getting between them a bit. If it was nothing it would seem odd for Paula to lie about it and perhaps there’s something more to Quinn’s (Fred Hechinger) comment about them being lesbians given Olivia’s clear jealousy and concern about Paula keeping secrets about this busboy.
These two losing their drugs also ends up having a big effect on resort manager Armond (Murray Bartlett) as he’s slowly being pushed to his limits. From that whole newbie giving birth in his office thing that happened last week to Shane (Jake Lacy) bugging him non-stop about this room issue, Armond is reaching his breaking point. In a conversation with Belinda (Natasha Rothwell), he opens up about his stress in this position and even reveals a past alcohol problem. Now, with this bag of drugs falling into his possession and his falling to temptations, the possibility that Armond is the one we’ll eventually see in the coffin feels stronger than ever.
Honestly though, it’s pretty bumming that we already know that it isn’t Shane in that coffin because he’s just the worst. His self-sabotaging of his honeymoon Rachel (Alexandria Daddario) reaches new levels of privileged entitlement with how he criticizes her for possibly taking work to further her career. Instead of supporting and understanding Rachel’s desires to further her career by taking a new project, he instantly belittles her efforts and tries to swoon her by flaunting his wealth. Look, it’s understandable that there would be some conflict with this given that they’re on their honeymoon, but as someone who works in the same field as Rachel, I kind of get it. Connections are key in journalists making progress in their careers and the less opportunities you take when the come, the less you’ll get in the future. If Shane had at least tried to bargain with Rachel, he wouldn’t come off like a total jerk. He doesn’t though and even outright blame her for “ruining” their honeymoon.
As each day passes at The White Lotus, Shane only proves himself to be more and more of a dick, but he’s not the only one who Rachel is in hot water with. In an effort to get some advice from Nicole about what she should do about this project, Rachel ends up sparking a feud. It’s pretty funny how their conversation turns from Nicole genuinely inspiring Rachel to maintain her independence to them spatting about a puff piece that Rachel wrote that slandered the personal feats Nicole accomplished. Things go from good to bad with a simple mention of what Rachel does and it’s crazy how it changes the character of their relationship. They go from having a real moment together to sniping at each other from across the outdoor dining and it’s really funny. There are actually a couple times throughout this episode where different characters talk about seeing each other on the boat and its funny how that once instance kind of connects them all.
Not everything is tension though this episode and there’s actually some progress made between Belinda and Tanya. After another “life-changing” massage, Tanya invites Belinda to dinner and gives her the kind of attention she rarely receives at the resort. Early on, it’s easy to see that Belinda is disillusioned by working at The White Lotus since she wants to believe that maybe she can open the minds of the rich white people that come and go, but rarely sees any change. Now her fakeness with Tanya last week about getting a massage appointment makes a little more sense. Perhaps though, she’s finally seeing that with Tanya since she sees something deeper within because of how she’s healed her.
The person who goes through the biggest change this week is without a doubt Mark (Steve Zahn) though as he finds out that his balls are fine. The doctor’s call finally comes, and he doesn’t have cancer. You would think this would be the end of it, but Mark transitions from thinking about his balls the whole episode to having a new lease on life. It’s pretty much the usual “my family means everything” and “life has new meaning” schtick that we’re used to seeing in these moments, but Zahn makes Mark’s change a lot of fun. He has a lot of great energy and it’s kind of nice that he really wants to spend more time with those around him. He’s really in the perfect setting to do so, but the turn this episode takes in the end just kills all his positivity in a darkly hilarious way. In a call with his uncle, Mark learns that his father not only died from AIDS not cancer, but that he was having sex with men on the side. With how things have gone for Mark each episode, I get the vibe that next week, this will all he’ll be able to talk about.
The White Lotus shows some elements of positivity that shine from Tanya growing closer with Belinda and Mark no longer having to worry about his balls, but there are some new tensions that rise from some darkly hilarious turns. There’s no doubt that Olivia and Paula’s friendship will come to a head eventually and Armond self-medicating his stress could be a foreboding sign.