The White Lotus Season 2: All the Easter Eggs You May Have Missed

A guide to the hidden references in this buzzy anthology’s new episodes, from first-season callbacks to what exactly is happening with Tanya’s husband.
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Warning: Spoilers ahead for season two of The White Lotus

“A little mystery…it’s kind of sexy,” Meghann Fahy’s Daphne says in the season two finale of HBO’s The White Lotus, which recently wrapped its Sicily-set sophomore season (and has been renewed for a third). Secrets are like currency here; when a group of wealthy travelers check into their swanky new digs, it’s unknown just how many of them will get to check out. Along with a group of new vacationers, Jennifer Coolidge reprises her first-season role, opening the door for references to the Emmy-winning first installment.

But there are other cameos and callbacks to find in Mike White’s anthology series, including appearances by his Survivor tribe mates, clues in the opening credits, and, of course, Daphne and Tanya’s superior reading selection (“I did get the new Vanity Fair—you can read it”). Ahead, a breakdown of all the Easter eggs scattered throughout the series’ second season.

Episode 7: Arrivederci 

Dressed to Die

When all was said and done, it was an Easter egg from last season of The White Lotus that sealed Tanya’s tragic fate. “In the end of last season, Tanya is sitting with Greg in the last episode and he’s talking about his health issues and she says, ‘I’ve had every kind of treatment over the years, death is the last immersive experience I haven’t tried,’ and I was thinking, it’d be so fun to bring Tanya back because she’s such a great character, but maybe that’s the journey for her, the journey to death,” White said in the post-finale interview. “Not that I really wanted to kill Tanya because I love her as a character and obviously love Jennifer, but we’re going to Italy, she’s such a diva, a larger-than-life female archetype, it felt maybe we could devise our own operatic conclusion to her life and story.”

Another red herring that proved to be correct was Tanya’s choice of dress. In the third episode, Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) joins Albie (Adam DiMarco), Dominic (Michael Imperioli), and Bert (F. Murray Abraham) on a sightseeing tour of The Godfather filming locations. At one point, they sit at the home where Michael Corleone’s wife Apollonia is blown up in a car. They graze only feet away from a replica of that deadly scene, where an Apollonia mannequin wears a floral dress. As many pointed out on Twitter, in the final episodes Tanya wears the exact same floral frock and in episode six Portia is shown wearing a Godfather tee shirt depicting the exact moment of the explosion. The season’s ending—hidden in plain sight. 

Head Over Heels

An unofficial character in The White Lotus is the Testa di Moro, those eerie porcelain busts placed in each room of the Sicily location. During the first episode, Rocco (Federico Ferrante) explains that as legend goes, “a Moor came here a long time ago and seduced a local girl. But then she found out that he had a wife and children back home. So because he lied to her, she cut his head off.” Or, as Daphne so succinctly summarized: “It’s a warning to husbands, babe. Screw around and you’ll end up in the garden.”

The statue is ever-present in several scenes of the show, but perhaps most prominently in Harper (Aubrey Plaza) and Ethan’s (Will Sharpe) room. As his distrust of his wife's fidelity escalates in later episodes, the presence of the statue and what it represents increasingly plagues Ethan. When Harper and Ethan put aside their fears and decide to finally consummate this vacation in the finale, the intensity of their passion leads them to break the bust—(temporarily) bashing insecurities about infidelity. 

Episode 6: Abductions

An Offer Not Refused

At one point in the penultimate episode, Tanya says she’s become so disillusioned with her marriage that she’s inquired with her divorce lawyer about getting an annulment. The name of Tanya’s attorney is Billy Offer, who as reported by The Wrap is the real-life son of Robert Offer—creator Mike White’s entertainment lawyer. 

“Robert Offer has been my lawyer for over 25 years and I have known Billy since he was a toddler,” White told the outlet in an email. “A perk of writing a TV series is giving shout outs to people I love and respect!” In a separate statement, Robert Offer said: “It’s fun to hear our son’s name mentioned in the episode because we love the show and we love Mike.”

Wait, Was That Tanya’s Husband?

With only one episode left of the second season, questions remained about who will die, how the killings might go down, and just what Quentin (Tom Hollander) is up to with our dear Tanya. After last week’s installment, in which he spoke about falling in love with a straight cowboy back in Montana decades earlier, Tanya finds a framed photo of Quentin and another man wearing cowboy hats. And, as Twitter was quick to point out, the unnamed man looks an awful lot like Tanya’s missing husband Greg (played by the returning Jon Gries). If so, Quentin may be setting Tanya up with a “notoriously well-hung” Italian man so that she is unfaithful, thus voiding the pesky prenuptial agreement Greg was complaining about episodes earlier. 

Episode 5: That’s Amore

A Spa-tting

In the most direct reference to The White Lotus’s first season, Tanya makes a nod to her flaky past. “Do you think I’m oblivious?” she asks her weary assistant Portia. Before answering her own question: “Sometimes I think I should’ve started that spa for poor women with that girl from Maui because she was like a real healer, the real deal.” But just as that thought enters her orbit, it’s gone again just as quickly—an impending trip to Palermo taking the forefront. 

Operatic Omens

Speaking of which…nothing but bad vibes are coming from Quentin’s palatial estate. While there, he describes Tanya as “tragic” then invites her as his date to a production of Madama Butterfly. The heroine in that opera meets a similar end as her father, who killed himself, just as Tanya’s did. Between that shocking ending and Quentin’s “nephew” Jack (Leo Woodall) conveniently forgetting his wallet, there’s mounting evidence to suggest that both Tanya and Portia are getting grifted. Cameron (Theo James) may have offered an easter egg on this episode earlier, suggesting that Italians often have glorious palazzos, but “no cash.”

And…What’s Up With Daphne’s Trainer?

The most perplexing mystery of the fifth episode is what Daphne meant exactly when she suggested Harper “get a trainer.” Her pro-tip follows news that her husband may have been unfaithful while on their trip. Instead of reacting in horror or asking any follow-ups, Daphne talks about her trainer Lawrence, who has “blonde hair” and “big blue eyes.” She then offers to show Harper a picture of her trainer, but instead displays a photo of her two children, one of whom is very much blonde and blue-eyed. “That’s a picture of your kids,” Harper says, to which Daphne replies: “Is it? Whoopsie!” Social media has since been divided about whether Daphne was using her children to urge Harper out of her marital business or subtly suggest she have an affair. A shot of Cameron angrily flossing his teeth while his eldest child awaits his presence on FaceTime has led some to believe he knows that the kid may not be biologically his. 

Episode 4: In the Sandbox

Wish Upon a Starfish

Just as Murray Bartlett’s Armand was enamored by his employee Dillon (Lukas Gage) last season, Sabrina Impacciatore’s Valentina harbors a crush on her subordinate, Isabella (Eleonora Romandini). In the fourth episode, Valentina gifts Isabella a starfish pin from her favorite store. The resort manager’s choice may mean more than meets the eye—starfish are thought to represent infinite divine love. Also worth pondering: Daphne wears a swimsuit covered in multicolored starfish during the season’s opening scene. 

Episode 3: Bull Elephants

A Recovery Revealed

With each episode, more context is provided about how Tanya married Greg after their unlikely season 1 meet-cute. When the pair first met in Maui, Greg’s ominous cough suggested his days were numbered. But that affliction is gone by season two.

Episode three reveals that Tanya (and her generous cashflow) played a large role in Greg’s clean bill of health. “You’ve done a lot for me. You found those doctors. I’m gonna live now because of you,” he tells her. But Greg, who we learn has been married four times, isn’t as appreciative as Tanya would prefer. “Ever since you found out you were gonna have a lot more years, I just feel like you realized you were gonna be stuck living them with me,” she cries before offering to cancel their prenup. (Tanya used a similar tactic in the first season, using her financial position to keep Natasha Rothwell’s spa manager character Belinda close.)

Cinema Paradiso

The third episode contains a few notable film references, including Albie’s prescient observation that “men love The Godfather because they feel emasculated by modern society.” But the more subtle shoutout is a shot-by-shot recreation of a scene in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960 film L’Avventura.

At one point, Harper can be seen surrounded by “horny dudes” while on the steps of the Noto Cathedral, just as the film’s star Monica Vitti (see more below) was similarly flanked onscreen. White told Variety that the tribute happened spontaneously when cinematographer Xavier Grobet realized that they were filming in the same location as the movie. Parallels between the two projects were not lost on White. “L’Avventura is about the desperate search for the meaning of life as much as the actual disappeared woman,” he said of the film’s central plot. “Obviously, White Lotus touches on the malaise of wealthy people and that kind of search for meaning when you’re just lounging by an infinity pool.”

Episode 2: Italian Dream

Being Monica Vitti

In the show’s second episode, Tanya tells Greg about her dreams of emulating Italian movie star Monica Vitti, complete with a Vespa ride and sunset meal of “pasta with giant clams.” Greg makes Tanya’s vision a reality, but only to soften the blow that he’s leaving their getaway early for a work trip to Denver. However, it appears that Greg is lying to Tanya, as he can be heard whispering on the phone later in the evening: “Yeah, she’s clueless as usual. I’ll be home tomorrow.”

Some have noted that Tanya and Greg’s relationship may soon have parallels to Vitti’s breakout film, L’Avventura, which centers on a man who leaves his lover for her best friend after she complains about his lengthy business trips. Greg’s clandestine phone call was even reportedly filmed on the same terrace that Vitti stands on at the end of L’Avventura.

Episode 1: Ciao

A Survivor Surprise

The season’s first Easter egg comes in the premiere’s opening moments. At the tail-end of her getaway, Daphne boasts about the resort’s amenities to a pair of newly arrived vacationers. They are played by none other than Angelina Keeley and Kara Kay, who both competed against creator Mike White on 2018’s Survivor: David vs. Goliath. Fahy told Entertainment Weekly that as a newfound Survivor fan she was “fangirling” over working with them.

“Pretty early on we knew there was American Woman No. 1 and American Woman No. 2. He kept saying ‘opening scene’; I was like, Maybe we’re in the background, waving, drinking some cocktails,” Kay told Vulture of the appearance. “Then we got a draft of the script and realized, oh we have lines, we’re going to say something. We’re going to be acting.”

Keeley, who was four months pregnant at the time of filming, fully committed to her cameo. After Daphne discovers bodies floating in the nearby water, Keeley said she turned in an emotional performance from the shore. “I was wiping a fake tear away like I was at a funeral. Mike came up like, ‘Angelina, this is why you’re perfect for reality TV. You’re so over the top,” she told the outlet. “Less grief, more shock.”

Jennifer Coolidge—Back and in Bloom

Of course, with the return of Tanya to The White Lotus, there’s a veiled reference to her stay at the resort’s Hawaii location, where she met her now-husband Greg. “Whenever I stay at a White Lotus, I always have a memorable time—always,” Tanya says upon entering Sicily. She also touts her “Blossom circle” status with the hotel, as she apparently worked her way up from being a mere “petal.” And in the second episode, Greg alludes to Tanya’s ability to “just discard people” as she did to Belinda in season 1. 

Dialing Dern

There’s one more sneaky cameo in the season 2 premiere—that of Laura Dern, who can angrily voices the character of Dominic’s estranged wife during a tenuous phone call. Vulture confirmed the uncredited performance, which reunites Dern and White after their previous collaboration including 2007’s Year of the Dog and HBO’s Enlightened, a series that ended in 2013 after two seasons. In the season finale, however, a family photo appears to show a woman who is decidedly not Dern as the matriarch.