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Why The White Lotus Season 2 Shooting Schedule Was Heavily Impacted By House Of The Dragon

While the ending of "The White Lotus" Season 2 neatly wraps up some of its major characters' arcs — Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge), for example, gets a plenty definitive ending — the futures of characters like Ethan (Will Sharpe), Harper (Aubrey Plaza), and Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) remain somewhat uncertain. In fact, the "White Lotus" Season 2 finale keeps some big questions unanswered, leaving key plot points up to viewer interpretation.

In an interview with The Ringer following Season 2's conclusion, showrunner Mike White revealed that "House of the Dragon" significantly impacted the production of the second "The White Lotus" season, and specifically its final episode. As it turns out, COVID-related complications delayed post-production work by a month. HBO then discouraged White and co. from delaying Season 2 to make up for this loss of time because they wanted to ensure that "The White Lotus" would premiere the week following the "House of the Dragon" Season 1 finale.

"HBO really wanted us to make our date because we were after 'House of the Dragon.' They didn't want nothing to be after 'House of the Dragon.' They were just like, 'Please, get it out there.' So there's no opportunity for any additional photography," White said. For better or for worse, then, the finale as it was originally shot became the version that made its way to viewers out of a need to air the first episode of "The White Lotus" Season 2 in the immediate wake of "House of the Dragon" ending.

Mike White had to overcome his doubts about the White Lotus Season 2 finale as a result of its tight schedule

In his Ringer interview, White shared that he harbored some doubts about the last episode of "The White Lotus" Season 2, but ultimately had to put them aside to adhere to HBO's desire for the series to follow "House of the Dragon" in its Sunday timeslot. Specifically, White singled out Tanya's explosive ending and the dynamic between Ethan, Harper, Cameron (Theo James), and Daphne (Meghann Fahy) as significant risks. "This is a much more operatic story than I'm used to," he said.

White then went on to explain that, when shooting the scene in the Season 2 finale where Ethan, Harper, Cameron, and Daphne all dine together even though Ethan and Cameron fought one another earlier in the day, the actors involved didn't necessarily understand why their characters would still want to be around one another. "The actors were confused. I just felt like we needed to have one last thing with them," White said. "That was one moment where we almost bailed on doing that whole scene. It beggars belief, maybe, but it is a cinematic moment that is just fun."

So, while some of the ambiguity in the "White Lotus" Season 2 finale is assuredly by design, some of its big swings could potentially have been altered in reshoots, but any such aspirations had to be scrapped courtesy of "House of the Dragon."