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Who Dies At The End Of The White Lotus Season 1?

Perhaps the only surprising thing about the dramatic death in the finale of the first season of "The White Lotus" was that it took so long to get to. Ever since the show's first episode opened with a glimpse of a body being loaded onto an airplane, audiences have known that somebody's time in paradise was going to end in tragedy. Chekhov's rules of drama would say that you can't show a coffin in the first act and not put someone into it by the third.

But while the coffin — and the inevitable threat of somebody's death — has loomed over the show since the beginning, the series has proven a lot more complicated than a simple murder mystery. Most of its machinations have occurred at a lower level; there's no grand conspiracy plot and precious little motivation for murder, just a series of ever-accumulating microaggressions and minor crimes perpetrated by the guests and staff of the White Lotus resort upon each other, the people with money (and therefore power) behaving badly, and those ostensibly there to serve them striking back where they can. Fans wondering who the victim –– and the killer –– might end up being have known that somewhere there would have to be an escalation, and until that moment arrived, the list of possible candidates seemed to be wide open.

Who was the murder victim on The White Lotus?

In the end, the murder involved the character who was perhaps always the most likely to escalate things, the one who seemed the best bet to crack under the pressure the show spent the better part of six episodes ladling onto him.

But when Armond (Murray Bartlett) reaches his breaking point, he doesn't lash out in violence at someone else. After his feud with Shane Patton (Jake Lacy) ends in Shane finally getting hold of the resort manager's supervisors and securing his termination, Armond, fueled by Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) and Paula's (Brittany O'Grady) confiscated drugs, enacts his revenge by sneaking into Shane's suite and defecating in his suitcase. But before he can make his escape, he's surprised in the room by a returning Shane, who grabs a knife to protect himself from the unseen intruder and looks just as surprised as his victim when they come face to face and he reflexively stabs Armond in the chest.

Why The White Lotus opened with the coffin

And so Armond exits both the White Lotus and this mortal sphere. Though Shane flees the scene in a panic, he suffers so few consequences for his tragic error that the show doesn't even bother to show the aftermath, further driving home the class differences between the show's untouchable upstairs and its put-upon downstairs characters. Even Shane's new wife Rachel (Alexandra Daddario) stays with him, despite the cold feet their time at the resort appeared to be giving her. 

"The White Lotus" creator Mike White told Vulture that he knew Armond was going to die from the beginning, and that it was always meant to be Shane who killed him, their petty feud over a booking error in paradise escalating all the way to murder. He dropped the hint at the beginning because, as he puts it, "I'm a type of creator who's had good critical responses sometimes, but I've struggled to get people to show up to watch...I knew I wanted somebody to die anyway, so it was like, 'Let's lead with that as a hook.'"

HBO has already renewed "The White Lotus" for a second season, but Armond won't be the only cast member not returning. The show will take an anthology format, following an entirely different group of guests during their stay at another property in the White Lotus portfolio.