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The Biggest Unanswered Questions From The White Lotus Season 1

"The White Lotus," the HBO series created, written and directed by Mike White ("Enlightened"), has garnered a lot of attention thanks to a cast of recognizable stars, clever plotting, and a story that is frequently amusing on the surface, but with a vital cultural conversation bubbling beneath its surface.

A sharp, biting satire putting a (not so positive) spotlight on white privilege, the series follows a group of guests through their one-week stay at a high-end resort in Hawaii called The White Lotus, as well as what the employees go through to accommodate them. The guests include newlyweds Shane (Jake Lacy) and Rachel (Alexandra Daddario), eccentric solo traveler Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) and the wealthy Mossbacher family —businesswoman Nicole (Connie Britton), husband Mark (Steve Zahn), kids Quinn (Fred Hechinger) and Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) and friend Paula (Brittany O'Grady). The two most prominent employees working to accommodate their every need are convivial hotel manager Armond (Murray Bartlett) and resort spa manager Belinda (Natasha Rothwell).

With the amount of buzz the series received, starting from the night of its premiere, it's no surprise that "The White Lotus" was renewed for Season 2 before the first season finale had even aired. That second season will reportedly take place at a different White Lotus, featuring all-new guests and a new storyline — although White has conceded that perhaps "some of them would come back" as the same characters.

This is a good thing, because even though the first season is over, viewers were left with many unanswered questions. Let's take a look at some, with fingers firmly crossed that they'll be revisited in Season 2.

What happened to Lani after she gave birth?

In the season's premiere episode, "Arrivals," we meet employees waiting to greet the new guests, including Lani (Jolene Purdy), who is learning the ropes. After Lani helps Tanya with her luggage, she's seen clutching her stomach and looks to be in pain. We soon find out that she's pregnant and may be going into labor; finding herself unable to tell her boss Armond, she continues working. 

Soon, her water breaks in the lobby and there's no turning back. Once in labor, Armond asks Lani why she didn't tell him she was pregnant and she responds that she really needed the job — and after she gives birth in his office, this is the last time we see her for the rest of the season. In the second episode, Belinda asks Armond if Lani is doing okay, and Armond has already forgotten who Lani is.

Viewers were left to imagine what happened to Lani and her baby. Did her tenuous job situation lead to unwanted stresses in the early days of motherhood? Is that baby doing well? There is no way of knowing, which is intentional. 

"At the very beginning, [Armond says], 'We're interchangeable helpers.' It's like they don't exist," White told Vulture a few days after the season concluded. "This idea that once they exit the hotel, they're pulverized, they vanish. I thought that would be maybe controversial, but it's like a steamrolling. The people waving in the beginning, by the end they've been replaced."

What happened to Kai after he got caught?

Native Hawaiian staffer Kai (Kekoa Scott Kekumano) suffers one of the worst fates of all of the characters — second only to Armond, perhaps. After  Paula talks him into it, he uses a master key to get into the Mossbachers' room to steal jewelry from their safe (with the code attained by Paula). The theft results from a mangled sense of righteousness, as Paula and Kai think they could sell the jewelry to acquire money for a lawyer to fight back against the hotel for stealing the land from Kai's people.

Unsurprisingly, the plan goes horribly awry — Nicole and Mark return to the hotel room when Kai expected them to be away and, after putting on a mask and scuffling with Mark, he gets away. The last time we see him is when he's running through the hotel, desperately trying to get away from the scene of the crime and his place of employment. In a later scene, Armond says that Kai was caught, but he doesn't specify what happened to him.

The disappearance of Kai is cited by White as another example of how he wanted to make the point that in the eyes of these vacationers, once the locals aren't assisting them anymore, they cease to exist in their world. So, we don't have to see Kai again to assume that his fate is not good — he was likely arrested and the sentencing could impact Kai for the rest of his life. 

Perhaps even more frustrating, while Kai is assumed to be much worse off, the incident brings the Mossbachers closer together.

What exactly is Paula's class status?

Paula is notable from the get-go as being the only non-white guest in the show's orbit. Tagging along with her friend's family, it's assumed that her place on the trip is being paid for by Olivia's parents. Throughout the season, we see her becoming increasingly more outspoken toward Nicole and Mark about their privilege, which only becomes heightened by her fling with staffer Kai.

Yet, despite expressing progressive beliefs and trying to distance herself from the privilege of her friend's family, we never find out exactly what Paula's class status is. Since she's a guest of another family, it's easy to assume that her class status is lower. Yet, her pushback against privilege only truly begins after meeting Kai. I

If she did come from a lower class, she may have better understood the potentially catastrophic consequences for Kai if he was caught. When he is caught, she never admits to any blame (which could have helped Kai), nor does she even reach out to him to see what happened to him. So, indications would seem to point to her family having some money as well, which would put a very different spin on some of her confrontational comments.

In a piece discussing Episode 5, Decider explored that very thought: "[The plan is] designed to assuage her own shame and to fire back at a family she couldn't stand being associated with. Because the honest truth is Paula has more in common with Olivia and her parents than Kai and his family. She enjoys the fruits of their wealth and would pick them over a simple life with a sweet man."

Will Belinda ever get her own wellness center?

It becomes clear right away that Belinda, the spa manager, is very good at her job. Solo traveler Tanya sees it too and immediately latches onto Belinda, even taking her out for multiple dinners. After singing Belinda's praises, Tanya repeatedly brings up the idea of funding Belinda's own wellness center. But does she really mean it, or will Tanya eventually return to the mainland and leave the dreams of her "friend" to wither on the vine?

Belinda, skeptical at first, ultimately allows herself to imagine what it would be like to run her own wellness center, even writing up an extensive business plan. In the end, Tanya chooses to run off with her new boyfriend Greg (Jon Gries), instead of getting into business with Belinda, claiming that she has to stop using her money to control her relationships with people. Even if Tanya's claim is genuine, Belinda is nonetheless left brokenhearted.

After seeing Belinda go above and beyond to make Tanya feel good and at ease during her stay — even accompanying her to scatter her mother's ashes — it's heartbreaking to see her end the series right back where she started. The dream was very real to Belinda; it was a passing whim for Tanya.

Just like Lani and Kai, as a viewer you can't help but want the best for these working-class characters. However, the painful reality is that it was all talk, as Belinda was banking on Tanya's promises, seemingly her only hope. 

What does Rachel's future look like?

Despite being treated quite awfully by her husband, Shane — he is self-centered, entitled, often doesn't listen to her and, in one scene, flirts with teens Olivia and Paula right in front of her — Rachel claims that the only reason she wants to leave him is because she doesn't want to be a plus one her entire life. She firmly states her decision, but then goes back to Shane anyway, telling him, "I'll be happy." It sounds entirely unconvincing and she looks entirely unhappy, but she hugs him in reconciliation as the first season draws to a close.

In an earlier episode, she was offered an article assignment and, despite a desire to do it, ultimately turned it down to keep Shane happy. According to him, she doesn't need to make money anymore, and should let her career fade away.

It seems safe to assume that this is what their marriage will look like moving forward. Money is not something they, as a couple, need to worry about, and she's already becoming somewhat dependent on that, considering she let his family pay for a big wedding and for a very fancy honeymoon. 

"I always knew she'd go back to him," White told Vulture. "There was something about her, even in the way she's approaching him; it's like someone who wants to get a response ... She's started to feel the limits of what she thinks she's capable of, and it's the reality of the seduction of a lifestyle."

Does Quinn's family go looking for him?

Quinn is arguably the only guest on the series to show any growth. After starting off as a spoiled teenager obsessed with his devices, he soon becomes enamored with a group of Hawaiian rowers and, in the end, ignores his parents' orders and stealthily escapes just before entering the plane. He's last seen rowing along with the rest of the group, out into the ocean.

It's a satisfying ending, not only because Quinn is arguably the least destructive guest and it's nice to see him get what he wants, but also because his actions seem likely to enrage his parents.

It definitely makes the most sense, on multiple levels, to assume that Nicole and Mark go back to look for Quinn. For one, they're his parents, and despite not always caring about less privileged groups of people, they do care about their son. Secondly, knowing who they are, it seems like their opposition to Quinn permanently remaining in Hawaii has something to do with the kind of spaces they think Quinn belongs in — namely, the Hawaiian resort represents vacation to them, not a permanent home for people of their social standing. It's enough to make you hope, for Quinn's sake, that he's hard to find.

Do Olivia and Paula stay friends?

Olivia and Paula's friendship is extremely complicated. In the first few episodes, it appeared that Olivia may have unrequited feelings for Paula — as noted by outlets such as Into and Autostraddle, and even in an interview with the actresses for the New York Times — but that notion was more or less shut down when Paula tells Kai that she's kept their fling a secret because Olivia can't stand it when Paula has something that she doesn't. 

"White Lotus" soon showed that Paula's fears were not unreasonable as Olivia once pursued — or maybe even slept with — someone Paula was interested in at their college. Essentially, by this point, despite bringing Paula along on a luxury vacation, it seems that Olivia isn't the greatest of friends.

Paula's relationship with Kai, and eventual hand in the attempted robbery of the family's jewelry, creates even more tension between Olivia and Paula. Still, in the end, we see Olivia comforting Paula as she cries about having messed everything up. 

It's the last we see of them besides when they board the plane, where they appear to be chatting as usual, so it's safe to assume that their dynamic resets to how it was before the vacation. Paula, despite appearing to making strides toward change, doesn't actually change in the end. Olivia, too, remains unchanged, so it makes sense that their friendship would as well.

Will Greg's health get in the way of him and Tanya making it to Aspen?

At one point, Tanya laments that she doesn't have a man in her life. Soon after, she meets Greg (Jon Gries) and they quickly hit it off. Despite an intense meltdown in front of Greg — during which Tanya declares herself as crazy and a "dead end" — he continues to see her. Before leaving, they make plans to continue having fun together, even as Greg informs Tanya that he's sick and doesn't know how much time he has left.

This confession was an easy one to see coming — after all, Greg is seen intensely coughing in just about every scene he's in. However, the details of Greg's health are never disclosed; we don't find out if it's a cancer diagnosis or something else, let alone just how serious it is. So, will his health get in the way of those plans with Tanya to go to Aspen together?

Greg would probably know if his illness was so bad that he didn't even have, say, a month of his life left. So, we can probably assume that the two at least made it to their destination of Aspen — but beyond that, things are pretty up in the air.

Did Shane suffer any consequences from accidentally killing Armond?

The short answer appears to be no, considering that we see Shane at the airport after the fact, on his way to his next destination, without showing any outward guilt or remorse. Without knowing anything about Shane, the situation skews in his favor — after all, Shane is a guest, who had heard about an attempted robbery in another room, then used a knife to defend himself when confronted by an intruder. 

Nevertheless, since the audience knows what an awful person Shane is — and what a sympathetic character Armond is — it's hard to not wish Shane had a little karma headed his way.

Shane likely claimed self-defense, and being a white privileged wealthy male tourist would only seem to help his defense. But in real life, even self-defense murders require a lengthy investigation — so, the fact that Shane was shown flying away just a few days later is a narrative move that makes a very precise point. Shane also gains back the one thing he had lost — his marriage to Rachel — in the aftermath of his actions, so it seems like if anything, karma is rewarding him.

It's a scathing ending — literally, the worst character on the show gets away with murder — but it could also be seen as a poignant one in service of the show's observations about the way white privilege operates.

How did the hotel guests and employees react to Armond's death?

Viewers are kept in the dark when it comes to what happened directly after Armond died. Likely, the guests were barely affected — perhaps they expressed a remark of how it was too bad, Armond was so nice, and so on. But, it's highly doubtful that they continued to think about his death for much longer than it took to fly home.

As Armond himself once said, the guests see all of the employees as "interchangeable helpers." This remark is only emphasized by his death, in that one of them can literally lose their life, but as long as someone else takes their place to assist the guests, it will barely be noticed.

On the other hand, the only time we see the employees after Armond's death is when they're seen standing at the water's edge, forcing a smile, as they greet the next round of guests arriving on the boat — there's even a new man dressed in a pink suit, who has clearly taken over Armond's role.

We never get to see the employees grieve — nor do they really have a chance to — which drives home the point that, in the world of The White Lotus, they only exist to serve the guests. Armond is the employee whose inner life we viewed most up-and-close — his struggles with addiction, his sexuality — and, in what is almost certainly not a coincidence, he's the one who ends up dying in the end. 

As The Ringer put it their recap of the finale: "Of course the dead body belongs to one of the staff. These people have already all but given their lives to the happiness of others; why not make it official?"

Will any of the Season 1 characters return for Season 2?

That announcement of a second season for "The White Lotus" had HBO saying that the next installment would turn the show into something of an anthology, following "a different group of vacationers as they jet to another White Lotus property and settle in temporarily amongst its inhabitants." This statement would seem to indicate that the characters we've already met would not be returning — but White told TVLine that he's still considering such matters.

"I don't think you can credibly have [all the Season 1 guests] on the same vacation again," he said. "But maybe it could be a Marvel-universe type thing, where some of them would come back. We only made one-year deals with the actors, so we'd have to find out who is even available."

One actor who is interested in returning is Jake Lacy, who plays Shane. In an interview with The AV Club, Lacy said, "I just loved working with Mike. I just think his writing and directing and his brain are like — I want to spend the most time in that world, whether it's like Season Two of 'White Lotus' or some other thing, I would be back there." 

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Sydney Sweeney (who portrayed Olivia) played coy about returning but said she would "of course be  open to it."

No matter how things play out, this much seems clear: Like a hungry tourist at the resort buffet, waiting for their turn at the omelette station, "White Lotus" fans will be eagerly anticipating Season Two.