The fifth episode of The White Lotus saw the show’s plot accelerate further into chaos thanks to a combination of day drinking, a trip to the bank, and a surreal trip to the opera. But the show’s final scene is what’s left most viewers baffled and wondering what the final two episodes of Season 2 will have in store.
That scene (spoilers ahead, obviously) featured Tanya awakened in a lush Palermo villa after hearing something, which turned out to be her host Quentin on the receiving end of some very graphic thrusting from “naughty nephew” Jack. Who, of course, had just moments earlier promised to visit Portia in her own room for something similar after taking care of some business with said uncle.
It was a shocking moment for a number of reasons, starting with the suggestion of incest, but also because Portia and Jack really seemed to be hitting it off. Even though he tends to get cold nips in the pool, Jack quickly made Tanya’s assistant forget about Albie’s invitation to hang poolside.
“If you want an adventure, stick with me,” Jack says in the show’s fourth episode. “I know how to have fun in the sandbox.”
In the following episode, we saw just how much fun Jack can be. The two skipped the opera to carouse around Palermo, checking out an arancini place Jack raved about and exploring the city’s nightlife. It was the first time Portia seems truly happy, leaving her existential angst and worry behind to have some carefree fun. Even if it hurt her feet to run in those heels.
All of that seems to have gone out the window given the episode’s final moments, with Portia’s boss now carrying the knowledge that Jack has both had sex with Portia on a yacht and, presumably, his own uncle later that night. Given Tanya’s own propensity for chaos, it’s basically inevitable that Portia will find out and things will get extremely weird over the next fortnight.
But is Jack really Quentin’s uncle? Well, at this point it’s hard to really know much of anything. The White Lotus is a mystery that begins with an unknown number of dead bodies this season and has only deepened in uncertainty as it unfolds. And right now, Quentin’s identity (and intentions) remain perhaps the biggest and most important mystery of all. He has a collection of men around him at all times, so it’s entirely possible that Jack is simply another man in his very fashionable harem. And White Lotus creator Mike White isn’t revealing anything, either. In an interview with Variety, he talked about the taboo scene but demurred when asked if the two were actually related.
White continued: “I just think transgressive sex is sexier. I guess I’m old school. There’s this Gothic vibe of walking through a haunted hotel or haunted house and people are having sex behind closed doors.”
As far as whether Quentin and Jack are actually related, White teased, “Well, you’ll have to see.”
Both actors involved in the scene were tight-lipped about the significance of the scene in the press opportunities after the episode, too. Leo Woodall, who plays Jack, made it clear he knew Quentin was his uncle according to the script. But he didn’t know what was coming…
“When I found out about the scene, I was speechless for a while,” Woodall said. “I’m such a huge fan of Tom’s, and when I heard that he was going to be playing my uncle, I thought, ‘That is unreal.’ And then when I found out that I was going to shag him as well — that was kind of surreal. Anything that Mike White does with this show is kind of perfect, so there were no reservations about it. It felt like an incredibly ‘wow’ moment.”
All that uncertainty, both in the family tree and the show’s body count, has made this season a gold mine of fan theories. And after the shocking finish to the episode, many of those theories are about whether Quentin and Co. are actually angling for Tanya’s money. As Cameron teased earlier in the season, plenty of wealthy Europeans have lush palazzos but are “cash poor.” And Tanya specifically remarked that it’s a relief to know Quentin isn’t trying to get her money because he’s already rich. But… is he?
In the episode, Jack and Portia run out on the rice ball bill, causing a chase scene in Palermo. Jack says he forgot his wallet and, as a gentleman, didn’t want to make her pay. But it’s a curious thing to do after allegedly staying with extremely wealthy people in an exotic locale for months. Usually, when a show goes out of its own way to show you something like that, it leads to something later on.
That bit of mystery opens the door to just how much truth everyone is telling Portia and Tanya in the palazzo. And as many pointed out, including our own Brian Grubb, the story he tells near the end of the episode about a forbidden lover sounds… a lot like the plot of Brokeback Mountain. Is Quentin toying with Tanya, or is the “cowboy” just his nephew, Jack? Or is the cowboy in the story actually her husband, Greg? Recall that he told someone else on the phone he loved them before he abruptly left Sicily earlier in the season. Perhaps the story is true, but the characters are far more familiar than we currently know.
Given how the show’s cliffhangers build with each subsequent episode, it seems likely we’ll get a resolution of sorts to the whole incest thing sometime in the next two hours or so of the show. But there’s certainly a lot to talk about as the season nears a conclusion.