The White Lotus Ending: Making Sense Of The Death And Big Decision In The Season 1 Finale

Alexandra Daddario and Jake Lacy on The White Lotus

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The White Lotus Season 1. You have been warned…

After six hilarious, awkward, and hilariously awkward episodes, The White Lotus Season 1 wrapped up in spectacular fashion when the HBO black comedy series answered the question its fans had been asking for weeks: whose body was that being loaded into the plane at the show's start. Now that everyone has had time to watch The White Lotus Season 1 ending, now seems like the perfect time to dive into the big death as well as a certain decision a character made in the moments before the screen faded to black. But before that, let’s break down everything that went down for the staff and guests of The White Lotus Resort in picturesque Maui…

Alexandra Daddario on The White Lotus

What Happened At The End Of The White Lotus Season 1

All throughout the The White Lotus Season 1, resort manager Armond (Murray Bartlett) and wealthy guest Shane Patton (Jake Lacy) had been at each other’s throats following a series of misunderstandings and mistakes that quickly unfolded into complete madness. When the game goes on too far (and after Armond has fallen off the wagon and let his indulgences get the best of him), the resort manager walks into Shane’s suite and takes a dump in his luggage. Shane arrives, notices someone in his room, and accidentally stabs the intruder when turning the corner. At the same time (though not entirely connected), Shane’s new wife Rachel (Alexandra Daddario) threatens to leave him following a week-long existential crisis, but ends up reuniting with her husband at the airport.

Jake Lacy on The White Lotus

Why Shane Being The One Who Killed Armond Makes Perfect Sense

With the way The White Lotus opens — Shane Patton standing in an airport watching a coffin being loaded onto an airplane — it is easy to jump to the conclusion that the cocky real estate agent will have some kind of connection to the person inside that coffin. And while the truth behind the body and Shane’s involvement isn't revealed until five episodes later, that thread is weaved as the story unfolds.

Shane and Armond immediately get off on the wrong foot when they meet at The White Lotus Resort in Maui, after the guest realizes Armond has double-booked his suite. The feud continues and reaches its peak when Shane catches Armond in a compromised position (engaging in a drug-fueled sex party with one of his subordinates) and uses this knowledge to get the resort manager relieved of his duties. This leads to Armond relieving himself in Shane’s suitcase just moments before Shane stabs him on accident when he thinks there’s an intruder in the room.

As the season goes on, it becomes pretty clear that Armond will be the one dying — drug abuse, severe drinking problems, losing touch with reality — and as his feud with Shane continues to escalate, it seems like the honeymooner will be connected to his death in some way, either by harming him or pushing him over the metaphorical ledge.

Murray Bartlett on The White Lotus

What The White Lotus’ Creator Mike White Says About Armond’s Death

Okay, so we’ve gone over the reasons why it makes sense for Shane Patton to be the character not just connected for the dead body in the show’s opener but also the one most responsible, but what does The White Lotus’ creator Mike White have to say about it. During an interview with Vulture following The White Lotus Season 1 finale, White revealed that he wanted to use a dead body at the beginning to hook viewers and that he thought the honeymoon plot-line would be a good way to get people thinking that Shane would kill Rachel,

I wanted it to seem like maybe it was the honeymoon that really goes wrong and Shane is such a hothead that maybe he’s going to do [his wife] Rachel in. But I knew I wanted Armond to die. It came to me in a flash that his final act of retribution, of the put-upon existence he has serving these privileged people, was to take a crap in their bag, and that would be his last act, an operatic end for him. I’ve never seen that before, and it felt like that would be funny and have a surreal but impactful end.

When asked why it had to Armond who was dead by the time the show ended, White revealed that Armond was the character he related to the most before going into detail about how most of his original conceits for the show came from the storylines connected to Armond and Shane’s feud over the Pineapple Suite.

Alexandra Daddario and Jake Lacy on The White Lotus

Why Rachel’s Decision To Stay With Shane Is The Saddest But Most Logical Outcome

While Shane Patton is in the middle of his feud with Armond in The White Lotus Season 1, he is oblivious to the existential crisis his new bride, Rachel, is experiencing as the reality of her new life slowly starts to set in. It is suggested Rachel’s life before meeting Shane was a struggle, at least financially, and the freedom of marrying someone from a very well-off family brings with it a lot of unknowns.

This is made worse with the arrival of Shane’s mom, Kitty (Molly Shannon), who comes to her son's rescue regarding the mix-up with the room.. Following several eye-opening conversations with her mother-in-law about her new life, something snaps in Rachel and she tells Shane she’s leaving. By the end of the episode, however, Rachel and Shane reconnect in a silent embrace at the airport.

This is the sadder of the two possible outcomes for Rachel but it is the most logical considering her actions throughout the season. This is not to take anything away from Rachel’s own desires to be independent or find fulfillment, but instead deals with her self-worth issues, which are made worse following a tense run-in with Nicole Mossbacher (Connie Britton) about an article she had written about the tech CFO. And while Rachel doesn’t know what she wants or if she deserves it, she understands the cynical truth that it's a lot easier with money.

Alexandra Daddario on The White Lotus

What Mike White Says About Rachel Changing Her Mind

This cynicism is something The White Lotus writer/director Mike White touched on when breaking down various topics related to the season during an interview with Vulture. While he agreed that Shane could be a complete asshole at times, at the end of the day he loved her and would do anything to make to make her life great, whatever it meant:

I always knew she’d go back to him. There was something about her, even in the way she’s approaching him; it’s like someone who wants to get a response. Honestly, it feels true to life for me. I’ve seen peers who may not have been in this exact situation. 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. Some people read it as cynical; to me, the thing that I feel about Shane is that even though he is a privileged asshole, he does really love her. Even if it’s just an idea of her.

Another thing that Mike White pointed out in the interview was that as sad as it sounds, “principled actions “don’t always win the day.” You could even argue that this is the central argument of the entire season.

The White Lotus Season 1 ending, while not the cheeriest of the finales, was very much in line with the tone of the show and did a rather good job of tying up all the loose ends just as another group of guests arrived at the exclusive resort. The White Lotus will return for a Season 2 at some point in the future (with a new set of characters), but in the meantime check out these options to fill the void on the 2021 fall TV schedule.

Philip Sledge
Content Writer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.