Editor’s Note: The following contains minor spoilers for The White Lotus Season 2.Whereas The White Lotus may have originally been conceived as a miniseries, Mike White has expanded its social satire into an anthology show that focuses on various luxury resorts and the superficial guests who frequent them. Season 2 picks up with a new White Lotus resort in Sicily, but it looks like there’s another violent death on the horizon. The second season avoids repeating the same story beats as its predecessor by using story specificity to reflect the evil lurking in plain sight. This is embodied in the chilling opening sequence of the second season, which features images of Roman art and the sounds of the composer’s “Renaissance.” Cristobal Tapia de Veer.

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While Season 1 characters Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge) and Greg Hunt (Jon Gries) are brought back, the rest of the cast is entirely new. We see the legacy of Roman history within the Di Grasso family; the old womanizer Bert (F. Murray Abraham) seeks to reflect on the history of his ancestry with his son, Dominic (Michel Imperioli), and his grandson, Albie (Adam DiMarco). If the De Grasso family seems a little too proud of their history, then Cameron (Theo James) and Daphne Sullivan (Megann Fahy) couldn’t be more ignorant about it. The Sullivans’ lack of knowledge of history, art, culture, and current affairs, in general, irritates their companions, Harper (Place Aubrey) and Ethan Spiller (Will Sharpe).

The opening scene of the first episode, “Ciao”, teases that a collection of corpses will be discovered by the end of the season. It’s an intriguing hook that sets up another fun mystery, but it’s not the first indication that season 2 of The White Lotus will go to places as twisted as its predecessor. The opening title sequence shows that when we forget the sins of the past, we are doomed to repeat them. History is not the idealized mythology we like to remember.

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Title art was designed for the series

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Picture via HBO

Although at first glance they appear to be legitimate works of Roman art, they were actually designed by the creative team Katrina Crawford and Marc Bashorewith the help of the illustrator Lezio Lopes. While images of actual historic paintings from Villa Tasca in Palermo, Sicily were used, the final design adds latent detail. Even though the title cards are less than two minutes long, they tell a full story of a haughty society crumbling under the weight of its indulgences.

The credits begin with the harmonic voices which slowly become distorted. The beautiful sound of a choir of voices turns into haunting cries and chants. This sordid story is apparently presented as “eclectic”. We see this attitude from the characters themselves, as Ethan even tells Harper in the pilot that it’s good to have “diverse” friends like Cameron and Daphne. Ignorance is excused out of “respect”.

The story in the credits of season 2

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Picture via HBO

The credits narrative matches the story arc that the season seems to follow. Initially, the centerpiece of luxury appears to be all that it appears to be; Roman theaters are overwhelming in the same way as the White Lotus itself. This metaphor continues as the historical setting descends into chaos. Given that the season itself revolves around themes of colonization and imperialism, it’s fitting that the opener shows how the wonders of an empire affect its subjects. Just as in the White Lotus itself, the disadvantaged are forced to suffer.

Brief flashes of bestiality, murder, sexual trauma and bloodshed can be seen in a barrage of vivid images. The sexuality in the opening credits reflects how this “high society” masks its depraved desires. We see this reflected in the series itself; Cameron wants to dominate Harper, Dominic is looking to hook up with local sex workers, and Greg isn’t looking for anything from his wife beyond a physical relationship. Even Bert’s insensitive comments to the staff and Tanya’s obsession with hiding her assistant Portia (Zoey Deutsch) are based on aggression.

Apologize for the past

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Picture via HBO

In “Italian Dream”, Bert takes his family and Portia to a Roman amphitheater, where imprisoned gladiators would be forced to fight to the death. It’s an apt analogy to how characters like Bert and Cameron demand that White Lotus staff be subordinate to them. Bert takes the opportunity to tell Portia a story from Roman mythology, where the god of the underworld Hades kidnapped and raped the goddess of spring Persephone. It’s a haunting story that Bert described as if it were just a quirky fable.

What’s even more disturbing is that Bert draws the comparison between the past and the present; he claims that if Demeter could forgive Hades for raping his daughter, then surely Dominic’s wife (Laura Dern) could forgive him for any infidelities he may have had. Using the past to apologize for the present is a recurring theme; Cameron reflects a similar attitude when talking about how men aren’t allowed to gawk and flirt with women in the wake of the #MeToo era.

Character analogies in the credits

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Picture via HBO

There are many glimpses of animals in the credits, including monkeys, wild boar, and a flock of birds. Whether this is intended to represent the animal nature of humanity or simply to further the disorienting nature of the credits is unclear, but it’s possible that some of the animals themselves are intended to be analogies to various characters. . A particularly striking image is that of a chained monkey pulled out of a tower by a woman; since this is on Jennifer Coolidge’s merit, it could reflect the prison nature of her new marriage.

There’s also a photo of a bird attacking his flock that matches Aubrey Plaza’s credit. Until now, Harper has rebelled against her wealthy companions, because she realizes that she does not want to engage in this culture at all. Theo James’ credit syncs with a dog urinating on a statue, and Cameron also tried to “mark his territory” by harassing Harper. Some analogies are clearer; F. Murray Abraham is literally an older man seeking the attention of younger women. Likewise, the image of a man on horseback carrying a woman related to Jon Grier resembles the Vespa he rides in “Italian Dream.”

The White Lotus is just as full of details, hidden meanings, and easter eggs as something like The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, The House of the Dragon, Where Andor. While White has shown himself to be a brilliant writer with projects like Brad Status and Enlightened, The White Lotus is a step-up with its technical prowess. It will be interesting to see if the rest of Season 2 is just as engrossing as the first 90 seconds that play in front of each episode.

Season 2 of The White Lotus features new episodes every Sunday on HBO and HBO Max.