Unpacking Clues in ‘The White Lotus’ Season 2 Credits Sequence

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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The White Lotus Season 2, Episode 1, “Ciao.”]

The White Lotus is back and introducing viewers to a new set of privileged resort guests, staff, and even some local Sicilians in the Italy-based story.

Helping set the tone for the season is the opening title sequence which features the names of the cast, crew, and creatives, as well as some key imagery that may offer hints as to what fans can expect from the season. Created, written, and directed by Mike White, the series works with Plains of Yonder, a film studio and creative consultancy headed by Katrina Crawford and Mark Bashore that has also had a hand in the credit sequences for shows like Westworld and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Together with White, both Crawford and Bashore helped craft the opening credits sequences for Seasons 1 and Season 2.

'The White Lotus' Season 2 credits

(Credit: Plains of Yonder for HBO)

This time around, though, the wallpaper motif has been traded in for Italian Fresco paintings with a little added symbolism for fans to uncover as the season unfolds. “It is more loaded,” Bashore acknowledges. “Katrina really poured through the scripts carefully to try and locate [a] story that could translate to these paintings to fit the characters [better] than in Season 1.”

When it comes to creating these sequences, Bashore tells TV Insider, “You have to find a way to really bring people in with rich imagery that tells a story.” And in many ways, the story is being laid out for fans to interpret if they look closely enough.

“Our basic job is to get you energetically ready to watch the show,” Crawford adds. “The setting helps a lot already. You’re in Sicily, you have this huge history of mythology and stories of romance and love and tragedy that you can draw from. So we had so much material in terms of thinking about different characters. There was so much fun stuff that could be done.”

'The White Lotus' Season 2 Leda and the Swan

(Credit: Plains of Yonder for HBO)

The detailed imagery mimics the Frescos seen around the gorgeous locations featured in the show, but that’s not a coincidence. As Bashore shares, “there was a particular villa with an artwork style in it that Katrina went to and shot those images. In almost every case, we’ve manipulated those images, either erasing characters or adding new ones, and then some imagery is entirely new.”

One piece of imagery that the duo had always planned to include was Leda and the Swan. “We had the original famous ‘Leda and the Swan’ painting in our rough cut for months. It just felt right because it’s about passion, and there’s a lot of nature in this show. Mike White said ‘I love the Leda.’ And so we engineered that back in,” Bashore says of including the mythology figures into the credits’ paintings.

Crawford points out that both Season 1 and Season 2 credit sequences are “actually referencing two poems in a way.” As she further explains, “you have [Tennyson’s] The Lotos-Eaters poem, and then there’s the very famous poem by Yeats about Leda and the Swan, with Zeus coming down as this swan, and there are swans at the villa that live in the pond. So there are these swirling connections.”

'The White Lotus' Credits Season 2

(Credit: Plains of Yonder for HBO)

“There are some things that only make sense once you’ve seen them in the show,” Crawford adds, so after tuning into the show each week, viewers will have a clearer image of The White Lotus characters. Part of that symbolism is in the imagery of animals as Bashore points out, “animals are a really big throughline” when it comes to watching out for clues. “Nothing is in there by mistake,” Bashore continues. “So whether it’s a lamb sitting alone in a field, fighting birds, a boar hunt, or monkeys, the animals are doing a lot of the work to talk about people in a way that even a dog lifting its leg says more than you could with an image of a person.”

For instance, the bird nipping at another’s wings in Aubrey Plaza‘s slide could be seen as a reflection of Harper’s dynamics with her husband Ethan (Will Sharpe), or the peeing dog on Theo James‘ slide may represent his character Cameron being territorial or competitive (anyone for a “pissing contest”?)

Make what you will of these clues, but there’s certainly a lot to unpack in the dense credit sequence, which features a reworked theme song with familiar tones from Season 1. That also influenced the direction Crawford and Bashore took; as the latter says, “the music has a journey which really helped us create a visual journey to match.”

The White Lotus, Season 2, Sundays, 9/8c, HBO and HBO Max

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