If you found yourself disappointed by The White Lotus ending, that’s kind of the whole point. Mike White’s HBO series debuted its season 1 finale on Aug. 15. And fans are still talking about the ending. Rachel and Shane’s ending in The White Lotus, in particular. In a recent interview, White explained why he also has “mixed feelings” about Rachel’s ending, and why it made sense for the series, no matter disappointing.
[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for The White Lotus Season 1 finale.]
‘The White Lotus’ finale revealed who died and how they died
For much of the first half of The White Lotus, fans thought Rachel would be the one who died. The hints were there: She married someone she realized too late she didn’t want to be with, Shane had an angry streak in him that felt intimidating. In the end, Shane was never revealed to be violent. He very much could not handle minor inconveniences and treated the hotel staff horribly because of that. But viewers soon realized he likely wasn’t going to harm his wife.
However, Shane was still the killer in the end. He accidentally killed Armond by stabbing him in the stomach. After Shane got him fired, Armond went on another bender and decided to retaliate against his nemesis by pooping in his suitcase.
Shane thought a robber was in his hotel room, so he picked up a pineapple carving knife in self-defense. Stabbing Armond was truly an accident, but it was the saddest possible ending to their feud. And even after killing this man, Rachel decided to stay with Shane.
Why does Rachel stay with Shane?
In The White Lotus Episode 5, Rachel says she thinks she made a “terrible mistake” marrying Shane. Finally, it seemed she made a decision about leaving him. She even told him about her feelings in the beginning of The White Lotus Episode 6. But her confidences continues to wane to the point where she decides to stick it out with him. (Again, this is after he killed the man he harassed all season!)
Fans couldn’t believe after all that, Rachel stayed with Shane. But as shown by her constantly asking other people for advice about her biggest life choices, Rachel had no idea how to shape her own life. She turns to others to tell her what to do (she asked Nicole for marriage and career advice, she asked Belinda to help her with her “Faustian bargain”) because she fundamentally can’t trust herself. There are some clear underlying self-worth issues there, but it’s a little hard to pity her when she chooses wealth over self-respect.
White, who created, wrote, and directed the series, also can’t decide how he feels about Rachel’s choice. And that’s the way he intended it.
“Part of me feels like I have mixed feelings too, but I do feel that, in my experience, a lot of times that’s what happens,” White told Entertainment Weekly. “I knew The Emoji Movie wasn’t going to be good and I did it. So sometimes money and the lifestyle does draw you in.”
Rachel and Shane’s ending in ‘The White Lotus’ makes sense
After years of hustling to build her journalism career, Rachel didn’t like the life she had made. She clearly wanted the kind of wealth Shane was born into, but couldn’t get it for herself. And then, here comes this man who wants to marry her who is offering the wealth she wants with no work involved.
She chose to lean into the privileged life. And it resulted in her and Shane leaving the White Lotus resort and jetting off to the next stop on their honeymoon as if nothing happened. Meanwhile, Armond has died, Belinda’s dreams are crushed, and all of the White Lotus staff is worse for wear.
Rachel may have seemed different from the other wealthy white people in the beginning of the season. But she revealed that she desired nothing more than to be like them. It’s sad, but it’s realistic. And her decision not sitting well with viewers is exactly how they should respond. Because that means they understand how disappointing the choice Rachel made truly is, and they realize what a sad future she’s just set up for herself.