‘The White Lotus’ Music Worked so Well Because of 1 Crucial Scene, Creator Says

The White Lotus music was as entertaining as the show. Fans couldn’t get enough of the HBO series’ opening credits, and they loved how the score made every scene even more tense. The White Lotus creator Mike White opened up about the creation of season 1 following its shocking finale on Aug. 15. And he revealed the ominous opening scene at the airport was added just so The White Lotus music would work.

[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for The White Lotus Season 1 Episode 6, “Departures.”]

The White Lotus Season 1 Episode 6 with Jake Lacy as Shane Patton looking out at a plane. In a recent interview, 'The White Lotus' creator Mike White said addictive 'The White Lotus' music wouldn't have worked had it not been for this opening scene.
‘The White Lotus’ Season 1 Episode 6, ‘Depatures’ with Jake Lacy as Shane Pattion | Mario Perez/HBO

‘The White Lotus’ music was a highlight of the series

Cristobal Tapia de Veer scored The White Lotus Season 1. And his work has garnered an instant fandom.

“My days and nights are entirely scored by the theme music from The White Lotus,” Sarah Paulson tweeted. Many on Twitter agree.

White, who created, wrote, and directed the series, told the Los Angeles Times the goal was to have “music that makes you feel like there’s gonna be some kind of human sacrifice at some point.” He called it “tropical anxiety.”

“Cristobal nailed that — and then some,” White said.

As for Tapia de Veer, he called the music “Hawaiian Hitchcock,” saying the music started taking on a primal feel. He said:

“I just started jamming on percussions and all this wild stuff. It just started feeling like a zoo, somehow, and I was completely into it. So it wasn’t calculated — you know, trying to laugh at these people and making them seem like monkeys. But somehow it became like that.”

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‘The White Lotus’ score relied on the opening scene at the airport

The White Lotus score and opening credits ended up being one of the most beloved parts of the series. But The White Lotus‘ opening scene was also a doozy. Season 1 Episode 1 of The White Lotus started with Jake Lacy’s Shane Patton sitting in an airport in a clearly horrible mood. A nearby couple asked him if he enjoyed his time in Hawaii, and he begrudgingly revealed he stayed at the White Lotus resort.

The couple then asked him about the death that recently happened there, and Shane shut the conversation down. At another point, he watched as a coffin labeled “human remains” was loaded onto a plane to Honolulu. Every scene from that point on was told in flashback, making fans wonder every week who died. The White Lotus finale revealed it was Armond (Murray Bartlett), and that Shane accidentally killed him, bringing a tragic end to their feud.

White told Entertainment Weekly the opening scene was needed in order for the score to work. He said:

“It just felt like that could create a little bit of a propulsion and attention in these scenes that otherwise it would just feel kind of overwrought to be playing this music. Like, ‘Why are they playing this music? Why am I so stressed?’ And I felt if we just telegraphed that there is going to be blood on the floor by the end of this, that it would allow people to let us have more of a playful, anxious tone throughout the show.”

Murray Bartlett, Jolene Purdy, Natasha Rothwell, and Lukas Gage in 'The White Lotus' premiere, which is paralleled in the finale. They're standing on the beach and waving.
Murray Bartlett, Jolene Purdy, Natasha Rothwell, and Lukas Gage in ‘The White Lotus’ | HBO/Mario Perez

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‘The White Lotus’ ending explained

The anxious tone was absolutely felt throughout. And it came to a climax when Armond got his revenge on Shane by pooping in his suitcase. But the act of defiance was immediately met by tragedy. After his death, his co-workers get no reprieve and immediately have to get back to work. The staffers are soul-crushed and traumatized by this recent round of VIP guests. Meanwhile, those VIPs leave Hawaii pretty much unscathed.

“I just thought bookending the show where you have all of these people greeting them at the beginning,” White said of this ending. “And then by the end, either they had a baby, they were murdered, they ended up in jail, or their dreams have been shattered. And the guests move on to the next thing. It just felt like it was, ‘Well, this is kind of a devastating moment.’ But it feels like it’s true to the story.”