The White Lotus ended in spectacular fashion on Sunday, with the HBO show’s finale finally revealing who died — and how it happened. The whole thing went down as viewers might expect. After all, Mike White’s dramedy spent most of its episodes building to a showdown between two specific characters. It’s fitting they’d be the ones to partake in the series’ climax: the death Shane (Jake Lacy) talks about during The White Lotus premiere.
[Spoiler warning: This article contains spoilers for The White Lotus Season 1 finale.]
Who dies in ‘The White Lotus’ finale and how?
The White Lotus finale sees the tensions between Armond (Murray Bartlett) and Shane finally coming to a head, following a full week of the latter causing problems for the White Lotus manager. Although Shane was right about Armond giving him the wrong room, he continues to find reasons to harangue the other man.
During episode 6, “The Departures,” Shane even tries to get Armond in trouble with his boss — despite getting moved to the Pineapple Suite and receiving multiple apologies for his inconvenience. The threat of being fired is enough to send Armond on a bender, which leads him up to Shane and Rachel’s (Alexandra Daddario) room. There he takes revenge for all the trouble Shane’s caused him, going to the bathroom in the other man’s suitcase.
Unfortunately for Armond, Shane returns to the suite before he can make his exit. Sensing someone is in the room with him, Shane whips out a knife to defend himself — and winds up stabbing Armond in the chest. It’s a tragic end to the series, but one that fits with its character arcs and themes.
Jake Lacy doesn’t think Shane learned anything from the finale
One might think Shane would come out of The White Lotus finale a changed man. After all, he does seem to feel remorse — however briefly — when he plunges the knife into Armond’s chest. He also gets told point-blank by his new wife that he’s been acting like a baby the whole trip.
However, Jake Lacy doesn’t think Shane left Hawaii with a new outlook on his shortcomings. Instead, the White Lotus star believes his character felt validated by the series of events that unfolded.
During an interview with The A.V. Club, Lacy explained that everything that happened in The White Lotus finale strengthened Shane’s perspective of being right:
“For Shane, it’s really not about the room. The thing he really wants is someone to say ‘You’re a victim. You got f—-.’ And so for Rachel to come back is a validation to him of saying like, ‘I was being crazy, you’re totally valid in the way you handled this and that the issues you had with the hotel.’ And the fact that Armond came in and took a shit on his clothes, it was a further validation of being like, ‘This guy is out to get me.’ So, none of that really leads to forcing Shane into growing or learning something or seeing his part in it or taking responsibility.”
Through characters like Jake Lacy’s, ‘The White Lotus’ makes a statement about privilege
Of course, the fact that Shane hasn’t become a better person after the events of The White Lotus finale drives home the show’s overarching theme. The series strives to paint a certain picture of wealth and privilege. Its message suggests that characters like Shane can afford to make colossal mistakes like stabbing a man.
Mike White touched on this during an interview with Entertainment Weekly. The show’s creator emphasized that money marks the difference between characters like Shane and Kai (Kekoa Kekumano), the latter of whom will probably go to jail for his blunder in episode 5:
“In the end, I think that having money is the difference between being able to continue to make mistakes and fly out to Honolulu with the guy you just met and whatever, and then being stuck in the job that you want to get out of, or where you want more. And I just thought bookending the show where you have all of these people greeting them at the beginning. And then by the end, either they had a baby, they were murdered, they ended up in jail, or their dreams have been shattered.”
White brings up a problem that mirrors the real world through characters like Shane. And although assuming he won’t change offers a bleak perspective of the character, it’s a realistic one as well. Fortunately, Lacy’s performance makes Shane’s story as entertaining as it is horrifying.
All episodes of The White Lotus are now streaming on HBO Max.