[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The White Lotus Season 2, Episode 1, “Ciao.”]
The White Lotus is back, introducing viewers to a new cast of privileged resort guests, staff and even some native Sicilians in the Italy-based story.
Setting the tone for the season is the opening title sequence, which includes the names of the cast, crew, and creatives, along with some keyframes that may provide clues as to what fans can expect from the season. Created, written and directed by Mike White, the series is partnered with Plains of Yonder, a film studio and creative consultancy led by Katrina Crawford and Mark Bashore, who also worked on the credit sequences for shows like western world and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Along with White, both Crawford and Bashore helped create the opening sequences for Season 1 and Season 2.
This time, however, the wallpaper motif has been swapped for Italian fresco paintings with a bit of added symbolism for fans to discover as the season progresses. “It’s more loaded,” Bashore admits. “Katrina went through the scripts really carefully to try to find them [a] Story that could be transposed onto these paintings to fit the characters [better] than in season 1.”
In creating these sequences, Bashore tells TV Insider, “You have to find a way to really engage the people with rich visuals that tell a story.” And in many ways, the story is designed for fans to interpret when look closely enough.
“Our main job is to prepare you energetically for the show,” adds Crawford. “The attitude helps a lot. You’re in Sicily, you’ve got this huge history of mythology and stories of romance, love and tragedy to draw from. So we had so much material to think about different characters. There were so many fun things that could be done.”
The detailed imagery mimics the frescoes seen in the show’s gorgeous locations, but that’s no coincidence. As Bashore shares, “There was a particular mansion that had an artistic style in it that Katrina went to and took these pictures. In almost all cases we have manipulated these images, either deleting characters or adding new ones, and then some images are entirely new.”
One imagery the duo have always wanted to include was Leda and the Swan. “We had the famous original painting Leda and the Swan 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 brought that back in,” says Bashore of including the mythological figures in the credit imagery.
Crawford points out that both the first and second season credit sequences “refer to two poems in a way.” As she further explains: “They have [Tennyson’s] The lotus eaters poem, and then there’s the very famous poem by Yeats Leda and the swan, with Zeus coming down as this swan, and there are swans in the mansion living in the pond. So there are these swirling connections.”
“Some things don’t make sense until you’ve seen them on the show,” Crawford adds, so viewers have a clearer picture of it after tuning into the show each week The White Lotus Characters. Part of this symbolism lies in the imagery of animals, as Bashore points out, “Animals are a really big traversing line” when it comes to looking for clues. “Nothing is accidentally in there,” Bashore continues. “Whether it’s a lamb sitting alone in a field, fighting birds, a wild boar hunt, or monkeys, the animals do much of the work to talk about people in a way that even a dog raising its leg does more say than you could with a picture of a person.”
For example, the bird nibbling on another’s wings in Aubrey Plaza’s slide could be seen as a reflection of Harper’s dynamic with her husband Ethan (Will Sharpe), or the peeing dog on Theo James’ slide could represent his character, Cameron, who is territorial or competitive ( anyone up for a “piss contest”?)
Make what you will of these clues, but there’s certainly a lot to unpack in the dense credit sequence, which features a revamped theme song with familiar tones from Season 1. This also influenced the direction Crawford and Bashore took; as the latter says, “The music has a journey that really helped us create a visual journey to match.”
The White LotusSeason 2, Sundays, 9/8c, HBO and HBO Max