‘The White Lotus’ Season 2 Kicked Off With Surprise Superstar Cameo


There was quite a bit to keep track of in last night’s White Lotus Season 2 premiere. Were the four Aperol spritzes atop the table of Aubrey Plaza and co.’s luncheon put there to make the couples seem annoyingly trendy, or is it just a signature Italian drink? How did Michael Imperioli manage to get even hotter after The Sopranos? And was that a prosthetic flying between Theo James’ legs or just a sign from God?

With all of these questions and more between the wry punchlines and Mike White-ian social commentary, you might’ve missed an Easter egg cameo. In the middle of the episode, we were cleverly treated to the “reunion” of Mike White and Laura Dern, who starred in White’s perennially underrated 2011 dramedy, Enlightened.

‘The White Lotus’ Season 2 Premiere Showers Us With Penises Galore

You’d be forgiven for not clocking it. But as a self-professed Dernian myself, my ears immediately perked up upon hearing a phone conversation between Imperioli’s character, Dominic, and his ex-wife Abby. At first, I doubted myself. We can’t be that lucky! But at the timbre of the voice on the other started to shake and devolve into expletives thrown left and right, I knew it to be true: This could be no other than Dern.

Dominic has arrived at The White Lotus Sicily with his father and son to visit his father’s hometown in the hopes of meeting long-lost relatives. At the same time, he has been trying to adjust to the idea of family after the dissolution of his marriage.

Dom seems good-natured about a siphoned family dynamic, bankrolling a trip to try to get a little bit closer to them and make up for some lost time. Later in the episode, we find out that Dom has been the one to summon the escorts terrorizing the resort staff, nodding to the fact that he may not have always been entirely faithful in his marriage. But despite hints at his past transgressions, Dom is trying his best to repair his relationship with his son, Albie (Adam DiMarco), on their trip.

Too bad not all interested parties think that will be so easy.

When Dom sits down for a phone call with Abby to let her know they had made it to the resort all right, things are immediately contentious. “My dad’s not in the best shape,” he says, to which Abby replies, “I’m in the middle of something, Dom, okay?” Ouch. Now F. Murray Abraham is catching strays?

“Now just who is that familiar voice on the phone?” I wondered silently to myself. With all the buzz surrounding Season 2 of The White Lotus, I knew it must be someone big. Cate Blanchett voicing the masked party-goer in Eyes Wide Shut big. You don’t sit a character alone on a bed in the middle of your big premiere for a two-minute phone call scene and not hook an A-lister to be on the other line.

It only took about two more lines, an injection of beleaguered exasperation, and a couple more vocal decibels to figure it out: That’s America’s sweetheart, Laura Dern! Muse to auteurs Taylor Swift and David Lynch, Laura Dern! Winner of a Best Supporting Actress trophy for saying, “The dad isn’t there, he didn’t even do the fucking!” in Marriage Story, Laura Dern!

There’s not an Emmy for Best Over-the-Phone Guest Appearance (at least, not yet; I have word that they’re carving a special statue for Ms. Dern), but if there were, the race would be finished. As Dom and Abby talk on the phone, Dom keeps cool and collected, while Abby slowly spins herself into a full-on rage. After learning that their daughter is upset with him after Abby told her the secrets of their marriage, Dom tries to reason with her. “Albie’s here, he’s not upset,” he tells her. “Yes he fucking is, he just doesn’t want to fight you!” Abby spits back. “He’s a sweet sensitive young man, and I honestly don’t know how it happened. Sure as hell didn’t get it from you.”

Verbally beaten down and unable to figure out where to go next, Dom opts for a simple “I’m sorry.” He’s quickly cut off by Abby, who launches herself back at him and gives us another entry into the Laura Dern Screaming at Men Cinematic Universe—something we’ve been all too desperate for a new entry into, after we were ed with endless material across two seasons of Big Little Lies.

“Shut the fuck up, Dom,” Abby says. “Shut up with the fucking sorrys, already. Okay? Enough. I don’t care [how it all goes], Dom! I’ve wasted enough of my life! I don’t want you calling me anymore. Oh my god, please. It’s fucking done, okay! Leave me alone! SERIOUSLY, FUCK YOU. GO FUCK YOURSELF YOU FUCKING PIECE OF FUCKING SHIT!

Ah, like a chorus of angels, isn’t it? I know I’m feeling spiritually cleansed. Whether or not Dern will pop up for an on-camera appearance later this season is yet to be known, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. If Season 2 of The White Lotus is anything like the first, the biggest and most bombastic surprises will arrive when we least expect them.

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