(SPOILERS for HBO’s The White Lotus will obviously be found below.)
The first season of HBO’s The White Lotus (a delightful satire of extreme wealth) ended with a deuce. Literally!
A lot of fine performances should (and likely will) be recognized for this series (which will continue for a second season with a different cast, in a different vacation spot), but the morning-after glow goes to Murray Bartlett, who portrayed Armond. He’s been propping up shows for two decades (in the U.S. and Australia), but he finally got to steal much of a show here. Yes, Jennifer Coolidge is also earning a lot of rightful love, too, and there’s plenty to be said about how the show understands the terrifying nature of teens, but uh, about that deuce. If you watched, you must admit to feeling happy for Armond when his pasted-on smile transformed into this nihilistic expression. (RIP, Shane’s suitcase.)
That was a jaw-dropper, for sure. Granted, Murray was soon no more (Shane actually didn’t mean to kill him), but he got his vengeance after a season full of jousting with Jake Lacey’s character, who was the petty embodiment of how power and money corrupts. Armond, as the resort manager/master of ceremonies, had to grit his teeth and serve the ultrarich despite their bad behavior, and the show deftly wielded his position as a person of marginalized status. It was impossible to not root for Murray, even though he wasn’t completely likable, since the people he served were simply so awful. So, it was not only gaspworthy when he took dump in Shane’s suitcase; it was cheerworthy, too.
Well, Bartlett is out there doing the rounds and, as he told The Daily Beast’s Marlow Stern, the graphic nature of the deuce-rendering shocked him, too. “Let’s just say when I watched it, I was shocked,” he explained. “I didn’t know it would look that realistic.”
Oh, it sure looked real, and it’s a relief to know that this was mere acting and onscreen magic although damn, good for Armond. Something else interesting: Bartlett told Vanity Fair that there’s a whole Armond backstory that viewers didn’t see:
“Armond has an intense energy. He’s a real showman. There’s a backstory with him that didn’t make it into the show, but I carried it and it was really helpful to me: He wanted to be an actor, and that dream wasn’t realized. So this role that he plays is the realization of that. That really made sense to me. He relishes that and fully inhabits the moment. There’s a glee in the passion and the dramatics because that’s the kind of personality he has—the personality that wanted to be a theatrical actor. Even though the scenes that alluded to that are gone, that was a super-helpful key for me.”
Do I smell an Armond prequel? Please. We need a whole universe from The White Lotus shenanigans, and surely, viewers would love to see exactly what transpired to make Armond such a conflicted and questionable soul.
The White Lotus is currently streaming on HBO Max.