SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched the sixth episode of “The White Lotus” Season 1, titled “Departures.”

“The White Lotus” opens with a coffin being loaded onto a plane but doesn’t address the death looming over the series until its final episode.

Learning he is about to be fired from his job as hotel manager, Armond (Murray Bartlett) goes on a drug binge and saunters over to the Pineapple Suite, which has finally been relinquished to “special chosen baby child” Shane (Jake Lacy), who is downstairs wrapping up a tumultuous honeymoon. Armond enters the suite, peeks around and swiftly unbuttons his pants to defecate in Shane’s open suitcase.

“It’s a weird combination of Armond being out of his mind but also firmly rooted in his power,” Bartlett says.

Pairing Bartlett’s bare behind with Cristobal Tapia de Veer’s cinematic score, the scene is shockingly graphic. But before the viewer has time to digest what went down, Shane enters the room and Armond retreats inside a closet. As Shane notices the “turd” in his luggage, Armond tries to escape. Shane hears a noise, picks up the pineapple knife, skulks toward the bathroom, turns a corner and plunges a knife in Armond, who then bleeds out in the bathtub.

Mike White
Creator, Director, Writer

“I’m not a scatological person, nor am I trying to push envelopes in that particular graphic way. But this just feels so right because it best expresses how off the beat Armond has gotten. And seeing him take a shit in this antiseptic hotel with perfect production design perfectly encapsulates his feelings toward the service industry and these guests. It’s such a turn from all these beautiful people in this beautiful setting. Our options for the scene were limited to the layout of the various rooms in the Four Seasons Maui. We found this room that had a strange layout because you could see into the bathroom from the bedroom. I thought, ‘If we stage this right, there might be a way where we can show this accident, murder, whatever it was, from both perspectives.’ So we decided to shoot it from both characters’ points of view, which gave us options in the edit.”

Murray Bartlett

“We did a lot of coverage of that scene — there were shots on my face and shots of me squatting over the suitcase. We also did wide shots, but Mike was like, ‘Don’t worry, we’re never going to use the wide shots.’ He called me the day that the last episode went to air and was like, ‘You’ve seen it right? I feel so bad.’ A lot of it is one long wide shot of me squatting over a suitcase doing my thing, which is the perfect shot to use obviously, but Mike was sort of stressed about it. It was very carefully choreographed. Shane comes in and I’m creeping out of the closet, and then he comes back into the hallway, so I have to go back in the closet. It’s this sort of physical comedy. We had a stunt guy who actually fell back into the bath. We wanted Armond’s last moment to be sort of ambiguous — there’s terror, obviously, in being stabbed in the chest, but also there’s some relief and perverse humor in it.”

Jake Lacy

“When we started filming, I had a short-sighted view of Shane, and Mike was very helpful in being like, ‘This is just a guy who’s trying to have a nice honeymoon, and things keep getting in his way.’ In essence, Shane thinks he’s a good guy, but the script and his actions tell a different story. And by this point, his wife doesn’t want any part of it. She’s gotten her own room, and he’s been boozing for the last hour. So to come upstairs and find a shit in his suitcase is the final straw, like ‘What is this cosmic joke on me?’ There’s so much self-pity, anger and expectations that haven’t been met. A benefit of shooting in the same hotel for three months is that we had access to that room, and they could plan it out — it’s not like we arrived there on the day and they’re like, ‘Oh, we didn’t realize there was a wall here.’ But at the same time, that bathroom is full of mirrors. They had to find ways to shoot around that so that no one is seeing camera while we’re filming.”

John Valerio

“The biggest choice we made that affected the pooping in the suitcase scene was cutting out a scene two episodes prior where Armond tells Belinda a story about an onerous hotel guest from his past, who had pushed him to his breaking point while he was still using, and how he snuck into this guest’s room and took a shit in her Louis Vuitton suitcase. Now, had that scene remained, our pooping in the suitcase scene becomes something quite different. It’s no longer this shocking thing that happens. Both versions were very effective, it just became Mike’s preference. In my original editor’s cut, I decided not to show the pooping. That close up on Murray’s face is so expressive and perfect … holding on that just says it all. Mike watched it, and immediately asked me where the wide shot of the pooping was. I said, ‘Wait, you actually want to see that?!’ (For the final cut, I was told that our VFX artist David Van Dyke took various shots of his dog pooping and composited that in with Murray squatting over the suitcase.) As much as possible, we made it feel as though the viewer is a voyeur, physically in that room, watching it all tragically unfold. The blocking of this scene was brilliant. The less I intruded, the more real, tense and tragic it felt. I just let every one of Jake and Murray’s emotional and fearful moves play out as long as I could, while maintaining the balance of their perspectives. I think it was important to show this tragedy unfold from both character’s perspectives equally. The entire series was an ensemble piece, objectively portraying each character’s point of view without ever having a dog in the fight. That voyeuristic element was crescendoing throughout the scene to reach its maximum, when you’re watching both sides of the wall, both characters creeping toward their fate.”