Here are our five best guesses for who's resting in that coffin.
The White Lotus
Murray Bartlett, Jolene Purdy, Natasha Rothwell, and Lukas Gage in 'The White Lotus' season 1.
| Credit: Mario Perez/HBO

In all the chaos of The White Lotus' five episodes so far, you might be forgiven for forgetting how the show originally began. Mike White's new HBO comedy has focused on both the wealthy white vacationers at a luxurious Hawaiian resort and the managers and staff who have to deal with all their various needs and anxieties. The resulting shenanigans have been equally funny and pathetic, but lent weight by the merciless exploration of unequal racial and social dynamics in modern America. But before the show gets into all that, we're told someone doesn't come back from this trip alive.

So...who is it? The only thing we know for sure is that it isn't just-married rich boy Shane Patton (Jake Lacy), because he's the one stuck explaining the existence of the dead body to other vacationers in that flash-forward opening scene. Shane's agitation suggests he might have a personal connection to the dead person, but given the way all these characters have mixed and matched over the course of their vacation, that only narrows it down a little bit. 

Here are our best guesses for who might be in that coffin…

The White Lotus
Alexandra Daddario and Jake Lacy in 'The White Lotus.'
| Credit: Mario Perez/HBO

Rachel Patton (Alexandra Daddario)

This feels like the most obvious choice. Not only does Rachel have the closest connection to Shane, she's also been on quite a tragic arc over the course of the show. We've seen many of her illusions stripped away: Rachel learned that neither her new husband nor her girlboss role model Nicole Mossbacher (Connie Britton) have any respect for her attempts at journalism, and then Shane's overbearing mother, Kitty (Molly Shannon), showed up to tell her upfront that she should just embrace life as a trophy wife. There was quite a sinister tone to Rachel's last scene in the penultimate episode. Is she going to attempt suicide out of despair for what her life has become? Maybe...but then again, on such a twisty show like this, the seeming obviousness of Rachel could actually be a mark against her coffin candidacy. 

The White Lotus
Murray Bartlett on 'The White Lotus.'
| Credit: Mario Perez/HBO

Armond (Murray Bartlett)

The beleaguered manager of Hawaii's White Lotus resort has really been burning the candle at both ends. One simple mistake at the start of the show (double-booking the hotel's most-expensive suite) made an enemy for life out of Shane, who clearly gets more enjoyment out of torturing service workers than he does from actual vacation activities like tanning, swimming, or talking to his new wife. Shane's nonstop assault on Armond for giving him and Rachel a beautiful room that is nevertheless not the resort's single most expensive drove the recovering addict to fall off the wagon — and as Armond has made clear multiple times over the course of the show, when he falls off the wagon, he falls hard

Armond has since been going on benders fueled by drugs stolen from hotel guests, and even been caught (by Shane) having sex with White Lotus employee Dillon (Lukas Gage). But Shane won't stop until he gets Armond fired, and is eagerly trying to get the phone number of someone even higher up in the White Lotus corporate hierarchy (the "can I talk to your manager" routine he clearly learned at his mother's side). This haranguing could conceivably cause Armond to overdose, or enact some crazy attempt at revenge that instead results in his own death. Maybe that's why Shane seems so upset, though; by dying, Armond would deprive him of the chance to get someone fired. 

The White Lotus
Sydney Sweeney and Brittany O'Grady on 'The White Lotus.'
| Credit: Mario Perez/HBO

Paula (Brittany O'Grady)

This might be the most tragic outcome, but would certainly put one hell of a button on The White Lotus' commentary on the privileges of whiteness and wealth. Originally it seemed like Paula was one-half of a dynamic duo with her friend Olivia Mossbacher (Sydney Sweeney) but over the course of the show the layers of the onion have been peeled away, revealing that Paula resents the fact that Olivia only keeps Paula around to show off how much more of everything she has. Having to put up with the Mossbachers' constant whining and defenses of their unearned privilege has aggravated Paula even more, inspiring her to send her lover Kai (Kekoa Scott Kekumano) to steal from the family's hotel safe. He was almost caught, ended up in a fistfight with Mark, and now is the target of an island-wide search. Paula's final scene in Sunday's episode was almost as sinister as Rachel's, with Olivia making it clear she knows Paula was behind the robbery. This must lead to some kind of reckoning, and maybe it will be fatal for Paula. Shane did interact with them at least once, so her death (particularly if it's accompanied by other unfortunate events) could certainly put him in a bad mood.

The White Lotus
Credit: Mario Perez/HBO

Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge)

Tanya has been one of two adult characters who has spent all of The White Lotus' run so far obsessed with death, and we'll get to the other in a moment. Unable to reckon with the reality of her mother's passing, even though by her own account her mother was cruel and not great at maternal nurturing, Tanya has since found solace in the arms of fellow guest Greg (Jon Gries), who is not affiliated with Black Lives Matter but is coughing a lot. 

The White Lotus has not made a huge deal out of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it clearly exists in the world of the show (between Armond's reference to the hotel's extensive new cleaning protocols and the fact that Nicole keeps having to call into Zoom work meetings). It would be tragic for Tanya to catch it (or some other deadly coughing disease) from a lover at the very moment she seems to be breaking free of her mother's shadow, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. Ever since that fateful boat ride mixing up the Pattons' romantic dinner with Tanya's tearful eulogy, Shane has found everything about her insufferable — and would probably be annoyed by her death as well. 

The White Lotus
Steve Zahn on 'The White Lotus.'
| Credit: Mario Perez/HBO

Mark Mossbacher (Steve Zahn)

One of the most riveting moments in the show came at the end of episode 2, when the Mossbacher patriarch learned that his own father had died of AIDS, not cancer as he had spent his adult life believing. This turned Mark's fear that he himself was about to die of cancer into a psychological crisis that he didn't know his father nearly as much as he thought. Lost in that bender (which involved almost having sex with Armond and comparing sex with his wife to eating a plate of worms on Fear Factor) was the fact that we still don't know quite what caused Mark's health crisis in the first place. His testicles were swollen because of, apparently, a "virus," but when daughter Olivia asked for clarification, she was mostly brushed off. What if it's worse than expected? Even if it's not the same cause, might Mark end up dying at the same age as his father after all? Maybe so, though it's hard to see why Shane would care.

All will be revealed when The White Lotus finale hits HBO Max on Sunday.

Related content:

The White Lotus
The White Lotus (TV series)

This HBO comedy revolves around a bunch of rich white tourists arriving at a luxurious Hawaiian resort for the trip of a lifetime. Over the course of a week, they manage to antagonize various hotel workers, rip band-aids off their personal wounds, and spend a lot of time thinking about sex and death. 

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