The finale of “The White Lotus” airs tomorrow. Here’s to being a fan, without going overboard.
I try to lead a pop-cultural life free of regrets, but a couple of Sundays ago, in a nearly postprandial fugue following a viewing of “The White Lotus,” I did something I wish I could take back.
I read every comment, every fan hypothesis, every impeccably researched theory for how the season will turn out in the aftershow discussion thread on Reddit.
I did not intend to ruin the show for myself. I wished only to convene with (or lurk among) other enthusiasts, to enjoy the glorious and increasingly rare experience of processing an episode of a show in real time, just after it’s aired, before the rest of the internet has had its way with it.
Instead, I emerged from a hallucinatory hour (or was it three?) of reading certain that I knew exactly how the season would play out, who would double-cross whom, who would live and who would meet with a watery death. (The fact that there is, indeed, watery death in the offing was established in the season’s first episode.)
While I wish I hadn’t entered Reddit’s den of Lotus sleuths, I do not regret the other slightly obsessive — but, crucially, plot-preserving — fan research I’ve been conducting.
I am glad to have listened to this week’s “Fresh Air” interview with Mike White, the show’s creator, in which he discussed how his love of “Fantasy Island,” “The Love Boat” and “Laverne & Shirley” informed this season. I am also glad that I looked up White’s favorite books (he, like Torrey Peters, who spoke to The Morning earlier this year, loves “Independent People” by Halldor Laxness) and reserved many of them from the library. I read with gusto this interview with Simona Tabasco, who plays Lucia, and listened to this episode of “Las Culturistas” with Meghann Fahy, who plays Daphne. I watched Aubrey Plaza respond to fans on social media, and I rewatched Jennifer Coolidge’s charming Emmy acceptance speech.
I’m happy to know more about the people who make the show that I find so compelling. I just wish I hadn’t let my fandom lead me into the fluorescent-lit land of plot despoiling.
And so it is that my excitement for tomorrow’s finale of “The White Lotus” is mixed with some grief and some relief. I’m sad to bid ciao to the enchanting vistas of Sicily; to the characters I’ve found myself wondering about as if I knew them personally; to what has become, for me, appointment television. But I’m looking forward to having this season’s mysteries resolved definitively and, maybe even more, to watching next season spoiler-free.
“The White Lotus” is “positively haunted by movies and the fantasies they engender,” writes Carina Chocano in The Times.
F. Murray Abraham and Michael Imperioli got Covid at the same time while filming in Sicily.
The show’s costume designer discusses dressing the Gen Z characters.
“If on a fine day the unsuspecting visitor strolls to the parapet to look at the view, cardiac arrest may be the reward.” From 1979, “The Scenic Overkill of Taormina,” the town where this season of “The White Lotus” was filmed.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
The temporary removal of two ABC co-anchors raises questions about office relationships.
A once-a-decade list of the greatest films ever made makes it clear that there is room to redefine what qualifies as a masterwork, The Times’s chief movie critics write.
Highbrow movies aimed at winning Oscars are falling flat at the box office.
Trevor Noah’s decision to leave “The Daily Show” after seven years is a sign of late night television’s shrinking influence, James Poniewozik writes.
The comedian Jerrod Carmichael will host the Golden Globes, the first time the ceremony will be broadcast since an ethics scandal emerged at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, its organizer.
The chief executive of Penguin Random House, Markus Dohle, stepped down. He had overseen the failed attempt to acquire Simon & Schuster.
The Wednesday dance — a viral sensation involving the Addams family character, not the day of the week — is a celebration of weird.
The condition that forced Celine Dion to cancel tour dates, stiff person syndrome, is extremely rare.
Kirstie Alley, who died this week at 71, made people think about fatness long before the body-positivity movement, our columnist writes.
“Stomp,” the long-running show that repurposed brooms and trash can lids to create a percussive stage spectacle, will close in New York next month.
A medical examiner found that Anne Heche was neither drunk nor high when she crashed her car into a house, starting a fire that led to her death, The Washington Post reported.
THE LATEST NEWS
The deal for Russia to hand over Brittney Griner in a prisoner exchange with the U.S. began to take shape after last month’s midterm elections.
Joy over Griner’s release quickly gave way to partisan conservative criticism, fueled by the politics of race, gender and sexual orientation.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s decision to become an independent outraged Arizona Democrats, who viewed it as a cynical attempt at preserving her political future.
Kari Lake, the G.O.P. candidate for Arizona governor, is suing Maricopa County and others in an attempt to overturn her loss.
Beijing is bracing for a surge in Covid cases after the Chinese government eased pandemic restrictions.
Croatia upset World Cup favorite Brazil, moving on to the semifinals on penalty kicks. Argentina also advanced, knocking out the Netherlands in a chaotic match that also ended in a penalty shootout.
The soccer journalist Grant Wahl died after collapsing at the Argentina match.
Recruits who wash out of Navy SEAL training often end up in menial jobs like washing dishes or cleaning toilets.
🍿 “Avatar: The Way of Water” (Friday): Several weeks later than seemingly everyone else in my life, I finally saw “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Many of that film’s antagonists are blue humanoids who live underwater, so I feel pretty primed for the “Avatar” sequel, which is in part about blue humanoids who live underwater. (If you haven’t already, please read this incredibly entertaining GQ profile of James Cameron, the director of the “Avatar” films.)
📺 “Kindred” (Tuesday): In this FX series, based on the classic Octavia Butler novel, a Black woman finds herself sliding back and forth in time between the present day and a plantation in the antebellum South. The series has been adapted for television by the playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, whose “An Octoroon” is one of the great American plays of the past few decades. (Looking for more about Butler, a true sci-fi master? Try our list of her essential books.)
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
Have you been meaning to bake some festive holiday treats for your friends and neighbors? Genevieve Ko’s chocolate hazelnut cookies would be an excellent choice. Her contribution to our epic Cookie Week, these elegant confections consist of buttery bittersweet rounds filled with chocolate hazelnut spread and a sprinkling of roasted hazelnuts. If you can, give these out on the day they are made, when the contrast between the silky filling and crisp cookie base is at its most pronounced. But if that’s impractical, fear not: They’re still utterly wonderful, if a bit softer in texture, up to two days later. Note that this recipe makes a small batch, so, if your cookie-gifting circle is large, consider doubling the yield. Any extras will not go to waste.
A selection of New York Times recipes is available to all readers. Please consider a Cooking subscription for full access.
Unconventional design: Octagonal houses offer panoramic views and all-day sunshine.
What you get for $420,000: A 1905 Edwardian home in Mobile, Ala.; a three-bedroom condominium in Cleveland; or a midcentury ranch house in Oklahoma City.
The hunt: A first-time buyer in Atlanta wanted ample space for around $600,000. Which home did he pick? Play our game.
India to Italy: These are our favorite international home listings of 2022.
A dystopian’s utopia: The author Margaret Atwood said her ideal world would include dome homes and composted corpses.
Stress relief advice: Here’s how to actually enjoy the holidays.
On the lookout: A profusion of symptoms, and their sudden onset, are signs of flu in children.
Stand-up standout: Watch the best comedy of the year.
Wardrobe staple: Find the ideal pair of black pants.
ADVICE FROM WIRECUTTER
Secret Santa secrets
Gift swaps like secret Santas and white elephant exchanges can be fun and festive, but also stressful. Nothing snuffs holiday joy quite like budget shopping for a relative stranger. But the tradition doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Wirecutter has ideas both for when you know the recipient and when it’s a free-for-all. The key is selecting a gift anyone might like — something useful and a bit whimsical, like a 3-pound pail of fancy sea salt or a box of pickle bandages. If you’re exchanging gifts with a more serious crew, try one-size-fits-all tech doodads like touch-screen gloves or a wireless charger. — Hannah Morrill
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors, N.B.A.: When these teams met in the Finals last year, the Celtics were a defensive force (though not quite forceful enough to stop Stephen Curry). This year the Celtics are even better, but instead of the league’s best defense, they have history’s best offense. Their young star Jayson Tatum is a front-runner for M.V.P., and the team is on pace to set a record for three-pointers. The N.B.A. is only about a quarter into its season, so the Celtics may not be able to sustain this pace, but for now they are the team to beat. 8:30 Eastern tonight on ABC.
NOW TIME TO PLAY
The pangrams from yesterday’s Spelling Bee were entanglement and gentleman. Here is today’s puzzle.
Take the news quiz to see how well you followed this week’s headlines.
Here’s today’s Wordle.
Thanks for spending part of your weekend with The Times. — Melissa
Lauren Hard, Lauren Jackson, Claire Moses, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Ashley Wu contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.