Warning: Spoilers for “The White Lotus” Season 2 finale below that are as big as Tanya’s hair.
In the Season 2 finale of the HBO anthology series Sunday, the character that earned Coolidge her first Emmy met a sad — and fittingly awkward — demise.
Tanya ends up hitting her head and drowning while trying to jump from a yacht to a dinghy in order to flee a crime scene.
Due to this, she ends up being the body that Daphne (Meghann Fahy) discovered floating in the ocean in the season’s opening scene.
Coolidge told Vulture in an interview published Monday that creator Mike White told her “very early on” that Tanya was going to die in Season 2 — and Coolidge wasn’t exactly happy about it.
“I said, ‘Oh, no! You’ve gotta be kidding me! Really?’” Coolidge recalled. “I tried to talk him out of it, but Mike is very strong. He said I was going to have a tragic ending, and he stuck to his guns.”
Season 2 reveals that Greg Hunt (Jon Gries) — the man that Tanya met, married and funded cancer treatment for in Season 1 of “The White Lotus” — plotted to kill her in Season 2. Greg enlisted a group of gay men to lure Tanya away from the luxurious White Lotus Sicily resort onto a yacht in order to murder her and take advantage of a loophole in the couple’s prenup in which Greg gets Tanya’s entire fortune if she dies.
The divalike and often clueless Tanya manages to piece together the plot while on the yacht, and attempts to save herself by grabbing the gun that was meant for her. What unravels is an amusingly clumsy albeit heartbreaking scene in which a pampered princess takes down almost an entire boat’s worth of men.
“I’ve had a gun before in one other movie, but somehow this was the first time I felt very out of control,” Coolidge told Vulture of what it felt like to film the scene. “I really liked that. When we were shooting it, I felt like I could even have shot myself.”
“Right before we did the scene, Mike was like, ‘Just remember, Jennifer, Tanya is so much more human than these guys. Just remember that killing something is hard for her,’” she said. “It’s true. As unattractive as she is at times — she’s such a handful and unlikable — she really isn’t awful. Not like guys who are willing to take someone’s life as if it’s nothing.”
White spoke about why he decided to give Tanya such an “operatic conclusion” in Season 2 while speaking with HBO (above).
He notes that at the end of Season 1, when Greg tells Tanya about his likely fatal health condition, Tanya responds by saying: “I’ve had every kind of treatment over the years. Death is the last immersive experience I haven’t tried.”
White then explained that thanks to that line, he wanted to bring Tanya back “because she’s such a great character … but maybe that’s the journey for her [in Season 2] … a journey to death.”
He also explained that the idea of someone else killing Tanya “felt too tragic” and he wanted her to “give her best fight back” and “in a way, had some kind of victory over whoever was conspiring to get rid of her.”
“So it just made me laugh to think like, she would like take out all these cabal of killers and that after she successfully does that, that she just dies this derpy death,” White said. “And I just felt like, that’s just so Tanya.”
Coolidge also spoke to Vulture about how White used an aspect of her own personality as inspiration for Tanya’s death. To read what she had to say about that, head over to Vulture to read Coolidge’s entire interview.