If you haven't seen the epic finale to Mike White's HBO series The White Lotus, turn back now. (No seriously, there are major spoilers ahead.)
From this point on, we're going to dissect how it is that Shane (Jake Lacy) ended up killing Armond (Murray Bartlett). Of course, it was an accident, but there was a lot that led up to this moment.
From the get-go, tensions were high between the hotel manager and the privileged newlywed, as Armond made the mistake of double booking the suite that Shane Patton had his eyes on. And though his wife Rachel (Alexandra Daddario) was content to let it go and enjoy the honeymoon, her husband was not—and neither was his mother Kitty (Molly Shannon).
So began the nightmare that would end with Armond stabbed in the hotel bathtub.
They say the best endings are surprising but inevitable, and this one definitely fits the bill. As Bartlett explains to E! News in an exclusive interview, by the end of the Pattons' hotel stay, Armond has "completely backed himself into a corner in a lot of ways."
On its best days, the hospitality industry can be relentlessly brutal, but factor in an unexpected birth, a robbery and one drug-fueled sex act, and it's not hard to see why Armond embarked on this "suicide mission," as Bartlett calls it. "He doesn't have a lot of options left."
In fact, being a hotel manager was one of Armond's last options to begin with. According to Bartlett, there's a deleted scene in which Armond reveals he once aspired to be an actor, but, obviously, things didn't go as planned.
Instead, this Australian transplant finds himself "consumed" by his life as the manager of the White Lotus hotel, where he's "put through the wringer."
To an extent, Bartlett says, Armond is able to satisfy the theatrical part of himself by becoming "a showman" in his job.
"But he's got sort of like unfulfilled dreams of wanting to be an actor," Bartlett continues. "And so, there's a certain amount of frustration and kind of broken dreams, I guess, in terms of his life here... This has sort of become his world and his life. So, I think, that's why he crashes hard."
Armond is also painfully aware that he's "of a certain age," when it seems too late to change career paths, leaving him feeling "trapped" in this thankless job. Bartlett says Armond starts to question what he would do if he left The White Lotus, especially when his "identity is really tied-up in it."
In the end, Armond knows it's the end of the road and decides to go out with a bang—or make that a stab—consequences be damned. Thus, his decision to sneak into the Pattons' suite and defecate in Shane's suitcase, even though everyone in the hotel is on high alert following the robbery.
Not to say that anyone could've predicted he'd be stabbed. This wasn't even a thought in Armond's mind as he "completely unravels" throughout the finale.
But when that knife enters his chest, Bartlett says, "I think there's some sort of relief in that for him, after the initial moment of shock and pain. Now he can escape all this kind of bulls--t."
The White Lotus is streaming now on HBO Max.