[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The White Lotus Season 2, Episode 1, “Ciao.”]

White Lotus returns and introduces viewers to a new set of privileged resort guests, staff and even some local Sicilians in Italian history.

Helping set the tone for the season is the opening series of credits, which reveal the names of the cast, crew and creators, as well as some key images that may hint at what fans can expect from the season. Created, wrote and staged Mike Whitethe series works with Yonder Plainsfilm studio and creative consultancy led by Katrina Crawford and Marc Bashor, which has also had a hand in the credits series for shows such as Western world and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Along with White, both Crawford and Bashor helped create the opening credits sequence for seasons 1 and 2.

(By: Plains of Onder for HBO)

However, this time the wallpaper has been replaced with Italian murals with a bit of symbolism that fans will be able to uncover as the season progresses. “It’s more loaded,” Bashore admits. “Katrina was really looking through the scripts to try and find [a] a story that could be translated into these paintings to fit the characters [better] than in Season 1.”

When it comes to creating these kinds of sequences, Bashor tells TV Insider, “You have to find a way to really engage people with rich imagery that tells a story.” And in many ways, the story is laid out for fans to interpret if they look closely enough.

“Our main job is to get you ready to watch the show,” Crawford adds. “The setting already helps a lot. You’re in Sicily, you have a huge history of mythology and romance, love and tragedy to draw from. So we had so much material to think about for different characters. There were so many fun things to do.”

(By: Plains of Onder for HBO)

The detailed images mimic the murals around the stunning locations featured in the show, but that’s no accident. As Bashor shares, “there was a separate villa with an artistic style where Katrina went and took these images. In almost every case, we have manipulated these images, either erasing symbols or adding new ones, and then some images become completely new.’

One image the duo always planned to include was Leda and the Swan. “We had the original famous Ice and the Swan painting in rough drafts for months. It just felt right because it’s passion and there’s a lot of nature in this show. Mike White said, “I love Leda.” And so we thought it back,” Bashor says of incorporating mythological figures into the credits paintings.

Crawford notes that the credits sequences in both seasons 1 and 2 “refer to the two poems in a way”. As she goes on to explain, “you have [Tennyson’s] Lotaeda poem, and there is also a very famous Yeats poem about Leda and the swan, with Zeus descending as this swan, and the villa has swans living in a pond. So there are these twisted connections.”

Season 2 subtitles

(By: Plains of Onder for HBO)

“There are some things that only make sense after you’ve seen them on the show,” Crawford adds, so after tuning into the show every week, viewers will have a clearer idea of White Lotus symbols. Part of this symbolism lies in the animal imagery, as Bashor points out, “animals are a very important line” when it comes to finding clues. “There’s nothing wrong with that,” Bashor continues. “So whether it’s a lamb sitting alone in a field, birds fighting, wild boar hunting or monkeys, animals do a lot of work to talk about people in a way that even a dog lifting its leg says more than you could with the image of a person.”

For example, a bird that bites someone else’s wings Aubrey PlazaThe slide can be seen as a depiction of Harper’s dynamic with her husband Ethan (Will Sharp), or the dog pees on Theo Jamesthe slide might suggest that his character Cameron is territorial or competitive (anyone for “writing contest”?)

Make of those cues what you will, but there’s certainly a lot to unpack in the tight credits sequence, which features a reworked theme song with familiar tones from Season 1. It also influenced the direction Crawford and Bashore took; as the latter says, “the music has a journey that really helped us create a corresponding visual journey.”

White LotusSeason 2, Sundays, 9 p.m./8c, HBO and HBO Max

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