The White Lotus episode 2 came out a few days ago, and all characters have already started having conflicts. However, one of my favorite arcs was of Tanya and Belinda. Tanya, within a couple of encounters, has grown quite fond of Belinda. So is Tanya into Belinda? Does she like her, or does she have any ulterior motives?
We already see in episode 1 how Tanya is this middle-aged lonely woman who is having a sort of mid-life crisis. She seems to feel like there’s nobody there for her. She doesn’t know what’s she doing in life and came to this vacation to get away from it all.
And when she did come to The White Lotus resort, she crosses paths with Belinda, a masseuse at the resort spa. Though her slots for a massage are full, she decides to go out of her way and offers a session of Craniosacral Therapy to Tanya.
She does this for two reasons. One is because Tanya is the guest who should be kept happy. The second is that Tanya insists on getting a massage appointment immediately since she’s not feeling great. Belinda senses the unrest in her voice and, out of empathy, offers a session that would in some way put Tanya at ease.
The session makes Tanya feel so relieved and free of the burden in her chest that she grows quite fond of Belinda. Next thing you know, she’s booked a massage session for the next day and even asks her to have dinner with her – again quite persuasively, I might add.
So is Tanya into Belinda? Or does she have any ulterior motives?
Tanya thinks Belinda can make all her problems go away and hence wants Belinda to be with her at all times. Her loneliness adds to this. Tanya’s privilege makes her treat Belinda as a female butler and not as a person.
Right from the beginning of Tanya and Belinda’s interaction, there is a power dynamic at display. Tanya is the more authoritative one considering she’s a guest at the hotel, whereas Belinda is the submissive one since she is a staff member.
The first instance is when Tanya insists on getting a massage despite Belinda telling her that there are no free appointments available for the day. This is partly due to Tanya just having a bad time and really needing something to feel better. But predominantly, it is because of her privilege. She doesn’t like to wait and wants things as and when she wishes for them.
The second instance is after her massage session the next day. She wants to have dinner with Belinda. This is because the Craniosacral Therapy session was quite personal and intimate to her.
Tanya had an authentic experience with this authentic person and hence wanted to spend more time with her. Furthermore, Tanya was a lonely person and had finally found someone who would listen to her. So, all the more reason to stick with this person or get the person to stick with you (as I earlier mentioned, the power dynamic).
So when Tanya asks Belinda for dinner, she is not taking no for an answer. It’s almost outrageous because when Belinda finally concedes and says that she gets off work at 7, Tanya, in a nonchalant manner, asks Belinda to meet her in 2 minutes after that. This is a sheer display of power and privilege, even if it is unintentional.
But Tanya is quite unaware because this is the life she has always led. Her wealth and background have made her jaded to the simple things like giving people their space or understanding that the person is a mere professional doing their job.
To Tanya, it’s essentially about finding someone who she thinks is a good person and just clinging on to them because she can.
When they finally have dinner, and Belinda is trying to have a conversation about the privileged white and how she doesn’t see her career going anywhere, Tanya joins in. She is disgusted by the elite white people, too (Irony Alert!). She almost immediately tells her that Belinda should start her own massage business, and Tanya would be more than happy to fund it.
Now, this makes the other person disrespected and is an unconscious move where Tanya is trying to have some sort of power over her. She wants to tie Belinda to her and not let her go. And the final action that proves this is in her brief interaction with Nicole.
Tanya appreciates Belinda before Nicole, and the latter says that maybe she’ll book an appointment with Belinda. Almost instantly, Tanya goes, ‘If she’s not with me!’ That says it all.
To Tanya, of course, all this seems like things she is doing and promises she’s making out of sheer appreciation for Belinda’s work and is ready to do her a ‘favor’ because Belinda made her feel good.
So in a twisted sense, Tanya considers Belinda her confidant and someone who listens but at the same time does not see her as an equal person.
Belinda is just a very, very good masseuse and host. That’s where it ends for her. To her, Tanya is merely a guest who has to be kept happy at all times. That’s why she always goes out of her way and offers unscheduled sessions or being there for dinner.
Because Belinda is also aware that if she firmly denies, there’s a great chance Tanya would be unhappy and throw those rich people tantrums.
But Belinda also sees this person who is truly troubled and lonely. And that’s another reason why she wants to help Tanya out. Although, she doesn’t want to be stuck to her. That’s for sure.
At dinner, though, when she is just trying to have an honest conversation about her life and her job as a masseuse, she is quite taken aback when Tanya offers her money. The power dynamic is once again on the table, and to her, throwing money is not the solution to everything.
Maybe all she wanted was to be heard by a person, but all that goes down the drain. These things sort of get under Belinda’s skin, and she is slowly reaching a point after which she just might snap.
So how things unfold between the two and what happens next is something we’ll have to find out in episode 3!
About The White Lotus
The White Lotus is an American satire comedy television miniseries created, written, and directed by Mike White that premiered on HBO on July 11, 2021. The series was greenlit in October 2020 and filmed in Hawaii in late 2020.
Featuring an ensemble cast, the six-episode miniseries focuses on the lives of the staff and guests at a Hawaiian resort over the course of a week.
The White Lotus “follows the vacations of various hotel guests over the span of a week as they relax and rejuvenate in paradise. But with each passing day, a darker complexity emerges in these picture-perfect travelers, the hotel’s cheerful employees and the idyllic locale itself.”