The White Lotus Season 1 finale ended on an unexpected and tragic note for Rachel. Most of us expected that she would choose a new beginning for herself by leaving her self-centered husband, Shane. But ultimately, she decided to stay with Shane instead.
The couple’s marriage was doomed to failure from the beginning. Throughout the six episodes of Season 1, Shane ended up becoming one of the most hated characters in the series due to his selfish attitude and misogynistic beliefs. Though Rachel did stand up to Shane at one point, it was sort of tragic to see her go back to square one by deciding to stay with him.
Rachel decided to stay with Shane because she was afraid of being alone and lacked confidence. She did not trust herself enough to let go of a life of privilege to pursue her career and fend for herself. She also had no contacts of her own except the ones she got from Shane’s sphere.
1. How Rachel and Shane’s Marriage Worsened
The ups and downs of the relationship, the slow buildup revealing the problems, all pointed towards their marriage falling apart. For starters, Shane completely ignored Rachel’s feelings and wasn’t willing to let her have an identity. He asked her to stop working simply because she was “rich” now. Also, Shane grew completely antagonistic towards the hotel manager, Armond.
Things became worse when Shane’s equally entitled mother joined the couple on their honeymoon. She made it further clear that Rachel could not pursue any career apart from being the typical rich wife and indulging in pretentious social and charity work.
It seemed evitable that Rachel would burst out any moment as her agency and identity were at stake. But unfortunately, she chose a safe life in a toxic marriage over taking a risk and pursuing a career.
2. Why was Rachel afraid of loneliness?
Rachel’s fear of being alone was the main reason behind her decision. It was most likely guided by fear, lack of confidence, low self-esteem, and the need for companionship. It is clear that she never wanted to be alone, which is why it was hard for her to pursue her career and let go of companionship.
She was afraid of being alone as she was used to being dependent on others throughout her life. It is clear that Rachel came from a life of privilege, where she had to do nothing for herself. In a way, her problems stemmed from an already cocooned existence. She was afraid of being alone since she subconsciously knew that she would not be able to fend for herself if she had to.
In this context, let’s talk about the scene where Rachel speaks to Belinda about her insecurities.
Rachel confides in the spa manager of the hotel, Belinda, and tells her that she will never be able to love herself if she becomes Shane’s trophy wife. It is then that Belinda points out to Rachel that her concern is nothing more than outrage at her privileged. In other words, it isn’t even an investment on her part.
Belinda was ready to do anything for a potential business investor, Tanya, and needed her to get the break Rachel already had. So, in her eyes, Rachel’s problem was a privileged outrage that most cannot afford.
Maybe Belinda’s words made Rachel think, and she realized that what she had was something others crave for. Another reason why Rachel did not leave Shane is that she had never been confident enough to face the world alone.
In one scene, Shane leaves Rachel at the dinner table so she can be on her own. But we see that Rachel is unable to spend any time on her own. She looks around trying to figure out what she is supposed to do now.
When we see her next, she is not spending time alone, and neither is she confiding in a friend or family member over the phone. Instead, she is speaking to a hotel staff member whom she has barely known for a day or two. Strange, isn’t it?
This further proves that Rachel had no one to actually confide in or ask for support outside of Shane’s contacts. She probably had no support from her family either. So, she had two options: leave Shane and lead her own life, but alone where she has to provide for herself, or stay with Shane and lead the life of a trophy wife and fake a happy marriage to outsiders.
Rachel chooses the latter, simply because she was never confident enough to be on her own. Her privilege destroyed her personality and now she was not able to consider a better life simply because she was afraid of being alone.
By reuniting with Shane at the airport in the final moments of the season finale, Rachel chose a life of in-built advantages for herself instead of taking a risk. She decides to hold on to her privileges and comfortable life, even if it means being stuck in a toxic, unhappy marriage.
3. Did Rachel love Shane in The White Lotus?
It is hard to say whether she was in love with Shane, but perhaps a part of Rachel did love him. However, more than the person, Rachel was in love with the idea of Shane and the life that she associated with him.
Shane was the symbol of a happy, unbroken, and secure marriage for Rachel. She held on to Shane for her own mental strength, despite being abused by him. Shane clearly did not care about Rachel, but Rachel had no one better to depend on. She lacked the courage to depend on herself.
So, Rachel did not exactly love Shane but rather the idea of the happy, privileged, rich life that she could have if she was with Shane.
4. Did Rachel make the right decision?
No. At least, according to me. I fail to understand how a toxic, abusive relationship could save someone from their loneliness. Even if Rachel was scared of being alone, she would remain alone even if people were to remain around her physically.
Loneliness is a state of mind, and it’s possible to control that state of mind with practice. Rachel could have rather chosen a lonely life of her own accord than depend on Shane for everything and remain his trophy wife.
However, it is perhaps hard to imagine what may have been Rachel’s point of view. Maybe she knew that she had neither the strength nor the talent to pursue a life of her own. Maybe for her, a comfortable, luxurious life was more important. In that case, perhaps she took the right decision.
The White Lotus is an anthology series, with each season focusing on a different group of people. So, we will most probably not see any more of Rachel in the next season. But Rachel’s decision and the factors that affected it definitely make this series a win-win for me.
5. 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. Season 1 was set in Hawaii, and season 2 in Sicily.
The White Lotus follows the vacations of various hotel guests over 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.
Jennifer Coolidge and John Gries star in both seasons with a rotating cast in the two seasons. The series was renewed for a third season.