Is Lotus From 'Marco Polo' A Real Person? Michelle Yeoh Brings This Character To Life In Season 2
Marco Polo Season 2 looks like it will go deeper and darker than its occasionally exposition-laden first season, and one of the ways it will do is by adding a few new characters. One of the new faces you'll see in Marco Polo Season 2 is Lotus, played by Michelle Yeoh. But is Lotus based on a real person, like the characters of Marco and Kublai Khan? While other aspects of Season 2 will take from history, it seems that Marco Polo has decided to create another original character. There is no reference to Kublai Khan or Marco Polo knowing a real woman with the name "Lotus" in Chinese history. Marco Polo isn't always totally faithful to real events, but almost everything on the show has relevance to the real story. Plus, Yeoh is one of the best martial artists working in film, and she's given so many fantastic performances that I'm sure the creators of Marco Polo know what they're doing by bringing her on board.
Yeoh's character, who is credited in the behind the scenes video below as both "Lotus" and "Handmaiden," is a figure from Hundred Eyes' past, according to Deadline,and a piece by We Got this Covered vaguely suggests that Yeoh will be playing a villain. As the One Hundred Eyes special from December 2015 showed, that character has a fascinating past, so I think her story will turn out to be very exciting. And with Yeoh playing her, than we know Lotus is going to be another powerful female character in the Marco Polo cast.
Though there's not mention of a person named "Lotus" in The Travels of Marco Polo, there are some references to "maidens" being traded to make marriage alliances. Perhaps Marco Polo will be tasked with bringing one of those maidens to another emperor in Season 2 of the Netflix series, with Yeoh's character in tow as one of her assistants.
The name still holds significance, as flowers are important to a lot of Chinese mythology and spirituality. Lotus flowers are associated with Tibet, which was unified with China for the first time under Kublai Khan, according to Roger E. MacCarthy's book Tears of the Lotus, which also suggests that the Mongol emperor "became captivated by the Tibetan tribals" and Tibetan Lamaism. And the Buddhist "White Lotus Sect" has also been associated with rebellions, so it's possible that "Lotus" is a hint that her character will be rebellious and maybe even start an uprising in Khan's empire.
But, more simply, Lotus might simply be a reference to what might be Yeoh's most famous role, at least to Hollywood audiences, in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which recently got a Netflix sequel that includes the villainous West Lotus clan.
Whether the character's name turns out to be deep, shallow, or a historical reference, Yeoh playing a character in Marco Polo definitely means that Season 2 is adding a totally kickass woman.
Image: Phil Bray/Netflix