“The White Lotus” Season 2 Episode 2 Recap: “Italian Dream”

The White Lotus

italian dream

Season 2

Episode 2

Editor’s note

4 stars

Photo: Fabio Lovino/HBO

Want to see episode 3 of The White Lotus before everyone else? Join us in Los Angeles on November 12 at Vulture Festival for an advanced screening, followed by a live chat with Meghann Fahy—Tickets are on sale now!

Last week we were introduced to the Sicilian legend ‘Teste di Moro’, about a despised woman who beheaded her deceitful lover. But this week, the focus seems to be on cutting another part of the body. “I think some women chop off their husband’s balls and then they wonder why they’re not attracted to them anymore,” Daphne says, speculating to her hubby about the relationship dynamics of their fellow travelers, Harper and Ethan. This notion of emasculation – or more broadly, who holds the power in these relationships – is a common thread that runs through “Italian Dream”. Who wears the (designer) pants and what implications does this have?

Our second day at White Lotus begins when our guests plan their itineraries over the breakfast buffet. The Di Grasso clan effectively adopts Portia, inviting her to go to the Greek theater with them. A much nicer Greg we saw last week indulges Tanya in her fantastic day in Sicily – “Anything you want; it’s your day to shine,” he tells her — though it’s unclear if that day includes the Oreo cookie cake she asked for for breakfast. Meanwhile, Harper finds herself alone while Ethan runs early in the morning, until Daphne and Cameron invite him to their table. He eventually takes a call, screaming into the phone about his missing luggage, but Daphne assures Harper that she never falls victim to that rage, telling her, “We never fight.”

Harper finds this absurd, and we can practically see her putting that nugget away to happily report to Ethan around the room – but when she gets there, she finds him jerking off after the race. She’s mildly offended that he didn’t just wait for her so they could have sex, but barely, since it seems no secret that they’re out of sync in that department. He prefers the morning; she prefers the night. They don’t seem to be in a rush to fix this (Ethan passes on his offer to finish the job), but maybe that will change after a week of comparing themselves to Cameron and Daphne.

Speaking of which, Harper is quick to pivot this conversation to bring up the “we’re not fighting” revelation, seeing it as a sign that their perfect life is truly fake. “You always do that with certain people,” Ethan told her, deflating his joy. “You have to find them deficient in some way compared to you.” Conveying the sex was nothing compared to shutting down what really matters to Harper: her bullshit. She is hurt by the accusation of being threatened by them, but is quick to defend herself by retorting, “Everybody does it, Ethan. I’m sure they’re out there shitting on me right now, saying I’m a bitch or you could do better.

And she is right! Cameron and Daphne say exactly that later in their bedroom, where Daphne lays out her aforementioned emasculation theory. While it’s debatable whether Harper actually emasculates Ethan, or if it has any effect on their unsynchronized sex life, it’s clear that she’s the one wearing the pants in the relationship. Take, for example, the night before, when she practically told Ethan what he would order for dinner, trying to veto his selection of white fish.

Unlike Cameron and Daphne, a marriage in which there is absolutely the fight is between Dominic and his absent wife, Abby. Even so, Bert doesn’t understand why Abby and their daughter, Kara, chose to skip the trip. What could Dominic have done to make them angry enough to miss a trip to Italy? As they tour the Greek theater, Bert recounts the Sicilian story of the rape of Persephone, in which Hades abducted Demeter’s daughter, Persephone, and dragged her into the underworld. “Demeter forgave Hades and he raped his daughter. I mean, what you did can’t be that bad,” he told Dominic.

The thing is, Bert knows what his son did. “Your mistake was being sloppy,” he told her later over dinner, saying the real offense was not cheating but being careless enough to get caught. Dominic bristles at it, accusing his father of not being discreet with his own affairs – which Bert calls “peccadilloes”. But if Bert was aware of this, why the constant fake confusion over Abby and Kara’s absence? It seems that by asking Why they ain’t there he really mean why are they so mad this, which Bert considers a non-event. So much so that he thinks it’s an entirely solvable problem, urging his son to solve it: “Come together.” Obviously, Bert couldn’t hear that phone call with Abby through the hotel wall.

Our pair of dysfunctional couples reunite for another day of sitting at tables with Aperol Spritzes (mixing things up while sitting at the beach, too), and like clockwork, Cameron and Daphne prepare plenty of gear so that Harper can judge. She collects each one of those grumpy comments like they’re little memories, and with each one we can practically see her becoming more justified, like she’s silently saying, “see?to Ethan. They detail the many five-star hotels they’ve been to in depth, while saying that Puerto Rico, where Harper’s family is from, has “never really been on our radar.” Afterwards, Cameron addresses the elephant in the room, asking them how they like being newly rich. Not much has changed, they say, with Harper adding that they are not really materialistic. Cameron backtracks on that comment after Daphne mentions her charitable giving. “Yeah, we’re not just materialistic pigs…despite what you might think,” he said with playful hostility.

There have been plenty of comparisons between Cameron and Jake Lacy’s resident finance brother Shane from last season. But a key distinction this time around is that Cameron has a worthy opponent for Harper. Just like Cameron, Harper is the alpha in his relationship and his level of confidence and wealth. This level playing field is something Shane didn’t have in his conflicts with Armond and Rachel, and it brings a whole new dimension to this character archetype. That’s what makes it so fun to watch them practice: they challenge each other more than their respective partners, and the very idea of ​​being challenged seems to catch them both off guard.

When Cameron pushes back on her “materialistic” comment, we see Harper get flustered for the first time, as if she didn’t realize they were knowledgeable enough to recognize her digs as digs. A similar thing happens later, when she hears about their baby’s traumatic delivery and suddenly sees a different side of the couple, like, Oh wait, these are real people.

Meanwhile, determined to make Tanya’s Italian dream a reality, she and Greg rent a Vespa, despite the discouragement of a very nervous Valentina. “Who do I look like?” Tanya asks, showing off her pink Monica Vitti drag. “Peppa Pig,” Valentina replies, before anxiously sending them on their bumpy journey through Sicily. Monica Vitti and Peppa Pig — two European icons.

We later find out why Greg was so determined to create his perfect day, when he drops the bomb that he’ll have to leave their romantic trip early for a work emergency in Denver. (Is there a White Lotus in Denver? Free idea for season three here.) Tanya, a half-billion-dollar heiress, can’t understand why he won’t quit. “I can’t give up; I can’t afford to stop. You made me sign a prenup. What if we don’t practice? he said, fearful of becoming just another of the many people Tanya rejects (*cough* Belinda *cough*).

This fight provides us with some interesting context on the dynamics of their relationship, but it’s not entirely clear who is emasculating whom. On the one hand, we saw Greg being terrible towards Tanya, disrespecting her, and stepping on her throughout last week’s episode, even giving us reason to believe he’s cheating on her. But now we know that when it comes to money, she holds all the power and has it by the balls. It’s practically a toy at his disposal (not a very fun toy either – if you wind him up, he coughs and his only accessory is his underwear). The question is, is his mistreatment of Tanya a result of this power imbalance or just an excuse for it?

As this fight ensues, through the restaurant, Portia and Albie get to know each other better over dinner and prove to be another case study in Daphne’s emasculation theory. No one emasculates Albie, already mild-mannered, of course, but her idea of ​​”nice guys finish last” completes the attraction part of Daphne’s thesis.

“Girls always complain that guys aren’t nice, but if they find a nice guy, they’re not always interested,” he says, supporting Daphne’s suggestion that women aren’t attracted to men. emasculated. This statement could unfortunately ring true between Portia and Albie, because as charming as our sweet Albie seems, there seems to be some disconnect when it comes to what they are each looking for. After all, just yesterday Portia, after being asked to “go get some dick”, said her goal was “to get dumped by a hot Italian dude”. Albie is not one to throw around. Albie is the type to politely ask to be kissed at the end of the night, then say, “We’re going out tomorrow!” He refuses to have a bad relationship with women, breaking the generational cycle we see with the older men of Di Grasso, who insist to have a bad relationship with women.

On the other hand, one of Di Grasso’s oldest men, Albie’s father, welcomes Lucia and Mia for a threesome in his bedroom. The kind gesture is a way of thanking Dominic for adding their names to his rooms (and therefore his tab), which he had to do to give them access to the hotel – something Valentina was reluctant to budge . So after a day of living A pretty woman style at Dominic’s expense, they visit him. But Dominic, seemingly determined to follow his father’s advice and “fix” his marriage, tries to hijack Lucia. As Mia emerges, however, three reveal themselves to be company and Dominic bends, inviting the women in.

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