- Creator: Mike White
- Starring: Jennifer Coolidge, Aubrey Plaza, Michael Imperioli, F. Murray Abraham, Haley Lu Richardson, Meghann Fahy, Theo James, Will Sharpe, Beatrice Grannò, Tom Hollander, Simona Tabasco
Warning: Reviews of The White Lotus season 2 will contain spoilers.
How can you tell when it’s time to leave a bad situation? How do you know when you’re in too deep? Almost every character this week finds themselves on the precipice of a major decision that could either lead to rapture or ruin, and the result is a fascinating hour of television. One of the joys of the format of The White Lotus is seeing how characters slowly transform one day at a time: seven episodes, seven versions of someone. Everyone has come to the eponymous resort with the goal of changing or discovering something about themselves, and it’s been a blast to see how they’ve gone about achieving that, and falling short of it.
We had to know that the tell-tale condom wouldn’t just get swept under the rug, and it provides a fascinating backbone to That’s Amore for Ethan and Harper. I never expected Ethan to try to hide it, but I was not prepared for how douchey he would come across once he had it out with Harper. Throughout the entire episode, Aubrey Plaza shows why she’s one of the best actors today, as Harper goes to full-on revenge mode.
There’s a read that Harper’s anger is less focused on Ethan and more towards Cameron and Daphne, who put him in a toxic situation to begin with, and who mask their obvious deficiencies with a facade of happiness. But Harper isn’t built for facades. She tried changing herself to appear sunnier and more easy-going earlier this season, and it ended up with her in Noto with Daphne and Ethan with Cameron and two hookers. So, though she pokes and prods at the wineries and at dinner about Cameron’s sexual history, she’s only barely masking it as a friendly icebreaker.
Plaza has put together an incredible highlight reel already this season, one that’s sure to garner serious Emmy consideration, and That’s Amore is no exception. Harper’s earlier dirty thoughts around Cameron, combined with his overt flirtation/aggression at the dinner table, and her conversation with Daphne where she all but encouraged Harper to have her own affairs, suggest that Harper will continue to burn down another marriage now that she feels that her own is essentially over. But there’s a lingering sense that she feels superior to them. A sense that, no matter how ugly Daphne and Cameron are on the inside, she won’t ever stoop herself to their level.
The dueling opening of the episode with Albie and Portia as they begin their mornings hints that perhaps they could find their way back together again, but it truly feels as though they won’t be seeing each other anymore – on purpose, anyway. As we see throughout the episode, it’s a small resort indeed. Albie has clearly gotten himself in too deep with Lucia, truly oblivious to the idea that he’d have to pay her after their night together. Or is Lucia simply resorting to her basest instincts, seizing an opportunity when she sees it? Either way, it’s a complex web that White is weaving, with Albie and Dom’s competing interests over Lucia. (I believe they’re now considered eskimo brothers?) Every father secretly wants his son to follow in his footsteps but in Dom’s case, he wants better for him, given his unsavory history with women. And Albie lacks the awareness to see how misguided his time* with Lucia really is.
*Is it accurate to call it a romance? I legitimately cannot tell how interested Lucia is (thanks to a really terrific and unsung performance by Simona Tabasco), especially after her confession last week that she wants to stop sleeping around. But every time she has a chance to be honest, she digs in even deeper.
Elsewhere, we get some increasingly lovely scenes with Sabrina Impacciatore’s Valentina as she continues to flail around with Isabella. As thin as Valentina’s time has been this season, Impacciatore has done the most with what she’s given, playing up her awkwardness at recently discovering a part of herself that she’s either kept hidden or simply wasn’t aware of until recently. And her final scene with Mia, where Mia offers a chance at being open and romantic, presents some great possibilities for the remaining two episodes.
The threat of death isn’t as obvious throughout this time around, though there are certainly places to find it if you look hard enough. We have Bert with a fresh gash on his head, combined with his advanced age and earlier injuries this season. We also have Mia and Lucia; an untimely demise is never out of the question whenever prostitutes are involved. Nevertheless, That’s Amore pulls together all of the season’s themes so far and ramps up the drama to set the stage for what’s sure to be a great final two episodes.