Episode 5 of The White Lotus Season 2 opens with a scene from Lucia and Albie’s night of passion. Well, only for the latter, as when he hugs Lucia goodbye, she asks for money. Our assertions about her turned out to be wrong. She is still working men and finds an innocent, harmless woke lamb whom she can puppeteer and manipulate.
Lucia makes up a story about Alessio, someone she has to pay the money she earns from clients. Albie promises her he will withdraw money from the bank and pay her dues and they decide to see each other again that day (or night).
The “gays” are taking Tanya and Portia to Palermo. Ethan finds the wrapper Harper had put on the bathroom sink and they finally chat about the night. Despite Ethan’s most earnest pleadings, Harper does not seem to believe him. If he is indeed innocent, he should have told her in the first place. But the “bro code” saw him keep it a secret and now he will suffer from her passive-aggressive tantrums. Dominic tries to dissuade Albie from pursuing Lucia further but the son strikes back with the bad examples his father set for him.
He then tries to do the same with Lucia, who although does not accept it outright, says she will try. Mia runs after Valentina to temporarily replace Giuseppe at the piano but she adamantly refuses. Albie bumps into Portia on the way out and they wish each other a nice life, ending things on a good note.
Valentina is head over heels infatuated with Isabella and in her bid to separate him from her, Valentina puts him in the beach club, replacing him with a repulsive Salvatore. Isabella is disappointed but does not know the real reason behind it.
The Sullivans and Spillers reach Etna to explore wineries. During the wine tasting, a visibly angry Harper goes overboard and throws the floor open with intimate questions about Ethan and Cam’s college experiences. She asks Cameron and Ethan if they ever slept with the same woman or had other wild stories to share. Ethan is embarrassed by Harper’s inquisition and Cam gets the hint that she knows. It is also implied that Cameron used to go after girls that Ethan liked and swooped in before him to sleep with them.
Ethan explains with absolute clarity behind this – the mimetic desire, wherein Cam considered himself an inferior species to Ethan. Jack & Portia get closer on the boat, making Tanya jealous. But she is relieved when they reach Palermo, saying that at least the “gays” do not want her money. Quentin says they will be going to the opera that night, making an interesting change in Tanya’s general schedule. Lucia tries to woo Albie by saying she will not only sleep with him for money and that she likes him. Dom takes a stroll on the beach where he reflects on his past watching young mothers and fathers with their children enjoying family time.
While the “gays” and Tanya attend the opera, Jack & Portia roam around the city. The former pair is moved by the performance and look at each other with tears in their eyes in a profound moment. “Madame Butterfly” had mesmerized the group. At the opera, Tanya wondered if the woman seated next to their row was the Queen of Sicily and Quentin plays a practical joke on her, which she does not know. Lucia confronts Cam for money at dinner and Albie sees this. He once again falls for a “distressed bird”, offering to help her. Dom tries to open Bert’s eyes when he brings up Albie and Lucia. In Dom’s inquisitions, we learn that Bert and his wife did not have a good relationship.
Their marriage was wrecked because Dom and everyone else knew Bert’s dealings with women outside the marriage. As much as he tries to deny it, Dom says he is being delusional if he believes anything else to be the truth. The couples sit around the table and Cam tries to touch Harper’s thighs, indicating his desire for her. At first, she does not remove his hand and looks at him but eventually does so, showing her indecisiveness about the situation. Mia once again beseeched Valentina to let her play, only this time, she offers her “time” to Valentina and says she knows Valentina is gay. The manager looks at Mia with shock and intense eyes, allowing Mia to play for the two nights Giuseppe will be out.
Portia and Jack run out of the restaurant without paying, confusing her if it was intentional or if there is something wrong. Harper gets teary-eyed when she talks to Daphne about the last night but like before, she tries to sweep it under the rug, and in a bizarre moment, describes his “handsome trainer” but shows Harper a picture of her kids. Are the kids not Cam’s? Is that what this scene meant and Daphne was subconsciously trying to tell it to Harper? You can’t say at this point. Lucia is threatened in the town by a man, whom she describes as Alessio. Albie is with her and shows his concern for her.
Quentin discusses how he admires beauty and how he inherited the villa from his father with Tanya. Harper and Cam eye each other in front of the couples. And it is clear now that Daphne will not do anything about it. But Ethan will and he intently looks toward Cam. Dom tries calling his wife Abby but she does not pick up.
Albie and Lucia spend the night together but it is clear how she feels about the situation. Tanya wakes up in the middle of the night and watches in horror when she sees Jack and Quentin having sex. The horror emanates from the fact that the latter introduced him as his nephew.
The Episode Review
Well, well, well, what did the cat drag out of the hat this time! Episode 5 is indubitably the best episode of the series and epitomized the thematic core – the dark world of human vices. The highlight of the episode was how the human thirst for “more” can never be satiated. And even those who are innocent get dragged into the ruse unwittingly and unwillingly.
There are so many new ends opened up for the finale that it cannot come any faster. There needs to be a quick resolution to these storylines and we can’t wait to see how it ends. Some shocking developments occur in the episode. Cam trying to “alpha dog” Ethan was something we discussed in episode two’s review and that is coming true. Ethan explained it as mimetic desire and he might just have had enough of his friend’s vanity.
Do not be surprised if one of the bodies is Cam’s. Because Ethan will not sit down quietly this time, it seems, as Cam makes his advances to Harper. Daphne’s terrifying truth about her household will need more explaining but from what it may actually mean, it is epic. At times you feel for these women. Both suffer due to emotionally unavailable men but one comes across as more evil than the other. Both are failed marriages and at times, you just wish that either of them could show some love for the ladies. Hold their hands, give them attention, and show some loyalty.
But alas, there will be none of that. Old habits do die hard. Lucia felt redeemed in the eyes of God when she got a “new fish”. How vain of us to think she could actually change… Also, we did not get a very clear sense of things from Lucia’s perspective in this episode. Who is Alessio? Is he even real? Is Lucia actually telling the truth? his dynamic just became interesting. It will come alive with Albie’s “white knight syndrome” coming into action once he tries to “save” her.
Dom and Bert’s relationship also came under the scanner. The latter came across as “too old for school” and a chic operator but Dom opened the can of worms. The entire exchange between them and Albie showed the divide between traditional and new-age ideas about the other gender and morals. They were right on this occasion but we do not see that because we are busy demonizing that way of thinking with polemic modern conventions. But there are also legacy issues from the generation like sweeping things under the carpet and being deluded, which ail the older generations.
And how did the tale change for Quentin and Tanya! That wild ending indicates that there is some bigger ploy taking shape behind the curtains and Portia and Tanya might be in danger. Many red flags came up in this episode – Quentin asking for subsidies, Jack forgetting his wallet, and of course, the ending on the bed – that point ominously to this notion. It was a sudden change in tone but deliciously poises things for the finale.
Favorite bits from this episode include Bert failing to convince himself that he had a happy marriage; and Valentina fighting her compulsions when Mia propositions her. The wonderful interludes between the tidal waves hitting the rocks and overwhelming emotions of passion and desire for characters added charm. They were melodiously and methodically executed just in the right way to make them inspiring for viewers. The operatic overload on the “condom situation” was a great touch too.
A banging finale awaits us and HBO, you have not disappointed us once again. Can you ever? Are you even capable of doing that?