Photo: Fabio Lovino/HBO
We have reached that time in a White Lotus it’s the season when the shit is hitting the fan, and it’s reasonable to assume that most of our guests will probably read Expedia once or twice before they’re already on their first flight home. Questions are being answered and our characters’ secrets are being revealed, not only to us but to each other. And at this resort, knowledge is another kind of power, so with each secret that is revealed, we are seeing the power dynamics change dramatically.
Our morning starts with Ethan finally seeing the package of condoms that Harper left last night for him to find. “Harper, what is this?” He asks lying on the bed. “You tell me.” Finally, after an entire episode of not talking about the cigarette or how it got there, Ethan has a chance to explain that it was Cameron’s, telling him all about molly and whores. Of course, that doesn’t set her free as she thinks it should, and Harper gets upset that she spent the whole night lying to him when he keeps asking her what happened that night. The result of this revelation is a serious blow to their relationship, but also Harper walking away with a wealth of new information.
Harper now knows the secrets of his companions, and thus holds all the cards on this trip. But what will he do with this new opportunity? When Cameron suggests a wine tasting, Harper quickly jumps on board, saying, “Let’s get drunk.” Maybe we can get molly and get really angry,” mocking his newfound wisdom and making Cameron shudder. We can see him wondering, If he knows about molly, what else does he know?
But Harper isn’t the only one who knows about Cameron’s secrets; Lucia still hangs around the resort, and wants the money she still owes him. All season long we’ve been hearing about how rich and successful Cameron is, so why is this even a story? Maybe he’s not as rich as we’ve been led to believe, or the reason he’s so rich is because he rips people off. After all, Daphne told us that she works with the killers of Bernie Madoff. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t seem wise to upset the person you want to keep your secrets from. Again, I don’t think anyone would describe Cameron as “smart.”
Because of the money, it turned out that Lucia was on the clock yesterday with Albie, and surprised him the next morning asking for his money. I can’t make sense of Lucia’s motives here. The day before yesterday he seemed to hate his job, instead of pulling Albie in a way that I didn’t interpret as business. But now, in the cold morning light, it really comes out he was business. Did Lucia change her mind at some point, or was that always her plan? Maybe rich, innocent Albie was just an easy and inevitable victim.
From Albie’s point of view, this is a real Catch-22. Of course he is desperate for the money he paid from Portia, but even worse, he finds himself standing right at his father’s feet; a place he never wanted to be. So what’s his next move? The wheels turn as he tries to figure out what a “good person” is to do. What’s worse, paying for sex or skipping the bill? We’ve seen Albie be a pushover all week, and that’s not going to change now, so he promises to get him some money.
When he tells his family that he has to go to the bank, Dominic catches on to what’s going on. He goes to Lucia, bringing her the blame for her room and asking her to stay away from her son. “Whatever you do, please don’t say anything to him about you and me,” she pleads. This secret gives Lucia a huge amount of power, more than she already had by getting Dominic’s tab. If she was ever in the mood to swear, Lucia could clean up, because she has these men and balls (both literally and figuratively).
Later, Dominic urges his son to stay away from him, but he can’t explain why he didn’t. The one who isn’t smart is Bert, who immediately comes out and asks them to accompany them. This leads to a whole discussion about sex work, in which no one sounds as crazy as they think they do. When Albie leaves, Dominic wants to know what’s going on with his father who almost exposed Lucia’s secret. After hitting his head earlier in the episode, Bert delivers the top line of the episode saying, “I can’t be responsible for everything I say, I have a mind!”
After a well-deserved heavy pour at the wine tasting, Harper indulges in some old-fashioned provocation, asking if Cameron and Ethan have ever slept with the same girl. “Be honest!” he is sarcastic. When Cam brushes it off by saying that they had different dating pools, Ethan says that whenever he wanted a girl, Cameron would come in and sleep with him. “You have a bad case of something called mimetic desire. If someone in a higher position wants something, it means that you usually want it too.” This is a new side for Ethan, but what made him finally push back? Is it because he has dirt on Cam from the other night, or is he angry that keeping this dirt a secret is causing the marriage between him and Harper?
Harper doubles down on the game, asking if they’ve ever had sex. After sharing a room in college, Cameron says maybe. “So I guess old habits die hard, huh?” he says. “What is that? Did you tell him?” Cameron asks pulling Ethan aside. Now he knows his weekly enemy has dirt on him, so what will he do about it?
While secrets are being kept and revealed at the resort, there is one secret brewing in Palermo, where Quentin has invited Tanya and Portia to spend two days on a yacht. “You will have to come up with good things. Do you have the right stuff?” Tanya instructs Portia, as if reading tweets about her bad outfits. But before they set sail, Tanya reflects on her broken marriage, wondering how she could have missed all the signs. But as she walks out blind with this new batch of men, it’s important to wonder if she’s missing out. it’s all signs again, because something seems off about her new friends. Tanya is relieved that they’re rich, meaning she doesn’t have to worry about spending money on him – but now why have did they take him?
Quentin, who keeps comparing Tanya to a sad person, insists on taking her to the end to see. Madam Butterfly, which seems to be a portrait of Tanya’s own life. Meanwhile, Jack shows Portia around town, eating rice balls but then runs off because he forgot his wallet. It seems that grift is starting to show through the cracks, but Portia is enjoying herself. Before they go to Portia’s room, Jack has to run to do something for his uncle.
Speaking of family, Dominic and Bert watch Albie have dinner with Lucia, who now says she doesn’t want money for their second night. “You wouldn’t be surprised,” Bert says, accusing Dominic of being normal to him. “You know why I’m doing it because of you,” Dominic tells his father, and again they report the consequences of their infidelity.
Across the restaurant, Cameron decides to turn the tables on Harper, asking her about her sex activities for a change. As this happens, Cameron puts his hand on his knee under the table, which startles him as he throws up. Remember what Ethan said about the desire to imitate? But beyond just wanting what Ethan has, this seems like a calculated attempt to get rid of Harper. If Cameron succeeds in seducing Harper, he will take away all the power he has over her, because she would have dirt on him again.
When the boys go to get cigarettes, Harper tells Daphne that she thinks something happened last night. But when it comes to infidelity, Daphne is the seasoned fighter and Harper the rookie, and she assures Harper that it probably wasn’t a big deal. “And if anything happens, just do what you have to do to feel better about it.” There is an awkward pause before Daphne begins to tell Harper about the blonde, blue-eyed, beautiful teacher – singing her praises and encouraging Harper to get her own. But when she shows him a picture, it is of her blonde, blue-eyed, beautiful child. “Whoopsie” he says, like it’s a mistake.
This feels like some kind of psychological thriller and I don’t know what’s going on. What is Daphne trying to do with this move? Is his son the son of his coach? That Harper has to have a baby to cope with infidelity? Is his camera roll out of order? For every question answered and every mystery revealed, new ones seem to spring up twice as much.
All this chaos needs a good soundtrack, and ever since she drugged the local pianist, Mia has been pestering Valentina who refuses to let her off the keys. In yet another example of knowledge being power, Mia takes the fact that Valentina is gay and is able to use it to convince her to give him the gig. Ah, so that’s why we’ve been seeing Valentina courting Isabella so much.
As Mia furiously (and shockingly) sings “That’s the Fun,” we float through the messy lives of our guests: Harper and Cameron smoking convincingly, Dominic calling and receiving his wife’s voicemail (probably Dern!), and Albie sleeping with Lucia. . But when the music stops, we return to Palermo, where Tanya wakes up in the night and wanders through a ghost town following the sounds of sex. He opens a set of doors, and sees Quentin being raped by his “nephew” Jack. Another gasp-worthy mystery revealed – a above a hidden secret, if you will. And this is his first night in Palermo! I can’t wait for breakfast.