The White Lotus S2E5: “That’s Amore” — When You Walk in a Dream

lucia and dom talk about albie in The White Lotus S2E5
Courtesy of HBO

The following contains spoilers for The White Lotus S2E5, “That’s Amore” (written and directed by Mike White)

Whennnnnn your spouse starts to cry, ‘cause you told a huge lie, “That’s Amore.” When you thought she liked you, but you still pay to screw, “That’s Amore!”

The fifth episode of Season 2 of The White Lotus, S2E5, “That’s Amore,” did a lot of things, but the most important might be how it positioned our main characters in opposition to other guests or employees of the Sicilian luxury resort. The stage is set for the final showdown between our characters after secrets are revealed, discovered, and unsuccessfully hidden.

If the characters we have come to know over the past five episodes are mere chess pieces where the outcome is that some of them end up knocked over dead in the ocean, we truly are in the end game now.

Harper vs. Ethan and the Sullivans

Harper’s plan to lure Ethan into her Venus fly trap of truth works beautifully as he discovers the condom wrapper Harper left out in plain sight, forcing Ethan to come clean about the night the ladies spent in Noto.

Doing his best Al Pacino Devil’s Advocate speech, Ethan admits maybe he looked, but didn’t touch: touched, but didn’t taste; tasted, but didn’t swallow. Harper believes him about as much as she believes Cameron invited the couple to Sicily to rekindle a long-lost friendship, but instead of confronting Cameron about it, she decides to spend the day playing her own sick version of Never Have I Ever with the foursome as they visit vineyards.

Hoping, I guess, to endear herself to her new friend Daphne, all Harper manages to do is isolate herself in her own bubble of despair and worry. Ethan thinks he did nothing wrong because Cameron was the one who actually slept with the Sicilian prostitutes. Cameron wants the secret to stay inside Pandora’s box, but more so it doesn’t ruin an idyllic vacation as opposed to his actions ever causing any long-term marriage problems.

ethan, daphne, and harper share some wine
Photograph by Courtesy of HBO

Harper’s last, desperate olive branch is extended to Daphne when she asks her, “Do you think something happened the night we were in Noto?” In one of the coldest and most gut-wrenching line deliveries of the season, Daphne responds “if something did happen, I’m sure it wasn’t that bad.” And then it hits Harper. As much as she earnestly did not want to be on this trip with these people, she now finds herself truly alone. She gets her wish, but realizes she may have lost the soul of the relationship with Ethan in the process. If he can be friends with these types of people, and if this is what success and riches bring, can she be a part of it?

The decision ahead of her is draped all over her face, and she wears it well. Just go ahead and start engraving Aubrey Plaza’s name on the Emmy right now.

Albie and Lucia vs. Dom and Bert

The only thing that could have made the morning-after conversation between Albie and Lucia any more awkward would have been if Lucia told Albie how much his dad paid for the two nights of her “company.” Just when we all thought Albie had some nefarious hidden motives in his flirtations with Portia and Lucia, it really may be that he is just a naïve college boy who can’t tell an Italian prostituta from a wounded bird who is just looking for a vacation fling.

When Albie can’t come up with the money to pay the spend-the-night rate for Lucia, he confesses to Dom and Bert that he needs to hit up the ATM for some Euros, but just that he needs it for “whatever…something…I don’t know.” Dom, having been around the lady of the night block many times before (including on this trip) knows exactly what’s up and confronts Lucia, asking her to move beyond the boy Lucia finds to be “naïve and innocent.”

Lucia and her long-lost Italian cousin Joey Tribbiani both have the same “now you’re making me want them even more!” vibes, and it appears that Lucia is beginning to develop real human emotions for the fragile yet solicitous Albie.

dom and bert wonder why albie is with lucia
Photograph by Courtesy of HBO

That puts Lucia in a very dangerous position to be in as a White Lotus character: a foreshadower. She confides in her friend Mia that “this is going to be a lucky week for us” and “maybe we won’t be punished after all.” Well, it was nice knowing you ladies. It will be quite the cliché when the Italians are the ones who end up sleeping with the fishes at the end of the finale.

Valentina vs. the White Lotus Employees

When resort manager Valentina disappoints both the object of her desire, Isabella, and front desk worker, Rocco, by transferring him to the beach club, she is forced to go on the defensive. This is not a position Valentina is used to being in. She sails the boat. She directs the trains. Her word is law.

She begins to learn that buying Isabella an expensive broach and moving Rocco out of the line of flirtatious fire is not going to be enough to satisfy Isabella. Seeing an opening, Mia steps in, looking to replace the infirmed Giuseppe, who she inadvertently gave some bad Viagra to in the previous episode.

Being someone who reads White Lotus guests like a book, Mia immediately picks up on what it is Valentina is looking for: female companionship. Mia hops right back onto the path of one of the things she clearly does best—trading sexual favors for career advancement. But unlike with Giuseppe, Mia appears to be the one in charge now. She promises Valentina that the two of them “can have some fun” if Mia can take over the bar music for just a few nights.

This indecent proposal causes Valentina to crack the first hint of a smile we have seen from her all season. She relents and lets Mia take over the piano for a couple nights, but we have yet to see the reciprocation the Mia promised her. We know Valentina makes it to the end of this season based on the opening scene of the season. Being in debt to Valentina doesn’t strike me as a place any of us should ever want to be.

Tanya and Portia vs. Quentin and His Traveling Circus

At various times since Quentin’s arrival a few episodes ago, I have wondered if he and his “high end gays” keep Tanya and Portia around as their entertainment or their playthings. Look at the neurotic, rich American woman who will do anything we say and has to be propped up by an insecure assistant! After Episode 5, I now think Quentin can’t decide if what’s what Tanya and Portia are to them as well.

On one hand, Quentin and Tanya have a wonderful, eloquent conversation about beauty and how a world without beauty is not one worth living in. They share an opera together (Madame Butterfly, perhaps coincidentally about a woman who falls in love with a man but it leads to devastating consequences). They trade stories of their families’ pasts and how it shaped the people they have become.

Quentin and Tanya attend the opera
Photograph by Courtesy of HBO

But apparently family is much more to Quentin than just tales of yesteryear and a path to a luxurious life. Quentin apparently finds beauty in the occasional incest with his nephew, Jack. We have seen Jack quickly and efficiently seduce and sweep Portia off her feet the last two episodes, but the episode’s cliffhanger shows us Tanya spying on Quentin and Jack doing their best Season 1 Armond impression in the bedroom of their Palermo palazzo.

At some point, you have to start to wonder about the type of men that Tanya seems to attract. Even she admits to Portia earlier in the episode that she should have “started that spa for poor women with the girl from Maui.” So, yes, Tanya. The answer to your next question to Portia is obvious. You are oblivious.

Written by Ryan Kirksey

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