Photo: Fabio Lovino/HBO
We reached that point in a white Lotus season when shit hits the fan, and it’s fair to assume that most of our guests have probably checked out Expedia once or twice for early flights home. Questions are finally answered and our characters’ secrets are revealed, not only from us but also from each other. And at this resort, information is yet another form of power, so as every chaotic secret is exposed, we see the power dynamic shifting more and more.
Our morning begins with Ethan finally seeing the condom wrapper that Harper left for him to look for last night. “Harper, what is this?” he asks as she lies wide awake in bed. “You tell me.” Finally, after an entire episode of no communication about the packaging or how it got there, Ethan gets a chance to explain that it belonged to Cameron and tell her all about the molly and the whores. Of course, that doesn’t absolve him the way he thinks it should, and Harper is angry that he lied to her all day yesterday when she repeatedly asked him what happened that night. The result of this revelation is a serious crack in their relationship, but also Harper walking away with a wealth of new information.
Harper now knows all the secrets of her traveling companions and thus holds all the cards for this journey. But what will she do with this new perk? When Cameron suggests a wine tasting, Harper quickly jumps in and says, “Let’s get drunk.” Maybe we can find some molly and real rage,” she teased her newly acquired information and made Cameron squirm. We see him wondering, If she knows about the molly, what else does she know?
But Harper isn’t the only one who knows about Cameron’s secrets; Lucia is still rummaging around the resort, wanting the money he still owes her. All this season we’ve been hearing about how rich and successful Cameron is, so why is this even a big deal? Either he’s not as rich as we’d like to believe, or the reason he’s so rich is because he’s scamming people. After all, Daphne told us he works with a whole bunch of Bernie Madoff types. But of all the people you want to screw up, it doesn’t seem wise to upset someone who wants to keep your secrets. On the other hand, I don’t think anyone would ever describe Cameron as “wise.”
Speaking of money, it turns out that Lucia was actually on the clock when she spent last night with Albie, much to his surprise the next morning when she asked for her money. I don’t understand Lucia’s motives here. Yesterday she seemed to resent her job, instead being attracted to Albie in a move I also didn’t interpret as businesslike. But now, in the cold morning light, it really turns out to be so used to be company. Did Lucia change her mind at some point, or was this her plan all along? Perhaps the rich, innocent Albie was just irresistibly easy prey.
From Albie’s perspective, this is a true Catch-22. He’s certainly demoralized that his return from Portia has been paid for, but even worse, he now finds himself squarely in his father’s footsteps; a place he never wanted to be. So what’s his next move? The wheels spin as he tries to figure out what the “nice guy” is to do. Which is worse, paying for sex or skipping the bill? We’ve seen Albie be a con artist all week, and that’s definitely not going to change now, so of course he promises to give her the money.
When he tells his family to go to the bank, Dominic understands what’s going on. He approaches Lucia, brings up her room costs and asks that she stay away from his son in return. “Whatever you do, please don’t tell him about you and me,” he pleads. This secret gives Lucia immense power, more than she already had with access to Dominic’s tab. If she was ever in the mood for blackmail, Lucia could clean up, because she has these men by the balls (both literally and figuratively).
Later, Dominic encourages his son to stay away from her, but is unable to explain why without giving himself up. Less tactful is Bert, who immediately steps forward and says that they are escorts. This naturally leads to a whole conversation about sex work, in which no one sounds as nuanced as they think. When Albie stands up, Dominic wants to know what’s going on with his father, who almost revealed his Lucia secret. After hitting his head earlier in the episode, Bert delivers the episode’s best line with “I can’t be responsible for anything I say, I’ve got a concussion!”
After some well-deserved heavy pours at the wine tasting, Harper enjoys some good old-fashioned mess and asks if Cameron and Ethan ever slept with the same girl. “Be honest!” she taunts. When Cam brushes it off by saying they have different dating pools, Ethan says that whenever he liked a girl, Cameron would swoop in and have sex with her. “You have a bad case of something called mimetic desire. If someone with a higher status wants something, you are more likely to want it too.” This is a new side for Ethan, but why did he push back in the end? Is it the fact that he has dirt on Cam from last night, or is he angry that keeping that dirt a secret has now driven a wedge between him and Harper?
Harper doubles down on this game and asks if they’ve ever seen each other having sex. Cameron probably shared a room in college. “So I guess old habits die hard, huh?” she says. “What the fuck? You told her?” Cameron asks, pulling Ethan aside. Now he knows his opponent has dirt on him for a week, so what’s he going to do about it?
While secrets are kept and revealed at the resort, one more secret is brewing in Palermo, where Quentin has invited Tanya and Portia to spend two days on a yacht. “You’ll need to bring some nice things. Do you have any nice things?” Tanya instructs Portia, pretending to read the tweets about her bad outfits. But before they leave, Tanya muses on her failed marriage, wondering how she could have missed all the signs. But as she blindly heads out with this new crop of men, it’s worth wondering if she’s missing all the signs again, as something seems off with her newfound friends. Tanya is relieved that they are rich, which means at least she doesn’t have to worry about them using her for money – but then why to have did they pick her up?
Quentin, who keeps comparing Tanya to a tragic figure, insists on taking her to the opera Miss Butterfly, which practically acts as an analogy of Tanya’s own life. Meanwhile, Jack shows Portia around town, dining on rice balls but ends up dashing because he forgot his wallet. It looks like the quirk is starting to come through the cracks, but Portia is having a good time. But before they retreat to Portia’s room, Jack has to run off to do something for his uncle.
Speaking of family, Dominic and Bert watch as Albie has dinner with Lucia, who now claims she doesn’t want money for their second night. “You can’t be surprised,” says Bert, accusing Dominic of normalizing it for him. “You know the reason I am the way I am is because of you,” Dominic tells his father, and once again they litigate over the generational impact of their respective infidelities.
Across the diner, Cameron decides to turn the tables on Harper and ask her about her sexual exploits for a change. As this is happening, Cameron puts his hand on her knee under the table, which confuses her as she knocks him away. Remember what Ethan said about mimetic desire? But other than just wanting what Ethan has, this seems like a calculated attempt to disarm Harper. If Cameron successfully seduces Harper, he will take away any power she currently has over him because then he would have dirt on her too.
When the boys go to get cigars, Harper tells Daphne that she thinks something happened last night. But when it comes to infidelity, Daphne is the seasoned veteran and Harper is the rookie, and she assures Harper that it probably wasn’t a big deal. “And if anything ever happened, just do what you have to do to make yourself feel better about it.” There is an eerie pause before Daphne starts telling Harper about her blonde, blue-eyed, adorable trainer – singing his praises and suggesting that Harper get one of her own. But when she shows her a picture, it’s of her blonde, cute, blue-eyed child. “Whoopsie” she says, as if it were a mistake.
This feels like some sort of psychological thriller and I have no idea what’s going on. What is Daphne trying to say with this move? That her son is really her trainer’s baby? That Harper should have a baby to deal with infidelity? Is her movie role just really disorganized? For every question answered and secret revealed, new ones seem to bubble up twice as fast.
All this chaos needs a good soundtrack, and since accidentally drugging the resort’s pianist, Mia has been pestering a very unruly Valentina to get her replaced on the keys. In yet another example of knowledge as power, Mia has picked up on the fact that Valentina is gay and can use that to flirtatiously convince her to give her the gig. Ah, so that’s why we see Valentina flirting with Isabella so much.
As Mia sings hauntingly (and ironically) “That’s Amore,” we float through the unraveling lives of our guests: Harper and Cameron smoke seductively at each other, Dominic calls and gets his wife’s voicemail (more Dern!), and Albie has sex with Lucia. But when the music stops, we return to Palermo, where Tanya wakes up in the night and wanders the haunted mansion to the sounds of sex. She opens some doors and sees Quentin being fucked by his “cousin” Jack. Another sob-worthy secret revealed – a top secret secret, if you will. And this is only her first night in Palermo! I can’t wait for breakfast.