We’ve reached that point in a White Lotus season where shit is hitting the fan, and it’s fair to assume that most of our guests have probably perused Expedia once or twice already for early flights home. Questions are finally being answered and our characters’ secrets are being revealed, not just to us but to each other. And at this resort, information is yet another form of power, so with every chaotic secret exposed, we’re watching the power dynamics shift more and more.
Our morning begins with Ethan finally seeing the condom wrapper that Harper laid out last night for him to find. “Harper, what is this?” he asks, as she lies wide awake in bed. “You tell me.” Finally, after an entire episode not communicating about the wrapper or how it got there, Ethan has the chance to explain that it was Cameron’s, telling her all about the molly and hookers. Of course, that doesn’t absolve him the way he thinks it should, and Harper is upset that he spent all of yesterday lying to her 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 of her travel companions’ secrets, and thus holds all the cards on this trip. But what will she do with this new advantage? When Cameron suggests a wine tasting, Harper’s quick to jump on board, saying, “Let’s get drunk. Maybe we can find some molly and really rage,” teasing her newly acquired intel and making Cameron squirm. We can see him wonder, 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 puttering around the resort, and wants the money he still owes her. This whole season we’ve been hearing about how rich and successful Cameron is, so why is this even an issue? Either he isn’t as rich as we’ve been led to believe, or the reason he’s that rich is because he rips people off. After all, Daphne told us that he works with a slew of Bernie Madoff types. But of all the people to screw over, it doesn’t seem wise to upset someone you want keeping your secrets. Then again, 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 asks for her money. I can’t make sense of Lucia’s motives here. Yesterday she seemed to be resenting her work, instead gravitating toward Albie in a move that I also didn’t interpret to be business. But now, in the cold light of morning, it turns out it actually was business. Did Lucia change her mind at some point, or was this always her plan? Maybe rich, innocent Albie was just irresistibly easy prey.
From Albie’s perspective, this is a real Catch-22. He’s surely demoralized that his rebound from Portia was paid for, but even worse, he now finds himself standing squarely in the footsteps of his father; a place he never wanted to be. So what’s his next move? The wheels turn as he tries to figure out what the “nice guy” thing to do is. What’s worse, paying for sex or skipping out on the bill? We’ve seen Albie be a pushover all week, and that’s certainly not going to change now, so he of course promises to get her the money.
When he mentions to his family that he needs to go to the bank, Dominic catches on to what’s happening. He approaches Lucia, bringing up her room charges and asking that in return she stay away from his son. “Whatever you do, please do not say anything to him about you and me,” he pleads. This secret gives Lucia an enormous amount of 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’s got these men by the balls (both literally and figuratively).
Later, Dominic encourages his son to stay away from her, but he can’t elaborate why without giving himself up. Less tactful is Bert, who comes right out and says they’re escorts. This of course leads to an entire conversation about sex work, in which nobody sounds as nuanced as they think they do. When Albie gets up, Dominic wants to know what’s the matter with his father, who almost exposed his Lucia secret. Having hit his head earlier in the episode, Bert delivers the best line of the episode with, “I can’t be responsible for everything I say, I’m concussed!”
After some much-deserved heavy pours at the wine tasting, Harper revels in some good old fashioned shit-stirring, asking if Cameron and Ethan have ever slept with the same girl. “Be honest!” she taunts. When Cam brushes it off by saying they had different dating pools, Ethan says that anytime he liked a girl Cameron would swoop in and have sex with her. “You have a bad case of something called mimetic desire. When someone with higher status wants something, it means it’s more likely that you want it too.” This is a new side to Ethan, but what made him finally push back? Is it the fact that he has dirt on Cam from the other 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, asking if they’ve ever seen each other have sex. Having shared a room in college, Cameron says probably. “So I guess old habits die hard, huh?” she says. “What the fuck? You told her?” Cameron asks, pulling Ethan aside. Now he knows that his week-long adversary has dirt on him, so what’s he going to do about it?
While secrets are being kept and revealed back at the resort, there’s one secret still brewing in Palermo, where Quentin has invited Tanya and Portia to spend two days by way of yacht. “You’re gonna have to bring some cute things. Do you have any cute things?” Tanya instructs Portia, as if she’s been reading the tweets about her bad outfits. But before they set sail, Tanya muses about her failed marriage, wondering how she could have missed all the signs. But as she heads out blindly with this fresh batch of men, it’s worth wondering if she’s missing all the signs yet again, because something seems off about her new friends. Tanya’s relieved that they’re rich, meaning she at least doesn’t have to worry about them using her for money — but then why have they collected her?
Quentin, who keeps comparing Tanya to a tragic figure, insists on taking her to the opera to see Madama Butterfly, which practically acts as an analogy of Tanya’s own life. Meanwhile, Jack shows Portia the town, dining on rice balls but ultimately dashing because he forgot his wallet. It seems like the grift is starting to show through the cracks, but Portia is having a great time. Before they retire to Portia’s room though, Jack has to run off to do something for his uncle.
Speaking of family, Dominic and Bert watch on while Albie has dinner with Lucia, who now claims she doesn’t want money for their second night. “You can’t be surprised,” Bert says, 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 the generational impacts of their respective infidelities.
Across the restaurant, Cameron decides to turn the tables on Harper, asking her about her sexual dalliances for a change. While this happens, Cameron puts his hand on her knee under the table, which flusters her as she swats it away. Remember what Ethan was saying about mimetic desire? But in addition to simply wanting what Ethan has, this seems like a calculated effort to disarm Harper. If Cameron successfully seduces Harper, he takes away all the power that she currently holds over him, because then he’d have dirt on her as well.
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 the rookie, and she assures Harper that it probably wasn’t a big deal. “And if anything ever did happen, just do what you have to do to make yourself feel better about it.” There’s an eerie pause before Daphne starts telling Harper about her blonde, blue-eyed, cute trainer — singing his praises and suggesting Harper get one of her own. But when she shows her a photo, it’s of her blonde, blue-eyed, cute child. “Whoopsie” she says, as if it were a mistake.
This feels like some kind of psychological thriller and I have no idea what is 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 cope with infidelity? Is her camera roll just really disorganized? For every question answered and every secret revealed, new ones seem to bubble up at twice the rate.
All this chaos needs a good soundtrack, and ever since she accidentally drugged the resort’s piano player, Mia has been pestering a very resistant Valentina to let her substitute on the keys. In yet another example of knowledge being power, Mia has picked up on the fact that Valentina is gay and is able to use that to flirtatiously convince her to give her the gig. Ah, so this is why we’ve been seeing Valentina flirt with Isabella so much.
As Mia hauntingly (and ironically) sings “That’s Amore,” we float through our guests’ unraveling lives: Harper and Cameron seductively smoking at one another, Dominic calling and getting his wife’s voicemail (more Dern!), and Albie having sex with Lucia. But when the music stops, we return to Palermo, where Tanya awakes in the night and wanders through the ghostly manor following the sounds of sex. She opens a set of doors, and sees Quentin getting fucked by his “nephew” Jack. Another gasp-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.