The White Lotus season 2 episode 2 recap: Italian Dream

The White Lotus season 2
The White Lotus season 2 /

On season 2 episode 2 of this multi-awarded HBO series titled The White Lotus, the American guests staying at the five-star resort start to try to live out their dream vacation in earnest as newlyweds Tanya and Greg visualize a perfect Sicilian day, while Harper pokes at the seemingly perfect marriage of her new friends Cameron and Daphne.

Ethan wakes up to take an early run, while his wife Harper still sleeps. Meantime, Dominic DiGrasso finds himself alone in bed after a night of debauchery with lovely local prostitute Lucia.

Lucia and Ethan briefly greet each other on the stairs to the lobby before Ethan sprints out to the empty, lovely pre-dawn streets of Palermo.

The White Lotus season 2
The White Lotus season 2 /

The White Lotus season 2 episode 2 recap: Greg being weird

Back at the hotel, the rest of the couples wake up as the staff prepare for the day. Valentina steps out of her office and surveys her kingdom as she walks to reception.

She puts the stray staff into order, admonishing here, complimenting there. Tanya wakes up to her husband Greg beside her.

He’s already up and staring at something in the middle distance. This is weird behavior so she inquires if he’s alright.

He says he’s fine but walks off and goes to take a shower. Yup, definitely weird behavior.

Greg has reason to be suspicious, though. At the breakfast buffet, he catches Tanya’s assistant Portia trying to surreptitiously creep away with her sandwiches out of their proximity and eyesight.

Poor, girl. But she’s making do with what she can and joins Albie at their table.

When Albie’s grandad and father arrive, they instantly get into a mini squabble about how it wasn’t supposed to be exclusively a boy’s trip. Except Albie’s mother is way too angry at Dominic to be on a once-in-a-lifetime stay to Sicily.

The White Lotus season 2 episode 2 recap: Porn vs Wife

At the tech bros table, Cameron is having a hissy fit with the airline people. They have not only lost his luggage, but as it turns out, they have sent it all the way back to New York City.

Harper asks Cam’s wife Daphne how they fight as a couple, but she responds that she and Cameron never fight. Harper finds this incredulous, so she heads back up to her room with hors d’oeuvres in hand.

Little does she know that Ethan is already back in their room. Strangely enough Ethan boots up his laptop and watches porn as he masturbates.

Harper busts in and finds her husband jerking off to buxom blondes. He blames it on endorphins. and on how Harper doesn’t like morning sex.

She is mostly curious, turned on, and mildly irritated. Sadly, they don’t end up in bed.

Uh oh, trouble in paradise, right there. While Tanya implores Greg to play out her Sicilian fantasy with a Vespa and what is likely an unhealthy amount of aperitivos, the DiGrassos have convinced Portia to stick it to her boss by going with them to the Greek theater.

The White Lotus season 2 episode 2 recap: Access for the locals

Ethan finally caves in to Daphne and tries on some clothes at a nearby shop. Cam clowns around, donning sunglasses and mimicking Euro trash behavior.

Outside, Lucia and Mia are looking in at the same shop and fantasizing about owning the store, with the power to fire every employee. The two friends then meet up with Dominic, catching him just as he and his family are going to the Greek theater.

Going back to the hotel, Dominic asks Valentina to mark the two girls down as his guests. Valentina makes this all hard for him by drawing the situation out.

She revels in playing stupid and making Dominic look bad, while still making it appear she’s just doing her job. It’s a very situational comedy that eventually plays out to Dominic’s liking.

Valentina hands the girls their room keys. Voila!

The girls now gave access to The White Lotus as well as an open credit line where they can charge food and beverages. The girls take full advantage of the amenities immediately, buying dresses at the gift shop, ordering cocktails by the pool, then hanging out at the bar and doing shots.

All expenses are charged to Dominic’s room. The new clothes and their luck give Mia a fair bit of confidence.

She even confronts Giuseppe, the lounge singer she threw water at last episode, explaining that she’s not angry. He should let her sing one song.

He relents and she knocks Sam Cooke’s “The Best Things in Life Are Free” out of the park.

The White Lotus season 2
The White Lotus season 2 /

The White Lotus season 2 episode 2 recap: Where Hades raped Persephone

At the courtyard, Greg is in a suit on a Vespa and Tanya has an ostentatious scarf around her head and smoking a cigarette. She’s finally getting to live out her Monica Vitti dreams.

All this much to Valentina’s chagrin. She’s afraid that the couple will be squashed like a bug out on the savage, Sicilian streets.

Eventually they do make it on the road safely but Tanya’s shenanigans versus the bugs and her iron grip around Greg’s waist almost leads them to crash. At the Greek theater, Bert DiGrasso still can’t let it go that his granddaughter and Albie’s mother aren’t on the trip with them.

He blames it on Dominic but asks constantly what was so bad that would make it reasonable not to come. He cites the myth of Hades raping Persephone in Sicily, opining that if Demeter could forgive Hades of his crime, then Dominic’s indiscretion really shouldn’t be too big of a deal.

The White Lotus season 2 episode 2 recap: Vongole confessions

At the beach, Harper goes for a swim and Cameron follows her, tugging at her leg to freak her out. He apologizes, confessing that he wants her to like them (meaning Daphne and him), but she’s even more disturbed by this behavior.

Even though she assures him that she is pretty fond of him. This uber awkwardness continues up to dinner with the almighty question of no kids versus kids.

Daphne and Cam have progeny. Ethan and Harper don’t.

Add the touchy issue of very sporadic sex for The Spillers and the discussion just devolves from there. Speaking of awkwardness, Tanya and Greg have reached their restaurant for dinner and who do they find there?

Portia and Albie sitting down for a romantic meal, too. Of all the Italian restos on a hillside town in all of Sicily, says Tanya’s face when she spots them.

But Albie and Portia are actually having a great bonding moment, talking about their fears and aspirations. Which is how Portia finds out that Dominic is a serial womanizer.

This is one thing that Albie has decided not to be. He flat out refuses to have a bad relationship with any woman he meets, even if he’s tagged as just a nice guy.

The White Lotus season 2 episode 2 recap: Who’s Greg talking to?

At the other table though, Tanya finds out that Greg only made Tanya’s Sicilian dream a reality to soften the blow. He has to leave tomorrow for a work trip to Denver.

Surprise! Of course, Tanya has a meltdown and a public sobfest before she has her big walkout.

Back at the hotel, the two tech bro couples are each having a private takedown session of the other. Cameron and Daphne are in agreement that the other couple just aren’t attracted to each other anymore and it’s completely their fault.

But Harper and Ethan are also of the opinion that their friends are vapid airheads who live for the surface of things. Harper has decided that from tomorrow onwards she will make the Herculean effort of being nice to Cam and Daphne, to say yes to everything.

A drunk Lucia and Mia knock on Dominic’s door determined to have a threesome, to get ahead of the fact that they’ve charged so many things in his name. Dominic tries to refuse but once they all get in the pool with some champagne it all goes the way of a Roman bacchanal.

Tanya wakes up in the middle of the night as Mount Etna has one of its minor eruptions, suspicious that Greg isn’t at her side. She pads silently through the room and spots him outside, on the terrace and talking to someone on the phone.

She hears him whispering: “Yeah, she’s clueless as usual. I’ll be home tomorrow. Yeah, I love you too.”

The White Lotus season 2
The White Lotus season 2 /

The White Lotus season 2 episode 2 recap: Review

There’s still plenty of setup in episode 2. It’s pretty much a holding hands stage and there’s still a lot of patience required from the viewer with the awkwardness, as the writers reveal the surface dynamics of the characters while hinting at deeper idiosyncrasies.

Two particular revelations I did like was how Albie and Portia, kids basically the same age, both yearned for something visceral from this vacation. Yet they want to get at it from different approaches and wring from the experience different, sometimes very specific, lessons.

Portia wants a Dionysian adventure away from the lameness of digital pleasures. Something in the moment and reckless.

Albie wants a romance that reflects his values and projections onto women, vis a vis mostly in the opposite direction of how his mother and father have played out. “I refuse to have a bad relationship with women,” is how he puts it.

It’s one of the rare moments of passion we see from the young man in the season. It’s also notable how Cameron is constantly poking at Harper for a response in the guise of “I want you to like me, us” but it’s really a calculated play to get at Ethan.

Sounds like a ploy for an ask? You can see everything a mile away with this guy.

He doesn’t do subtlety well. But really the best thing about this episode I think is how Tanya’s still as self-involved as she is.

Especially around Greg. Anyone else with an iota of sensitivity in their relationship would see that new hubby Greg is gnashing against the very idea of being married to Mrs. Hunt.

And why not? Tanya’s still as unaware of anything that doesn’t affect her wants or pleasures as ever.

We’ve seen this ugliness in season 1. Now on season 2, Tanya is still hell bent on living out her fantasies even if it means pissing off other people.

One of the funniest sequences is Tanya roping Greg in to make real being Monica Vitti for a day. Vitti was a popular 1960s Italian actor who starred in a breakout role in the movie “L’Avventura.”

The vespa ride, the scarf, the pasta with giant clams, and even the dapper gentleman in a suit who drives her around are references to Michelangelo Antonioni’s movie. Tanya might have watched it when she was young.

It’s notable that this movie has plenty of parallels with Tanya and Greg’s story so far. It’s about a guy who leaves his lover for her best friend after she complains about his lengthy business trips.

Perhaps it’s a foreshadowing, too?

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What are your thoughts about The White Lotus season 2 episode 2? Share your answers in the comments below!

You can stream The White Lotus on HBO Go.