The White Lotus season 2, episode 3 recap

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“Bull Elephants” delivers a welcome dose of chaotic energy as things get darker and several dynamics reach real turning points.

This recap of The White Lotus Season 2 Episode 3, “Bull Elephants” contains spoilers.

There’s a real mood shift in “Bull Elephants,” this is the episode where all previously established dynamics quickly collapse. This remains a show primarily about sex, attraction, desire, monogamy, infidelity and so on, and that’s the darker side of these themes, I think. What she reveals is simply distance; People are being removed from their comfort zones and into new spaces that encourage, support, or at least excuse their worst impulses.

The White Lotus Season 2 Episode 3 Summary

Think Daphne, Harper, Ethan and Cameron. They all spent the first two episodes in their pairings, pretending to be people they are not so as not to accidentally offend anyone they are dating. But the awkwardness comes from the fact that Ethan and Cameron are old college pals and Harper and Daphne are strangers. In “Bull Elephants,” Harper tries to convince Ethan that she can be cool and personable, and Daphne tries to convince Cameron that she’s in control of her own life and can do whatever she wants, so they end up spending it Night together in a palazzo in Notowhile the boys are left to their own devices.

Daphne and Harper take edibles and drink wine, and Daphne reveals what the scenes at the hotel confirm – Cameron is a con artist, probably a serial con artist, and her coping mechanism is to stay aloof and free-spirited, so she doesn’t get angry. It doesn’t seem like a long-term strategy, but you never know. Harper is obviously confused by what she hears. She’s more like Ethan than she realizes, who is breaking down under the pressure of cheating himself in the midst of a drug-fueled night out with Isabella and Lucia. At least it’s not just his wife he’s determined not to have sex with.

Meanwhile, and as predicted, Portia’s relationship with Albie is thoroughly compromised as Tanya has been abandoned. The poor, put-on assistant gets caught up in an impromptu tarot card reading by a local mystic, which Tanya stops midway for being too negative, and by the time Tanya has finally given Portia some space, she’s too cooked to respond to Albie’s attempts to become more aggressive. “

Portia and Albie’s relationship is one of the funniest of this season and probably my favorite overall. Albie is torn between Portia’s not-so-subtle desire for him to take on a little more responsibility – she expressed over the phone the first episode that she wanted to be tossed around by an Italian dude and that Albie doesn’t seem capable of throwing a party, let alone anything else — and his perceived responsibility for being a hip feminist ally. So his “aggression” consists of Portia coming on a sightseeing tour with Dominic and Bert and then proudly explaining how The Godfather is a symbol of patriarchy that conditions men to covet superficial fantasies of power.

But when Albie finally realizes that Portia means a different kind of “aggression,” his attempts at it fail because he caught her at exactly the wrong time. The constantly swapped wires here are fun, but you can imagine people trying to figure out who they are and what they should be and what’s acceptable and what’s not, would fiddle with a relationship in exactly this way.

Conversely, and probably deliberately, Dominic’s attempts to avoid being a sex situation are portrayed as utterly dated, simplistic and slightly pathetic, a man past his prime trying to buy back his lost youth. It’s a story about addiction; about greed and excess overriding regret and responsibility. We’ve seen many of these before, and I’m probably giving the subplot too much credit here by claiming it’s meant to be redundant to make a point. But that doesn’t bother me as much as Tanya does.

There’s just no reason for Tanya to be there this season. She was primarily a one-note figure, but she served at least one important function in the initial impaling of—even well-intentioned—white privilege. She feels completely overwhelmed here, and the frills are getting old.

Still, there’s a lot to like here and a lot more besides, which seems like it’s worth it across the board. It might not be as good as the first season, but at least Bull Elephants is there The White Lotus Season 2 a welcome boost of energy.

Additional reading: The White Lotus season 2, episode 3 recap

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