The White Lotus Season 2 Episode 2 Review: Italian Dream

The White Lotus season 2 episode 2 wonders who is using who.

Jon Gries and Jennifer Coolidge in The White Lotus season 2
Photo: Fabio Lovino | HBO

This The White Lotus review contains spoilers.

The White Lotus Season 2 Episode 2

Do you remember when you’d go on vacation as a kid and your parents would get in a fight about something seemingly innocuous? You’d be sitting in the backseat of the car waiting to get to the beach, or maybe you’d be relaxing at a bed and breakfast, and some tiff breaks out between Mom and Dad concerning the entire state of their relationship. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. Eye rolls and screaming matches pursue, and the vacation moves forward with a black cloud hanging over the family. 

These scenarios pretty much encapsulate most of the action in the second episode of The White Lotus’s second season, “Italian Dream,” only these folks have several million dollars in their back pockets, and they’re staying at one of the best resorts in Europe. You’d think there would be nothing but merriment and laughs between affluent people, but I guess money doesn’t always buy happiness, or even middle-of-the-road contentment. As the romantic couples start to really get into the meat and potatoes of their stays in Sicily, unsteady waters start to rock their marital foundations in heavy waves. 

Tanya and Greg (Jennifer Coolidge and Jon Gries) continue their downward spiral, demonstrating a rapport that is a far cry from what we remember in the first season when they first discover each other at the White Lotus’s Hawaiian location. Without learning about what happened between the two seasons that caused the tension, we can only assume that Tanya’s grating personality is a huge part of the issue. The eruption of emotions from Tanya that we’ve come to expect becomes imminent when Greg says he’ll be leaving for a few days on work business, but this excuse seems a little fishy. Greg has clearly been talking to someone on the phone in an intimate manner for both of these episodes, and it looks like the writers are leading us down a path of an infidelity storyline. It wouldn’t be the only one in this season. 

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The boys’ trip taken to Italy by the Di Grasso men was evidently supposed to be an entire family celebration of their lineage, but Dom’s serial cheating threw a nasty wrench in the plans. The female side of the brood decide to stay stateside because they can’t bear to look at the middle-aged patriarch’s sex addicted face and ways. The whole ordeal really bothers Dom’s father, Bert (F. Murray Abraham), who is severely missing his recently deceased wife. Dom can’t help himself, though, and decides to get involved with some local ladies who are more than happy to mooch off of his wallet and naivete. Lucia and Mia (Simona Tabasco and Beatrice Grannò) are a lot more than just cheap sex objects, though. The audience gets to see the ways these women are using Dom because of his wealth, buying extravagant clothing and high-end wine at the bar. 

Both Tanya and Dom’s storylines mirror each other in this way. Is it really that these two are incapable of being in a steady relationship, or is it simply that they always have to be given their way? Sex for Dom and gifts for Tanya serve as symbols of gluttony, and both of them are easily manipulated by their forbidden impulses. It’s looking like both characters’ plots will end in something unsavory, but do they even care if they lose their marriages? Rich people just move on to the next object of their desires, and whatever they have their gaze on turns out to be a different side of the same coin. 

Being in a paradise is a hotbed for turmoil because every variable is controlled. The spoiled brats on the screen all have identical bank accounts, therefore their thoughts, emotions, problems, and solutions are distilled into their truest forms. This is exemplified to perfection in the dichotomy between Ethan and Harper (Will Sharpe and Aubrey Plaza) and Cameron and Daphne (Theo James and Meghann Fahy). 

The first couple is supposed to be more down-to-earth and simplistic because they just recently came into a pile of dough. The second couple has been swimming in cash for a long while now, so boredom and marital spats should be more frequent. Instead, with the playing field evened, Ethan and Harper are finding out their compatibility might not be on par with their friends’. They can’t even find a time where they’re both horny simultaneously, resulting in Ethan having to wank after a morning run to a shameless clip on Pornhub.

Cameron and Daphne are out of touch with reality, but ignorance is so often synonymous with bliss. We’ll see whether they’re putting up a front, or whether they really are nothing but peachy and vibrant 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Ironically, they seem to be the only two people who understand what vacation is all about here at the White Lotus’s Italian branch.

New episodes of The White Lotus season 2 premiere Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.

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4 out of 5