Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The White Lotus Season 2 Episode 3 Recap: It's A Man's World

Watching Episode 3 of "The White Lotus," it is easy to forget about the foreboding dead bodies floating in the water from Episode 1. Though the season hinges on the mystery format building up to a climactic conclusion, the recent episode of the series has more than enough twists and anxiety to fill up the hour. The main focus is the fractured relationships between married couples, particularly the Spillers and the Babcocks. Harper (Aubrey Plaza), Ethan (Will Sharpe), Cameron (Theo James), and Daphne (Meghann Fahy) are all thrown into situations they would not have necessarily chosen. These dynamics are so immersive that even the actors confess to forgetting about death lurking around the corner.

"When you read the script you get caught up in the minutiae of the relationships, and I need to remind myself that someone dies," Adam DiMarco, who plays Gen Z-er Albie, told Today. "I was surprised." Plaza agreed, saying: "[Y]ou do forget it, just like the show. You kind of forget it, but then it's a lingering thing. That's what makes the show so fun — you know it's not going to end well." And even though no one died in this episode, Not Going Well is the understatement of the week.

Everybody says you gotta go to Noto

As Harper quickly learns in Episode 3, no good deed goes unpunished. After making a determined effort to get the insufferable Babcocks to like her, Harper's forced niceness turns out to be a double-edged sword. She makes nice at the breakfast table, commenting on the weather and complementing Daphne, only to walk right into a trap. Daphne pressures Cam into going to the Baroque town of Noto which is known for its palazzos, but he couldn't be less interested. Jet skis await and nothing will deter Cam from exerting his manly desires of competing with his college friend on the water.

No matter. Daphne can just take Harper. But when Daphne and Harper arrive at the palazzo, Harper is horrified to learn that Daphne had planned on staying the night the entire time to punish her husband. While Cam and Daphne may not fight like other couples, they do things that are arguably worse. Daphne admits to tormenting Cam and weaponizing his abandonment issues against him. She calls him gleefully, telling him that she and Harper are having the best time when it's really just a kind-of-okay time. It is easy to point fingers and call Daphne toxic, but Daphne is completely at peace with her life. This zen perspective just inflames Harper's insecurity. Though she is certain that Ethan would never betray her, she starts to question if their relationship is enlightened — and if she really should have taken those edibles.

Albie doth protest too much

Who knew "The Godfather" would be so divisive? Considered Francis Ford Coppola's best film of all time, "The Godfather" has garnered appreciation from fans as well as the Academy. But according to Albie, it is just another exercise in misogyny. This take seems to be quite hot with the older generation when they go to the same Sicilian village where the film was shot. However, while Albie is up in arms about how men love violent films because their home lives are emasculating, the one woman featured in the scene is overtly silent. Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) neither confirms nor denies Albie's interpretation and seems to want to get as far away from this conversation as possible.

Because this is a Mike White joint, clearly this conversation is not just about film theory. Albie accuses his grandfather and father of their own types of generational sexism. This is of course right on the nose, but Albie also fails to acknowledge his own brand of gender prejudice. He tries so hard to fight against the obvious misogyny of his elders, that he doesn't realize he has overcorrected. He complains that girls never like nice guys, thinking that he is entitled to a relationship with Portia even though she indicates she just wants to have fun. Calling out more obvious forms of sexism comforts him and disguises the fact that he is just another man in this family who needs to be educated.

Assisting does not have its perks

Even the best assistant in the world would be unlikely to help Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) in her current state. That is what Portia discovers after Tanya finally beckons her back into the fold. Now that Greg (Jon Gries) has departed hastily, Tanya needs Portia more than ever. But what was true back in the states seems to be just as true in Sicily. After leaving the Di Grasso's Italian vacation, she learns that Tanya doesn't need an assistant as much as she just can't bear to be alone.

After a local tarot card reader doesn't tell her what she wants to hear about her marriage, Tanya takes to her bed which almost offers Portia some reprieve. But Tanya insists that her assistant stay close, only offering her Vanity Fair to read as she sleeps. Portia has left one nightmare featuring a clingy acquaintance only to find herself in another. The only moment of solace she had was being on the verge of flirting with a tattooed stranger at the pool but Albie even had to ruin that.

Portia is by no means an innocent bystander. In many ways, she is just as selfish as the rest of them. She yearns for some exciting adventure to take her away from the disappointment in her life, but she never takes the steps to make it happen. She wallows in self-pity, always finding that the grass is greener on the other side.

Everything comes full circle

Since Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) officially allowed Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grannò) to continue their hustle, it's been a free for all. Literally. The two girls went on a shopping spree with Dominic's (Michael Imperioli) money, all while having fun at the hotel bar. But nothing ever lasts and it was only a matter of time before their high life came crashing down. Albie confronts his father about his unfaithful ways so Dominic gives fidelity the good old college try. Despite Lucia's initial disappointment at losing her income, it isn't long before she finds another mark with two very familiar characters.

Because Harper and Daphne are absent for the night, Cam takes this as an opportunity to step outside the confines of his marriage. He immediately clocks Lucia and Mia as working girls and invites them to party with him and Ethan. "Everyone cheats," Cam tells Ethan casually, to which his friend firmly disagrees. And therein lies the chaos of uniting these separate storylines. Lucia was the exact person to stir up issues between Ethan and Cam. Tabasco describes her character as ambiguous, but more than anything, she is chaotic.

"The main thing with her is she has a lot of energy, and we see her as being hungry for life, for things — for having them, taking them, almost eating them," Tabasco told Vulture. Though Ethan decides not to cheat, he is still full of conflict and ignores his wife's phone calls.

Gender is the hot topic of the day

Season 2 of "The White Lotus" takes a distinctly separate track from Season 1. The first season's stay at a Hawaiian resort while taking advantage of the locals made for a social commentary with many unanswered questions. Now with Season 2 taking place in Sicily, the topic of conversation isn't colonialism, but gender. The episode opens with Valentina at a coffee shop enduring harassment from another customer. She implies this isn't the first time, which shouldn't come as any shock. That is just living life as a woman. Other examples populate the episode such as Harper's visible anxiety about being surrounded by the male gaze while Daphne floats through, completely unaware of any potential danger. Even poor Mia, who just wants to be a musician, has to consider her options. The piano player Giuseppe (Federico Scribani) offers to introduce her to people in the industry, but it's clear that he's really after something else.

But this isn't a new conversation. At this point in popular culture, it should be widely accepted that women must navigate life far differently than men. Episode 3 of "The White Lotus" also shows how men are impacted by the same system. Daphne tells a heart-wrenching story about being on a safari and watching male elephants jettisoned from the pod. Men cannot be friends with each other, highlighted by the competitiveness between Cam and Ethan. It is a patriarchal world and we're all just living in it.

When does The White Lotus Episode 4 air?

The fourth episode of "The White Lotus" Season 2 premieres on Sunday, November 20 at 9 p.m. EST, airing on HBO and streaming on HBO Max. Now that Ethan and Harper's marriage is careening toward the rocks, the stakes are higher than ever. The Spillers may hold their relationship in high esteem because they are honest with each other and communicate about their issues, but it seems that only takes you so far. Ethan has insisted that he doesn't lie to Harper, but Episode 4 may put that to the test. Sharing the details about inviting sex workers to the hotel would be a recipe for disaster, even if Ethan abstained — for the most part.

Change may also be on the horizon for Tanya. Greg's devastating departure threw Tanya into a depressive state, unable to even take the truth from a fortune teller. Her self-esteem has deteriorated to such a degree that she can't even tell when a guest is trying to be friendly. Then, newcomer on the scene Quentin (Tom Hollander) waves at Tanya in a nice gesture. This could be just the change that she needs to gain her self-worth back, but whether Tanya will truly change and accept herself and new friendships or fall for another emotional Ponzi scheme remains to be seen.