‘The White Lotus’ – episode 5: ‘That’s Amore’
(From left to right) Meghann Fahy, Theo James, Aubrey Plaza and Will Sharpe walk through a rustic vineyard. The fifth episode of Mike White’s “The White Lotus” premiered Nov. 28. (Courtesy of HBO)
Created by Mike White
By Alexis Jones
Nov. 28, 2022 9:29 p.m.
Sex and money tend to complicate matters of the heart.
The fifth episode of “The White Lotus” examines how the characters navigate their respective entanglements following the events of the last episode. While some are able to make the best of their situation, most of the guests’ problems grow more complex as unsettling secrets come to light. In “That’s Amore,” the show further highlights how people with money can get away with whatever they desire.
A confession marks the episode’s opening as Ethan Spiller (Will Sharpe) tells his wife Harper (Aubrey Plaza) about Cameron Sullivan (Theo James) cheating on his wife Daphne (Meghann Fahy) while they were apart. However, he only does so after discovering the condom that Harper found. Ethan insists that he did not do anything, and while Harper believes him at face value, she is intent on unearthing the truth.
[Related: ‘The White Lotus’ season 2 recap – episode 4: ‘In the Sandbox’]
Albie (Adam DiMarco) and Lucia (Simona Tabasco) spend the night together, but Albie is initially disheartened to learn that Lucia is a sex worker when she asks him to pay her. After promising to pay Lucia, Albie tells his father Dominic (Michael Imperioli) and grandfather Bert (F. Murray Abraham) at breakfast that he has to go to the bank. But his father knows all too well why his son needs such a large sum of cash.
As Mia (Beatrice Grannò) pleads with the hotel manager Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) to sing while the lounge pianist Giuseppe (Federico Scribani) recovers from a bad drug reaction, Lucia is approached by Dominic about the charges to his room. But his ulterior motive was to tell her to stay away from Albie and to not say anything about their involvement to his son.
In the afternoon, the Sullivans and Spillers go wine tasting, during which Harper interrogates Cameron about his and Ethan’s sexual activity in college to trick him into confessing about their forbidden night. Ethan reveals that Cameron would sleep with anyone Ethan was interested in before he could. Calling it mimetic desire, Ethan explains the phenomenon as the great likelihood that someone will want something that a higher status individual wants. In this case, Ethan conjectured that Cameron wanted to be smarter by sleeping with Ethan’s potential partners.
Later at lunch, Albie tells his father and grandfather that he will hang out with Lucia for the rest of the day, but Dominic expresses his disapproval about spending time with her because she is an sex worker. This sparks a debate between the men as Albie argues that sex workers are victims of the system and that it is hypocritical for Dominic to judge when he cheats on his wife with any willing woman. Bert rebuttals that not all women are saints, saying, “They’re just like us.”
Meanwhile, Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) and her assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) sail to Palermo with their friends Quentin (Tom Hollander) and his nephew Jack (Leo Woodall) on their yacht. After seeing their luxurious villa, Tanya reveals the telling nature of her past relationships and wealth. She proclaims how relieved she feels when she realizes that someone has money because then she does not have to have to worry if they are after hers.
At dinner, Lucia confronts Cameron about him still owing her money from their night together. He says he will pay her after he goes to the bank, though he seems more concerned about his wife catching them. Later on in the night, Cameron starts asking Harper about her sexual history, and while Ethan is uncomfortable with the conversation, Cameron is more than intrigued as he runs his hand on her leg.
[Related: ‘The White Lotus’ season 2 recap – episode 3: ‘Bull Elephants’]
Across the restaurant, Dominic and Bert notice Albie eating dinner with Lucia, which prompts their discussion of how Dominic normalized sleeping with sex workers for Albie the same way Bert did with him. Despite Bert’s belief that his wife did not know about his affairs, Dominic insisted that his mother knew all along, as she was miserable but put up with it, adding that Dominic is the way he is because Bert modeled putting himself first.
After dinner, Harper tells Daphne she thinks their husbands were not faithful while they were away. However, Daphne takes it in stride when she hints she has a trainer she sees romantically and suggests Harper does whatever she has to do to feel better about the situation, which Harper seems to consider.
The episode ends on some shocking cliffhangers with Lucia running into someone who is presumably her pimp, who forcibly grabs her arm before she pulls away and shuts down Albie’s questions when strolling through town. On the other hand, Tanya is in for a rude awakening when she roams the villa in the middle of the night to find Quentin and Jack having sex.
Much like the guests, viewers are beginning to learn that nothing is as it seems.