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'Hotel Portofino' Recap: Episode 3

Daniel Hautzinger
Anish Sengupta in Hotel Portofino. Photo: Eagle Eye Drama Limited
Anish is a target for local fascists due to his race and thus wants to better understand the resistance to them. Photo: Eagle Eye Drama Limited

Hotel Portofino airs Sundays at 7:00 pm. WTTW Passport members can stream the whole show now. Recap the previous and following episodes.

A storm of violence, then a literal one: as Bella gathers Constance and Anish to help treat Billy’s friend, beaten by fascists, a thunderstorm crashes. The noise causes Lucian to have nightmares of the war in his sleep, and Anish hears him cry out from Paola’s room, where he is sleeping with the Italian maid. Anish stabilizes Billy’s friend before two men led by Billy come to take him away on a cart in the morning.

Billy apologizes to Bella, who asks him to stay out of politics—the hotel can’t be seen to take a side. Betty apologizes for her son: she worries about him. Constance promises to keep everything secret.

She joins Lucian in a lighthearted play at tennis with Lottie, even though she has never heard of the sport before. The tennis star Pelham Wingfield lent Lucian his rackets for securing a bike for him—Lucian tipped Billy to find one for Wingfield.

Alice watches her brother tenderly interact with her daughter and Constance from the window of her room. She has been invited to a supper at the Lady Caroline’s rented villa, to the delight of herself and Lady Latchmere’s niece Melissa, along with several other hotel guests.

Bella suspects Count Albani has engineered the invite and thanks him, but he demurs. He offers to let Lady Latchmere ride with him to the villa, and Bella assures the Englishwoman after he leaves that he is entirely respectable—even if he is Italian.

He insists on helping organize the upcoming tea party for locals, too—probably to be close to Alice, Bella and Betty suspect. Constance is surprised, and asks about Alice’s husband. He died in the war, like so many others, Betty says.

Lady Latchmere also lost someone in the war, as she reveals to Bella in a moment of sadness: her eldest son. Bella quotes Emily Dickinson to the lady and gives her a book of Dickinson’s poetry as comfort. Lady Latchmere thanks her for listening.

Constance may also have some loss in her life: while in a reading lesson with Lucian, she tells Anish that she no longer has a big family; only her mother and “little Tommy” are left. Anish hasn’t seen his family in ten years, having been sent away by his father to gain an English education. Alice chides Constance for her absence from her duties when she’s done with the lesson and conversation.

Anish and Lucian have had a little argument. They were taunted and then chased by fascists in town, due to Anish’s dark skin. A stylish Italian misdirected the fascists, and gave Lucian and Anish a pamphlet: he’s an anti-fascist. He knows of Anish from Billy’s beaten friend, who may lose an eye due to the thrashing. Lucian mocks the pamphlet, but Anish is curious—he wants to understand the political situation in Italy.

Lucian is reading Homer with Constance in his lessons, and when she is called to bathe Claudine, she tells the American that she is as pretty as Helen of Troy. Claudine puts lipstick on Constance and returns the compliment, giving her a dress to wear. Most of the young men admiringly notice Constance in her new look while she serves dinner, but Lucian is buried in conversation with Rose. Julia notes Constance’s disappointment.

Constance is back in her uniform for the tea party, during which Bella notices Danioni peering into the hotel and speaks to him. She has already given him a “gift” for his wife—presumably her ring—but he implies that she still has much more to share.

Cecil leaves the party to receive the delivery of his grandfather’s possible Rubens. Danioni asks about the delivery but Cecil demurs. He does tell Jack Turner about it, and Wingfield overhears. The tennis player sneaks into the study to look at the painting and hides when he hears Cecil and Jack approaching. Jack suspects the painting is by the workshop of Rubens, not the master himself—but he and Cecil shake on a deal to authenticate it and share profits no matter what. Cecil owes a large debt to an Italian casino that needs paying soon, so he needs the money.

Wingfield has also taken note of where Bella keeps the hotel keys, so Cecil’s promise to lock up the painting might not be effective.

Always keen for a deal, Jack joins the guests who were invited to Lady Caroline’s villa—Cecil says her family owns a lot of art, back in London. Claudine is upset to continually be left by Jack, and he gets angry at her for complaining. Be careful, he warns ominously.

She’s certainly occupying her time. She has flirted with Albani’s son Roberto and led him to a stretch of unpeopled beach for a roll in the sand. And she breaks out her costumes and boas—she’s a dancer—for a dance party with plenty of champagne with Lucian, Wingfield’s wife, and Roberto when the other guests go to Lady Caroline’s.

Rose has stayed back at the hotel with a migraine, but she joins the others when she hears the music, and has a grand time. Claudine even pulls Anish away from his books into the revelry. Paola and Constance watch sadly as Lucian dances with Rose.

When the other guests return, Julia is horrified by Rose’s dancing—but Rose defies her and keeps going. Lying in bed later with her mother chastising her, she can’t stop smiling.

Anish and Lucian are too wired to go to bed when the party is broken up, so they take the bike to the anti-fascist meeting in town. The police and Danioni quickly intrude, beating those attendees they can catch as everyone flees. Danioni notices the bike, and a towel from the hotel draped on it.