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'Hotel Portofino' Recap: Season 2 Episode 3

Daniel Hautzinger
Cecil and Danioni stand in front of a red car, looking toward something
Cecil and Danioni are in business with some gangsters they can't refuse. Credit: Eagle Eye Drama

Hotel Portofino airs Sundays at 7:00 pm. WTTW Passport members can stream the whole show now. Recap the previous and following episodes.
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The barbarians are at the gates. Photographers wait just over the property line of Hotel Portofino every day, hoping for a shot of Claudine with her engaged co-star and lover. There’s also an extravagant car impatiently honking outside.

It’s Danioni, waiting for Cecil in a car sent by an American business partner. It brings the two men to a luxe building that is being turned into a casino. There, they meet the American gangster Farrino, who represents “business people” in Detroit. With America under Prohibition, those “business people” want to expand the illegal import of whiskey from Cecil and Danioni exponentially. Cecil notes that the distillery he works with is small; Farrino tells him to find someone else who can ramp up production. Cecil worries about the attention such a volume of alcohol would bring at the Canadian border; Farrino offers a dollar more in payment per bottle.

But Cecil is still worried, as he tells Danioni later – even though it was his idea originally to sell booze to the Americans. Danioni just provided the connections. Danioni warns Cecil that their American partners are not the kind of people you can refuse. In response to Cecil’s concerns about what to do with extra dirty money if they ramp up exports, he suggests laundering it through the hotel. Cecil just needs to convince Bella.

Bella has decided to take Cecil up on his offer to fund an expansion of the hotel. He’s glad she will accept, but suggests she work with another architect. She refuses; it can only be Marco. She leaves Cecil with that ultimatum.

She then goes into town and telegrams her old penpal lover Henry, telling him to expect a call from her soon. While leaving, she runs into Danioni. He asks her about the hotel expansion, explaining that Cecil mentioned it. He tells her she will need permits – which of course will come from his office, and probably require a bribe.

Marco is clearly interested in Bella. He comes to the hotel on Sunday to accompany her to church, despite not being religious – it’s an opportunity for him to see her. (She only goes to mass to accompany her guests.) Count Albani cautions Bella about appearing too intimate with Marco. People will talk.

There’s already scandal in the kitchen. Betty believes one of Marco’s construction workers is stealing her cutlery. She finds him in the kitchen and pats him down, but there’s nothing on him. They argue and insult each other in their mutually unintelligible languages, and he marches off.

Betty sinks into a chair and notices a delicious smell. There’s a dish of eggplant in the oven. Bella wanted Betty to learn to make it; the worker heard from Paola that Betty was stumped by the foreign vegetable and decided to cook it himself. He even cleaned up after himself. Betty is shocked.

Billy is shocked when he spots a newspaper with an illustration of Gianluca on the front. He brings it to Constance, who with her rudimentary Italian makes out news of an assassination attempt and a hunt for Gianluca. She brings the newspaper to Lucian, who apologizes for kissing her the previous night – but she’s more worried that Anish might be wrapped up in something.

Constance and Lucian ask Billy to quietly ask some friends in town about Anish and Gianluca. He learns that Anish was injured in the assassination attempt and is hiding nearby. He was snuck into the area on a cart. Billy will lead Lucian and Constance to him.

He takes them on a roundabout journey to an empty house in the woods. Anish appears from upstairs, delighted to see Lucian. But he’s in bad shape: he thinks he has a concussion and some ribs are broken, and he also has a possibly infected wound on his leg. The land belongs to Gianluca’s father, but Billy doesn’t think it’s safe for him to stay there.

Lucian asks what Anish was thinking, and he explains that he loves Gianluca and followed him in the assassination attempt. Once Lucian finally grasps what Anish is saying, he asks why Anish never told him he was gay. It would have been the end of our relationship, Anish responds, before telling Lucian to leave him for his own safety. But Lucian refuses to abandon his friend – just like his friend refused to abandon him during the war.

Bella spies Lucian, Constance, and Billy returning to the hotel. She comes up on Billy as he’s restoring the knife he borrowed from Betty and asks him to move the difficult Dodsworth sisters to another room – they’ve been complaining about the noise from people like Cecil staying on the terrace late at night.

Lucian goes to the bar for a relaxing drink and shares one with the young writer staying at the hotel, who is much more friendly this time. They make a plan to go on a boat trip together some time.

The next morning, Danioni arrives with some thugs to search the hotel for Gianluca and Anish. Albani tries to turn him away, but Bella lets them in. She has nothing to hide. A photographer waiting at the gate snaps a photo. The men find nothing, but Constance overhears Danioni ordering a manhunt and for Billy to be put under surveillance.

Bella guesses what Lucian, Constance, and Billy were doing. Lucian wants to visit Anish again that evening, but given the manhunt, Constance offers to go. Bella refuses, and decides that she will go with Lucian.

A police officer sees them leave and follows. Constance gets nervous waiting at the hotel and decides to follow as well, donning the same kind of enveloping cloak that Bella is wearing. She sees the officer tell Danioni he knows where the fugitives are hiding, and rushes to the house to warn her friends. There’s not enough time to move Anish, so Bella comes up with another plan.

She and Anish hide while Constance and Lucian get into bed together and pretend to be in the middle of a tryst. Danioni is amused and apologizes to Lucian for interrupting, applauding him for enjoying a servant. He dismisses his men and leaves.

Constance and Bella return to the hotel before Lucian, who is trying to convince Anish he needs to move. There are too many prying eyes, as well as the photographers, at the hotel to hide him there. Bella apologizes to Constance for her scheme to distract Danioni; it was all she could think of.

Bella finds Cecil blasting music and pouring champagne in the bar. Alice is back early, with a Frenchman named Victor. They’re engaged.

Lucian returns to the hotel and knocks at Constance’s door. She pulls him in and closes the door, then approaches and kisses him. As they start to disrobe, he hesitates, not wanting to reveal his war scars. She wants to see them. She tells him he shouldn’t be ashamed; he should be proud. They go to bed together.