My Brilliant Friend: Season 1/ Episode 7 “Fidanzati (The Fiances)” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Lila taunting Marcello.
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Lila makes drastic moves in order to free herself from Marcello and Elena takes notes on her friend’s social intelligence.


Network
HBO
Director(s) Salveri Costanzo
Writer(s) Elena Ferrante, Francesco Piccolo, Laura Paolucci, Salveri Costanzo
Air Date 12/9/2018
Introduced This Episode
Antonio Christian Giroso
Silvio Antonio Milo

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A Pawn Becomes Queen: Lila, Elena, Stefano, Marcello, Rino, Fernando

While Rino is as supportive as ever, Fernando remains loyal to Marcello. One could say it is out of fear, another tradition, maybe because he knows what happens in that neighborhood and wants to avoid it. After all, it isn’t like the fall of Pasquale’s father wasn’t too long ago. But, with a daughter like Lila, you may try to use her as a pawn to move your life ahead, but she is, in fact, a queen.

Lila sitting in Stefano's car, just cruising.

Case in point, to get from under Marcello’s tyranny, she uses his enemy, Stefano. She woos him into seeing her as available, makes it seem, to Elena, she has him well trained, and even has him invest in the shoe she and Rino made. Something he decides to outright buy the blueprints of, even offer to expand the shop, and this causes an issue. Well, assumingly it causes an issue.

Here is the thing: While Maestra Oliviera may question if Lila’s intelligence is diminishing, and if she may be relying too much on her nether regions, she seems to forget there is more than just academic intelligence. What we see is Lila exercising a social intelligence for she knows she’ll be coerced to marry someone eventually. Without a proper education, she doesn’t have the ability to live by herself without a man. So she needs the kind of autonomy Stefano is offering so that she can have some kind of enjoyment out of life.

There Will Be Consequences: Fernando, Lila, Marcello, Stefano, Silvio

The Carracci and Solara family have has a bit of a cold war going on for years. However, since Don Achille died, which you know the Solara family set up, there has been a respect of territory. However, Lila’s decision seems to have flared tempers and led to a direct insult. The kind which has Marcello embarrassed, as well as his family, and leads to his father, Silvio, to speak with Fernando. Someone he hopes will see that this insult will have a grave effect on his business. Not just because Silvio is the kind of client he’ll be trying to appeal to with custom shoes. But also bad things do happen.

Silvio (Antonio Milo) checking out Fernando's shop.
Silvio (Antonio Milo)

Yet, with Lila confronting Marcello, threatening him, it seems Marcello and his family may back down. Well, at least from doing anything violent. They do spread a rumor that Lila is quite a lover of giving people fellatio though – well, Marcello at least. Something which, for an unmarried woman to do? Oh, it is a big deal. Luckily, Lila was a step ahead and Stefano gets this is his rival being petty.

I’ve Learned From The Best: Antonio, Elena, Donato

While Lila is playing the Carracci and Solara rivalry for her benefit, Elena is on the side taking notes. For though there has always been an appearance of a rivalry between the girls, in truth they learn from each other. Lila, based off will and instinct, may often seem ahead but Elena follows with a refined version of the example Lila sets. Case in point, using one man to deal with the bad situation another presented.

But, here is where things get a little tricky. The man Elena uses to handle her Donato problem is Antonio. He is Melina’s son, the one Donato drove a bit insane, and Antonio assaults Elena as well. At least, considering he comes into her changing room, asks to go steady, and almost immediately goes to grope and do what Donato did – it looks like an assault. Elena even stops him before he tries to calm her down and repeat the action.

Antonio entering the changing room Elena is in.

Now, let’s just pause for a second here. While Elena notes Donato aroused her, and likely Antonio did as well, this doesn’t mean what either did, considering both circumstances, was right. Even Elena using Antonio to keep Donato from coming around doesn’t necessarily excuse what he did. If anything, it shows Elena learning from Lila. Taking a horrible situation and making the best out of it to survive. For even if Elena doesn’t have romantic feelings for Antonio, he makes for a decent protector and she may want to experience sex with some autonomy over the act. Especially with someone age appropriate. So, this is her chance.

Highlights

Social Intelligence

For most of the show, the focus has been on how Lila and Elena excel on academic subjects, but it has increasingly shifted to exhibiting social intelligence as well. Mostly in the form of what a woman needs to survive during those times. Something that, unlike book knowledge, has had a bit of trial and error involved.

For Lila, since she was a kid, taking on men has been dangerous and has gotten her thrown out of a window and even threatened by her husband to be. Yet, in her teen years, we see her using that knowledge of knowing where the line is to control situations. One could even say she knows how to do it beyond aggression through her crying in a previous episode to calm down Pasquale.

As for Elena? Like Lila, there is just that certain something which draws people to her. Sometimes it is guys like Nino and Alphonso, who want her time and attention. However, there are also the Antonio’s and Donato’s and I think she is learning how to differentiate those kinds of men. For one thing this show makes clear is you can come from the same neighborhood, live within distance of someone else’s window, yet live in a completely different world and have drastically different experiences.

Antonio (Christian Giroso) at the beach.
Antonio (Christian Giroso)

Hence Elena taking a page from Lila’s book in using one man to handle the issues she has with another. If she were to tell her father, or mother, what happened, her mom would blame her and father might try to kill Donato. Doing so would ruin everything. However, telling Antonio, since he is young, has issues with Donato, and is trying to impress her the problem, it’s a safe choice. Yes, in return she may get felt up a bit, but that leads to a whole other thing.

Owning Your Sexuality

Elena’s introduction to arousal was unfortunate since she wasn’t an active participant. However, with Antonio, one could imagine, in this race with Lila, Elena may lose her virginity first and have what is a real relationship. May not be her endgame relationship, but she can have something real. A piece of her life that Lila will have to take notes on and learn from rather than try to outdo her.

But, refocusing on Elena owning her sexuality, I think there is a need to recognize, she is likely to have a conversation with Antonio. One about making sure she is comfortable, feels good, and I think Elena is in the mindset to have those words now. For it is clear she enjoys being touched but she doesn’t want that dirty feeling which comes from someone uninvited touching her. Also, she has gained enough power to perhaps cause a scene.

Yes, there is a need to ask, “If she has all this power, why didn’t she use it on Donato or scream when Antonio was acting a bit too aggressive?” Well, again, it’s about understanding the situation and how to handle it. Lila may be willing to be loud and showy, but that isn’t how Elena does things. She is in the process of figuring out a way to speak for herself, and I think after breaking up with a boy, dealing with a mother like she has, and watching Lila, she is ready to be her own advocate when the moment calls for it.


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