With a time jump of three years, we learn whether Elena’s time away from the neighborhood changed her or confirmed what she already knew.
|Directed By||Saverio Costanzo|
|Written By||Elena Ferrante, Francesco Piccolo, Laura Paolucci, Saverio Costanzo|
|Introduced This Episode|
|Franco Mari||Bruno Orlando|
This content contains pertinent spoilers.
Almost, Is Never Enough – Franco, Elena, Immacolata
Despite three years in university, and meeting her first true love, Elena hasn’t found a means of gaining intrinsic joy. Rather, as before, she needs the validation of another to feel like she has a place in the world. It is just, rather than that being Lila who gave her some sense of who she was and what she could offer, it seems Franco took that place.
But, alas, Franco, a rich young man, finds himself tired of Pisa and Normale and eventually leaves school and Elena. For it seems, with him being restless, and Elena more pragmatic about school, it is ultimately deemed they are not compatible. Leaving Elena with, alongside a sense of loneliness, gifts from Franco, from glasses to a coat, to at least remind her she was once loved. Though, when sick over a school break, her mother reinforces that idea.
Take note, while they often have butt heads, Immacolata loves Elena. It’s just, what is one’s place as a parent when a child shows they have outgrown you? If not, in Elena’s case, has nothing to learn from you? So when Elena is alone at school and sick, Immacolata takes a train, for the first time in her life, to care for her daughter. Which, as you can imagine, is a slight struggle, since Elena has no love for being babied. However, she eventually gives in, and this allows the two to have moments that were absent when Elena was growing up.
Lila’s Memoirs – Elena, Lila, Stefano, Michele
While Elena and Lila have grown distant, this doesn’t mean their history is erased. If anything, it just makes it more of a challenge to reminisce on what could have been if Lila didn’t feel the need to compete and threaten Elena’s position as often as she did. But, perhaps the biggest issue is Elena was constantly tasked to bear witness and be a crutch of sorts.
Prime example: One of the ways Lila has always used Elena to get her back into her circle is a pity. The need to recognize how brilliant she is but how trapped she has become. Yet, no sooner than ensnarled in looking at Lila with sad eyes does Lila remind her how quickly she could match or surpass Elena.
However, as time has worn on, it seems Lila’s ability to jump to where Elena increased in difficulty. As she found herself becoming the wild mare everyone wanted to tame, even to the point of Michele asking her to leave Stefano for him, she became stifled. Making it so her only escape was spending time with Elena, who acted as both a friend and excuse, if not an alibi.
But things changed once Gennaro Rinuccio, Lila’s son, was born. With that, it seemed she found a new lease on life. With his privilege of being born a boy, there is a chance he could realize all his mother’s brilliance and not be bridled by his gender. So she pours everything into him and tried to make peace with Stefano.
That, as you can imagine, didn’t last for long. After all, how can you be peaceful with someone who rapes you and allegedly is having an affair with someone and denies it? I mean, let’s not pretend Lila didn’t have a secret affair, but she is very honest about it by repeatedly noting her son, is not Stefano’s – something he threatens violence against her for every time she says it.
And in terms of how Elena plays into this? Well, as Lila cut herself off from the world she wrote in a journal. It details most of what happened as Elena focused on school, and Lila shrunk. But as Stefano’s rage returned, after being rejected by Lila and reminded of his lack of children, there came a point he added to her misery by destroying her things. Be it books or anything which gave her a sense of dominance or power.
So, to protect her fleeing thoughts, she gave them all to Elena who, when sick, despite being told not to, reads them. And with reading how little she is to Lila, or at least how dismissive Lila is to her person, she eventually finds herself throwing all the notebooks into a river. Thus, once again, Elena finds herself caught in Lila’s gravitational pull but making it out.
Elena Has Seemingly Broke The Cycle – For Now
Roughly three years without actively being part of Lila’s life is the longest she has gone, and for that, you have to applaud Elena. Granted, she was distracted by a boy, but sometimes you need a little help to break the cycle. Plus, as much as you might be led to wish we got to see Franco and Elena meet and grow as a couple, all that mattered was Elena finally learned what love was.
Note, with Lila, while she did say she loved Elena, or something affectionate, their relationship has never been selfless. Even when Lila was supporting Elena’s education with books, one could submit that was to live vicariously. So Elena getting some grasp on what it means to be loved, by a boy especially, and the worst thing about it is him abruptly leaving, while it may leave you with mixed feelings, you can see it gave her strength.
Now, whether this strength is everlasting or temporary? Well, we’ll find out soon.
Immacolata has shown herself, for a while now, to not be as callous and mean as she can sometimes come off. As we’ve said, there is a bit of jealousy in her daughter having the support and opportunities she didn’t have, and reconciling with how you weren’t supported hurts. But, on top of that, there was also the disconnect that came from Elena having little to no interest in Immacolata and what she knew. So, with that in mind, it seemed Immaculota felt like she had nothing to give but food and clean sheets.
Basically, it seems like Immacolata had to be a maid to her own child. Which is perhaps why she rushed to Elena’s school and decided to take care of her. In that night, or days, I’m not sure how much time passed, Elena needed her – she needed her mom. And I think that’s all Immaculota wanted. She wanted to be needed, revered in some way, and maybe with Elena being vulnerable, she was allowed a moment to feel powerful as well? The brilliant brain in the family taken down by a simple cold.
On The Fence
A Time Jump Featuring More Of The Same
Despite heading three years closer to the time of the narrator (present-day Elena), things didn’t seem to change much. In fact, it felt like the point was, as Immacolata pointed out, the only change a person ever sees will be when they look in the mirror. The neighborhood was still the same, Lila and Elena still had their old patterns, but only when they stopped and were forced to reflect they realized how time went by.
Lila notes this in how her memories of Nino faded, but the feeling remained active in her head. Then with Elena, her realizing how often she felt like she was “Almost” came to the forefront of her mind. So, one can only hope, as we come upon the season finale in the next episode, and we look forward, maybe more old habits may stay in the past.
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