It’s 1967, and what Elena has long wanted has come to her. However, thoughts of Lila always lurk, and Elena once more is drawn to them and her.

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It’s 1967, and what Elena has long wanted has come to her. However, thoughts of Lila always lurk, and Elena once more is drawn to them and her.

Directed By Saverio Costanzo
Written By Elena Ferrante, Francesco Piccolo, Laura Paolucci, Saverio Costanzo
Aired (HBO) 5/4/2020
Introduced This Episode
Pietro Matteo Cecchi
Ada Ulrike Migliaresi

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

The Boy Named Pietro – Pietro, Elena

Elena’s college life hasn’t been eventful. She studied, seemingly to avoid going to Naples more than anything, and she did have a relationship for a little while. But, as soon as that relationship ended, she was left with isolation. Which, considering how she has seen most of her life as following behind Lila or observing the neighborhood’s latest drama, the isolation was a shift, but welcomed in some ways.

Pietro (Matteo Cecchi) looking into Elena's eyes.
Pietro (Matteo Cecchi)

Making Pietro, the son of a professor and a person at a major publishing house, a strange admirer. Mind you, it isn’t like Franco wasn’t rich and a notable son of the elite. However, being that Elena remains used to not being approached, second choice, or the comfortable option, it makes Pietro a change of pace.

Especially since, unlike past boyfriends, there is a sense of balance. Unlike with Franco, she doesn’t feel spoiled to the point of questioning if she is pitied. Also, there isn’t such a focus on her sexually. Heck, she isn’t even treated as a shiny example of how an education can give someone social mobility. With Pietro, nearly everything about her is valued. So with loving his family and him, she accepts his proposal and the idea of a two-year engagement.

Back To The Old Neighborhood – Ada, Stefano, Lila, Elena, Vittorio, Immacolata

With a ring on her finger and nearly a year and a half of avoiding her family, even not telling them she graduated to avoid embarrassment, Elena returns home. Her return, by father Vittorio, is treated as a celebration. After all, he only went up to 5th grade, Immacolata to 2nd, so having a kid who graduated from college? I mean, even when Elena gets smart with Immacolata, she lets it go since even she wants to enjoy the moment.

Mind you, she still reminds us she can be a bit callous, like upon hearing Maestra Oliviero died. But, considering how most of her interactions with Elena end up a verbal altercation, not having one while Elena is back shows growth for both sides. Though, then again, it isn’t just Immacolata who is changing, but the neighborhood as well.

Ada (Ulrike Migliaresi) with a bruise on her face.
Ada (Ulrike Migliaresi)

Perhaps the most noticeable change is Lila is gone, and Ada has moved into her former home. The full story? Well, Ada decided she was tired of being a mistress, and considering she loved Stefano more than Lila, her conscience allowed her to push back the sin of what she and he were doing.

Then, when Ada got pregnant, she decided to move in and while she faced similar troubles to Lila, like Stefano’s hand, it seems things mellowed out. Now, as for what happened with Lila? Well, it seems she left so Stefano could be happy and to really show was cool with what happened, she didn’t take anything or storm out. All she did was take her son and, with Enzo, began a new life.

What Remains Of My Childhood – Elena, Lila, Enzo

Considering their history, you might ask yourself why Elena would seek out Lila? Nostalgia, wanting to rub her success in her face, or perhaps genuine curiosity? Technically, each answer is valid. For with Maestra Oliviero leaving Lila’s childhood book, “The Blue Fairy” to Elena, it forces Elena to realize her novel, “Digression,” almost uses “The Blue Fairy” as a building block.

Now, does she see this as another way Lila’s example challenged her or represented how she could do something? Maybe even, with reading Lila’s memoirs, it pushed her to write her own? I can’t say. All that is clear is with Elena’s book on the road to being published, it makes her wish to speak to the woman she has known since she was 10 and see her.

So, how is Lila? Well, her son is well, and she has a babysitter, and Enzo, while not together with Lila, it seems they enjoy each other’s company. It’s just, after a loveless marriage, an affair, and being used to men who wish to tame her, being single and independent is something she needs for a while. Granted, her independence means working at Bruno’s salami factory, which is by no means a treat for her, but in working for herself, she has found some form of peace.

Now, does that mean Lila has changed? Not really. Her co-workers don’t like her attitude, and even with hugging and embracing Elena, she still reminds her of the reason they take extended breaks from one another. But there is still that twinkle there. Something that maybe her son keeps alive, maybe Elena holds since she is one of the few people Lila can look fondly back on.

However, when it comes to Lila’s book, “The Blue Fairy?” With lacking memory of it and a reminder of the brilliance she couldn’t see realized, no sooner than being handed it, she throws it in the fire. The fun times, her childhood, a lot of that potential, it is gone now, and Elena is a hard enough reminder to deal with, for she brings on such mixed emotions, no need for a book that only brings pain.

Additional Thoughts or Information

Nino at Elena's book reading.

  1. Nino shows up to a Q&A for Elena’s book and defends her. Unfortunately, we’re not privy to what happens after and whether Nino validating Elena’s work and paying her attention leads to old feelings returning. Never mind a conversation on whether he cares or not about his son with Lila.


The Sisterly Rivalry

At this point, I think we can firmly say, Lila challenged Elena to know what could be possible, and Lila lived vicariously through Elena to see the life she could have lived. With that, a sisterhood was made. Mind you, Elena has a sister, we see her this episode, but as we’re reminded of the intimacy Elena and Lila shared as children, and do as adults, this is clearly different. It is deeply rooted, sometimes painful as life pulls them apart, or they struggle under the idea both cannot take in the sun at the same time.

But, with their roots intertwined at this point, even if they bend away from one another to give each other space, their foundation is the same. And even though Lila may have always been a bit jealous, it does seem that in living life rather than studying hers, or that of others, she has found peace.

Lila and Elena reconfirming their relationship.
Lila: I don’t want to lose you either.

Lila Found Freedom

One could even say freedom. For as much as Lila has been wild and a bit untamed, money has always been the method to bridle her. Marriage meant financial security, her shoes were also supposed to do that for her and her family, but neither worked out. All they did was make her more restless, for she lacked control and found herself forced to answer to somebody.

Which makes her relationship with Enzo probably the first taste of freedom she had all her life. She finally has a partner who is in awe of her, but doesn’t want her caged and to be their trophy. Also, she isn’t reliant on him. Never mind, with Enzo, it’s like she has someone willing to let her be who she is and knows what comes with that.

Not to forget, considering Enzo is studying programming, she is with someone who doesn’t rest on their self-perceived brilliance. Add in us knowing programming, and IT, is a field Lila dedicates herself to, per the older version of Elena in season 1, it seems this might be the relationship that lasts. For if there is one consistent thing Lila has valued in partners, even Stefano, is the opportunity to learn from them.

Elena Found Love

While Elena and Lila’s situation is like comparing apples to oranges, you still have to recognize they both are fruit. So while Lila’s issue was finding someone who didn’t want to tame her, Elena’s problem was finding someone who accepted all she was. Which, for her, meant accepting she came from a poor neighborhood in Naples and she didn’t need someone to save her, but also recognize her talent and drive. There was a need to acknowledge she was beautiful and had an interest in sex, but not shortchange all else she could offer in a relationship.

This is why Pietro is such a good match, for he has a bit of what her exes had, in a positive light, as individuals, in one. Pietro comes from a family that values education, has social standing, and welcomes her. Pietro takes initiative when it comes to their relationship, admires her, wants her, and desires to show her off. Also, he presents the opportunities to have her be challenged and remind her, despite how she sometimes feels, she belongs.

In many ways, Pietro is perfect, and one can only hope, in season 3, we don’t learn he was too good to be true.


The Previous Episode Character Guide Check Out More Episodes From This Show
Elena Found Love - 85%
Lila Found Freedom - 84%
The Sisterly Rivalry - 86%


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