In its long-awaited return, My Brilliant Friend focuses on Elena, Lila’s name haunts every conversation and accomplishment.

Aired 2/28/2022
Network HBO
Directed By Daniele Luchetti
Written By Elena Ferrante, Francesco Piccolo, Laura Paolucci, Saverio Costanzo
Introduced This Episode
Silva Maria Vittoria Dallasta
Juan Eduardo Rejón
Mariarosa Giulia Mazzarino


Been So Long But The Temptation Never Subsided – Nino, Elena, Pietro

Seeing Nino brings out those childhood feelings of Elena. The lust, the unrequited feelings, and just being awestruck to the point Elena forgets she is in the presence of her future mother in law, and her soon-to-be husband. In fact, you can see her wrestle with the benefits of being with Pietro vs. the feeling that she settled for a man she admires and is good on paper, but she may not love. At least, not in a way that is passionate and fulfills any kind of fantasy beyond that of stability.

Too Good For Us Now? – Michele, Immacolata, Vittorio, Elena

With “The Digression” being released and a hit due to a handful of saucy moments, Elena returning home leads to multiple negative experiences. If it isn’t her brothers fighting people who call Elena a whore, it is Immacolata riling up the household as she butts heads with Elena over anything she can. This, of course, leads to Vittorio paying her little mind and doting on Elena as he has done since she was a child.

However, family drama is easy for Elena since growing up in such a crowded and chaotic household, and neighborhood, is ordinary for her. What perhaps isn’t is all this attention. For if it isn’t reviews calling her talentless, it is others who hail her work. But what is most troubling is everyone focusing on the parts which mention sex, including Michele thinking Elena used Lila’s story and no way what she wrote could be her own.

But who hasn’t underestimated Elena, especially if compared to Lila? Someone who, even with not living up to her potential, remains on a pedestal in the neighborhood and in Elena’s head.

A Bubble Goes Pop – Silva, Elena, Juan, Mariarosa, Franco

Fascism has become popular in Naples and surrounding areas, and with that, while Elena’s book is a modest hit, a political and potentially cultural revolution makes her work insignificant amongst her peers. At least, that is the way her ex, Franco, makes it seem. He, alongside Elena’s potential sister-in-law Mariarosa, share a day and evening together, alongside Franco’s debate partner Juan, and Silva, who we’ll get to in a second.

Mariarosa (Giulia Mazzarino) convincing Elena to spend the night
Mariarosa (Giulia Mazzarino)

What really matters here is how we repeatedly see the lack of satisfaction in Elena’s life. The book is doing well, yet one bad review makes her want to retreat to teaching. She isn’t getting a high from her fiancée, so she lusts after her unrequited love and even snuggles up with an ex in the apartment of her potential sister-in-law. It’s all so messy, in an Elena way, since it can easily seem low-key and harmless, but if everyone heard her thoughts and narration as we do, they would never question if her book was autobiographical, with minor embellishments.

Juan (Eduardo Rejoin) trying to have sex with Elena
Juan (Eduardo Rejoin)

But, making sure to not get too comfortable, Elena and Franco end their snuggling session, and Mariarosa whisks him away to her bedroom to have sex. Meanwhile, as Elena tries to retire for the night, Juan thinks, based on Elena’s book, he could get some action too! In fact, he gets uncomfortably aggressive but gives up before Elena would need to escalate the situation.

Silva (Maria Vittoria Dallasta) talking to Elena about her life as a mother
Silva (Maria Vittoria Dallasta)

Which brings us back to Silva. This young woman, similar in features to Lila, struggles with her son. He is always fussy, and while Elena can calm him down, seemingly with her presence, Silva is at her wit’s end. But, what makes things harder for her is the father’s lack of interest, which has made Mariarosa being gracious enough to aide Silva a blessing. But the kicker here is, the father of Silva’s child – it’s Nino. So maybe, considering how hot and cold he continues to be, Elena lucked out on nothing happening there.

Things To Note

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. What is Lila doing now?

What Could Happen Next

  1. Elena breaking off this engagement, or it ending in divorce after she comes to accept she is, as said by Franco, a social climber



Elena’s Need For Approval & Insecurity

In some ways, it could easily be understood why you may not be fond of Elena and episodes just focused on her. Her insecurities her need for approval, all verbalized in narration, easily drown out the scene and make you focus just on her negative self-talk. Yet, considering how so many leads are so self-assured and have feign humility, there is something about Elena’s inability to not compare herself to someone which is relatable.

Here she is with a good man, who has a wonderful family, yet she thinks about the boy who got away and had multiple times to choose her but didn’t. Despite all the obstacles there could be to a woman getting published, she has gotten a book published, yet it isn’t enough. Elena’s constant need to question if the grass is greener on the other side, her desire to never settle on being content, and almost hating where she is because the wait to better is excruciating is somehow exciting.

It makes it so that despite how much she thinks about others, you find yourself worrying and pondering about Elena in the long run.

Low Points

The Incessant Talk Of Lila Casts A Long Shadow

Whenever Lila is not in an episode, it forces Elena to fight an uphill battle. Already Elena has to fight against Lila being more provocative, crafty, and charming. But what makes things worse is listening to Elena repeatedly, bring up Lila, or other people do just the same. It makes Lila’s absence all the more noticeable and undercuts what Elena brings to the show.

My Brilliant Friend Directory

Network(s) HBO
Created or Developed By Saverio Costanzo
First Aired 11/18/2018

Character Guide


Season Reviews

Season 1

Affiliate Link(s)

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My Brilliant Friend: Season 3 - Summary/ Review (with Spoilers)From raising children, creating new families, and rediscovering themselves, Elena and Lila may struggle in their friendship but find ways to flourish in their individual lives.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 3/ Episode 8 “Chapter 24: Those Who Leave, Those Who Stay” [Finale] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)As Elena closes a major chapter in her life, we're introduced to the next actress who will play her in Elena's next chapter.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 3/ Episode 7 “Chapter 23: Try Again” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)In an almost complete Lila-less episode, Nino returns to Elena's life, and between old feelings and him supporting her writing, it complicates Elena's marriage to Pietro.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 3/ Episode 6 “Chapter 22: Becoming” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)As Elena returns to Naples and is coerced to fully be involved in what’s going on, Pietro gives the kind of observations that disturb her perceptions of everyone – including Lila.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 3/ Episode 5 “Chapter 21: Terror” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)As political violence starts to engulf Naples and surrounding areas, Elena is asked to keep her godson for the summer, with very little context as to why.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 3/ Episode 4 “Chapter 20: Cold War” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)We jump through at least 2 or so years as Elena gets married and has her first two children while struggling immensely in her personal and professional life.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 3/ Episode 3 “Chapter 19: The Treatment” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)With feeling like she'd be better as a big fish in a small pond, Lila makes it her goal to return to the neighborhood, and Elena lays the groundwork for that to happen.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 3/ Episode 2 "Chapter 18: The Fever" – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)In "The Fever," we catch up with Lila, whose life continues a downward spiral as one of her demons catches up to her.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 3/ Episode 1 “Chapter 17: Indecencies” [Premiere] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)In its long-awaited return, My Brilliant Friend focuses on Elena, Lila's name haunts every conversation and accomplishment.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 2 Episode 8 “Chapter 16: The Blue Fairy” [Season Finale] – Recap/ Review with SpoilersIt'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.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 2 Episode 7 “Chapter 15: Ghosts” – Recap/ Review with SpoilersWith a time jump of three years, we learn whether Elena’s time away from the neighborhood changed her or confirmed what she already knew.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 2 Episode 6 “Chapter 14: Rage” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)As both Lila and Elena seek freedom from the neighborhood, one potentially finds bliss as the other is practically forced back.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 2 Episode 5 “Chapter 13: The Betrayal” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)As the vacation comes to an end, both Elena and Lila are faced with a change in their life. One neither were prepped for but realized must happen if they desire happiness.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 2 Episode 4 “Chapter 12: The Kiss” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)As Pinuccia comes to terms with marrying Rino, Lila finds a new means of getting under Elena’s skin – just as it seems they could reconcile.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 2 Episode 3 “Chapter 11: Erasure” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)After Elena spending so much time in Lila’s world, things are flipped, and with that, we see some old demons pop out.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 2 Episode 2 “Chapter 10: The Body” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)As Elena observes what it means to be a wife, mother, and what can be lost in the process, her understanding of Lila reaches a new level.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 2 Episode 1 “Chapter 9: The New Name” [Season Premiere] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)In “My Brilliant Friend’s” return, we learn whether or not Lila made a huge mistake and if Elena may have finally found herself not seeking other people's validation.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 1 - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)My Brilliant Friend is a true statement to the power of girls and young women despite a world which tries to undermine and oppress them.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 1/ Episode 8 "La Promessa (The Promise)" [Season Finale] - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)Despite the brilliance of both young ladies, the lessons aced and the idea they were ahead of the curve – life shows they have so much left to learn.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 1/ Episode 7 "Fidanzati (The Fiances)" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)Lila makes drastic moves in order to free herself from Marcello and Elena takes notes on her friend’s social intelligence.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 1/ Episode 6 "L'isola (The Island)" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)It’s a (mostly) Elena focused episode and we get to see her reach a personal high, and low. Meanwhile, Lila deals with Marcello’s advances.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 1/ Episode 5 "Le Scarpe (The Shoes)" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)Lila and Elena continue to take diverging paths and Elena may have finally reached a point of breaking away and getting ahead.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 1/ Episode 4 "Le Smarginatura (Dissolving Margins)" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)As Elena tries to find ways to keep up, maybe surpass Lila, she comes to a point of realizing that girl is in a league of her own.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 1/ Episode 3 "Le Metamorfosi (The Metamorphoses)" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)We jump to the teen years and as the girls get a taste of being seen as women, neither one seems fond of what that brings.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 1/ Episode 2 "Soldi (The Money)" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)Lila continues to face adversity and yet despite being born poor, a girl, and being a girl who is headstrong, she continues her arduous journey.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 1/ Episode 1 "Le Bambole (The Dolls)" [Series Premiere] - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)While My Brilliant Friend overloads you with character introductions, the leads keep a tight enough grip for you to not end up lost.
Elena worried, as a crowd makes their way towards her
My Brilliant Friend: Season 3/ Episode 1 “Chapter 17: Indecencies” [Premiere] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
"Chapter 17: Indecencies" isn't necessarily the best return a show could have. It doesn't push to jump-start your interest as much as it continues the story like it simply took a time jump to move things along. Yet, while it doesn't push for you to get excited about what's to come, it maintains the quality which hasn't dissipated despite a nearly 2-year absence since its second season finale.
Elena's Need For Approval & Insecurity
The Incessant Talk Of Lila Casts A Long Shadow

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I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and have aimed to be that friend who loves watching various forms of media and talking about it. So, from bias, strong opinions, and a perspective you may not have thought about, you'll find that in our reviews.

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