Elena (Margherita Mazzucco) looks in the mirror and sees her future self looking back at her, a slight smile on her lips, a simmering sea of contentment. That’s how the third season of My Brilliant Friend comes to a close, trembling with uncertainty and joyful with the promise of a hopeful tomorrow.
To entirely unfilter ourselves from the multitude of perceptions that surround us, who build our sense of self, is perhaps impossible. So any moment where you’re able to find yourself and recognize not just who you are, but what you value and deserve, is a triumph. It could be a small moment, one whose very existence feels like a life-changing maelstrom of potential consequences, or somewhere in between. But that triumph remains.
With Nino’s (Francesco Serpico) return to her life, Elena is caught between the passionate love affair she desired in her past and the catastrophe of isolation and strangulation her life is in the present. A part of her desires Nino’s greatest strength, his capacity for grand, sweeping romance that makes you feel as if no one could ever love you as much as he loves you in that moment. Yet she also knows, from how he has treated her and Lila (Gaia Girace) in the past, that Nino was incapable of remaining by your side when any sort of difficulty arose. He wouldn’t hold your hand as you navigated the more tumultuous sides of life and instead he would simply detach himself from you and leave you drifting aimlessly, desperately searching for an anchor.
But Elena can’t help herself from hoping that Nino had become a better version of himself, a man who was capable of both passion and the capacity to make a decision that centred anyone but him. I couldn’t help myself from wanting that, either, from wanting that little smile that danced in her steps to bloom into a genuine happiness. Her fears are well-recognized however, and in a telling moment, Nino asks her to sacrifice her marriage but refuses to sacrifice his own. The scintillating affair transforms into a question of immense significance.
Have you thought about demanding what you want? Of course you have. Have you practiced in front of a mirror how you’re going to demand what you deserve? Of course you have. Have you built up the courage to value yourself for who you are and not who others perceive you to be? I hope you have. But it is one thing to think, practice, build up the courage. It is another to act.
For as long as she can remember, Elena has felt adrift. Constantly cast in the shadows of who other people have wanted her to be, she had anchored herself to concrete goals that seemed beyond the reach of those expectations. She achieved those goals but those expectations only became greedier and began to consume her piece by piece. Bit by bit they ate away at her sense of self and slowly Elena realized that there wasn’t any shoreline left for her to anchor herself to.
A part of her knew that she didn’t want the traditions of marriage and motherhood, but sometimes the forces that are pulling us towards something feel more powerful than the ones steering us to where we want to be. In what is perhaps the significant decision of her life, Elena commits to the promise she made to herself at the end of episode six and becomes. She becomes in a significant step the person she wants to be for herself, a person who recognizes what she wants for herself, demands what she wants for herself, and is unapologetic about valuing herself over others for once.
She would destroy her marriage if he would destroy his. Nino dithers and flails about, coming up with one excuse after another that proves to Elena that no, she couldn’t rely on him to salvage her life either. She was ready to walk away from it all. Her husband, her kids, her lover. She was ready to walk away from every fragment of a promise and build her own if that’s what it would take. That Nino, after several weeks, comes around and commits, is almost incidental. The important moment is Elena standing up for herself in a way that she almost never has.
Elena looks upon her reflection in the airplane bathroom mirror and for once she sees a future version of her born from a life she was choosing for herself.
– The window shot in the beginning of the episode was gorgeous
– Toasting with prosciutto is cute
– Elena feeling some happiness at the wealthy man whom she had married being brought down by someone from her neighbourhood
– That beach shot? Exquisite
– The shot of Elena through the opaque glass is poignant and perfectly understated
– Pietro’s (Matteo Cecchi) meltdown was a pitch perfect encapsulation of a man who is, at his core, an insecure and abusive partner who only finds value in how others relate to him. A part of him knows that he finds no value in himself as a person and that shows here. That he is heartbroken at the end of his marriage is understandable. That he emotionally and mentally harms his children in coping with that end is inexcusable.
– The murder of Manuela Solara (Imma Villa) provides a jot of violent shock to the episode and makes us as the audience reflect on how much truth there was to Lila’s claim that she was playing the Solaras and not the other way around
– Max Richter’s score for the season is, as expected, excellent and is available for your listening pleasure on music streaming and purchasing sites
– “I wrote about how men invented us so we would always be at their service.”
– “When you don’t know what you’ve written, it means it’s good work.”
– “Eve is entirely dependent on Adam, how she is defined as good and evil is through his perception.”
– “Now eat, defence of the established order can do without you tonight.”
– “With the excuse of terrorism, they’re criminalizing all dissent.”
– “He pretended a lot and loved very little.”
Thank you for spending this season with me. I love this show with all of my heart and hope to see you all when its fourth, and final, season premieres in the (hopefully) near future.