It’s the end of the first season of Hotel Portofino. Despite a clunky debut episode, the show was able to right the ship as we begin with a beautiful sunny morning. It’s the sort that makes you feel like going for a swim, sketching a stunning landscape (and a young woman you fancy), or catching a train to perpetrate the final stage of a carefully planned fraud. After accusing everyone from Pelham Wingfield, Jack Turner, and Vincenzo Danioni of the theft, it was Cecil who stole his own painting.
In Genoa, Mr. Ainsworth meets with a private art dealer and reveals how he pulled off the heist right under everyone’s nose with the help of his accomplice Francesco. Cecil rakes in over £60,000 in payments for his family heirloom (not including the check Jack Turner gave him). He immediately goes to the bank to cash his ill-gotten gains; then, in a final act of deception, Cecil sends his brother a telegram explaining that the painting was not a Rubens, and he will wire his share of the £1000 sale price soon.
When Mr. Ainsworth returns, flowers in hand, he’s forgotten his brutal abuse and lies to Bella, saying the painting was insured. He’s jovial until he registers the damage he has done to his wife’s face. He places the blame on her, saying he was “a little more heavy-handed than perhaps was necessary” – as if that counts as an apology! Claudine witnesses this interaction. She invites Bella to her room and tends to her cuts. A tearful Bella thanks her for being sisterly, a word that has defined Claudine since the day we met her.
Meanwhile, Alice has been seeing over the growing bond between her brother and Miss March and catching the couple enjoying a tea party with Alice’s daughter Lottie has pushed her to her limit. The jealous sister locates correspondence and a photo of Constance’s young son. Alice takes her evidence to Lucian, claiming she’s trying to stop him from making a fool of himself and the family. He gives her the letter back and leaves. Bella is no more receptive to Alice’s complaints of Constance’s compromised character.
While brokering Billy Scanlon’s release, Cecil catches Francesco accepting money from Danioni. Vincenzo claims that the two are cousins; Cecil realizes his chauffeur has been spying and offers Danioni a stack of lira to kill the painting theft investigation and to release Scanlon; he offers another bundle of bills “from one dog to another.” Danioni likes the reference to his earlier threat, and the two men drink to their new understanding. Cecil roughly warns Billy he paid to get him out of jail and will pay to put him back in if he doesn’t follow orders.
As for the arranged marriage of Lucian and Rose, when the couple agrees that they aren’t suited despite trying their middle best, their parents conspire to make them miserable for their own purposes. His disgusting flirtation with Julia aside, Cecil’s fraud windfall puts him in a position to support his son and daughter-in-law. Hence, the Ainsworth/Drummond-Ward union is officially on. Once again, Lucian is bullied by his father into getting on with his life and doing his duty, proving Cecil is the worst human being in this series.
Several hearts are broken. Paola, but she had already become aware of the realities; Nish, despite his heart-to-heart with Claudine, could not bring himself to express his true feelings and risk losing his best friend. Constance has been falling in love with Lucian since day one and surely felt he reciprocated her feelings, and Rose and Lucian are pawns in a family money game. Have you ever seen a more depressing marriage proposal?
At the celebration of the engagement announcement, Constance can’t hide her feelings and leaves her post. Back in her room, she realizes her letters are missing and panics that her secret is out. Bella comes to check on her and restores her missing correspondence, reassuring Constance she isn’t fired and believes people should not be judged but allowed to make amends for their mistakes. Bella shares the fact that she lost her youngest to influenza, and that event was one of the reasons they left England for a new start in Portofino.
As the guests depart, Count Albani makes it clear he would like to marry Alice. Nish decides to join Gianluca in Turin to fight the fascists. Pelham Wingfield lost his tournament but bet against himself and is solvent until he and Lizzie have to provide for a baby. Lady Latchmere and her niece, Melissa, plan to recommend the Hotel Portofino to all their fancy friends. Bella finds a £1000 check from Cecil; I call it a gesture of friendship. She crumbles it up, saying she will never take money from him, and he is never to touch her again. Well done, Bella!
Grazie for watching and reading the recaps and, until next time, arrivederci!