'My Brilliant Friend' Season 2 Finale: Lila and Lenu’s shaping of each other seen in Blue Fairy’s authorship
The most emotional moment of the finale is when Lila and Lenu hug each other as if putting the years of their turbulent adolescent wars behind them. As if acknowledging how each has shaped the other into who they were right at that moment.
Lila, no longer anchored to Stephano, has a harsh working existence but she is free like she hasn't been for years. Finally living on her own terms, she is no longer a whirlwind of hysteria and vindictiveness. Instead, she is calm, finally able to be happy for Lenu. When she hugs her, she almost cries because Lenu is a reminder of a simpler time.
As Lenu waves goodbye after Lila's supervisor tells Lila to get back to work the third time, Lila strides away. As she does, she flings 'The Blue Fairy' story (that she had written when she was 10) in the fire, without any emotion. You can't help but feel that she is deliberately putting childish things behind her, and the hard knocks she has faced has imbued her with a tough maturity beyond her years. She can no longer be the "presumptuous" child she once was, sulking, rebelling, and failing.
Lenu, about to escape her neighborhood for good, can afford to be nostalgic. Before coming to meet Lila, she remembers how the two of them hung around the old neighborhood, and how they read 'Little Women' together as they nearly collapsed into each other. The memories emerge after she learns that her old school teacher is dead and a box full of her old report cards and also 10-year-old Lila's lovingly hand-crafted book, 'The Blue Fairy', is sent to her.
As she reads the story, she realizes that it is the "secret heart" of the book she had written in a frenetic creative burst. Lila's story had lodged itself in her brain and became a part of her all those years ago and emerges when she is trying to exorcise her shame around Don Sarratore taking her virginity.
Authorship is a knotty subject in Elena Ferrante's books. It is always in doubt and hard to ascribe. Between Lila and Lenu there is a flow of inspiration and creativity that bounces back and forth, creating an intertwined birth of ideas that makes it difficult to ascribe individual authorship. Lila is Lenu's "blue fairy", bringing things to life inside her mind. As if underscoring that, Lila is dressed in blue factory overalls in this episode.
By pointing this out so blatantly, the show also questions our ideas of individual authorship. Whose book is entirely original, without a trace of creativity harvested from others? At this analogy also extends to our selfhood -- who is not affected, transformed and shaped by the acts of others? The authorship of others is inscribed on our bodies -- especially of women.
Lila and Lenu carry both scars and kisses that their neighborhood left on them. They have also "authored" each other through a complex friendship that is both soothing and thorny. In short, there is no Lenu without Lila and no Lila without Lenu. In Season 3 we'll see how the girls will continue to "write" each other into and out of their lives.