'My Brilliant Friend' Season 2 Finale: How different the final HBO episode is from the book by Elena Ferrante
Spoiler alert for 'My Brilliant Friend' Season 2 Episode 8 'The Blue Fairy'
'My Brilliant Friend' surpasses itself with every installment. Each episode better than the previous one (of course, this isn't a competition), the show narrates with a painful beauty the story of Elena Greco (Margherita Mazzucco) and Lila Cerullo (Gaia Girace) — two childhood best friends who, in their own way, try to escape the poverty and violence of their neighborhood of Naples.
In the finale for Season 2, Elena's childhood dream of publishing a book — once upon a time, this was Lila's dream too — comes true. A book she wrote over the span of 20 days is ready for publication and the news is brought to her by her fiance Pietro Airota (Matteo Cecchi).
Elena, who at first cannot believe the news, is overtaken by happiness and excitement. But upon receiving the news of Maestro Oliviero's (Dora Romano) death, is heartbroken and seeks Lila - if only to return the book The Blue Fairy.
We have rued how the 1.15 minute-long finale episode packs a lot for its runtime. For readers of the book, it is hard to ignore that the several of the last chapters of the second book by Elena Ferrante 'The Story of a New Name' were crammed in the season finale.
Many of Elena's thoughts and feelings weren't depicted with the same lucidity as in the book.
For instance, viewers do not know that Elena had conflicting feelings about Pietro — particularly after her break up with Franco. She had spent many a day lamenting Franco Mari's (Bruno Orlando) departure from her life.
Pietro enters her life out of the blue and, as it seems from the episode, Elena is hardly immediately charmed (although she is intrigued).
It is also not clarified in the episode the role that Pietro's mother Adele (Daria Deflorian) plays in the publishing of her first book.
After Elena entrusts him with the first draft, which was only meant for him to read, he passes it on to Adele, who loves it so much that she forwards it to the publishing house she works with. That is one of the reasons why she is present at the book launch.
Neither does the audience know how much power Elena derives from the news of her book being published. On her way to the publishing house, she is brazen, openly cursing anyone who misbehaves with her on the bus. This newfound energy has a source in the power of her words — and the money she makes from them.
Ferrante's second installment in the bildungsroman series elucidates at length Elena's discovery of Lila working at the meat factory. The contrast in their lives hits Elena sorely yet there is not much she can do to help her friend. And if she knows Lila, she knows she doesn't require her help to rise above this.
While we're at it, we also want to point out that we'd have liked to see Enzo Scanno (Giovanni Buselli) and Lila together on the screen. But it is a fair direction from Costanzo — Elena gets this update from Lila, never knowing first-hand, and so do the readers.
The show has been renewed for a third season by Rai and HBO. But it is safe to safe that we won't be getting it anytime soon. With the series only just concluding, it will be at least a year till we know what happens next.
If curiosity gets the better of you, you can go ahead and indulge in Ferrante's novels. But there is just something about director Saverio Costanzo's artful gaze that only adds, never takes away, from Ferrante's mesmerizing tale of the two best friends.