‘My Brilliant Friend’: Here are the major plot points to expect in Season 2
The two protagonists are now in their 20s with divergent futures — Lila is married and Lenu is continuing her studies
Spoilers for those who haven't read the Neapolitan Novels series by Elena Ferrante, especially Book 2 of the series, 'The Story of a New Name', on which Season 2 of 'My Brilliant Friend' is based on
Season 2 will take off with Lila and Elena aka Lenu trying different paths to the same goal — escaping the fate of their mothers and the other women in the poor, working-class neighborhood of Naples' Luzzati quarter in Italy. The two protagonists are now in their 20s with divergent futures — Lila is married and Lenu is continuing her studies.
Lila, as always, seems to, at first, have a lead on Lenu. Being the bride of a rich man, she can take care of herself in a way she couldn't before this and so her beauty blossoms, even more, making her the target of jealousy and envy in the neighborhood. But privately, Stefano Carracci exercises complete control over her, beating and raping her on their honeymoon when she tries to bring up his betrayal.
It is Lenu who tells us the readers about the incident after reading about this violent episode in Lila's diaries.
While Lila entrusts her diaries to Elena in 1966 to keep them away from Stephano, she also tells her not to read them. But Elena aka Lenu can't help herself. She reads them and then, upset by their contents, tosses them in a river. By doing so she destroys Lila's art because part of her knows that between the two of them, Lila, uneducated and untutored, is still a better writer than her.
By segueing into Stephano's betrayal after recounting her own, she seems to be counting herself among the Judas' who let Lila down or actively harmed her.
Meanwhile, Elena and Antonio's relationship comes to an abrupt end after she asks the Solara brothers to help Antonio evade being drafted into the army. Antonio, offended, breaks up and Elena is relieved that the relationship has ended, having floated into it just to compete with Lila's string of admirers.
Elena passes the exams, while Lila becomes pregnant. She also throws herself into working at Stefano’s new grocery, still not wanting to give up the dream of a better life. Stefano and Lila’s brother Rino partner with the Solaras to open a store selling Cerullo shoes. Michele Solara wants to display a picture of Lila in her wedding dress at the store's window. Lila agrees but says she be allowed to modify it.
She attacks her likeness with paper and scissors and turns it into an abstract piece of artwork. No one understands her vision, including Michele. But he knows it is the sort of thing that it will attract an elite clientele. Elena also understands why Lila modified her picture in this way — to erase her own presence. Soon after this, Lila miscarries. Thanks to Lila's avant-garde photo, the shoe store attracts attention and acclaim.
But despite Lila's accomplishments in the real world, she still feels jealous about Lenu's access to a more educated and refined world. After attending a party thrown by Elena’s teacher, Lila makes cutting comments about Elena’s intellectual pursuits and prowess. However, the girls are thrown back together when they go for a holiday in Ischia. Lila is sent there to get healthy enough to carry another baby, while Elena goes with her when she learns that Nino Sarratore will be there.
However, Nino instead of falling in love with Elena, falls in love with Lila instead. Elena feels resentful about Lila "stealing" Nino from her but also acts as their go-between, helping them spend a night together at Bruno’s house. That same night, in part because of her resentment towards Lila and Nino, Elena allows Nino’s father, Donato, to take her virginity.
Soon after, Stefano arrives in Ischia. Both girls have to leave Ischia but with radically different futures before them. Elena gets a scholarship to a university in Pisa and prepares to embark on a new life. Before leaving Naples, she visits Lila at the shoe store. She learns that Lila has continued her affair with Nino, and has become pregnant.
While Elena is at school, Lila and Nino move into an apartment together. However, Lila’s intelligence soon intimidates Nino and he starts seeing her brilliance as a threat to his academic career. After less than a month of living together, he leaves her. With no other options, Lila listens to her childhood friend, Enzo, and return to Stefano.
She gives birth to a boy, Gennaro, while Stefano begins an affair with Antonio’s sister, Ada. Lila tells Stephano that Gennaro is not his son as payback. Though Stefano refuses to believe her, he further restricts her freedom. As Lila's situation becomes pitiable, Enzo rescues her from Stefano’s house. They move into an apartment but remain platonic, studying together at night to train as computer technicians. Lila also gets a job at Bruno Soccavo's meat factory to earn a living.
Elena, on the other hand, completes her studies. After dating a student political leader, Franco Mari, she meets Pietro Airota, the son of a famous scholar. They hit it off and get engaged right before she graduates. She also writes a short novel about her childhood in Naples and her experiences with Donato Sarratore in Ischia that is accepted for publication.
Before moving to Milan, Elena visits Lila. She finds her at the factory, exhausted from the shifts. Elena tells Lila about her soon-to-be-published novel, and returns to her a copy of 'The Blue Fairy', a story Lila wrote when they were children. Elena knows that "her author's voice" is but a pale imitation of Lila's style in that story. Lila receives the book without emotion and as Elena leaves, she tosses it in a fire.
After Elena’s book is published, at her very first bookstore reading in Milan, she is attacked by an elderly professor, who dismisses her work as vulgar frivolity. Elena is at a loss of words but that is when a young man in the audience steps in, to defends her.
Book 2 ends with Elena realizing that the young man is none other than Nino Sarratore, the boy whose attention she and Lila fought over. It is as much a cliffhanger as Book 1 that ends with Lila's marriage.
The trailers of Season 2 of 'My Brilliant Friend' look like it will concentrate mainly on the Ischia holiday that again contrasts how the girls support and harm each other in turn.
My Brilliant Friend' will premiere on Monday, March 16 at 10/9c.