In the multi-faced narrative of ‘The White Lotus,’ the plot revolving around the two couples vacationing together — Cameron (Theo James) and Daphne (Meghann Fahy) and Ethan (Will Sharpe) and Harper (Aubrey Plaza) — is quite insulated. Besides their encounters with the two Italian sex workers, they don’t interact with the other guests at the hotel, keeping the range of their collective narrative somewhat restrained. But this allows extensive exploration of the dynamic between these four people.
As season 2 ends, one of the questions we are left with revolves around Harper’s potential infidelity. Here is what we think on the subject. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Did Harper and Cameron Have Sex?
In his post-season-finale commentary, series creator Mike While implied that the answer to the question about Harper’s infidelity had been consciously kept vague. “The Question of whether Harper and Cameron did more than the kiss. I think probably, that’s just all that happened. At the same time, there’s some time that isn’t completely accounted for, and I think that’s why it’s eating at Ethan.”
People who have been in a relationship for a long time generally gain an understanding of each other that lets them at least have an inclination about whether the other person is being untruthful. It’s true for Harper; we see her forcing a confrontation with Ethan after finding the condom wrapper and making him tell the truth. It’s likely true for Ethan as well.
When Ethan first asks Harper about what she was doing inside the latched hotel room, she claims she was looking for her hat. In the finale, she admits that Cameron touched her on the leg the night before, and they kissed that day until Ethan began knocking on the door, prompting Cameron to leave through the door on the wall. Ethan still doesn’t believe her, pointing out those missing minutes White mentioned.
As an actress, Plaza has made a career out of portraying unconventional characters. In comparison, Harper is relatively prim and proper. It can be argued that Harper was sexually repressed before coming to Hawaii. Her relationship with Ethan was caught in limbo, and she had concluded that Ethan preferred to watch porn and masturbate over having sex with her. Cameron is the antithesis of everything Harper, an employment lawyer, believes in — a misogynistic and vile wretch who exploits everyone around him. At the same time, underneath that contempt, Harper probably feels a sense of fascination with the man. Cameron is so different from her husband and even her idea of decency that a part of Harper probably finds him attractive.
Arguably, the biggest telltale sign of Harper sleeping with Cameron is her emotional scene with Ethan when she asks her husband what would happen to them. She evidently feels guilty about her actions, and if it were only kissing, as she told her husband earlier, her sense of guilt wouldn’t have been this prominent.
What happens between Ethan and Daphne is also consciously kept vague. If they did have sex, it helps Ethan get over his wife’s infidelity, just as Daphne promised. Either way, he comes out of the experience with the willingness to forgive Harper. If we continue with the same thought process, we can surmise that mutual infidelity reconciles them and strengthen their marriage. This is implicated when Ethan and Harper accidentally break the Testa di Moro statue — a symbol of infidelity, secrecy, and violence — in their room.
Now, one can argue that the method of Harper and Ethan’s reconciliation is not really sustainable in the long run. We just might get answers on this if these two characters reappear in season 3.