'Hotel Portofino's Season 1 Finale Brings the "Denouements"

Natascha McElhone as Bella Ainsworth and Mark Umbers as Cecil Ainsworth are stuck married in 'Hotel Portofino' Season 1

Natascha McElhone as Bella Ainsworth and Mark Umbers as Cecil Ainsworth in 'Hotel Portofino' Season 1

© Eagle Eye Drama Limited 2021

It's the end of the first season of Hotel Portofino. Despite a clunky debut episode, the show was able to right the ship. The finale begins 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 aid 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 deceit, Cecil sends his brother a telegram explaining that the painting was not a Rubens and that 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 blames 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 we met her.

Olivia Morris as Alice Mays-Smith reads a book in 'Hotel Portofino' Season 1

Olivia Morris as Alice Mays-Smith in 'Hotel Portofino' Season 1

© Eagle Eye Drama Limited 2021

Meanwhile, Alice has been seething 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 longer 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 middling best, their parents conspire to make them miserable for their 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.

Oliver Dench as Lucian Ainsworth and Louisa Binder as Constance March play lawn games in 'Hotel Portofino' Season 1

Oliver Dench as Lucian Ainsworth and Louisa Binder as Constance March in 'Hotel Portofino' Season 1

© Eagle Eye Drama Limited 2021

Several hearts are broken. Paola, but she had already become aware of the realities; despite his heart-to-heart with Claudine, Nish couldn't bring himself to express his true feelings and risk losing his best friend. Constance has fallen in love with Lucian since day one and surely sensed 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. She realizes her letters are missing in her room and panics that her secret is out. Bella checks 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 that she lost her youngest to influenza, which was one reason they left England for a new start in Portofino.  

Count Albani makes it clear as the guests depart that 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; he calls it a gesture of friendship. She crumbles it up, saying she will never take money from him, and he will never touch her again. Brava, Bella!

Grazie for watching and reading the recaps and, until next time, arrivederci!

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Hotel Portofino

Step into the 1920s at the Italian Riviera for drama and mystery in the aftermath of WWI.
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Carmen Croghan

Carmen Croghan often looks at the state of her British addiction and wonders how it got so out of hand.  Was it the re-runs of Monty Python on PBS, that second British Invasion in the 80’s or the royal pomp and pageantry of Charles and Diana’s wedding? Whatever the culprit, it led her to a college semester abroad in London and over 25 years of wishing she could get back to the UK again.  Until she is able, she fills the void with British telly, some of her favorites being comedies such as The Office, The IT Crowd, Gavin and Stacey, Alan Partridge, Miranda and Green Wing. Her all-time favorite series, however, is Life On Mars. A part-time reference library staffer, she spends an inordinate amount of time watching just about any British series she can track down which she then writes about for her own blog Everything I Know about the UK, I Learned from the BBC.  She is excited to be contributing to Telly Visions and endeavors to share her Anglo-zeal with its readers.

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