Before anyone loses their shit too completely because Meghan and Shannon did not immediately teleport themselves to a hospital in the desert so they could hold the hand of a wounded liar, allow us to consider some of the many reasons that perhaps prompted them not to go:
1. They needed time to make a casserole.
2. Meghan gazed deeply into her husband’s eyes, saw what she believed was a sparkle, and realized the glistening shimmer covering his pupils meant there was a possibility he was going to attempt to be kind to her for fifteen whole minutes that day. Since such an event happens even less frequently than an eclipse, there was no way she was gonna miss it to go hang out with Vicki fucking Gunvalson.
3. Shannon – though she was blessedly not a passenger on the Vomit RV to Hell where some shit-talking about her vow renewal ceremony went down – knows Vicki well enough to realize how emphatically not happy Vicki is that Shannon’s life is improving and therefore doesn’t want to extend herself for someone who recently shrieked, “You’re a cheater!” into her husband’s face at a party Vicki was lucky enough to be invited to in the first place.
4. Vicki sucks stringy antelope balls.
Think about it really: how many co-workers have you jetted off to visit in the hospital? I work in a place with a lot of people. I’m very good friends with some and I’m cordial and collegial to the rest. Those who I no longer qualify as “work friends” are people I’d do anything for, and that includes making hospital visits where I will show up with a bag crammed full of their favorite candy and a Cookie Monster stuffed animal because dammit if that furry blue monster doesn’t just make everything all better. For the rest of the people I work with, I kick in some money for the “Get Well Soon!” fruit basket and I sign the card someone shoves under my face while I’m trying to make photocopies. What I’m saying here is that Vicki Gunvalson is essentially Meghan and Shannon’s colleague and they owe her nothing. Not only that, but Vicki was rude as fuck to Meghan upon meeting her because Vicki harbors bizarre delusions of grandeur within her mottled mind and she sees this series as her show and she has somehow yet to grow out of the eighth grade mentality that whispers to her hourly that it’s up to her to haze the new girl. As for Shannon, Vicki lied to Shannon’s face for well over a year about her boyfriend having cancer in order to get some sympathy. Ergo, no matter what Tamra and Vicki’s BFF Jesus might say, Meghan and Shannon are and should be going nowhere. Vicki can stay in that hospital until one of her children shows up to get her. She can lie there until someone builds her a cross made out of tongue depressors that she can nail herself to with used Q-tips. I realize Vicki hates being alone more than any living being on this or any other planet, but perhaps being alone with her ravaged and selfish thoughts will finally be the punishment she deserves for having been such a self-righteous asshole for more seasons than I care to count.
None of this ranting is to say that I enjoy watching terrible things happen to Vicki. In fact, I’d be thrilled to never again watch anything happen to Vicki. Along with my vivid hopes for world peace, an entire do-over of this election cycle, and Twix bars with no caloric content, I sometimes lull myself to sleep at night thinking about a universe in which Vicki Gunvalson is no longer a Real Housewife. Unfortunately, I long ago made peace with the fact that David Duke would sooner buy a menorah and lead his followers in a rousing rendition of Hava Nagila than Vicki would finally drop that Swarovski orange and fade away into oblivion. Like the vodka she enjoys mainlining, this show is her lifeline; she’s clearly going nowhere.
I do understand why Heather and Kelly believed they had a real shot in convincing Meghan and Shannon to hightail it to the hospital to check on their injured co-worker. After all, they were in the accident with Vicki. They know just how jarring and scary the moment was. They are stuck in some sand dunes waiting for word about their friends. It makes sense for them to hope someone would run off to comfort that terrible woman. But it also makes sense for women who have had nothing but a contentious relationship with Vicki over the last year to only wish her well from afar. Will this refusal to show up at a hospital come back to haunt them? Probably. I mean, there are three hours of an eventual reunion to fill up and Kelly screaming “Cunt!” during Meghan’s pre-insemination party will only cover two hours of airtime. Still, I’m going on the record and saying I don’t think any of these women made the wrong choice here – and I make that proclamation knowing full well that Kelly Dodd will think I’m a dumb fuck because of it.
This week’s episode kicks off three hours after the accident with Tamra being wheeled out of the hospital by her husband. She’s in decent shape, but rather than drive all those hours back to her comfortable home, she decides it makes more sense for her to rest in the barren desert camp where Heather and Kelly still reside. I for one am shocked that Heather hasn’t called her chauffer or her chef or her butler or the doyenne of her main foyer to come get her out of this arid hellhole where her friends have dropped like flies, but Heather really is tougher than she seems. She’s holding down that dusty fort like a fucking pro. Already having been in touch with Vicki’s daughter, she can inform Tamra that Vicki will be okay. Tamra is relieved to hear this information, but she’s also feeling all kinds of guilty. She was the one racing that RV over the peeks and deep-dropping valleys of the desert landscape and those actions put her friend in the hospital. That’s a rough situation to find oneself in and I don’t envy Tamra for the tumult she feels racing through her insides. Still, pretending she will not repress those feelings in order to have more energy to strike out against Meghan and Shannon for not immediately rushing to Vicki’s side would be nothing short of an idiotic assumption. She may have found Jesus and all, but Tamra can still project blame with the very best of them.
As for the women who are about to be called selfish bitches, Meghan welcomes Shannon and David to their lovely home and immediately announces the happy news that she is pregnant. Then she pulls up her sporty polo shirt to show off her baby bump – the one that doesn’t yet exist on her perfectly flat tummy – and, since she’s with child and all, Shannon kindly restrains herself from slapping Meghan and her negligible BMI as hard as she possibly can. The two couples then climb in golf carts that are segregated by sex – you know, so Jim doesn’t have to be around the newest mother of his child any more than he must – and they all head out to a beautifully manicured golf course that looks all the more lovely when it’s contrasted with the misery of the desert where the horror of last week took place. At some point, Meghan finally tells Shannon about the accident. (Why she waited until they were halfway through a golf game is beyond me, but perhaps that was the call of one of the ever-present producers.) Shannon is horrified to hear the news. Just as she is inhaling in shock, her phone rings. It’s Heather calling to inform them how sad it is that Vicki is alone…and that Brianna is home sick with the flu and her two young children…and that nobody has Vicki’s son’s phone number…and, once again, it’s so devastating Vicki is alone…and Meghan and Shannon are so close to that hospital. Yes, every guilt trip imaginable is dropped on the slender collective shoulders of Meghan and Shannon in that moment. Meghan responds with a blisteringly cold, “That’s so sad,” that she then follows up with a staunch silence that almost made me high-five my television screen because it’s rare to see someone so blatantly unwilling to be coerced into doing something she refuses to do. As for Shannon, she doesn’t know what Heather wants from her in this moment, but it seems as though Heather wants her to rush to the bedside of a woman who has been fucking horrible to her and Shannon is not having any of it, not even when Heather calls back and reiterates that the rest of them are in shock. That’s right around the time Meghan jumps in to the conversation to inform Heather she’s just Mapquested the route and the group that’s suffering from PTSD is only forty-five short minutes away from their ailing friend’s bedside so perhaps they should go ahead and drive there since, after all, Vicki is their friend. Kelly and Heather are stunned – stunned! – hearing such a suggestion. They also appear stunned at hearing Meghan intonate that Vicki is not her friend. Um, have these women been paying attention? Vicki has treated Meghan like dogshit. She repeatedly disregarded the relationship Meghan built with her stepchildren. Meghan publicly exposed Vicki’s boyfriend as a fucking liar. For Meghan to say that she and Vicki are not friends is the kind of sentence that shouldn’t elicit any sort of reaction, certainly not shock.
Want to check in with human monster Kelly Dodd to see how she feels about Meghan and Shannon refusing to go visit Vicki? Well, Kelly – the sweetest woman on the planet as long as the planet has just been ravaged by a zombie apocalypse – believes Shannon and Meghan are seriously out of line. She would go see someone in the hospital! And she would do it “out of human decency.” I, for one, believe Kelly when she says this. Has she not illustrated time and time again this season how very decent she can be? As for Shannon’s husband – the one Kelly said looked like a pedophile during one of her sparkling moments of decency – he suggests Vicki text Brooks to come sit by her side. David is cold, people. I might love him.
Back in Glamis, Tamra arrives and is greeted by Heather with a hug. She looks shaky, asks for some wine that Heather refuses to give her because she’s on painkillers, and then settles down in a chair while Kelly drones on and on about how she thought Vicki and Tamra were going to end up as paraplegics because Kelly is nothing if not walking fucking sunshine. Meanwhile, back at Meghan’s air-conditioned oasis, the two couples tuck into some phenomenal looking chocolate cake and check out the selfies that were snapped of Vicki as she was air-lifted to a hospital where it was proven that she is, in fact, just fine. Shannon is perplexed that in what could have been a dire moment someone took pictures. Heather, Tamra, and Kelly are still perplexed that Shannon and Meghan haven’t run like track stars directly to the hospital to soothe a woman they both hate. And I am perplexed because I am trying to figure out where I can get a slice of that chocolate cake delivered to me on my couch at this very second.
Over in the dunes, the ladies are sitting beside a bonfire and they FaceTime Vicki. She mentions her neck was in spasms, that she forgives Tamra, and that life sucks because nobody is there with her. I’m willing to wager a small fortune that she did text Brooks from that hospital bed with the thought racing through her loins that maybe he’d hear she was hurt and rethink leaving her, but if that event actually transpired, it was sadly kept off camera. Instead, the women profess to love one another madly and this might be the thing that gets Vicki off several shit lists sooner than anyone ever expected. In even more surprising news, Kelly lavishes (rather deserved) praise upon Heather for staying calm in a crisis and for being so loving. Yes, the same lady who has sneered into Heather’s face and behind Heather’s back for weeks and weeks proclaims her to be an absolute angel and it would be sweet to see if I didn’t expect Kelly to take a shit in one of Heather’s shoes come sunrise.
The trip to Glamis is finally over and the ladies finally get the hell out of there. Meghan and Shannon are still together at Meghan’s house, though, and they call Tamra to check on her. It’s during this conversation that Tamra recounts how horrific the accident was. She gives details they didn’t hear yesterday and then she chokes up and says how terrible she thinks it is that neither one of them went to see Vicki. She had to take an Uber home! She was wearing a paper gown! How dare they say she is not a friend? Listen, I get Tamra’s thought process here in a way. She has forgiven Vicki’s horrendous behavior time and time again and cannot comprehend that someone else is not willing to compromise an entire belief system the way she’s so willing to do. But what she fails to understand is that some people are not willing to accept being shit on for what feels like centuries by a nasty insurance broker and still end up running to her bedside when she’s suffering. Is one person right here and one person is wrong? I’d almost be willing to concede Tamra has a point – until she ends the phone call with, “You know what, Meghan? Go to hell.” My Lord, what would Jesus say to that bit of verbal vomit, Ms. Judge?
Back at home and rocking a neck brace, Vicki calls her daughter to see how her recent PET scan went. Brianna is depressed and tells her mother how very down she feels. Vicki’s response is to literally say, “Don’t you be depressed when I’m depressed.” Ladies and gentlemen, Vicki Gunvalson! Even her own daughter wonders how much her mother might be embellishing her ailments, but it’s hard to concentrate on any of that truth when Meghan has just shown up at Vicki’s front door. She’s starting to feel guilty that she didn’t understand the severity of the accident and she stops by Vicki’s home to give her one of the candles Jimmy makes so he doesn’t have to talk to his wife in the evening-time. Vicki mentions she has a concussion and she feels achey, to which Meghan begins to cry because she cannot believe how reckless Tamra – you know, the lady who just told her to go to hell – was while driving with three lives in her hand. To Vicki’s credit (it hurts just typing those words), she sticks up for Tamra and absolves her of any blame. But then she cannot help but mutter about how she doesn’t understand why it takes something life threatening for Meghan to show her some compassion. Meghan stammers in response, feels horribly guilty, and bursts into even more tears while Vicki somehow manages to hobble away from this scenario with Meghan apologizing to her for not being willing to overlook all the terrible things Vicki has done to her in the past and this scene alone has probably earned Vicki a fucking raise and a spot on next season’s show and I think that means I should just let go of the fantasy that she’ll ever leave Bravo and instead double down on my hope for that zero-calorie Twix bar.
Over in CUT Fitness, Tamra is testing what she’s capable of doing and listening to Jesus’ voice bellowing for her to “slow her roll” until she feels better. It’s not just Jesus telling her to take it easy. Her trainer and her husband are also cautioning her to focus on her health and not push herself to enter a competition until she’s actually ready. Back at Vicki’s brown house, she continues to hold court from her recliner while she accepts visitors. Heather is up next and girlfriend is pissed to hear Meghan came by since the drive from her Newport home to Vicki’s house is actually farther than the drive would have been from the golf course to the hospital where everyone pretends Vicki was fighting for her very last breath. Kelly and Tamra come over next and this foursome – having survived a trauma together and banding tight over which lady they should collectively loathe next – is now as close as can be. Yes, Vicki has shimmied herself back into the group and the entire thing is frankly revolting to watch.
And now that she’s firmly been installed on the shit list, Shannon wanders into a dinner with Tamra and Heather. She’s wary of being around friends who are clearly annoyed with her, but Shannon might be in luck because these two seem to hate Meghan right now way more. They don’t understand, for instance, why Meghan didn’t tell Shannon about the accident the second she arrived at her home or why she perhaps didn’t hire a skywriter so Shannon could glimpse the news while she was driving. Shannon is quick to say that she doesn’t believe Meghan had any ill intent by not telling her the news sooner and she all but begs them not to allow this incident to come between them and Meghan. Heather, however, is not ready forgive Meghan or her fetus for not calling to check in and see how Heather is doing after the accident. And Tamra? Well, Tamra still cannot understand why Shannon didn’t race to her mortal enemy’s bedside, even though that enemy was released from the hospital later that same night.
“Now that you know the whole story, though, I’m a little annoyed that you’re not more annoyed with Meghan,” Heather huffs to Shannon after finally deciding to forgive Shannon for not giving Vicki a sponge bath or booking into her hospital room with a new pair of sweatpants. But Meghan? Meghan is dead to Heather and to Tamra too and it doesn’t seem to matter that Shannon is trying with all of her might to defend the woman who made the very same choice Shannon made. In fact, Heather announces that if Meghan so much as tries to turn her guilt in Heather’s direction, Heather will not be okay with it. Now, I don’t know exactly what that kind of threat from Heather Dubrow entails, but I’m quite sure she can bury several bodies across the vast acreage of Chateau Dubrow and it might be wise not to piss her off, especially while that place is still a construction zone and there’s cement aplenty dotting the premises.
Once she gets home, Shannon roams her mansion and makes note of all she must soon part with since the buyer of her home wants her furniture, too. Fine. She will give up the tufted ottoman thing in her foyer that I fucking love, but – so help her – her tchotchkes are going with her. I can’t help it – I love this woman. I love her quirky humor. I love her weird bunny tchotchkes. I even love her when she folds and finally reaches out to Vicki, but only because she is, as she so succinctly puts it, the last asshole to cave. She leaves Vicki a voicemail and lets her know she’s thinking about her – and her work as a decent human being is now done.
Not in any way done is Heather. She’s meeting up with Meghan to express how disappointed she is with Meghan’s behavior and it’s a meeting of misery right there at that table. Meghan announces she’s depressed. Heather announced she’s suffering from PTSD. Then they get into it. Yes, Heather hung up on Meghan. True, Meghan didn’t know quite how bad the accident was. In fact, she texted Vicki after her phone call with Heather and Vicki was communicating back, an act that made Meghan see the accident as more minor than it was.
“I can only understand what I heard on the phone,” Meghan pleads. But Heather’s not done. She’s still furious and her face is hard and blank when Meghan bursts into a litany of apologies – but by apology number eighty-six, Heather’s rage is finally sated and they end the meal agreeing to stay friends. Such a truce is probably a good idea. After all, Meghan may very well need a place to stay someday down the bumpy line, right?
Next week, Vicki will explore the glory that is Tinder. And in totally unrelated news, I will be touring some convents because I find it best to exist in an online world where I don’t have to worry about swiping in any direction and landing on an image of Vicki Gunvalson’s face.
Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York. She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle. Also be sure to check out her website at nellkalter.com Her Twitter is @nell_kalter