Ladies and gentlemen, hell has frozen over.
That’s right – you should grab bottles of water and canned goods and take cover and prepare for the following: swarms of locusts, Lindsay Lohan becoming the most reliable actress of our time, and the Kardashian family at large developing some real talent. Yes, the world – at least the world as I know it – has ended, because tonight on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I found myself really rooting for Kyle Richards.
I wish someone had cued me into the fact that the first twenty minutes of the show was just filler. I could have spent that time folding my laundry or reading Dostoevsky or counting my teeth using only my tongue in order to collect the strength I’d need to simply view the real portion of the episode when Kim went legitimately batshit crazy, Brandi became a slurring enabler, Kyle showed more true fear than she ever has on this show before, and Lisa R became the new Goddess of Truth, who I shall make time in my busy schedule to worship daily.
It all started so simply. But what I now realize those sneaky imps at Bravo were doing was creating some classic misdirection. The Spa Day that it seemed the episode would revolve around – ugh, I thought, another fucking spa day? – was in fact just the MacGuffin, that sneaky little plot device that has no real impact on the actual story.
(Shout out to Andy Cohen: Hitchcock would be proud. Or he’d roll over in his grave to have just been referenced in a recap of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Oh well – he’d have a reaction is what I’m saying.)
We fade in on a beautiful morning and I can’t help but wonder if Lisa Vanderpump wakes up in her luxurious bedroom that takes up an entire wing of her grand castle and gently removes her pink silk sleep mask as the gorgeous California sun tumbles through the windows and then, even before she has her first cup of tea, mumbles fuck, because she has just realized that today is going to be one of those days when she must spend producer-mandated time with a bunch of women she doesn’t really care for anymore.
Yes, my friends, it’s Spa Day, and I’m distressed to report that mail is still delivered on what should be a national holiday when the ladies of Beverly Hills pile into a luxury bus and head north for a day of pampering, which will be a nice change for them since normally they spend the daylight hours digging trenches for minimum wage.
Arriving first at the bus are Kyle and Eileen, two women who are juggling quite a bit of stress. See, Kyle is still coping with the nightmare of dropping her daughter off at college and the dawning realization that she won’t be around anymore to make sure that her eighteen year old is wearing the proper amount of designer labels on a daily basis. Eileen is still waking up in the dead of night and bolting straight up in bed while drenched in sweats as she deals with the post-traumatic ramifications of Brandi slinging wine into her face for a reason that would only have made sense if you were bipolar or hammered or both.
As they greet one another, the other women arrive and I’m struck again at how long their greetings take because they all insist on doing the double-kiss thing and I’m starting to believe that habit is their way of cutting down on the amount of time they actually have to talk to one another. Yolanda is not going to be massaged with the rest of the gang today because she is still in New York helping her daughter get settled, and her absence is a little scary because she seems to be the only one who can kind of reign Brandi in these days – and the default caretaker for the woman with the best ass on television who shows up and announces that she is on her best behavior for the outing is Kim, a woman who seems to have trouble forming words and making them come out of those lip-shaped things on her face.
The women launch into their favorite topic on the way to the spa: the global debt crisis. I kid! They are discussing pubic hair, and I think we are only about five episodes or so into this season and I have heard more about the bush these women do or do not rock than I have about maybe anything else and I’m going to take some time out of this recap to make a public plea: please stop talking about pubes. I’m no prude, but I think one – or seven – conversations about landing strips would suffice for a season and it’s really just better for my psyche to never imagine what Kim’s vagina looks like.
Anyhoo, at the beautiful spa the women are greeted with flutes of champagne by the staff and a flute of orange juice for Kim since she’s in recovery. They toast to a perfect day, and somewhere in the distance the Gods began to giggle.
Dividing up into two groups, the Housewives settle in for massages. One group is made up of the happy triad of Kyle, Kim, and Lisa R. while the other group is Eileen, Lisa, and Brandi and Eileen tries not to twitch as she has to lie topless beside the person she’s terrified of and tries to smile as Brandi tosses out random comments about anal sex at a spa before noon.
Eileen, a working actress, has to skedaddle from the festivities after the massage to get to the set, so she does not get the chance to join the lunch and wine tasting that is the next stop on The Day of Relaxation. Why would they go to a wine tasting when Kim is there? Well, it was revealed that there was some kind of miscommunication that transpired that led the group to an alcohol-soaked lunch, which translates into a producer wanted to see what would happen when you brought a sober alcoholic into a wine bar. It felt genuinely uncomfortable to watch Kim sip a fruit smoothie at the very end of the bar as the rest of them swirled and sipped Merlot, and Kyle took a moment to make sure that her sister was okay. I give her a hard time because I tend to find her kind of insufferable, but I liked that moment; it showed Kyle was aware and concerned, and I know what it’s like when someone you care about has traveled down a bumpy and scary road and all you want is for that to never again be that person’s destination. To her credit, Kim got up and left the restaurant and went to make a phone call to avoid feeling temptation or anger and I commend her for making that choice, but the whole thing still felt manipulated and insensitive and, frankly, kind of gross.
We’ll be brought back to wine country in just a minute, but first we are flown quickly across the country so we can bear witness to Yolanda and her genetically-perfect daughters as they collectively select the photographs that Bella will put in her book for model castings. Gigi, Bella’s older sister, helps her select the pictures, and since Gigi is a no-joke model – seriously, the girl models for Tom Ford – Bella listens to the advice. I could have done without the plodding imitation of Tyra Banks, but I guess that’s the kind of fun models have when they’re not starving themselves beautiful.
And up until the second commercial break or so, the episode was kind of dull, but not to worry because these women are in it (an incredibly exploitive show) to win it (a contract for next season so they can exploit themselves some more).
But before all hell broke loose, there was a silly little scene in the bus as the women came home from their day of enforced togetherness. All of them shared the fantasies they harbored. Lisa R's fantasy involved Brad Pitt. Kim's fantasy was to be alone on an island, which is not sad at all. Kylie's was to become an anonymous stripper – and girls, there's nothing wrong with dreaming big. And Brandi's? Brandi's fantasy was to walk in on the man she's in love with as he's banging another girl and he sees her enter the room but he can't stop to apologize because he still needs to cum.
Stop being so judgmental, people! Haven’t we all happily dreamed of being cheated on?
There’s really no time, though, to delve into Brandi’s odd choice of turn-ons because we have to get to the heart of the episode. Just know as we journey there together that the heart is only faintly beating.
Before the real carnage, Kyle and Kim meet up at a store where Kyle is overheard telling the clerk that she has to return the “Herve” dress, which is a nice quick way for her to reference Herve Leger, a designer who specializes in expensive bandage dresses. So whoever bet that Kyle would toss in a designer’s name by the half-hour mark, you win the prize! Kyle is wearing gladiator sandals that look mildly ridiculous on her and off she and Kim go to lunch.
All we really need to know about this moment is that the sisters are getting along beautifully and speaking honestly about Kim’s sobriety and how strong she is now. Basically, what’s going on is that The Real Housewives is now adopting an idea from Chekov: show a gun in act one (Kim’s sobriety) and the audience should prepare for that gun to fire maniacally by act three – which means that Kim’s strength and sobriety will be seriously called into question. I guessed that’s where we were heading since I’d seen the previews for this episode, but I had no idea how messy that symbolic gunshot would actually be and I never imagined the gore that would be left behind in its wake.
The next theme event is Poker Night at Eileen’s house. Lisa and Yolanda are the only ones not attending because Yolanda is still in New York and Lisa is in Cabo with Giggy, who is seen without a onesie! I was so unaccustomed to seeing the dog naked that I almost blushed scarlet just looking at him. All the other women were there though, and holy hell, did it devolve into a shit show.
Kyle and Brandi traveled to Malibu together and we got to see two things that make me roll my eyes to the heavens: Brandi pre-gaming by downing wine before the event and Kyle saying sentences like, “How do you think I felt?” when someone else is expressing having an emotion. I hate you, Kyle, I thought to myself.
That hatred would be gone by the end of the episode.
I don’t know who she pissed off at Bravo, but Lisa R. had to travel to Malibu with Kim, and the moment that Lisa got into the back seat of the car and Kim squawked that she felt “ornery” – which needed subtitles because Kim can’t create language all that easily – Lisa realized that something scary was taking place and that part of being on a reality show was that, if the lunatic sitting beside her attacked, the cameras would probably just keep filming.
It took maybe a minute for Lisa to ask Kim if she had been drinking, and there was a beat – or five – while Kim made her brain create messages to send to her mouth and then she denied ingesting any alcohol. But Lisa called it immediately and said to the camera that Kim seemed “fucked uuuuuuuuuup,” having no idea yet what was in store. Because Kim – who if she was not drinking or on drugs might have legitimately have had a stroke because her behavior was so markedly off and terrifying – told Lisa that she was sad that her sick ex-husband had not been around and Lisa tried to comfort her by saying that she felt for her and that’s when Kim snapped.
“Well, don’t fucking feel sorry for me. You don’t know what I go through at night,” raged the sober woman with something that resembled real menace in her eyes. And all Lisa could do was say soothing things like, “You’re right, I don’t,” and scope out the car they were in to see if there was a sunroof she could maybe crawl through to her safety. But no, we’re not even close to done with the car ride from the depths of hell, because soon Kim – whom I’d imagine every studio on the planet would love to insure for a project – told Lisa that she wanted to act again and play “murderess, sexy,” and then she formed her eyes into little slits and started whispering “fuck you” to Lisa, who wasn’t sure if this was Kim’s way of playing murderess-sexy, and where was Brandi, that sane girl who only threw wine that one time and had never seemed like she was about to cut Lisa’s spleen out during a car ride?
The look on Lisa’s face when she arrived safely at Eileen’s house said it all: she was so relieved to be around witnesses! And after a tour of the house, during which Brandi compared Eileen’s style to American Psycho, the women sat down so Eileen’s husband could teach them how to play poker.
Things were bad from the start. Brandi, who got into the car with Kyle earlier while holding three bottles of wine, was nasty-girl drunk and Kim – the only one in the vicinity who has a chance to make Brandi appear somewhat lucid – was sucking on a mini cigar like she was taking a bong hit. Brandi made some rude comments to Kyle about being stupid because she couldn’t understand the rules of poker and when Kim won a round, she kind of started tonguing Brandi’s cheek in that way we all do upon winning a card game.
And there looking at it all was Kyle. Kyle sat and tried to remain gracious and involved with the game and she tried to chat with her hostess, but from her peripheral vision all she could see was her sister – the one who was supposed to be sober and strong – clearly on something and unraveling on camera. The genuine fear and sadness on Kyle’s face hit me somewhere real, and I was devastated for her that she could see that the scary cycle was starting again.
She finally confronted Kim about her behavior, and after saying she hadn’t drank or smoked or taken anything, Kim finally let drop that Monty, her ex-husband, had given her a pill before she left the house and the sadness Kyle exhibited broke my heart. But the thing is, none of it broke Kim’s heart because addicts, due to their sickness, are selfish and what she apparently saw on a night when she told random women to go fuck themselves was that Kyle had called her out – and the Richards sisters were raised to believe that you keep your secrets until you die a bitter death and you never let anyone know the truth, which is an odd way of life for people who have chosen to go on a reality show.
But listen: there’s no time to examine irony now, because Brandi – drunk, stupid Brandi – chose to make herself Kim’s protector and her enabler and she decides that Kim should go home because she’s just been going through so much and she can’t be all things to all people, the most ridiculous statement uttered during an episode riddled with ridiculous statements. Before she leaves through, Kim wants to slur some goodbyes at the people who now genuinely fear her and she stumbles back into the house to say goodbye to everybody but her bitch sister, Kyle, the woman who had the absolute gall to mutter out loud that Kim might have compromised her sobriety, because Kim believes she was acting like she had it all together, and without Kyle saying the incriminating words, nobody would have known she was high as a kite and how dare she and all she was doing was trying to authentically act murderess-sexy, which, by the way, is what I think I’ll name my daughter one day.
Realizing she was being ignored and truly afraid for her sister, Kyle attempted to speak to Kim before she left. Kim was having none of it and neither was her bony bodyguard Brandi, who all but threw herself between Kim and Kyle as Kyle was trying to get some answers from her sister. At one point, Kyle kind of nudged Brandi away from something that was real and private – as private as something can be when you’re all wearing microphones – and Brandi did not like being touched so she pushed Kyle hard and screamed at her and off into the night went Kim, a skeleton of a woman who will probably never get better because she was raised to deny truth. And back at Eileen’s house, Kyle just stood there and she was trembling – and it was all very real and just so very sad.