As soon as the ball drops, the resolutions begin. Bursting like fireworks, they appear list-style in my mind: BE NICER TO MY MOTHER; SCOOT MY ASS LOWER TO THE GROUND WHEN I'M DOING SQUATS; DESTROY THOSE WHO FUCK WITH ME IN WAYS THAT ARE BOTH INVENTIVE AND PERMANENT. It's just the standard list, but it makes me realize I'm about to embark on a very busy year, what with the knowledge that there's more than one person I need to destroy. But rather than feel anxious, I am instead comforted by a wave of unifying humanity. I know I am not alone in making grand plans. I'm quite certain the cast of Vanderpump Rules just made some important resolutions, too. 

I think it all went down like this: One by one, our Vanderpumpers gathered together in the last moments of 2016 in a spiritual temple Jax built with his own hands out of empty boxes of steroids. This behemoth was bound together with his melted down breast tissue and even though the temple still leaned alarmingly to the left since Jax can't do anything right including building religious monuments, everyone who entered the 8th Wonder of the World still knew immediately that they were in a very special place. As The Chosen Ones, they began by singing songs about how much more satisfying it is to live life while being followed by cameras, their lilting voices rising melodically into the darkening sky. James used his cheap little keyboard to keep the rhythm going and Lala only slipped out of the temple once to properly suck the dome of the Range Rover rep who selected her to again be the recipient of one of the hundreds of free trucks the company gives away annually. Since everyone in the temple hates her, nobody even noticed she was gone. 

Once the song portion of the service ended, Jax invited each person to come to the pulpit to share his or her resolution. Oh friends, I'll bet it was glorious! Imagine Kristen vowing to act human at least once a week and Katie swearing she'll use this year to let her nose ring hole close up. Let your mind swim over to the happy place where Sandoval and Schwartz are cavorting naked because they announced after the stroke of midnight that they're madly in love with one other and this year will be about being true to themselves. Consider the majesty that must have filled that temple when Jax promised to never again borrow Brittany's bra and Stassi decreed 2017 as The Year She Would Stop Acting Like A Character In An Afterschool Special About Tween Bullying. I am so overcome by how beautiful it all must have been that I almost wish I'd included into my own list of resolutions a vow about being kinder to this merry band of sociopaths, but lo, I did not make such a promise and I don't believe in retroactive resolutions. As a result, I suppose I'll continue to write about the things these people actually do and say and if they come off looking like crusty demons because of their own actions, well, that's really on them.

During the last two episodes, Scheana was torn limb from limb as punishment for something that never actually happened, so this week she is of course jumping on a plane to go and spend the weekend inside a hotel with her tormentors. While I easily agree that Scheana choosing to go on this vacation indicates that she might be a crazy person, I don't have too much of a desire to blame the victim here – especially when the victimizers revel in being such unrepentant assholes. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, a NASCAR event and Ariana's birthday are about to converge in ways someone not at all like me might see as magical, but the joy is compromised because Lala is a no show. Who else thinks she's off having emergency lockjaw surgery? In lieu of flowers, she requests that you send money, buckets of concealer, and leather shorts that will look pretty when they're crammed up her uterus as she convalesces. 

Tonight’s episode begins with Ariana’s birthday crew arriving in San Francisco.  It’s there that Ariana reads aloud the text Lala sent to explain her absence.  Now, of course that text doesn’t actually explain a single thing, but Lala does make sure to thank Ariana for always being kind to her – which is code for “Thanks for never calling me ‘a harlot’ on television” – and to wish her boo a really happy birthday.  Rather than rejoice at the notion that a girl he once begged to fuck him will not be along on the same trip he’s now on with his girlfriend – who was also his girlfriend when he begged Lala to fuck him – Jax makes sure to roll his eyes and heave a few more anti-Lala words into the arid air.  You’d think Lala not showing up could put a serious damper on this trip, but Sandoval will not allow that to happen!  He pulls up in a giant RV and they all cheer that they will be in such close quarters and somewhere Lala is high-fiving herself for getting out of being stuck inside of a trailer where one must shower over the toilet with Jax.

Poor Scheana didn’t send a “happy birthday, boo!” text to Stassi, so now she’s stuck going to Montauk with her.  This is a very important trip, you guys.  Stassi is turning twenty-eight and she has not had a birthday trip in two entire years.  But now that she’s able to celebrate the significance of the day she was born, she would really like to start with a beer because it’s been almost an hour since she had anything to drink on the plane and if she has to look at herself in the mirror or gaze at the people she’s spending her birthday with, she’s gonna need a few cocktails.  Arriving at the Montauk Yacht Club, the girls are thrilled at how beautiful everything is and Scheana is hoping the external prettiness of the surroundings will maybe slide their way into the sludge-filled hearts and minds of Stassi, Kristen, and Katie.  See, Scheana really wants these girls to like her.  They never will, though, not really.  These are girls who are not comfortable unless there’s a target and I don’t care if Scheana joins them in Montauk or in Paris or in the visiting room of the psychiatric hospital Kristen will live in one day – no matter where they go, she will always be the one getting emotionally bitch-slapped.  Want proof?  How about Stassi telling Katie that she hopes this doesn’t turn out to be one of those vacations where Scheana tries to be all selfish and make things about her?  Um, pot?  The kettle wants you to know that you’re dead inside.

Back in Sonoma, Sandoval wants to make sure everyone knows that if Lala bails on this trip entirely, he will be livid.  As we all know, Sandoval being livid means there will be some tears coming, but Ariana is not gathering the Kleenex just yet.  She wants to wait until she has the full story before she judges Lala, but she does admit that this kind of action is just more fodder for the people who already think she’s shady as fuck.  As for the Montauk travelers, Kristen announces to Scheana that what happens in Montauk will not stay in Montauk because of Snapchat.  I think it’s sweet – and totally idiotic – that she doesn’t add that they are also willfully televising their trip so there goes any semblance of the sort of privacy some of these people would kill themselves if they ever had to live with for an extend period of time.

Since everybody else is currently on vacation, SUR is relatively empty and that means Lisa can hear Ariana clearly when she gets a call asking if she knows anything about where Lala happens to be.  Not only does Lisa not know where Lala is, but now she’s annoyed because she gave Lala a Saturday night off to go on a trip she never ended up going on and Lisa doesn’t mind things like bartenders who steal and have sweating issues, but she really doesn’t appreciate employing liars.

As for what I don’t really appreciate, I don’t love a twenty-eight year old woman announcing that since it’s her birthday, everyone has to drink, but then again, I am also a person who can go ten minutes without slugging back some vodka because I don’t fully hate myself.  While they recline on chairs that face away from the water – I’m guessing this idiotic choice is a lighting issue – Scheana quickly announces that she heard from Brittany that Lala never showed up in Sonoma because Scheana will now do anything to get the focus off how much she sucks and Lala’s suckage is so massive anyway that bringing her up in conversation is really Scheana’s best bet. 

Allow me just to say that I would rather be on one of those beach chairs that face away from the idyllic view of the water braiding Stassi’s hair and swearing that she really is the closest thing to royalty I’ve ever known than be in that RV in Sonoma as Jax pulls on his compression bra so his tits will heal nicely after the breast reduction surgery he swore he needed after taking supplements that he swears weren’t steroids.  (One of my favorite conversations I had with someone recently included him saying the line, “I take every supplement known to man, and I never grew tits.”)  So yeah, I’m gonna just continue to believe that it was either the steroids that did it or Jax spent his adolescence doing those “We must increase our bust!” exercises Judy Blume wrote about back in the days when things were better because nobody had any idea of what a Vanderpumper even was.

Also:  Over in Montauk, a seagull almost shit on Stassi – but he missed and now that bird needs to be fired.

As they recline on the beach, Kristen announces that she is in the perfect relationship, which I think means she only checks his email, Twitter, Instagram, and Uber receipts every three hours.  Still, though there’s probably not a real chance in hell that anybody like Kristen will ever have a truly normal relationship, this is still a hard thing for Stassi to hear because she’s single these days and – just in case you haven’t heard – it’s also her birthday.  Does Kristen care about how Stassi feels?  Well, let’s just say these are the kinds of friends who playfully rib one another about how one has a fake engagement ring she trots out every so often to appear desirable to the general public and the person who actually bought herself that fake ring responds by telling her dear friend, “You don’t even have a boyfriend so shut the fuck up.”  Relationship goals, am I right?  

Back in Los Angeles, James and his horn rim glasses appear as through from a waking nightmare.  The guy is two weeks sober and has been eating a lot of ice cream and he’s meeting up with some guy named Arthur who doesn’t mind being identified on national television as James Kennedy’s Friend and that sort of means I can’t really respect Arthur.  That said, Arthur used to work at PUMP and he’s trying to convince James that he is a “grown-ass man” and while it would probably be easier to convince certain Breibart writers that the earth is flat, I give Arthur credit for attempting to reason with a monster.  “What is underneath all of that?” Arthur asks, referring to the mountains of bullshit James has carted around and molded into carvings of his chin-ass for so many years.  James’ response is that he behaves like a cruel douchebag because of the devastation that is ravaging his insides because his parents are getting a divorce.  I feel bad – okay, I don’t even a teensy bit – that I laughed out loud when James declared his sadness over the divorce makes him crave whiskey.  Look, it’s not that divorce doesn’t suck massive stringy balls and it’s not as though a broken family will ever be what it once was, but dude, you are an adult and you do not even live with your parents and I’m willing to wager you have been a piece of shit your entire life, even while your parents ate dinner together at the same table.  In other words, I’ve got no patience for such total nonsense so maybe blame something else for the person you are.  

On their first night in Sonoma, Ariana and Brittany get trashed in the RV while the guys sit outside beside a mini grill and cook some hotdogs as Sandoval shares that he keeps trying to have sex with his girlfriend, but she hasn’t been into it.  He keeps trying to go down on her, Ariana complains – and to this I ask Ariana to please have her boyfriend give me a call.  Back outside, Sandoval declares loudly that jerking off is his only option these days and Jax jumps into the fray to reveal that he is the sole problem in his relationship with Brittany and he just knows he’s going to fuck things up with her because fucking things up royally is just the sort of thing Jax does.  (We also get some information that Jax not only has a foot fetish, but he prefers sweaty feet, and I’d talk a bit more about that but I’m currently breathing hard into a paper bag.) 

While Ariana pours tequila down her throat and laughs alongside another girl she actually likes and values, Stassi, Katie, Kristen, and Scheana head out to dinner in Montauk.  After doing some shots and shaming Scheana for not finishing hers, some guy named Matt wanders over to the table after signing a release and tries with all his might to be suave, but he doesn’t completely pull it off so the girls turn their attention to the bartender, a fellow wearing a fedora named Laertes.  “Isn’t that like a God?” Stassi asks – but let’s not blame her because she was very busy ruining other girls’ lives in high school and never got to finish Hamlet.  

Away from all the revelry, Lisa runs into James in the back room of SUR because she hasn’t yet figured out how to get her son to stop being friends with him and he keeps showing up everywhere.  But now that he’s right there in front of her, Lisa inquires if he knows where Lala is, but the only thing James knows is that he thought Lala was in Sonoma and, if she’s not, it’s probably because the secret guy she’s sleeping with is controlling and she’s afraid to make the wrong step around him because what if he takes away her Range Rover?  These are very real problems. 

At some point during their extremely awesome vacation, Katie makes sure to call her fiancé to say hello and to also remind everyone in Sonoma that Lala sucks.  The conversation between the two is sweet as can be and you just know a huge piece of Schwartz is wondering if maybe he can convince Katie to have a bi-coastal marriage because they just seem to get along a whole lot better when they aren’t in the same time zone.

Also:  I make fun of him sometimes because it’s so very easy to do, but I have to say that what Sandoval says to Ariana while they lie in an RV bed is really sweet and there sort of is nothing better than the man you care about making it a point to be by your side on your birthday.  Now, I’m not sure Ariana will remember having this conversation, but should it come back to her in fragments, I think she will appreciate it.  I’m rooting for these two.

And now it’s time for the annual tradition of skinny-dipping on Stassi’s birthday, but Scheana is ready to throw a wrench into the plans because she doesn’t feel like running at full speed into freezing cold water while naked and holding the hands of three girls who only like her sometimes.  She offers to video the wondrous experience, but she won’t get on board with The Friendship Rules According to Stassi – the ones enforced by a manic lieutenant named Kristen – so she waits on a ledge while the others run into the ocean because Stassi told them they have to or they can’t sit with her at lunch tomorrow.

Oh, and next week seems to be the time when Lala quits SUR and this show and goes off into the sunset where fun bitches drive free luxury vehicles.  For those of you who feel like you might end up missing her, I’m guessing she’ll be available to rent by the hour in a few years, so hang tight -- you will definitely see her again.

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 in paperback and for your Kindle.  Also be sure to check out her website at Her Twitter is @nell_kalter