A procession of D-List talent will invade our television screens tonight, but unfortunately I won't see it because I'm not able to tune in to the Republican National Convention. While I’m devastated that I will miss the prime time speaking slot awarded to Scott Baio – who is, very sadly and very apparently, the very best the party can offer – I’ve made my peace with the fact that I will instead watch something really important, like The Real Housewives of Orange County. (Who else wants to bet that Vicki will totally vote for Donald Trump?) Of course, watching the OC Housewives is similar to watching the RNC anyway; there is an air of conspicuous consumption that almost seems palpable and white people as far as the eye can see. I do feel a little sad that I will miss hearing the pearls of wisdom spoken by one of the stars of Duck Dynasty, but that sadness can be assuaged somewhat by realizing that this episode could very well begin with Shannon cold-clocking Vicki across the face! Truth? I rarely believe that violence is the answer to a problem with a fellow human being, but I’m no longer convinced that Vicki Gunvalson is of this species and nothing short of DNA testing that’s been done by a team of experts that Brooks never even claimed to work with will satisfy my suspicions.
Last week’s episode ended with Vicki crying to Tamra and begging her to be her friend, Shannon rolling her eyes at Vicki's pathetic ways, and Kelly imploring a group of strangers to forgive a woman who has systematically lied to them for sport. At least there were refreshments. That party is still raging and half the guests are sitting around swilling champagne, just waiting for some producer to whisper, “Your turn!” upon which the unlucky woman must go have a conversation with Vicki. Please let it be Shannon’s turn soon. I chanted this manta with conviction to the heavens. I mean, I love Heather, but Heather is almost always unfailingly polite. She’s not about to get into a brawl at someone else’s sunset event. Tamra gave it a pretty good attempt. She posed some pointed questions Vicki’s way – to which Vicki responded by repeatedly saying “Stop” – but Tamra gets too emotionally swayed by Vicki’s tears, which I hear are made out rhinoceros urine. But Shannon is done being emotional about Vicki, unless the emotion in question is a form of blank anger. She’s our very best bet at letting Vicki have it.
Once the sun majestically sets beyond the waves, Kelly invites her guests into her house for some shots. As she mentioned before, there is indeed a bar on every floor. Might this be something to worry about? For the moment, let’s just pretend those various bars are an aesthetic choice, okay? Her home is grand and eclectic and I’d love to stay there when she and her entire family go out of town. Sidling up to the bar, Vicki orders a drink and finds herself standing beside Shannon. They stand there, completely ignoring one another, until neither can help it and they land in a staring contest that Vicki breaks by going in for a hug. Let’s face it: she knew full well she could never outstare Shannon. In any case, Vicki says that they need to talk and that she really misses Shannon – to which Shannon says nothing at first. But then, since it’s her job and all, she sits down beside Vicki and listens stone-faced as Vicki swears she knew nothing about Brooks’ duplicity and she just really wants to move forward because that would be very convenient for her. What would be convenient for Shannon, however, is hearing some truth. Giving Vicki perhaps too much credit, she explains that there’s no way she couldn’t have known that Brooks was lying about having cancer and, as Vicki swears six more times that she is too dumb enough not to have known a thing, Shannon just looks at her and tells her that she doesn’t believe her. I’d like to officially thank the heavens now for answering my prayer. Then I’d like to ask that they please move on to creating world peace and finding me the perfect guy with the perfect amount of scruff.
“I’m not being stuck in the past,” insists Shannon to Vicki. “I’m just being smart.”
“It wasn’t about you, Shannon,” whimpers Vicki, who is very unaccustomed to speaking with someone who doesn’t realize that everything is all about her.
“Is this an apology?” Shannon wonders next – and I guess it is because Vicki starts to cry then and says, “I want our friendship back.” I commend Shannon for not laughing in the woman’s face here and just in case anyone thinks I’m being too cruel, let’s remember that Vicki waited to do all of her apologizing once the camera crews came around again. Nothing says sincerity more.
Meanwhile, it’s time for Meghan to give herself a shot and she invites the others to watch. Kelly leads them all downstairs and shows off her closet (it’s big, filled with a lot of animal print clothing, and has its own bar), and that’s where Meghan jams herself in the stomach with a needle while the rest of the women yell out shouts of encouragement. And still none of that is as bad as Vicki and her guinea pig fur vest walking into the closet and choking out, “I want to be friends with you guys again,” or hearing Kelly chime in, “She wants to be friends again!” like hearing such news is a joyous thing for any of them. Meghan’s response is fucking awesome. She very quietly and very plainly states, “We weren’t ever friends, Vicki,” and it’s nothing short of hilarious at how horrified Kelly looks upon hearing such cruel words uttered so close to one of her Chanel bangles.
The next day, Meghan high-fives herself in the mirror for her line in Kelly’s closet and then gives herself another shot. Her husband is back home and appears horrified by the news that his wife can allegedly already hear her ovaries talking in the dead of night. Their next plan is to go pick up Jim’s frozen sperm and then transport it effectively in a cryogenic chamber so it stays good and icy on its way to the fertility clinic. Later on at their house, Meghan explains to her devoted husband all the procedures she will soon be going through in his absence. There are words like “blood” and “egg retrieval” and “I’ll have to go under” stated, but Jim’s only response is to question if she really thinks he’ll remember all of that. The guy is the fucking worst.
At Heather’s house, she is lamenting the fact that Terry is taking off for a work trip that just so happens to begin on Mother’s Day. He’s been gone a ton lately and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down on any of his work commitments. All of it has left Heather feeling like she’s not a priority, but she has to put those sentiments on hold for an even bigger priority. Her builder has arrived and she would like to know when she can leave this rented prison she’s living in and get into her new home that comes with its very own zip code. It’s looking like she’ll get in around May, but there are still so many decisions to make, like exactly how long Terry’s onyx bar should be and whether or not they should have rows of loveseats so nobody in the room looks off-center. There are very relatable problems and I hope everything turns out as well for Heather as it did for me when I just screamed, “Fuck it!” one day and went with six loveseats all in a row.
Over at Vicki’s, though, things are bad. Briana has to go to the hospital because she’s having trouble breathing. The poor girl is gasping for air as she’s loaded into an ambulance near a gas station and Vicki is devastated and scared. She wants to go to the hospital with her daughter, but she needs to wait for someone to watch the kids. Stepping in for an hour until the regular babysitter gets there is Sarah, Ryan’s ex-girlfriend, who saw the ambulance when she pulled into the gas station. After Vicki leaves, Tamra comes over and it’s a good thing she’s there because otherwise none of us would have known that it was Jesus Christ himself who put Sarah at that gas station at that very moment. If only Jesus or someone else who’s holy could help mend the fractured relationship between Sarah and Ryan that probably should never have happened in the first place.
Over at the beach, Kelly’s brother and mother quiz her kid on the state capitals and then Kelly walks out in what I’m guessing is a bodysuit that she’s wearing with some jeans. She’s holding a bottle of something that I’m guessing came from the bar on the second floor and she’s on her way over to Meghan’s. Meghan greets her and takes Kelly on a tour of her construction-ridden home and then sits her down to inform her that she might not want to get too involved in the whole Vicki Thing because it will invariably be seen as overstepping her bounds. Besides, the woman is a fucking monster. Kelly, however, does not plan to listen to this advice because it comes from a millennial and millennials think it’s all about them and Kelly has known Vicki for two entire weeks and they are amazing friends and she will be there for Vicki forever and perhaps the two of them can share an ottoman at the eventual Reunion when nobody else wants to sit anywhere near them.
Also: with Briana is in the hospital with a fever of one hundred and four, Vicki must watch her grandchildren and it looks like a horror show. Tamra calls to check in and I’m sure it’s because Jesus told her that she should.
As for Shannon, she’s meeting with event planners to plan a seventies party and, for the record, I could watch this woman say, “Peace, love, far out man,” on a loop for fucking days. She requests the disco ball be up and running for the big night so those silvery flashes of light will beautifully illuminate the TV dinners she’s planning to serve so the whole night stays on theme. Later on, she meets up with Tamra and watches in terror as her friend orders dry chicken on a plate with some vegetables. Shannon is effectively shamed into forgoing the eating of anything fun, but she will rebel just a bit and use some salt because life is too damn short not to indulge in some fucking seasoning. Anyway, Tamra tells Shannon all about Briana’s medical crisis and Shannon’s response is to murmur how scary that is and then ask why Briana is even here when her husband is still back in Oklahoma. “That’s a good question,” agrees Tamra. “I wonder why she is here…” “Because Vicki wanted her here,” replies Shannon. See, here’s a woman who sees quite clearly just who Vicki Gunvalson is as a person and she’s currently sharing a meal with someone who is still looking for the shred of decency that doesn’t actually exist. Listen, there’s no doubt that Vicki buying her kid a house is all sorts of generous, but much of that was to satisfy her own needs, not the needs of her kid.
Speaking of that kid, she’s finally home from the hospital and she looks bruised and tired and scared. Vicki lets her know how good the boys were while she was away and promises to come home from work soon and though I might really hate the woman, I truly hope her daughter feels better soon.
Back at the blandest dinner possible, Shannon admits that she doesn’t want to invite Vicki to her party, but she also doesn’t want to be mean and intentionally leave her out. She tells Tamra that she’s going to send Vicki an email that basically states that she has no desire to be her friend, but she’s officially invited to come whoop it the fuck up at Shannon’s seventies party as long as she stays on the opposite side of the room from everyone who hates her. Tamra focuses on the first part of the email – the part that states that nothing has or will change in the status of their now-demolished friendship. Me? I thought the part about including the woman in spite of the fact that she’s so awful was kind of sweet, but Tamra sees the email as passive aggressive and a little bit cruel and she encourages Shannon to rework it a bit and make it seem like nobody will run fleeing from that party just because Vicki walks into the room.
That said, the preview of next week’s episode shows everybody screaming at one another while they’re all wearing polyester. The whole thing looks so traumatic, I’d encourage people to start the fleeing right now.
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.