Ladies of London Recap: Midsummer’s Beef

Ladies of London

Loose Lips Sink Friendships
Season 3 Episode 10
Editor’s Rating *****
Sophie Stanbury. Photo: Bravo

Wait. One. Bloody. Second.

Did the Ladies of London not take care of all their fence-mending at that castle in Edinburgh? Was that not the entire reason for that trip (other than to mock Julie)? Did Caroline Fleming just toast, “Here’s to you, Juliet Angus,” and I actually agreed with her?

With just five days left in London, Caroline Stanbury has planned a week of pampering and one or two more squabbles before she flies the coop. And managing to stay out of the fray while getting drunk on rosé and Caroline Fleming’s general aura, Juliet somehow seems like the stable one in the group. Alas, we know she’s not, but it was nice seeing her with her family in this week’s episode. Just when I didn’t think it could get any cuter than little Georgina, along comes Juliet’s Polish mother, being fully charming and calling her granddaughter “my pressures” instead of “my precious.”

I find it very unsettling to enjoy spending any time with Juliet whatsoever — and I consider it a personal favor that the Bravo editors still make it a point to mock her claim that she’s “fluent” in Polish — but being in awe of Caroline Fleming’s whimsicality is nothing new. She first appears in the episode saying, “Whenever I am somewhere and I can see a clear path to flowers, I will absolutely go and have a sniff.” The editors continue to win my loyalty with a montage of Caroline deeply smelling flowers throughout the season, some of which are fake. It’s finally the day of CF’s Midsummer’s Eve celebration, and, in grand CF style, she’s woken up at 5:30 a.m. to prepare all the food herself, and given the florist instructions that the overall effect of the “charming, gorgeous experience” should be “raaaaather magical.” (I hope you can all hear her flute of a voice as clearly in your head as I can.)

While Caroline F. works tirelessly toward creating a magical experience from her childhood in honor of her deceased mother, Caroline Stanbury has shipped her husband and children off to Dubai so that she can relax by herself in a luxury hotel for her last week in London. I do not begrudge her — I simply envy her, in the most covetous of ways.

Sophie comes over for them to get a private couple’s massage, and color me shocked that Caroline Stanbury likes her rubdowns extra rough. She basically tells the masseuse to pound the hell out of her back, then she and Sophie relax in beautiful silk robes while they wait for Adela to arrive. When she does, she announces that the cab driver thought she was a hooker, walks into the bathroom to change, says she doesn’t really wear pajamas, and walks back out looking like what can only be described as a Maxxinista gone rogue. In typical Brit style, they talk about grueling emotional trauma for a few minutes, then immediately move on to sex positions. Adela tells the other women how she had to finally withdraw her application to protest her ex’s attempts to keep her seeing her children because, at 13 and 16, they’re legally allowed to make that decision on their own. That is brutal.

Then suddenly, Adela is showing Caroline what a reverse-cowgirl is on Sophie, and Sophie is saying that was her ex-husband’s — a.k.a. Caroline’s brother’s — favorite position. Jolly good fun, innit? (Remember that. It will not last.)

It’s time for some fun that Caroline Stanbury will absolutely abhor: dancing ‘round the maypole at Caroline Fleming’s Midsummer’s Eve party. But before the maypole can be danced ‘round, Caroline must first assemble it with her bare hands, pick the flowers and ivy for the floral crowns, prepare all the food to be served, and, like, cure salmon on the lawn. She’s nuts; I love her. Every time she talks about this being the first time she’s celebrated Midsummer’s since her mother passed, and they flash that photo of lil’ Caroline as a 10-year-old in a floppy crown of ivory, I immediately get emotional. I don’t know what it is about this show that is so directly tied to my heartstrings, but even Julie sending her sweet daughter off to prom — excuse me, Leavers’ Ball, where she can legally get hammered if she wants to — had me verklempt.

And if there’s any place where emotions are encouraged to flow freely, it’s at Caroline Fleming’s Midsummer’s Eve. Things that also flow freely there: gorgeous floral sun-gowns, wine, buttery light, hand-assembled flower crowns, traditional Swedish and Danish foods served in multiple little glass jars, and Caroline Stanbury’s disdain for whimsy. I don’t totally blame Caroline S. for the fight that erupts at the end of the night, but I do wonder if she’d enjoy herself more if she didn’t treat every single event not hosted by herself as an absolute burden to attend. She by far has the best flower crown, they’re in a gorgeous setting, and there’s dick bread roasting over an open flame — what’s not to love?!

Well, I guess one thing not to love is Julie asking Caroline if she’ll “go out on a date” with her in one of her last five days in London. Give it up, Jules! The woman is leaving, and she doesn’t like you. You’ve won all the other friends. Just hold onto them, be grateful that she brought you into this group, and get back to your true passion: JUB balls. Caroline basically says as much, too. She wouldn’t work this hard on repairing an actual marriage, and they can probably just leave things how they are. But somehow in saying this, she also brings back up that Adela “really did stab me a lot.”

Now, I’ve never been 100 percent on what Caroline Stanbury got so mad at Adela about. That she said she’s spoiled? Surely Caroline knows she’s spoiled! She has a best friend on retainer who does her makeup and gets dragged out of bed to play balloon games every once in a while. But apparently, even though they just had a lovely pajama party together, these two have some unfinished business, and so they go off to scream very hurtful things at each other. All the while, Caroline Fleming is serving the other women a kilo of caviar (band name — called it).

Caroline is basically angry because she’s wanted to talk about feeling stabbed in the back but thinks she isn’t allowed to because Adela’s life is in shambles. Adela comes back with some solid logic: “Well, when you were going through your shit, I was still supporting your shit!” Fair. Plus, Adela heard from Sophie five weeks ago (presumably when Sophie and Caroline were still on the outs) that Caroline was sending awful texts about Adela’s apparent choice to get back with her second ex-husband, who her children really don’t like, during the worst of her addiction when she couldn’t support herself. That’s when we get the line we’ve been hearing for weeks in every promo: “DON’T TELL ME THAT I CHOSE MONEY OVER MY KIDS!” It might be the first time a British person has yelled on this show.

Adela is pretty riled up, and when Caroline fires back that she can’t agree with Adela’s previous decision, Adela hisses, “Well, I can’t agree with you leaving your kids all the time!” A few yards over, Juliet instructs everyone to just keep drinking. Here’s to you, Juliet Angus.

To Caroline’s credit, she lets that punch roll off her. She tells Adela that she was wounded and embarrassed when Adela didn’t back her up in front of the group that Caroline had brought her into. Adela’s response? She thinks that instead of saying she feels excluded or hurt, Caroline just gets venomous. These are the facts, and so these very blonde, very British women just decide to apologize to each other and agree that their lifelong friendship is not something they’re ready to stop working for.

The episode ends exactly as it should: with Caroline Fleming declaring it a “maaaagical evening” despite the bit of drama, and asking everyone if she can put her balls in their mouth. Here are some non-ball-related thoughts for us to discuss: Will Luke be moving with Caroline Stanbury to Dubai?! If not, does anyone have an open live-in makeup artist position for poor Luke? Someone check on Luke!

Ladies of London Recap: Midsummer’s Beef