Vanderpump Rules Recap: They Photo-Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

Vanderpump Rules

Regrets Only
Season 5 Episode 18
Editor’s Rating *****
Katie Maloney. Photo: Bravo

It took the occasion of the annual SUR photo shoot to remind me what, exactly, has been missing from the last several episodes of Lisa’s Legalities: DJ James Kennedy and Lala, the Muttley to his Snidely Whiplash. Where the hell have they been? Now I know that Lala quit the show and James was summarily fired for making the world’s worst playlist of Avicii remixes while getting inebriated on the job, but the show just seems to have dropped them with absolutely no explanation at all. They just vanished into the West Hollywood night, and no one even bothered to put their faces on the back of a rosé bottle.

It’s like when Roseanne swapped out Becky, or those really weird Tori years of Saved By the Bell. Did they expect us not to notice? Well, we have noticed that James and Lala are gone, so can’t we at least get a little word about where they’ve been all along? I’m like my Irish mother, worried that they’re dead in a ditch somewhere. I mean, I don’t necessarily need them to be thriving or anything — I just want someone to make sure that Lala wasn’t in a private-plane crash and James’s stomach didn’t explode from eating Pop Rocks and drinking Coke. (Based on the previews for next episode, I’ll get the explanation I’ve been needing, but still!)

The theme for this year’s SUR photo shoot is “indulgence,” which is apt considering the number of — how can I say this — summer bodies on display. The flashbacks to previous photo shoots show the staff of the restaurant wearing as little clothing as possible, with Jax showing off the chiseled rivulets of his torso and Peter trying to flash a little peen between his beefy thighs, while girls with flat stomachs titter around him. This year, on the night before the photo shoot, Tom and Katie eat pasta and decide that they’re too fat and lazy to have sex. Jax refuses to have a spray tan done in his living room, possibly because he doesn’t want to show off the scars from his manboob-ectomy. And Peter … well, he is still fine as hell and can flash his peen at me anytime he wants.

Yeah, all of these people take indulgence a little bit too seriously, which is why Sandoval, Ariana, and Scheana are really the only people in the cast who should be stripping down to their skivvies. Thank God they’re the only ones who do. Now, I don’t want to fat-shame anyone, because they all still look really good, but we have certain standards when it comes to nude photo shoots and sex-based marketing materials. As a society, we demand perfection — we need something to inspire us and make us feel awful about ourselves, or else both the athleisure market and stocks for the manufacturers of antidepressants would surely crash.

That perfection isn’t really achieved by the current Vanderpump kids, who are a little bit older and a lot more into “indulgence” than they were during the first season, when they were still young and hungry. Lit-rally. Back then, they made a devil’s bargain where they swore off carbs in hopes that their perfect, nude bodies would make them famous. Now they’re famous and don’t need those bodies anymore. Instead, they give each other Dorito-flavored kisses like they’re animated Jennifer Lopez on South Park. Such is the cycle of life for a reality-television star.

The SUR photo shoot has everyone in dresses and shirts and maybe a ridiculous hat or two. All of these people, in their slinky dresses and questionable headwear (I’m looking at you, Sandoval), surround Lisa Vanderpump like they’re about to gorge themselves on the all-you-can-eat buffet at a luxury Marrakech hotel, complete with the roasted pig with an apple in its mouth at the center of the table. What will this photo shoot look like in five years? Or ten? Will it be people in muumuus trying to hide their C-section scars, with the guys getting hair extensions to cover their bald spots? Will they all get naked and have the Spanx airbrushed out later? Like all the indignities of our youth, at a certain point this tradition has to die.

Other than the photo shoot, nothing else really happens in this episode. The other major occurrence is that Tom and Katie go to see Lisa at Villa Rosa, a hotel lobby that faked its own death and started its life over again on the West Coast. They hire this weird butler to come and ask Lisa to officiate their wedding. She sort of shoots them down. I really wished they had hired a singing telegram girl so that she would have sung, “I am your singing telegram,” and then Lisa could have shot her and she would have splashed into the moat of Villa Rosa, possibly landing on one of the decorative swans.

I actually have a lot of respect for Lisa for not immediately agreeing to do it. Her hesitance has the desired effect, which is to make Tom and Katie consider all of their life choices and whether or not they really want to get married. “We have problems, and they’re big,” Katie says. Um, you don’t say! Maybe you might want to iron out some of those problems before making a “lifelong” commitment. (Those scare quotes are there because, come on.)

The funny thing is, when Lisa asks Katie about their trip to New Orleans and why they were fighting so much, Katie isn’t even sure why. It’s like building your house over a fault line: When it starts to shake, you have no idea why, so you just think that is what houses do. Houses do not do that, and neither do relationships — at least good ones. Katie and Tom’s is built with so many structural instabilities, they’re not even sure where the problems start, never mind how they might start fixing them.

Lisa’s rebuke to their relationship leads Katie and Tom to go soul-searching, about as deep and extensively as a soccer mom digging through her oversized handbag looking for a bottle of Purell to smear on her kids’ faces. It’s not that profound, but it does lead Tom to confess his love and sincerely apologize for being unfaithful. It also causes him to say that he just wants to spend eternity with Katie ordering take-out and watching Pauly Shore movies, which sounds like the ideal existence to me. If Katie ever bails, I am down for that.

Oh, speaking of romance: I totally forgot about the Stassi dating subplot because, well, it was really boring. Stassi and Kristen go to lunch and both order goat-cheese salads, then decide to make Stassi’s online-dating profile. “I like wine, brunch, my dogs, murder, ghosts, aliens, and ranch,” she writes. God, that is boring. Stassi’s dating profile really should just read, “I will have the goat-cheese salad.” That is Stassi’s existence wrapped up in one sentence. If a goat-cheese salad sounds appealing to anyone, they will surely fall in love with Stassi.

She doesn’t need the profile, though, because she gets set up on a blind date with David, a man whose Instagram doesn’t have one gym selfie, although that is Stassi’s only requirement to go out on a date with someone. When she arrives at the date, David is a total catch. He’s tall, handsome, and polite. Of course, Stassi hates him. But seriously, this dude is LA’s most eligible bachelor. Not only does he look like a lacrosse player who does too much community service, he also works in “automated solutions through technology.” Stassi doesn’t know what that means, but do you? It means robots. Do you know what robots means? It means cash money. This dude is cute, nice, and he’s going to be rich.

Of course Stassi blows it because, I don’t know, he doesn’t have enough regrets or bad tribal tattoos. She’s all like, “I need to sleep so I’ll be pretty. I hate the outdoors. I need wine in order to survive. I think I’m quirky because I say outrageous things, but I’m really the same as everyone else in LA and I am just searching for a way to push you away so that I can see how much you really like me when you stick around.” God, Stassi doesn’t know a good thing when it stares her in the face — because she’s used to only going home with guys who stare at her chest.

After the date is over, Stassi is unimpressed. Honestly, so is David. The valet brings his car and he drives it a few blocks, pulling into the parking lot behind the Equinox on Sunset. He waits. He stares at the darkened figures wandering to and from their vehicles in the ambient twilight glow of the city. He is a little bit startled when the door opened and a man climbs in. The man immediately leans over and kisses David, sliding his big hand along the inside of David’s thigh from crotch to knee, where it rests as they lightly neck.

“I didn’t think she would ever shut up,” David says, placing his hand on top of his companion’s.

“Yeah, she can be pretty awful, but thanks for doing that,” this new man says, staring into David’s bright-blue eyes. “No one’s ever gonna guess now when they think you’re after Stassi.”

“Dude, you’re lucky I like this so much. And I think I know how you can repay me,” David says. He stares at Tom Schwartz’s floppy hair as they give each other goofy, flirty grins. David takes his hand off of Tom’s and reaches across the car, applying just a bit of pressure to the back of Tom’s head. He resists at first, but it’s perfunctory. Tom lowers himself into the driver’s seat with David’s guidance and starts fumbling with his belt. David releases all the pressure in his neck and lets his head fall back against the seat. There is no way anyone in the world feels as good as he does at that exact moment, giddy with prohibited pleasure and behaving so badly, right there where everyone can see. The ambient night glow is glaring off his hood, and David feels a rush of power, as he watches those shapes amble toward their cars once again.

Vanderpump Rules Recap: They Photo-Shoot Horses, Don’t They?