Southern Charm Recap: All Keyed Up

Southern Charm

A Tribe Called Key West
Season 4 Episode 12
Editor’s Rating *****
Landon Clements. Photo: BravoUniversal/NBC

After last week’s descent into the murky depths of rape culture, this week’s episode still has a bunch of disappointment to wring out of Southern Charm. Last week, Chelsea told us that Shep grabbed her, took her to the back of a bar, and tried to force kisses on her repeatedly. Because that wasn’t slimy enough, Austen, the man she’s dating, was getting them drinks while this awfulness was going down. To make it even worse — like getting crabs and bed bugs at the same time — the guys all excused Shep’s behavior of entitlement with a boys-will-be-boys shrug that shattered Gloria Steinem’s aviator glasses.

In this episode, Shep arrives at Chelsea’s house to apologize, which is a step in the right direction. “I was like a fish and I saw a bright shiny object and I bit and I’m not proud of it,” he tells her. As far as apologies go, it seems a bit inadequate. While he’s delivering it, Chelsea looks at Shep like he has a third eye and that third eye just grew a tail. Anyway, Chelsea just wants to smooth it over and have it stop, so she says that she didn’t want him to make her feel like “one of those girls” who would make out with him at a bar. I feel like she missed an opportunity to say, like Cameran did, that Shep just can’t behave like that, but alas, that is how the patriarchy keeps us down, like an evil Jiminy Cricket with a lacrosse spoon living inside all of our heads. Speaking of sports equipment, Shep arrives with a golf club, but tells Chelsea it isn’t for her. He couldn’t even bring her flowers.

He did bring a gift for Austen, however. Yes: The woman he tried to force into kissing him doesn’t get more than a few kind words, but Austen gets an ugly Tommy Bahama for Costco shirt with a giant marlin embroidered on the back. It is Craig’s best work to date. And with that insufficient peace offering, they’re buds again! All is forgiven, I guess.

Despite a strong showing last week where Austen defended Chelsea, he doesn’t show any such chivalry now. “What didn’t upset me was what you did to Chelsea, because she’s a beautiful girl,” he says. Um, excuse me? So, if a woman is attractive it’s perfectly acceptable to back her into a corner and try to force her to make out once she has expressed she is not interested? Oh, so only ugly “girls” deserve our protection? Or are we just supposed to take everyone with acne scars, crooked teeth, frizzy hair, or some other perceived imperfection and take them out behind a barn at someone’s plantation and put them down like a horse that lost a race? I see how Charleston works.

Austen says that what upset him wasn’t what happened with Chelsea, but that the incident is ruining his relationship with Shep. I am so annoyed at men right now that I think I just turned myself into a lesbian. (I hope lesbians are still allowed to love Ariana Grande, poppers, and blow jobs as much as I do.) Austen is actually starting to sour on Chelsea after he takes her to meet his parents and she says that Shep didn’t “grab” her during the incident, he just took hold of her wrist and led her with some urgency to another location. I mean, that is some severe parsing of the word grab that I don’t think this situation really deserves. Finding another word for it does not make it any better.

Let’s talk about an awful woman for a second, shall we? Her name is Patricia, and she is a person who lets her butler, Michael, wash her Bentley while she sits in the back seat and flips through Instagram on her iPad. What the hell is that about? Is it so she can supervise his work in the air-conditioned interior of the car? Then, Patricia gets a shipment of something she bought at auction for $32,500. She says it’s worth twice the amount, but actually it is worth precisely that. It was sold at an auction, an event which determines how much someone will pay for an object. If someone will only pay the equivalent of one year’s tuition at a private university for something, then that is precisely what it costs.

Anyway, Patricia bought a clock that shows a gold maharaja riding on the back of an elephant while his brown-faced servants fan him. She has not one but two of these clocks celebrating the wonders of colonialism in her former plantation house. I don’t know, there’s just something about it all that seems entirely (dot, dot, dot) distasteful.

Whitney is at the house to tell his mother that they’re all going to Key West — which he describes as a “shit hole” — to celebrate Cameran’s birthday and the end of her being a non-mother or something. Just wait until she pushes a baby out because then, once and forever, she will be living in what the tabloid industrial complex has termed her “post-baby body.” There is no going back, Cameran. You will have a post-baby body until the day you die.

On the trip is a very ragtag group, including both Kathryn and Thomas, and it seems like a bad idea to put the two of them in close quarters where alcohol will be consumed. Also odd is the choice to invite Landon, since she and Kathryn hate each other. Craig and Naomie decide to go even though they are both threatening to break up with the other and leave at any given moment, like a romantic land mine that might detonate in an instant and leave anyone minus a limb or a digit or at least their self-respect.

J.D. and Elizabeth are also invited, though neither say a word, and so is Jennifer, the one with the baby whose brain was born on the outside of his head. There is also a person named Danni in attendance whom I have never seen hide nor hair of before, though she looks just like Missi Pyle and has the same name as Kylie Minogue’s younger sister who only gay people and Australians can see with the naked eye.

There are a few takeaways from this trip, which looks about as much fun as getting a tattoo on the inside of your lip and laser hair removal at the same time while dealing with a bout of explosive diarrhea. The first is that Landon is perhaps the worst drunk in the entire world. Between calling “girl code” nonsense and pestering Austen about whether or not she’s getting wrinkles, I would rather be the technician doing the lip tattoo, hair removal, and cleaning up the runny poo than actually sit on a hammock with a drunk Landon.

It is especially bad at dinner when Whitney forces Landon to sit down next to Kathryn so that they can work out their problems. At first it goes well: They both agree that they’re not awful people and they can indeed be around each other. Sure, it’s fake, but it’s just the sort of Band-Aid that a group vacation needs. However, Craig has the bright idea to make them actually talk about their differences and discuss why they’re mad at each other. Has Craig never watched the Real Housewives? Doesn’t he know that, in the immortal aphorism of our lord and savior Erika Jayne, “the more you talk about shit, the worse it gets?” He intervenes and it goes horribly awry, but once he sits down, the women miraculously manage to diffuse the situation once again.

That brings us to Craig and Naomie. For the first time in this episode, I understood Craig’s point of view about his girlfriend. She’s always harping on him to do more with his life and she needs to realize that if Craig is happy sitting at home, collecting his reality television dollars, and frittering away his time making embroidered onesies and talking to that cat that hates him, then he has every right to do it. To be hounded for that every day must be exhausting.

However, Naomie is also right that she didn’t sign up for a relationship with that kind of person and Craig deserves to be reprimanded for his awful behavior. Like Cameran says, her husband corrects her when she’s behaving inappropriately and Craig needs to get it out of his head that being a good partner means always having that person’s back even when they’re behaving like a spoiled slur monster at a tacky Mexican-themed restaurant in Key West. The conclusion is that these two need to break up immediately because I don’t think they’re ever going to make each other happy.

The final lesson about this trip is that it seems to have woken something up in Landon with regards to Thomas. Something shook loose in her at that dinner where she realized that Thomas was really using these two women against each other for his gain. The morning after their big night out at a drag bar, Landon has a “migraine,” which is apparently what they call massive hangovers in the South. Kathryn and Thomas quickly get in a fight about someone who is not supposed to be caring for their children and Thomas starts to say how this 19-year-old is more mature than Kathryn.

Landon shoots back at Thomas, “You know what, Thomas? Just take it for once. Leave her alone.” Oh, thank Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and every other person of both genders I slept with at an orgy party last weekend. This whole season, Kathryn has been paying for her sins while Thomas is allowed to behave like a total jack-a-napes and no one says anything bad about him. I’m glad that Landon is finally sticking up for her sister. These women are coming together to show the men that they may not be right about everything after all. These women deserve more than just an apology and an ugly Tommy Bahama shirt. They deserve to be understood and defended. Kathryn surely is no prize, but she’s taking the punishment in this ordeal when it seems like it should be spread around a bit more evenly. Real equality looks like everyone being treated like the garbage people they are, regardless if they’re a man or a woman.

Southern Charm Recap: All Keyed Up