The Southern Charm ensemble has grown by exactly seven pounds and three ounces: Baby Palmer has finally been born! “I was really glad she wasn’t ugly. She came out cute,” reports Cameran. Congratulations, Mama, and may the good Lord see fit that your daughter never dates Shep, or worse, Thomas.
On the cast’s last morning in Hilton Head, everyone manages to sneak out of the house before Thomas and Ashley, a brown recluse spider with a Drybar membership, can realize they’re gone. If only they could have locked the doors from the outside. As Shep pays a visit to his mother in her south-of-the–Mason-Dixon Line Nancy Meyers kitchen, Chelsea takes the human, non-Ashley gals to drive past her late stepfather’s house. But she’s (uncharacteristically) overcome with emotion as soon as she looks down the driveway. As Chelsea explains, he died when she was only 8, and because he and her mother never bothered to legally marry, they lost everything, including this house. Suddenly, her mom had to work three jobs; the family moved into a duplex where Chelsea and her brother shared a twin bed. This experience, Chelsea theorizes, is why she’s always been so fiercely independent in her romantic relationships. In related news, I continue to love Chelsea.
Kathryn, now the most responsible person on this show by a long shot, escorts Shep to and from the hospital for surgery on his torn meniscus. (At 38, the flower that is Shep Rose is wilting fast.) I am not onboard for the Shep-Kathryn relationship that the producers so desperately want us to root for — especially later, when she brings him chicken soup and a basketful of candy to brighten his recovery — but I do love their easygoing friendship, not to mention the indelible image of Shep sipping a can of ginger ale through a straw in a hospital gown and cap as he’s wheeled out to her car. “I’ll recommend this facility to all my friends in the future,” he says, high as the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge.
Austen brings a takeout peace offering of chicken marsala and falafel (what kind of restaurant serves both of these?) to Victoria’s house. His new girlfriend, slash former ex-girlfriend, slash future ex-girlfriend, is still unhappy about the Instagram video that appeared to depict Chelsea “kissing” Austen’s shoulder. I believe that this moment was far more innocent than it looks, but I also sympathize with Victoria, given that Austen already dumped her once for another shot with Chelsea, and seems like he’d do it again if Chelsea so much as gave him ten seconds of eye contact. (I hate that I ship it, but what can I say? I ship it.)
Craig’s life coach Laura assigned him a self-portrait as homework, and so he arrives at their next session toting a collage that looks like the work of a fourth-grader who really phoned this one in. Gaze long enough into the abyss that is Craig’s mood board, and its inscrutable contents will gaze back into you: A large sailboat, “The Power of Influence,” “Give Freely,” a faceless man carrying multiple cartons of eggs, a faceless man in a suit carrying a lamp on a ladder, another faceless man in a suit carrying a box. Why the lack of faces? “I judge everything on personality.” — Craig Conover —Wayne Gretzky —Michael Scott
Craig explains his latest act of self-sabotage: his mysterious inability to design a pillow for Patricia’s clothing line as she requested. “You’re kind of bullshitting yourself,” Laura observes. Craig seemingly interprets this as a compliment, and expounds on his talent for manipulation. “I can convince a lot of people of anything I want to convince them of,” says the self-described “great liar.” “I understand the human psyche so much, and I can basically profile someone to steer them a certain way.” Whoever set up a OnePass on Craig’s TiVo for The Mentalist has some explaining to do.
We learned from Kathryn’s conversation with Shep that she sent Thomas a text requesting that Ashley not spend time around their children. His response, she reports, was a surprisingly reasonable okay hand-sign emoji. Ashley’s reaction is more along the lines of the angry red-ogre emoji, or maybe the knife emoji, or maybe the hammer emoji. She maintains that Kathryn is, sure, the human embodiment of “darkness and evil.” Thomas feebly explains to Ashley that his kids and their mother will always be a part of his life — he can’t be with someone who doesn’t respect that. And also, what if, just spitballing here, the two of them could use a little space from each other? Uh, it’s a no. “I want to be anywhere you’re at,” Ashley says, demanding his hand. He rebuffs her at first, but then relents. Thomas, blink twice if you need help. (I’m by no means offering any; I’m just curious.)
Saint’s birthday party, hosted by Kathryn at an adorable controlled-chaos play center, is a success. The kids wreak havoc with confetti, crafts, and face paint as the adults in attendance shuffle uncomfortably, but supportively, around the periphery. Thomas, enlisted by his ex to help assemble the gift bags, praises Kathryn’s “transformation” into a great mom. And there is no denying the collective sense of relief that the man responsible for half of St. Julien Rembert Ravenel’s DNA did not, in Craig’s words, “bring the psycho.”
But the psycho shall have her reckoning. Thomas gnaws on a Jimmy Johns sandwich as Ashley interrogates him about the infamous party, which, lest we forget, was held in honor of a 2-year-old child who likely pooped himself during the festivities. “Was I thought of?” she asks, a question that I am sure is at the forefront of her consciousness every moment of her life, even and especially in the dark, when it is answered only by Thomas’ soft, bourbon-perfumed snores.
Ashley goes on the offensive, as is her default emotional state. “You guys aren’t a family. You were never a family. These children weren’t planned on,” she says. Thomas discovers within himself a gelatinous, half-formed backbone not unlike the one that belonged to our very first evolutionary vertebrate ancestor: “If you disrespect Kathryn, you’re disrespecting me and my kids.” Ashley threatens not to come back from her holiday visit to Santa Barbara, to which he responds, “Okay, go ahead.”
They are both bluffing, of course. There have never been two people who deserve each other more than Thomas and Ashley do.