If you will forgive me this backwardness, we need to start at the end of this episode of Vanderpump Rules, a combat training video soundtracked by the Chainsmokers, and then work our way back to the beginning. That’s because what happens at the after-party for the TomTom Progress Party is much more important and telling than what happens at the party itself. (It is mostly Scheana No Tea No Shay being ignored by her then-boyfriend in a pink construction hat.) So, let’s start with Jax ostensibly quitting his longtime job as a bartender at SUR.
This is really momentous and we see Jax buffooning into the West Hollywood night looking like an adult diaper that has a full dump already deposited in it. Jax is nothing without that job. He’s nothing without this show. Does that mean he’s really going to move to Florida and take a job tweeting for a hockey team? Does that mean that he’s really going to break up with Brittany and allow her to pursue the much hotter and seemingly nicer bartender Adam? Does that mean we’ll never have to watch him coke rage at his castmates ever again? The answer to all of that, of course, is no.
This is sort of like the the ending of Avengers: Infinity War. (Warning, spoilers ahead, but I know most of you care more about reality-TV shows than hypergonadal superhero sagas, though they are pretty much the same thing.) The Avengers movie ends with half of our major superheroes being wiped out of existence, but we know that they’re already planning a Black Panther sequel, so they’re not going to kill the dude off. It’s the same with Jax. We know there is another season and it wouldn’t be the show without Jax. That’s why I didn’t feel anything when Jax Taylor lumbered away from the camera, or when Thanos killed T’Challa, because I knew a bunch of producers were just trying to punk me. It doesn’t make me sad for the loss, it just makes me mad that they would think I’m so easily played.
However, the discussion Jax has with Lisa is the most telling interaction that he’s ever had on the show. He approaches her for freaking out on everyone at the bar a few weeks ago. “I’ve ruined everyone’s life. I have,” he tells her. “I don’t know what to do anymore.” Here is Jax being penitent for upsetting everyone, but it’s really couched in searching for absolution and guidance for himself. Even his apology is selfish. His entire pity party is selfish.
Lisa tells him as such, saying that it’s always going to be about him, and she’s right. She also refuses to give him the satisfaction of firing him. She asks for his resignation and, I don’t know, it all seems very honest, but it also seems very staged. It is making a statement by saying too many words, none of which mean anything. Kristen, James, and Stassi have all gotten fired and they’re still around, so why should be believe that Jax is going to be any different?
Still, he says, “I don’t deserve to work for you.” Just like him breaking up with Brittany by saying that she deserves better, it’s all about Jax and how undeserving he is. It’s Jax talking about Jax. He refuses to acknowledge that anyone else has feelings, even when he’s purporting to do so. What he wants is someone to tell him, “No, Jax. You are deserving.” But no one will, because he is not.
Speaking of undeserving, what the hell was going on with Stassi and her boyfriend Patrick? First of all, he looks better now that he’s gotten rid of the man bun, but from what I can tell of his personality, the ghost of his man bun is still there. I bet there are times where he still feels pain in his man bun, like some sort of phantom-limb syndrome for state-school graduates. Patrick comes to hang out with Stassi and her friends at the Pump after-party and Tom Sandoval and Jax have never met him. Unlike the casts of other Bravo shows, this crew actually hangs out all the time. I just thought that Patrick, who has been dating Stassi for four years, just didn’t want to be on TV. It turns out he didn’t want to be around her friends at all. I mean, that is a red flag so big it’s like the one that Jean Valjean waves at the end of the first act of Les Mis.
Stassi finally introduces Lisa to Patrick, a waterlogged Marlboro butt bobbing in a red Solo cup with a half inch of brown beer, and knows she is going to be tough on him, but, well, Patrick screws it all up. Lisa reminds Patrick, a lacrosse “spoon” with limbs attached, of the time she tracked him down at his job at Sirius radio and waved to him and he says, “I liked watching you walk away.” Of all the horrible, stupid, awful, condescending things to say to a 50-year-old woman and someone that your girlfriend respects, this is absolutely the worst one.
From that, Lisa can’t recover, and the conversation takes a series of cartwheels: Lisa tries to gain the upper hand, Patrick gets sarcastic, Stassi withdraws, and Lisa tries to call her out for it. It ends with Patrick declaring, “I think we’ve exhausted this.” Does this man have to say every single thought that crosses into his mind? Is he incapable of quieting his ego long enough to be courteous to someone? Lisa immediately clocks the interaction, though, and says that Stassi loves a man that talks down to her. Boy, does Patrick fit the bill.
Lisa tries to go over and apologize later and Patrick makes it worse by repeatedly trying to talk about Lisa and how hot her ass is. I don’t know if it’s some sort of flip joke or if he’s really just that offensive. Lisa points out that he is talking about another woman’s ass in front of his girlfriend. God, Patrick is like the flu, a UTI, and super gonorrhea all at the same time. Even Stassi, a thrown BlackBerry of a person, deserves better than Patrick, a used condom that refuses to be flushed down the toilet.
When Lisa leaves, Stassi is the one apologizing. What does she have to apologize for? She should apologize to Lisa for what an asshole her boyfriend is. But she’s so into Patrick that she pleads with him not to break up with her after he mistreated Stassi’s mentor and role model. I mean, get some freaking balls, woman. (I say the same to Brittany, who we all know is back with Jax even though he continues to treat her like an empty Diet Coke bottle that got run over by a truck and is sitting in the gutter.)
Finally we’re at the end, which is also the beginning. It is the TomTom Progress Party. Everyone walks past the green particleboard front of the business and says, “Wow,” when they walk in, like this is some kind of accomplishment. I think they meant, “Wow, I can’t believe they’re making us come here, I am going to get tetanus.” Or maybe it was, “Wow, I thought they would be a whole lot further along than just a bunch of boards in some rundown old store.” Or maybe it was “Wow, I can’t believe Lisa is putting up with all of this shit.” I mean, it looks not even like a construction site but like the inside of an abandoned model made out of Popsicle sticks.
Sandoval is making cocktails with dry ice that steam and other ones with chili powder that burn. He has the only frozen shot-making machine in America where you can get a little Kamikaze shot on a spoon that seems too cold to keep in one’s mouth, but also too messy to leave on the spoon for more than a second. This will inevitably lead to a lawsuit when someone gets frostbite on her tongue. Also, visitors will gobble them up by the dozen and tell their friends back home in Ames, Iowa, about how truly revolutionary they really were.
Shockingly, the outfits that Sandoval picks out for the bartenders aren’t bad, including short-sleeved shirts that don’t need to be ironed (key for lazy bartenders) under vests with little double-T pins. It’s very “Of all the gin joints in all of the world” and very 2016, but not bad. Sure, Tom is at the party wearing a printed shirt under a double-breasted white waistcoat and white pants and he looks like an extra in a steampunk revival of American Gigolo: The Musical, but at least he got this one thing right.
There are a couple of other really cute moments from the opening party, like when Ariana gives Sandoval a Champagne-opening saber as a gift. It is the most Sandoval thing ever to happen. I loved when Lisa congratulates Lala on her performance at her showcase and how she discovered a newfound confidence. Lisa tells her that she created a monster and Lala had the perfect retort: “You created a badass.” God, I have really come around on Lala and her slutty Morticia Addams look at the party is pure perfection. I also love that DJ James Kennedy tells Jax that Brittany picked up a guy at In-N-Out Burger the night before. I don’t know about you, but scoring a trick and fast food at the same time sounds like living your best life.
Of course the party had to end at TomTom, considering there wasn’t an ice-maker, real stores of booze, or even a toilet for when Lala had to go tinkle. Everyone walked around the corner to Pump in what will now be referred to as the Vanderpump District. Tom and Tom stayed behind to clean up a little bit. As Schwartz was picking up the glasses and placing them on the bar, Sandoval came up behind him. “Congratulations,” he growled into Schwartz’s ear as his arms circled around Schwartz’s taut trunk with a loving squeeze.
Schwartz spun around, still in Sandoval’s embrace and kissed him, hard, on the lips, so hard that Sandoval had to engage his core to keep from stumbling backwards. Then Schwartz spun around again, just as quickly, and undid his belt and pulled his pants and underwear all the way down to his dress shoes. “You ready to really make this our home?” he asked over his shoulder.
Sandoval undid his belt and pressed his saber into Schwatz’s warm, welcoming backside, not penetrating him, just letting all their parts nestle together perfectly for a moment. He nuzzled Schwartz’s neck and bit his ear. Sandoval backed up just slightly and then rammed forward. They both let out a sigh, a shudder, and a wince at the same time as they drove together, each in opposite directions, toward the inevitable future.