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Vanderpump Rules Recap: Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fired

Vanderpump Rules

Lisa’s Dilemma
Season 7 Episode 4
Editor’s Rating *****

Vanderpump Rules

Lisa’s Dilemma
Season 7 Episode 4
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Bravo

Of course there is a lot to say about Lisa Vanderpump firing DJ James Kennedy for the second time in three seasons. First of all, the whole thing seemed — I don’t want to say fake and I don’t want to say scripted. The whole thing seemed constructed. I believe that James didn’t know what was coming. (It’s enough of an indictment of his behavior that Lisa called him into the office to talk to him and he was unsure of which of his recent offenses it could be about.) The sequence of Katie sitting Lisa down, Lisa immediately talking to her partner about it while dropping some casual French, Lisa talking to her other partner about it during See You Next Tuesday assessing the pluses and minuses of the situation, and then calling James into Pump while Toms Schwartz and Sandoval were holding auditions for new staff at Tom Tom — the whole affair seems, well, practically The Hills-ian.

I may be reading way too much into this, but the whole situation seems constructed to make Lisa Vanderpump look good. My current theory hinges on a little something in next week’s preview, where Lisa shows up at James’s apartment with a stern look on her face. I think she’s going to offer James the chance to go to rehab, AA, or something like that and then get his DJ slot back at SUR. She says when she fires James that he needs to not drink alcohol again for his entire life and, well, duh. That’s hammered home by the fact that James’s mother says that she’s nine months sober and he talks about her drinking problem and how that led to his parents’ divorce. James behaves that way while drunk and his mother is an alcoholic. All of the red flags are there.

Strangely enough, I don’t think that Lisa should have fired James. I’ve worked in nightlife venues before where people behaved as badly as he did and were ushered into treatment rather than given then axe because, in the long run, it’s better for them. Also small businesses like Lisa’s do become a family, and given that James and Max are friends, I’m glad that it seems like she’s going to go to the extra mile to get James into treatment. After all, firing him the first time forced a short bout of sobriety, but didn’t seem to do the trick.

If James does go into recovery, then Lisa gets to both stand up for the women like Katie that he’s treated badly and look like a saint for getting this clearly troubled young man on the right course. It’s a win-win for her, especially since she would have started filming the current season of Rich Women Doing Things about the same time as all of this is going on. Based on the trailer for this upcoming season, it looks like Lisa is going to have a tough time, so why not burnish her image on the show where she is an executive producer and has final say on what makes it to air?

Lisa Vanderpump is a master manipulator of the form (hence her trouble with her castmates on RHOBH), and this just shows how entirely genius she is. And it works because she created some absolutely genius television. I could go moment by moment through James dealing with his firing, from the pleading to the sniveling to the promise to never be “naughty” again, and delve deep into his pathology.

When James gave his younger brother $5,000 for his graduation, I thought James would show up at that kid’s house drunk in 10 years at 2 a.m. asking for that money back. Little did I know he’d be asking for it back in 10 days when he’s out of money because Lisa fired him. I also can’t believe how on one hand James is always going on about how good he’s got it and how everyone is jealous of him but on the other hand Lisa can take it all away from him in an instant. His success is entirely contingent on her and he still doesn’t think that he should behave well enough that she can’t fire him. “Why are you doing this to me?” he sobs to her and she retorts, very correctly, that he did this to himself. I don’t know if James will ever be capable of seeing that.

And he doesn’t need Lisa for just his DJ career, but for his entire livelihood. The thing about all of this “will-she-or-won’t-she-fire-him” is that Lisa didn’t fire him from the job. He might have lost See You Next Tuesday, but he’s still on the program. Lisa isn’t really going to send him a message about his behavior or try to fix his life while he’s still on a reality show. Like it or not, he’s being rewarded for all sorts of horrible behavior by being the villain on the show, and no matter how many stands she takes against the way he treats people, nothing is going to change while he still has his big money-maker.

Let’s not get it twisted, between James and Raquel, a $9.99 bikini top from H&M, they are making the entire show. What about her story about being treated badly at school and not getting to go to the ice cream social because she didn’t get her 12 scoops for learning her multiplication tables and instead she had to go watch Winnie the Pooh? That was heartbreaking and pretty much Raquel’s life in a nutshell. I don’t want to make fun of Raquel for being dumb, but when Mr. Jax Taylor, the least sharp tool in any given shed, thinks that you’re dumb, then you’re busted.

This particular story highlights why Raquel, the line in front of Sephora for a Jenner sister’s new lip kit, doesn’t like to be called dumb. However, her actions aren’t those of a person who makes very good choices. She asks why everyone is ganging up on her about James. Maybe that’s because everyone else is right that her man cheats on her and treats her like shit. Maybe she should listen to the gang instead of listening to James. Just a thought. What it comes down to is what Lala, a woman who defends the quality of Gotti, so expertly says: she can’t support Raquel because Raquel can’t support herself.

Without James and Raquel, a random bit of glitter you pick off your face on a Sunday morning, the rest of this cast is giving us nothing. Ariana and Stassi are getting along, which is cute but boring. Tom and Katie are not fighting, Jax and Brittany are starting a beer cheese company even though they have never made beer cheese before, and Jax doesn’t understand the simple dictionary definition of “company.”

The only thing that the Toms are doing to open Tom Tom is interviewing the staff, including Teddi Mellancamp’s hunky younger brother Hud, who is not named after the Paul Newman movie, as some might expect, but after the department of Housing and Urban Development. As streams of wannabe actors come through looking for a job, Tom Schwartz wanted to hire every single one of them and Tom Sandoval asked ridiculously easy bartending questions. They’re a version of good cop and bad cop where they’re both good and both bad at the same exact time, sort of like drinking sour orange juice or a toothy blow job.

The pair’s other job was to go to Lisa’s house, Villa Rosa, a department store perfume counter that grew into a domicile, to pick up the uniforms for the staff. They went inside, surrounded by the shades of pink, the glittering chrome surfaces, the photographs of Lisa and Ken and their children on every flat surface. They felt surrounded by love, or at least the kind of love that’s sold to us by greeting cards in sunset hues covered in cursive fonts. As they were leaving, with the uniforms in several boxes, Sandoval stopped by the two swans guarding the front door.

“What are their names? Pimp and Ho?” Sandoval asked.

“Rumpy and Pumpy?”

“Master and Servant?”

“Cock and Balls?”

Sandoval laughed and put his box down on the ground. “Hey Schwartz, you ever fuck in a swan pond?”

“What? No. How could I even do that?”

“Come on. Let’s do it,” Sandoval said, kicking off his shoes and hurriedly unlashing his belt.

“Here? Right here?” Schwartz said, getting nervous. “What if the miniature ponies see us?”

Sandoval pulled down his underwear and his excitement was visible. “What? You don’t want them to get jealous of this?” He took a nervous Schwartz’s head in his hands and, though he resisted just a little, he eventually kissed him squarely and passionately right there in front of that giant glass box on the top of one of Beverly’s hills. Sandoval grabbed Schwartz’s hand and lowered it, as one of the swans got out of the water and beat its wings quickly, sending a fine spray into the air.

Vanderpump Rules Recap: Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fired