When you break it down, there were really only two events this whole episode: Eliza Doolittle’s foxhunt and Madison and Austen’s trip to a restaurant that looks like it was built inside the tiny church in my grandmother’s Christmas village. Let’s start with the first event. Kathryn gets a text on the show’s group chain (there are ten people on the text, who do you think they are?) that the foxhunt is going down. She responds with the only appropriate read: “Did this girl just Google typically Southern things?”
Yes, she did. Also, so did a producer. Ostensibly, this is the flavor of the show. We’re supposed to be tuning in to see what southern life is really like. However, I feel like a foxhunt in South Carolina is sort of like a luau in Hawaii or high tea in London. It’s something that is really done more for the benefit of outsiders than the people actually participating in it. The only person, as far as I’m concerned, who has ever enjoyed a foxhunt is Auntie Mame, so why would these people get dressed up in restrictive and ridiculous outfits on a freezing cold day to gallop through the wilderness and then eat congealing mac ’n’ cheese by a slowly freezing in-ground pool?
But there’s no fox. It seems some dude with a pheromone-soaked rag ran around in the woods for a little while to get the “hounds” all riled up and that’s it. I appreciate that there were no animals hunted in this hunt, but what, exactly, is the point of a foxhunt where no fox is hunted? How do you know when it’s over? It’s sort of like playing the claw game at an arcade when all of the stuffed animals have been taken, or going to an orgy where everyone is on antidepressants and won’t be able to orgasm because of their mood stabilizers. You can go through the motions, but why bother? Actually, a foxhunt with no fox is sort of the perfect metaphor for Eliza’s place on this here program.
Craig, who has disgustingly morphed into the voice of reason this season, said it just seemed like they were being dragged around on a hayride, which, exactly. Why would one even want to “tallyho” and follow this hunt when there was nothing to watch other than some horses and hounds running in the wild? If the excuse is to get drunk, like it is at most sporting events, then great. But can’t everyone just get soused somewhere, I don’t know, warmer and without the pungent aroma of fox musk?
The real reason for this foxhunt, of course, was so that Kathryn and Ashley could finally have their confrontation. Thank goodness Kathryn is grown enough that it was the anticlimax that we all know it would be. I want to rail against Ashley and ask how dumb and/or deluded she is, but, honestly, I blame the producers for this. Ashley broke up with Thomas (so she says) and is back living in Santa Barbara. (Boots on the ground: My sister-in-law Kate who lives there saw her riding her bicycle just this week.) She has no business being here other than to “stir up drama.”
When she goes to Eliza and asks to be invited, she says that after her conversation with Naomie, she sees a small crack that Kathryn might be open to talking to her. In reality, Naomie flat-out denied it was a good idea for them to talk, but we know someone was in Ashley’s ear pressing her to do this.
Ashley arrives at the hunt wearing a worn-out cowhide carpet from a Fire Island rental house as a coat and a hat that looks like she stole it off a midwestern tourist who was in New York City to do her Christmas shopping at the American Doll Store. Kathryn arrives looking like an extra from Beyoncé’s “Formation” video who is from Spain and not the Deep South. She is wearing a round red hat with her hair in ponytails and two pairs of false eyelashes stacked onto each other. Ashley jokes to her friends that she looks like Pippi Longstocking.
Here is the thing about all of this Ashley business: She clearly has no interest in actually apologizing. She shows up apparently to make peace, but she’s snarking on Kathryn’s appearance. After her apology, she’s again talking to her friend and says, “We just don’t understand each other.” That’s crazy. Ashley says she wants things to be good between her and Kathryn and to apologize. Kathryn accepts her apology and says everything is fine. What is there not to understand? She had a goal; it seems she accomplished it. Kathryn is never going to be her friend; was that what she really wanted?
I love that Kathryn calls Ashley out on her insincerity, from her pointy Payless shoes to her rumpled great-aunt winter hat. “I don’t know how you could go from one polar opposite side of the spectrum to the other one. I don’t buy it. I don’t buy that you’re trying to be nice to me,” she says. Nor should she, since Ashley really has no interest in being nice.
Ugh, I didn’t mean to talk this much about stupid Ashley or how disappointed I am that they keep trotting her out this season, but here we are. It seems like this story line is about as real as this truly fake foxhunt.
I do believe everything that’s going on with Austen and Madison, however. He seems to be really smitten by her and takes her out to dinner to say that he wants to make it work with her. She accepts and everything is nice, until he has to explain it to Shep and Craig, who still hate Madison like gay porn stars hate having clean feet.
There is something going on with Madison that we’re not seeing. All we know about her is that Austen cheated on her with two girls and it was exposed on Instagram. This fact seems to have fallen out of the equation whenever Craig and Shep talk about their relationship. We’ve seen her divulge Austen’s secrets in an attempt to get back at Shep, which was not a good look, but otherwise Madison seems, I hate to say it, quite lovely. Is this behavior of steamrolling Austen that we keep hearing about something that actually happens, or is it just the boys misinterpreting her behaving like an actual human? I don’t know. I can’t say. But, like Austen points out, if Craig and Shep think she’s bad in a relationship, maybe the problem is them and not her.
Shep really doesn’t have a leg to stand on anymore because he does just what he got upset at Madison for. He divulges a secret that Austen told him to Cameran in order to even the score. When Cameran asks if Austen is a sexual deviant, Shep tells her that for Valentine’s Day Austen spelled out “butt stuff” in rose petals on the bed and Madison said yes.
This leaves me with so many questions. The first of which is, why would a guy do that? If he’s trying to be romantic on Valentine’s Day to impress his woman, no matter how kinky he is, he might want to use rose petals to spell out something about love or commitment. That is what is going to get her to the butt stuff, not just blatantly putting such a risky proposition on the menu like it’s a tuna tartare. Also, whose butt was the stuff being done to? Since Shep uses this as an example of Austen’s deviance, I think it might be his butt. I think that Madison might have agreed to a round of pegging. Austen’s already having Instagram three-ways; I think putting it in her keister might be a little passé for him. But a good old P-spot massage? That’s another thing entirely.