You know how all actors really just want to direct? Well, it seems like Tamra Barney Judge is at the point in her career when what she really wants to do is produce. Her story lines have dried up, but she is still on this show giving with both hands. She’s basically doing the work of someone offscreen but in front of the cameras in a sequined jacket that could reveal one of her augmented breasts at any given time.
First, she had the brilliant idea to plan Shannon’s birthday party as a train ride to San Diego. She knew the centerpiece of this season would the rumor about Kelly pulling a train, so she rearranged all her plans to get them on Amtrak down to the home of horny Marines, Simon & Simon, and Sean Cody videos. (Notice that all three of these things feature men in tight or no pants.) I don’t think Tamra wanted someone to get a train pulled on them on the train, but she knew that the awful double entendres alone would be worth it.
Then, at the first restaurant they go to, Emily and Gina get in a fight and Emily threatens to go home before they’ve even gone to have their second dinner at another restaurant. (Seriously, how many restaurant dinners does one birthday party need?) Emily asks a producer for a car, and while they’re opening Uber, Tamra goes to the front of the building, listens to Emily, nods her head the whole time while rubbing Emily’s arm, then tells her to walk it off, get her head back in the game, and go in there and fight like a professional. That is a team player, and by a team player I mean someone who isn’t looking out for her teammates but someone who is focused on winning the game of creating a great show.
After cena dos, Tamra takes Shannon on a tour of embarrassment around the restaurant where she asks every man of voting age whether he’s single and whether he wants to make out with her friend Shannon for her birthday. Tamra is creating moments. She is creating content. She is a vlogger but refuses to sit on the edge of her bed, do the cinnamon challenge, or learn who BTS is.
Tamra’s biggest contribution to this episode, however, is bearing the brunt of Braunwyn’s bisexual urges. The two of them making out now happens at just about every party, or whenever the women have had more than two spicy skinny margaritas. It is officially the Kyle Richards doing the splits of Orange County. The flirting goes on far longer than it should, though. While it seems to start in good fun, with both Tamra and Braunwyn talking about how they fantasize about each other while having sex with their husbands, Braunwyn is way more into it than Tamra. At one point, in the bar they go to after their second meal of the evening, Braunwyn is lying on top of Tamra in a booth and says to Tamra, “I find you so sexy.” Tamra’s response is a tepid, “Okay.”
Still, Tamra is the one moving the action along this entire episode. She even invited amateur sleuth Meghan King Edmonds, back in town from St. Louis, out to party. Meghan shows up to the train station wearing Eileen Davidson’s denim jumpsuit and a conductor’s hat, which doesn’t look so great but is at least on theme. Both Meghan and Shannon brought train whistles with them, and the citizens (and dogs) of San Diego have never been more terrorized by high-pitched noises in their lives.
While the women often terrorize the other patrons at whatever establishment they’re at, it seems especially egregious during this little birthday trip. At the first restaurant, Gina refuses to address her rift with Emily, so Emily gets up and goes to steam in the bathroom with Braunwyn and MKE. As she’s explaining that she’s upset with Gina because she wouldn’t text her back to tell her what was wrong (Gina was mad that Emily set her up with Shane’s cousin who already has a girlfriend), Gina comes into the bathroom to sort things out.
There’s a moment where we’re watching Emily and MKE in front of what appears to be two empty stalls in the women’s room. Then, when Gina bursts in, the camera turns and we catch two women in brightly colored tops hanging out in the bathroom. Emily was keeping these civilians from peeing! These normal women just wanted a tinkle and to get back to their guacamole, and they’re being blocked by one of the stupidest Housewives fights that we have ever witnessed. Let these women pee! #FreeTheBrightlyColoredTopLadies #PeeInPeace
The funny thing is, I swear to God that we see these women again sitting in a booth at SBICCA, the oddly named restaurant where the women all eat grilled salmon except for Braunwyn, who orders fried chicken because it’s the only dish with poultry and without nuts. As you can see by her hitting on Tamra all night, Braunwyn does not like nuts. (ZING!) Anyway, at some point, Braunwyn and Tamra fall off of their chairs and drag birthday girl Shannon down with them. The three of them are all cackling and blowing their whistles and generally behaving like three pit bulls that have just met each other for the first time in the dust of the dog park.
Behind them there is one woman, wearing a maroon fake fur, who looks at them like they just all wiped their boogers on her sofa cushions. However, the rest of the patrons, including two women who look like they’re wearing the same tops as the women trapped in the bathroom at the first restaurant, applaud when they finally get up. Do you think these two heroes are fans who were stalking this whole production on Instagram? Did they want to be there? Or maybe they’re producers and that’s why they’re always right next to the cameras. Are they forced to be there? Someone must please figure this out.
I would say that the women then go on to terrorize the men at a bar called Jimmy O’s, but they all kind of seem into the harassment. Kelly Dodd goes up to the hot bouncer — whose biceps are so big that they’re trying to make the armbands of his polo cry “uncle” — and says she’ll pay him $200 to go up and start grinding on Shannon for her birthday. He doesn’t seem to want to, but he thinks that Kelly is superhot. (That is because Kelly is superhot.) We don’t see all of what they get up to, but we do see her rubbing his head into her crotch and him throwing her over his shoulder. I want a big strapping man like that to throw me over his shoulder just once in my life. However, if he puts me back on the ground and doesn’t carry me back to his trailer to pin me to the bed for the better part of an evening, well, I will be sadly disappointed.
Then Shannon, who has been looking for a guy to make out with her all night, finally gets her wish when she runs into someone named Marcos. He comes up and introduces himself to Shannon and she’s playing nice and coy, but finally Tamra, executive producer extraordinaire, gets in there and tells Marcos that Shannon has been looking for a kiss all night. He lunges for Shannon and she pulls away. He goes in further, and Shannon hesitates in midair. Then she thinks better of it, gets closer to him so that she can sniff the open crater of his mouth, and then finally goes in for a tight-lipped kiss that lasts longer than the average Big Red commercial. It’s like two virgins getting married having their first kiss crossed with a momma bird feeding a baby bird.
Victoria Denise Gunvalson Jr. is the only one who does not like all of this making out and girl-on-girl action. All night she’s acted like a prude, with her face puckered in like she’s the new spokesperson for Sour Patch Kids. She leaves before any of the other women, telling Shannon that Braunwyn is trash and she doesn’t like her dirty dancing or her making out with women when she’s not a lesbian. Vicki picks up her purse and walks out to the curb to wait for her Uber. She’s looking down at her phone, with the stale ocean breeze moving her hair lightly in front of her face. She gets distracted by the lights from inside the bar, the red, green, and purple disco lights flashing in a tightly controlled choreography, so tightly controlled it looks random. She’s mesmerized by the strange flashing, the night air on her skin, and the peals of laughter from her friends echoing inside without her. She turns for a moment to go back inside, to ask what they’re laughing about, to join in. But a car pulls up and the driver leans toward an open window to ask, “You Vicki?” She says yes and walks toward him without thinking, the echo of a swallowed “Whoo-hoo” rattling around in her brain.