I’m very happy for Victoria Denise Gunvalson Jr. for getting engaged to Steve Lodge, a character from a Clint Eastwood movie that never got made. I’m very happy that it happened off-camera, while Vicki was in her pajamas without any makeup on. I’m very happy that this was the one major moment of her adult life that was not captured on-camera and that it might help her grow from a wooden puppet whose nose shrinks when she lies into a real boy.
However, based on how she showed off her ring to her friends, I don’t expect that is going to happen. She pulled the old “Oh, I’m so hot. I’m so hot” trick, putting her hand to her face repeatedly so that the women would see her (stunningly classy and understated considering the milieu) ring and then screech about her engagement like it was the first performer at a Magic Mike show. No matter how much Vicki has matured, no matter how much her life has changed as a result of 14 long years practicing the reality-television arts and sciences, she still approaches life like a 4-year-old making her skirt frill around as she dizzies herself in concentric circles.
The odd thing about Vicki this season is that she is a “friend of” but is so incredibly central to the action. Usually the difference between a “friend of” and a full-fledged Housewife is that we never see the Housewife going about her daily life alone in her own home. However, we got to see Vicki’s house more than any other in this episode. There’s the scene where everyone — sans Kelly and Braunwyn, who Vicki hates — cackles about her engagement, and the one where her whole family comes over to congratulate her.
The scene with her family is essentially a scene of Vicki at home, but to get around it, producers have Tamra ride her bike over to Vicki’s, like she’s a teen in an ’80s horror movie, so that it can be “Tamra’s scene.” I mean, either demote Vicki or not, don’t just leave her in this limbo.
It was great to see that Briana, Vicki’s daughter who we’ve followed since she was in high school, is doing well. She’s lost 60 pounds, getting the lupus treatment she needs in South Carolina where she now lives, and her husband Ryan managed to only say one thing that that was incredibly embarrassing. I think all in all that is a win for Briana.
As Vicki is getting engaged, Shannon is finalizing her divorce. She goes for her final court date with her ex-husband, David, and we got what will probably be our final replay of David Beador’s Greatest Hits of Awfulness Flashback Sequence and, honestly, it was more nourishing than any Thanksgiving feast. I would trade all the stuffing in the world if that could just last an hour. However, Shannon was worried that she was making more money and wouldn’t get anything in the divorce settlement. She shows up to court wearing a Chanel suit and carrying a Chanel bag. That is the wrong strategy. She should have arrived in mismatched T.J. Maxx separates, a pair of shoes from Ross, and all of her things in a Ziplock bag flung over her shoulder. That is how you get $10,000 a month in child and spousal support and $1.4 million dollars in your divorce settlement. Oh wait, that’s what she got anyway. Please ignore all of my advice.
The big conflict this week, as all of the women head to their Miami vacation, is between Kelly and, well, just about everyone. The only people on Kelly’s side right now are Braunwyn — who sat her down and convinced her to go on the trip because, if she did not, what would we even have? — and Emily, the official spokesman for the One-Piece Swimsuit Manufacturers of America. Kelly doesn’t want to go on the trip because Tamra, Shannon, and Vicki will all be mean to her, which is a given. Braunwyn convinces her to get over it and try to work it through with them on this trip. However, Tamra hasn’t talked to Kelly in three weeks and is saying that her lawyers told her that she shouldn’t speak to her on the trip or otherwise.
Tamra is accusing Kelly of getting involved in her defamation lawsuit against Jim Bellino, a seeping jet of brimstone crystalized into a human that was married to former Real Housewife Alexis Bellino. Tamra and Shannon went on a podcast and talked shit about him and his businesses, and now they’re engaged in a lengthy and expensive legal battle about it. All Kelly really did was @ Jim on Twitter and say that he was right about Tamra being nasty. While, yes, this could be used against her in court (“See, your honor, even her co-workers think she’s nasty”), it’s not like Kelly had to @ Jim for his lawyers to use any of her negative tweets about Tamra. Kelly isn’t really “getting involved” in the lawsuit as much as she’s calling a ton of attention to it.
Finally, at the end of the episode, Tamra and Kelly have their big confrontation. Kelly says that she made that statement because she was “backed against the wall” by Tamra, who spread rumors about Kelly, including that she had a train pulled on her, that she broke a woman’s hand, and that she threw her mother down the stairs. Tamra gets upset because when she said that Kelly threw her mother down the stairs she was defending Kelly against Vicki. Yes, that is true, but she did repeat the rumor about the train, that one is squarely at Tamra’s doorstep.
The whole situation ends with them both being wrong, both being right, and both acting disgracefully. Still, it’s Tamra who acts the worst. While walking way she says, “Go suck more dick for money, Kelly. That’s what you do best.” We all know that is not true (and, even if she did, sucking dick for money is a time-honored career and should not be denigrated), and since Tamra is in trouble for spreading false rumors, spreading another one isn’t really going to help her cause.
I guess we’ll see this whole thing play out over the course of this trip to Miami which, honestly, is only making me dislike Braunwyn even more. At one point she’s packing and she opens up a whole drawer of bikinis and just empties half of its contents onto the floor. First of all, who has a drawer full of bikinis, even if you live in Miami and the OC? Does one really need the probably 200 bikinis you could fit in that drawer? Doesn’t she ever purge? Secondly, why just make a giant mess on the floor when you’re trying to pack? Don’t you know what’s in there? And if she’s forgotten something that’s in there, then maybe it no longer sparks joy and she should get rid of it?
But nothing to me is more Braunwyn than their first night in Miami. She and her husband Sean pick up the women in matching Maserati convertibles and drive them to their hotel. Wait, I thought the whole pretense for this trip was to check on Brauwyn’s multiple houses in the area? Why aren’t they staying in one of those? On the way to the hotel, both Braunwyn and Sean are woo-hooing and throwing their arms in the air like they’re sorority sisters about to ride a mechanical bull, and all of the other women are just trying to get their hair extensions out of their faces while being forced into Braunwyn’s idea of fun.
The same thing happens again when she takes them to E11even, a nightclub that is not a strip club but mostly is. Braunwyn is dancing like St. Camille of Grammer on crystal meth, snapping her hair all around and shaking her boobs, while the rest of the women try to have a good time. She saw how uncomfortable strippers made both Vicki and Shannon at her “weaning” party, why would she take them there? I mean, I would go there in a heartbeat and have a blast, but this is not the group for that. Braunwyn is playing to the wrong crowd, and the only thing that makes her desperation for acceptance even worse is her bad aim on how to ingratiate herself to these women.