Absolutely everything about this episode was heartbreaking. Tom Schwartz letting Katie buy a house just so he can own a lizard named Daug. Heartbreaking. Lisa explaining that she can’t come to Brittany and Jax’s wedding because of her mother’s death. Heartbreaking. Seeing our kween Lala talk about something so stupid and mundane as home renovations like she is a Canadian trapped in an HGTV show. Heartbreaking. Her boyfriend Randall making his first appearance on the show only to go to a fancy restaurant and order a chicken sandwich with no roll but two helpings of chicken. Heartbreaking, quite literally, because it contributed to heart disease.
Seriously, everything about this episode is sad, including that both Brett and Max are back in the confessionals following their parallel racist tweet scandals. Some eagle-eyed viewers noticed that after the news broke we didn’t see either of the guys in talking heads for a few episodes. Well, they are now back like nothing happened and we get to enjoy watching neither Max, his “girlfriend” Dayna, nor Tom Schwartz understand the concept of what it is like to be exclusive with a partner. (No, Tom, it does not mean that you’re not fucking other people but also not a thing.)
We also get to watch Brett go out on a date with Charli (aka the girl who has never eaten pasta, aka the girl whose name Scheana stole all of her extra vowels from). The heartbreaking thing about this date is that they went to Café Gratitude, a L.A. mini-chain with a gimmick that is basically a parody of everything that is wrong with living in L.A. You see why during the date but, like a yellow Starburst sitting on the sidewalk, you might not have picked it up. The gimmick at Café Gratitude is that instead of ordering an Eggplant Parmesan Focaccia sandwich, you have to say to the server, “I am Awesome,” which is the name they gave the sandwich. When the server brings it to your table s/he says, “You are Awesome.” Then you all go to yoga while wearing sustainably sourced fibers and toting your own yoga mats and hydroflasks, and do downward dog farting into each other’s faces and pretending like the air doesn’t stink and Teslas aren’t also ruining the earth.
Really the most heartbreaking thing about this date isn’t that Brett tells Charli he wants to find a person with “genunity” or that Lisa told Brett to look outside of her establishments for people to date. (Wouldn’t that destroy the whole concept of this show?) Instead it is how Scheana reacts to hearing Brett asked Charli out on a date. When he first tells her, she says that Charli is a friend of hers but that they’re not right for each other because Charli is too young for him. When Brett continues to tell her that he likes Charli, Scheana says, “If you need someone to date, you need someone more mature, not just some little club rat.” Dude. You just said this girl is a friend of yours and now you’re calling her a “little club rat” just because a racist underwear model says he likes her?
While all of these dates with the silly new people are bad and sad, the worst heartbreak this episode is a result of the blowup between Jax and Sandoval during last week’s episode. To recap, Brittany and Jax hired a homophobic preacher to perform their ceremony and, after Lisa said something about it, they fired him and replaced him with Lance Bass, the first man in America to wear blonde highlights on the cover of a magazine with a circulation over 2 million. Tom asked Jax why it took him so long to address this problem before firing him, Jax went off, and Brittany said that Jax should knock Sandoval out.
As we get more context about this fight, it makes a lot more sense. When Brittany and Jax are talking about how much it upset them, Jax says that he’s angry Sandoval didn’t go to his L.A. bachelor party. How many freaking events does this one wedding need? Sandoval later tells Schwartz that he feels like he’s always walking on eggshells around Jax because a year ago his father died so they couldn’t say anything negative, and then this year they are getting married. Meanwhile Jax can say or do whatever he wants without consequences. I could see how that would be very annoying.
There is something that Lala brings up when talking about Ariana that also seems really applicable to this situation, and explains why no one is on Tom and Ariana’s side in the argument. She says that it seems like the two of them are always up on a high horse and that no one else wants to hang out with them. I can see how, in the long term, that would also be annoying. Schwartz points out to Sandoval that the pastor was fired, he could have just kept his mouth shut and gotten through the wedding, but he didn’t. He has to keep the moral high ground. Once Jax did the right thing, why question what took him so long to get there?
This all leads to a blowup between Jax and Sandoval near the SUR dumpster, a site covered by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Jax says that all Sandoval needs to do is apologize, but he won’t. Jax says he can’t keep bringing up the past. “Know who doesn’t like the past being brought up?” Sandoval asks. “Hypocrites and people with bad credit.” An instant classic.
Jax, doesn’t think it’s nearly as amazing as the rest of us do, however. Jax says that Sandoval’s problem is that he can’t apologize without saying “But…,” something we saw happen just earlier this season when he blew up at Stassi about her book signing. Then he says, “It’s my wedding. The one day that it’s my week,” which is the most hilariously narcissistic Jax thing to say and also Tom’s whole problem with this never-ending wedding tour.
Jax says that bringing up the thing at Peter’s party made it sound like Tom had some kind of agenda. He’s not wrong. When Tom approached him, it was like he was trying to accuse him of something. Tom thinks that his motives were pure in that he was trying to defend everyone under the LGBT rainbow, including his bisexual girlfriend, but it’s easy to see from Jax’s perspective how that motive seems secondary. He concludes all of this fighting by saying that Sandoval is uninvited from his wedding. Dude, seriously? The tux is rented. The plane tickets are purchased. The reservations in Tennessee’s least gross Motel 6 are booked. Couldn’t these two just have just tabled this whole thing until the bouquet was thrown, caught by Ariana, and then quickly deposited in the nearest Dumpster?
While Jax might have had a case against Sandoval, in his inimitable way he ruined any goodwill he might have had by having any number of inappropriate responses to the altercation. The first is at dinner with Lala and Randall. Apparently Jax and Randall have become quite close because Randall is “the closest to Jax’s age.” Sick burn. Jax says instead of trying to figure out when he cancelled the pastor, Sandoval should try to figure out Ariana’s sexuality, because it changes every day. Ugh, Jax. That is just gross and scuzzy and not helping the claims of homophobia being heaped on you for hiring a hateful pastor.
After Jax and Brittany are called to Villa Rosa to hear that Lisa can’t go to their wedding (something, honestly, that could have been dispatched with a phone call or even a warm text), she leaves them by saying that life is too short and to get over all their petty squabbles. What she’s trying to get him to do is forgive Sandoval and re-invite him to the wedding. When Jax and Brit get outside, Jax says, “It’s just a reminder that the little things don’t matter.” Okay, good. Sounds like he’s getting it. “I took care of a family member and I took care of a best friend. What’s next?”
NOOOoOoOooooooooOOOooooOOO, Jax. NOoooOOOOOo!!!OOO!1o!OO!1o That is not the reaction you’re supposed to have to realizing that little things don’t matter. If you think these differences are easy to surmount, you forgive these people especially for the big moments in your life. You don’t then double down on extricating because they said something wrong at Peter’s stupid birthday stupid party, stupid. Trying to understand what happens in Jax’s mind is like trying to work your way out of quicksand made of stale Twinkies and sewage.
Ariana isn’t having a great reaction to everything that’s going on, either. Since Sandvoal is uninvited from the wedding, she doesn’t know if she should remain one of Brittany’s bridesmaids and look like she’s condoning their decision to oust her man, or stay at home with Tom and ruin her relationship with Brittany. It also doesn’t help that her depression seems to be taking hold and there aren’t enough shifts at SUR to make up for the sense of lacking she can’t shake from her soul. When out to dinner with Lala and Stassi, Lala tells Ariana, “I feel like you don’t enjoy us very much.”
“I don’t enjoy anything very much,” Ariana says before admitting she doesn’t talk about it because she doesn’t want to be labeled a Debbie Downer like she has in the past. What she doesn’t know is that just earlier this episode Lala called her a “wet blanket,” which just proves what she tells Sandoval immediately after. “They say this is a safe space, but on what fucking planet do you think this a safe group of people to talk about shit with ever?” she says, full of both sadness and rage that are a meta-narrative both on the nature of fame and her place on a reality show and what it has done to her.
“I can’t do it anymore,” she tells Tom. “I just want to get in my car and leave my life behind.” I can just picture it. Ariana, in an assortment of hats, behind the wheel of a convertible, or maybe just some boring, vaguely blue sedan, like at the very end of Six Feet Under, taking off to Las Vegas as she litters the highway with the SUR uniforms, Gucci belts, ridiculous party wigs, and Daily Mail Online swag from her past life. She’s going for a full reboot: a new name, a new profession, maybe a new nose or new tits. Definitely a haircut. Shorter, like Michelle Williams when she’s at her self-loathingest in every movie she deserved an Oscar for. This will be the time. This will be the trip. This will be the one thing to change it all.
Behind she’s left Sandoval, still reeling from being kicked out of Jax’s wedding, telling Schwartz that he has to be the best man now. “I don’t know how to be a best man without you,” he tells Sandoval.
“Yes, dude. You do. I’ll show you,” he tells Schwartz, barely fighting back the tears. “I’ll hook you up with the ultimate survival kit of the wedding and you wear it so I can be there in spirit.”
“I don’t even know how to tie a bow tie,” Schwartz almost whispers.
“I’ll tie all the bow ties in advance,” Sandoval says.
They stare at each other through the throat-grating mist of tears and don’t move. In the stillness, Sandoval swears he can hear Ariana smile somewhere off in the distance, and as the tightness grows in his boxer briefs, he knows that, for the first time in a long time, everyone around him is happy.