We pick up right where we left off at Dorit’s Homeless Not Toothless Charity Gala, where Lisa Rinna is mid-sob about the grief surrounding the loss of her mom. Melissa Etheridge’s car is already halfway down the street, going full speed. Then Dorit pulls Garcelle aside and says the funniest set of words a person could say when someone has just finished crying: “Is this an okay time to bring out the birthday cake?”
Garcelle’s face drops in frozen disbelief at what she’s just been asked. Yes, as if this night could be any more eventful, Dorit got a cake for Kyle’s birthday, and she decides to rally the troops to sing “Happy Birthday” as the candle flames dry Rinna’s tears.
We then cut to the husbands, who decide to challenge the women by coming up with an even more incoherent conversation. PK is bragging about his new cryptocurrency real-estate business — a venture surely so fraudulent that, by comparison, SHE by Shereé could win a J.D. Power Award. Then Mauricio hops in to tell all the men that they don’t have anything interesting going on. The audacity to say this to Rob Minkoff, the genius who directed The Lion King, who taught a mouse to drive a little red convertible for Stuart Little, and, most importantly, was once attached to direct a Muppet version of Into the Woods.
What happens next over at the women’s table is a good old-fashioned, rapid-fire airing of the grievances. The only possible way to make sense of the chaotic conversation that unfolds is to imagine there’s a big wheel in the center of the room with all of their conflicts on it, and every 30 seconds, someone spins the wheel and that’s what they have to talk about.
First spin? Crystal’s eating disorder. She sets the record straight on the treatment she’s received and plans to continue to seek, which doesn’t stop the women chiming in with their unwanted two cents about how they think she should go about it. Luckily, a second spin of the imaginary conflict wheel cuts them off before they can make bigger fools of themselves.
Sutton spins the imaginary wheel, and it’s time to discuss the “friend with liabilities” comment. First, let’s set the mood: Alexa, play “Liability,” by Lorde. Sutton finds it very interesting that she was accused of being a liability because, as it happens, a lawyer reached out to her about Erika’s legal woes, so it turns out Erika is the liability.
As Sutton dramatically says, “I did get called by an attorney,” Erika’s head cranks toward her like the lasers in her eyes are adjusting to target. Now, to her credit, Erika is remarkably well prepared for this bombshell. She argues that the only reason Sutton is getting dragged into this is because she claimed to have heard a rumor about Tom on national television — something that Erika warned her not to do, albeit in a completely incomprehensible, cryptic manner.
The good news for Sutton is that her point, which is that Erika calling anyone a liability is hypocritical, still holds. Had Erika simply explained this all to Sutton last season in layman’s terms, this would be a different story, but for some reason, she insists on talking about these lawsuits like she’s a Bond villain delivering a monologue to a tied-up Daniel Craig.
Sutton naturally already hired a lawyer to handle this matter because she sure as hell has no intention of having to go to Chicago for this trial. And if she does, cameras better be up. I want to see Sutton Stracke catching a Second City show, going to Portillo’s, getting her photo taken with the Bean — the works.
Just when it seems like we’re getting into the meat of something interesting, Diana stands up to spin the imaginary conflict wheel, deciding now’s a good time to talk about Garcelle being cold to her. Diana, you absolute nightmare, nobody cares about this in the slightest, least of all Garcelle, who simply says, “Google me if you want to get to know me.” It’s wise advice that I follow all the time; her Wikipedia is a delight.
We later see Crystal and Rob at home, where they have a deeper conversation about her eating disorder and how it’s being spoken about. Crystal feels pressure to take action for “them” rather than for her. At face value, “them” refers to the women, but it also feels like it more broadly is referencing the show and the audience watching.
Kathy floats into Crystal’s house, having never knocked on a door in her life, and against all odds provides some of the sagest advice on the matter: “We’re not lawyers, we’re not doctors, we’re not therapists.” It’s a mantra that Andy Cohen should make all the women repeat three times at the end of every reunion to cleanse the palette. And in case you thought that was too enlightened, she quickly pivots to asking for a cracker or “something to nibble on,” sending the Minkoffs scurrying to whip up a little meal to Kathy’s liking.
Over at Kyle’s house, the birthday celebrations continue; Kris Jenner (a.k.a. Kris Jenner’s assistant Matthew) sends flowers and Mauricio opens up a 1999 Dom, saying, “This is the oldest one I can find” — much like Scott Disick finding a girlfriend. Kyle’s daughter gifts her a pair of roller skates, leading to a wild soliloquy about her being a skating prodigy who used to roller-skate with the cast of Diff’rent Strokes and the Jackson 5 as a child.
We then get dueling debrief lunches, one with Erika and Rinna and another with Sutton and Kyle, a pairing that always feels like a concerned niece doing a wellness check. We don’t hear anything particularly new at either lunch, which really just carries us from one all-cast event to another, but we are shown a photo of Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin in turtlenecks, so it’s all worth it.
Lisa and the 30 pounds of someone else’s hair that she’s wearing are scrambling to put the finishing touches on her Rinna Beauty Disco Party without the help of her live-in party planner, Harry Hamlin. But all she’s really concerned about is that the bartender has fresh lemons available, and rightfully so, because she knows Dorit will short-circuit if she cannot order a belvedere club soda in a short glass with three lemons carcass-out.
The scene reminds Rinna of the one time she went to Studio 54, which I assume was this spring, to see The Minutes on Broadway. Garcelle’s Studio 54 story was a little more detailed, with her describing a table full of coke free for the taking — like a scene right out of Dorit’s bathroom.
After their wigs fight to the death in a crowded photo booth, Kyle invites them all to the infamous Aspen trip, now finally on the horizon. Now that that’s taken care of, Kyle decides to put on her producer hat by bringing up this liability thing again. Wait, if we’re getting back into this, we need to set the mood again. Alexa, play “Liability (Reprise),” by Lorde. That’s better. Anyway, episodes into this conflict, Kyle and Sutton realize they don’t even know what Erika means by “liability,” so Kyle asks her across the party. Without missing a beat, Erika replies, “Hindrance,” as cavalierly as if she was simply asked what time it was.
Now suddenly, everyone is upset at Sutton for saying that Erika has multiple lawsuits, which is like saying the sky is blue. And, of course, Lisa is the angriest of them all. “I’m not having your back right now. Have your own fucking back, Sutton Stracke,” she rhymes, like a Dr. Seuss character who would flip the roast beast table in a fight with Martha May Whovier.
While Kyle attempts to lay out the timeline, Kathy chimes in with, “At the toothless and homeless foundation?”, which sends Garcelle and Shereé into giggles, earning them all a scolding from Dorit, who doesn’t want this to affect her place in Sharon Stone’s good graces. “Honey, I’m so sorry,” Kathy says. “I’ve worked with the homeless, I’ve worked with the toothless.”
As Sutton, a self-described “colt,” tries to find her words (when you speak like a Tennessee Williams character, you have to choose your words carefully), Erika brings up the drinking-problem story line yet again, accusing Garcelle of trying to spread a false narrative. She then tries to claim that if she actually had a drinking problem, it wouldn’t be Garcelle who’d pull her aside, it would be her real friends: Lisa, Kyle, or Dorit. The problem with this argument is that Lisa did pull her aside because she was concerned about her drinking — on-camera, no less! So what is the truth?
Erika suggests that Garcelle brought it up not out of concern but instead to make her look bad, and in comes the famous trailer line: “Erika, I don’t have to make you look bad; you can do that on your own.” But the even better line comes moments later after Erika says to butt out because it’s her life to destroy or rebuild, to which Garcelle curtly says, “Then destroy it.” Academy Award.
I do find myself wondering how much of this is forward movement because it’s starting to feel like we’re going in a loop, “round and round in the circle game,” to quote Joni Mitchell, who’ll probably give a surprise performance next year at a Kyle Richards White Party.
The episode ends with Kathy turning to Garcelle in disbelief over how she was snapped at for the Toothless debacle, and it’s clear that Kathy’s standing in the group is beginning to falter. These women, who used to revere Kathy, who’d carry her luggage for her on cast trips, fetch her little treats, practically genuflect when she walked into a room, have suddenly grown impatient with her. We saw it when Kyle snapped at her for interrupting an “important” conversation earlier and in Dorit’s annoyance at her suggestion that they just lift each other up rather than fight.
But why this sudden sea change? Perhaps the women didn’t like that Kathy was the breakout star last season or resent her for skipping the first half of this one; maybe they’ve grown tired of her quips interrupting them as they talk about the same thing for six weeks. Either way, with the tumultuous Aspen trip on the horizon, the scene is set for a mutiny.