Dude?! What the hell were those last 30 seconds of the episode? It wraps up with Kathryn Dennis finally having an honest conversation about her racist language (more about that in a minute), but then we get a Real Housewives–style title card that says, “Six months later, Kathryn and Chleb are still going strong.” Chleb is her boyfriend with the impossibly spelled first name that at least one website accused Kathryn of dating because he’s Black and she’s in the middle of a racist scandal.
Okay, great. Glad they’re still together. Are we checking in with the rest of the crew? Nope. Okay. Then we see Kathryn in her room, or the room belonging to a 10-year-old girl who is really into American Dolls and Disney Channel starlets. It might be one in the same. Anyway, we see Kathryn taking a pregnancy test and just as the camera is about to reveal the results, we see the Southern Charm logo and the episode ends. Bop-ba-do you even know what you’re doing to us?
This is unprecedented for several reasons. First of all, if Kathryn were pregnant with her Black boyfriend, that would be a shocking end to her storyline about being a racist, and there is no way the show wouldn’t have capitalized on that. Secondly, why are you even giving us a cliffhanger at the end of the season? This is not Riverdale. We don’t have to wait four months to find out what happened. Do the producers not know that Google exists? I mean, go to your computer, type in “Kathryn Dennis Instagram,” and you will se the most recent photo, posted on the day the finale aired, is this one. Not only does she not look pregnant, she looks anti-pregnant. She looks like Trojan Man’s hot younger sister.
There are several reasons why Kathryn could not be pregnant. She might have had an abortion or a miscarriage. I don’t know. The show is giving us nothing. Most likely she was never pregnant to start with and this was some kind of mean ploy. But a ploy to what end? It’s the season finale. It’s not going to make us tune in next week. Well, there is a reunion, but we’re going to be watching that to see Madison infest everyone around her with her radioactive rage like she’s some sort of human Chernobyl of hate. Also, as stated above, we’re not going to wait, we’re just going to begin internet sleuthing like the trash humans we are. After all, we’re Bravoholics. We’re not above Meghan King Edmonds–ing that shit, and we will have a clear answer with documentation when Andy Cohen tells us the Mazel of the Day.
So what is the point of this pregnancy non-reveal? Is it to build sympathy for Kathryn, a character who spent the first episodes of the season spreading baseless rumors about a cast member so bad that the cast member quit the show, and then the rest of the season taking no accountability whatsoever for racist language on social media? The same star that Bravo has invested seven seasons and a lot of money into maintaining her popularity or, shall we say, notoriety? Are they doing this to make us fall in love with Kathryn? To get us reinvested in her story? Is this to telegraph that her story is not over so they won’t be firing her after this season? I don’t know. It all seems awful and cynical. There seems to be no good decision behind this, just like there was no good decision behind including Thomas Ravenel, a man convicted of assaulting a woman, in the season’s first episode.
At least in this episode, Kathryn made some progress. She showed up at dinner time to Pringle and Shep’s pool party. Do you think the producers always intended her to be that late so that they could work everyone up into a lather and then drop Kathryn in the middle so they could rip her to shreds, or do you think she really missed the whole first half of the party while putting on her purple eyeshadow? Probably the latter. Everyone was just having a fun time in the pool, talking about Pringle’s dad bod when that guy has a stomach flatter than QAnon followers believe the earth to be. We cannot normalize a 40-year-old man that looks that good shirtless as having a dad bod. My flabby, middle-aged body and fragile ego just can’t take it.
When Kathryn finally arrives, she has a few more maddeningly circular conversations, most notably with Other Madison, where she continues to deflect responsibility for her racist actions. Her defense to O.M. is basically, “You should know I’m not racist and should have come out in support of me.” Um, that’s kind of hard to do when she is actively engaging in, you know, racist behavior. Other Madison says, “If you truly want to move forward you have to be able to acknowledge that [you] fucked up.” As she says this, Kathryn is staring off into space not even hearing it. That, right there, is Kathryn’s problem.
Also, when Other Madison accuses her of minimizing her feelings, Kathryn says, “Minimizing your feelings? That’s bullshit.” Um, no, that is minimizing her feelings. I mean, you did it right there. It’s like saying you didn’t steal the cookie from the cookie jar and then walking into the living room with Keebler Fudge Stripe smears all over your face.
After that talk, Kathryn goes down to the dock with Danni to talk through their problems. Danni tells her that the problem is not so much that everyone thinks she’s a racist, it’s that she hasn’t apologized for the hurt that she caused them in the wake of the scandal. The problem is that she hurt more than just the woman she sent the monkey emoji to. You can see the wheels turning in her vape-addled brain. You can see her eyes searching the horizon for a hard answer, the knot in her stomach tightening as she realizes that, maybe, like the heat lightning far in the distance, she’s been striking at exactly the wrong point of the earth all this time.
Then Madison shows up. Ugh, I want to like Madison so hard because she is pretty and mean and was made for reality television in a way that makes the hairs on the top of my butt crack stand on edge. But she was really wrong about everything this episode. I think it was maybe the drinking? Or maybe she’s just awful and I don’t want to believe it because she looks so good in a knit bathing suit?
Her wrongness starts way earlier in the day when she finds out that Austen hooked up with some girl the weekend before. I mean, considering he was having threeways with other girls while he was with her, should that come as a surprise? Also, she broke up with him. That’s like yelling at someone who bought the jumpsuit you donated to Goodwill for stealing your clothes. When she finds out she stalks Austen down in the treehouse where he’s hanging with Craig and Shep. This is the same treehouse where Kathryn and Other Madison had their fight. This place is cursed with the spirit of a thousand demons. Sage can’t save it. An exorcism can’t save it. Only a blood ritual like something out of The Craft (the original, not the shitty remake) can possibly close this demon door that has erupted in the treehouse.
Madison goes out there and tells Austen that he’s a “Beta bitch,” which makes no sense. Isn’t the Alpha the one out there sleeping with all the girls and getting laid? She’s just looking for an insult to hurt him, not even one that makes sense. She asks him, “Did you not think people would tell me?” Why should he care if they do? You dumped him! Austen tells her that she loves him one minute and is blowing up at him the next. He calls it “emotional terrorism” and he’s not wrong. Then Shep goes on the patio and hands Whitney a guitar and tells him to play a song and, well, this is just a warning to all straight guys in the universe that no one wants you to play guitar at a party.
Anyway, Madison screws things up again at the dock; when Danni has almost made headway with Kathryn, she tells Kathryn to go up there and tell everyone she’s innocent. No! Madison! Shut up! That is exactly the opposite of what should happen. That’s like telling a person on fire to go to the gas station to get a Big Gulp to douse the flames. (Note to self: It’s been too long since I’ve had a Big Gulp.)
Luckily, Kathryn does not follow her advice. She goes upstairs and sits down with Leva, Danni, Venita, and Other Madison to talk about what happened and to have the honest and vulnerable conversation that we’ve all been hoping she would have all season. Kathryn, admittedly, doesn’t know what to do to make the situation better, but maybe it’s not about making it better. She doesn’t need to clear her name, she just needs to be there and be comfortable in her wrongness. As Venita says, “Showing up is the first step,” and Kathryn has been absent from anyone who would challenge how she’s been acting.
She tries to defend herself and does so badly, but finally starts to listen. She asks them the big question, “How can I make people think I’m not a racist person?” Other Madison says, “You have to do the work.” That’s it. That’s the answer. Do the work. Don’t burden other people with guiding you through. Do the work. Read a book or take a class and find out how you could behave better in similar circumstances. Do the work. Educate yourself and unite with other people who are trying to make a difference in the world. Do the work, Kathryn. Do the work. It can take a million different forms, but one thing the work is not is denial. The other thing the work is not is some lame pregnancy scare meant to drum up sympathy. That’s the opposite of work. That’s defeat.