I always say that what I love most about The Real Housewives is when the franchise is like a Tennessee Williams play. This absolutely perfect, incredible, amazing, insightful, emotional, disgusting, and profoundly impactful episode is like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. The first ten minutes, when Ariana and Tom go over everything that just happened, is the best breakup fight I have ever seen. Even better than the gut-wrenching Tom and Shiv savagery in this season of Succession. It was handled perfectly. There is no music, no sound effects, no intrusive editing. It was the opposite of how we usually watch reality, where the editors try to drag our emotions hither and yon. Here they didn’t need to. They just lay back and let this unfold like an episode of Couples Therapy.
Throughout the whole discussion, Ariana gives this man no mercy. He says he lost his mojo, and she says, “So fuck my friend. Get your mojo back, fuck my friend.” He says that he couldn’t get an apology out of Ariana in the last few months. She says, “The last few months, you were already fucking my friend.” He tells her about how he and Raquel had a deep connection. She says, “Don’t you fucking talk to me about your deep connection.” He says that he’s seeing her tomorrow. She says, “Are you going to kiss and hug and talk about your deep connection?” He says he doesn’t know. She says, “Why couldn’t you just say no.”
Then she says the line you could never write, the absolute guillotine: “I regret every moment I ever stood up for you. You are worth nothing, and I want you to feel that deep in your soul. I regret ever loving you.”
It’s perfect. The whole thing is perfect, and this man is getting everything he deserves. Ariana’s grieving is also perfect, though we never wanted to see her in this position. She is the woman scorned, and she got on-camera with a fucking blowtorch, and I am in absolute awe of her.
We’ll get back to Sandoval in a minute, but let’s talk about everyone else’s reactions to the scandal. Katie, Lala, and James, who were always anti-Raquel, continue to be, but now they’re on the right side of history. I loved how Lala (in her “Send it to Darrell” merch) and Katie rallied to Ariana’s side and how Katie and Scheana put aside their beef due to the circumstances. The one scene of the episode I really didn’t love was their call to Raquel. James gets her on the phone on speaker with everyone else in the room being silent, and they just taunt her. James says to her, “You literally just trashed [your friendships in L.A.] for Sandoval’s little cocky cock. His stinky 40-year-old cock.” Well, I guess it’s progress when the first insult James goes for isn’t that he’s fat. We don’t see how this phone call ends because she probably hung up on him, but the whole thing felt very sixth-grade sleepover, and I didn’t like it. Yes, Raquel did a reprehensible thing, but why not reserve all this hatred and taunting for Sandoval?
I felt the same way about Lisa. She says that Tom and Ariana weren’t having sex, and then comes this gorgeous beauty queen who is clearly down for it, and “it was too much to resist.” No, this is not Raquel’s fault. Well, it’s not only Raquel’s fault. It’s not because she’s gorgeous or likes to have sex. There is no such thing as too much to resist when you are in a monogamous relationship of ten years. It is Tom’s duty to resist all of that, and Lisa, who has been happily married since the birth of Methuselah (who is also her husband), should know this better than anyone.
However, I did love that she offered Ariana a place to live. Can you imagine if Ariana moved into Villa Rosa, a Sweetgreen flagship store that only sells miniature ponies? Where is that sitcom? Too bad there is a writers’ strike on, or I’d be scripting it right this minute. When Ariana visits, Lisa is very supportive and tells Ariana that things will get better; she just has to wade her way through the dumpster fire covered in sewage and Tom Sandoval’s pubic hair that is currently her life.
Tom’s visit is very different. I love that Lisa isn’t taking any shit from him, even when he breaks down, sobbing into his hands. Ugh, his unmoving forehead and his white fingernails while he cries. It’s a no from me, dawg, but a no so big you couldn’t even wedge it into the Grand Canyon. But Lisa takes a great tone with him, condemning what he’s done and how he’s treated everyone, particularly Ariana, but also giving him just enough comfort to get by. At the end of the day, she is a maternal figure on this show, and while she can hate what he did, she can’t fully hate Tom. Well, at least not as long as she’s making money off of him in various and sundry ways.
The MVPs of the reactions to go Scheana and Katie, opposite sides of the same Alta Beauty compact. At Ariana’s, while her gays are breaking Tom’s precious dick flute, Scheana tells us about her altercation with Raquel while filming Watch What Happens Live. (I love how this episode treated them as people on a show and how this talk show, BravoCon, all the press coverage, and other outside influences of being on a reality show affect their real emotions.) She says that she shoved Raquel hard but didn’t punch her. She shows us, in a confessional, that she can’t even make a fist with her nails, so she can’t punch anyone. Hello, this is science and is admissible in any court of law. That is why the restraining order got dropped.
That Scheana gets the final scene of the episode is also perfect. She talks about how she was friends with Sandoval first and, other than Schwartz, she was the only one in his “camp” this entire season. As soon as she heard the news, she left him immediately, and she gives him absolutely no sympathy. When he talks about how he tried to break up with Ariana and she threatened suicide, Scheana tells him that is when you call in her friends and family to support her, and you do the hard, difficult thing of ending it without, you know, fucking her best friend. Scheana turned on a dime to do the right thing and delivered another perfect speech that deserves, if not an entire EGOT, at least an Emmy and a Tony, the only two of those awards that really matter. “I don’t know where we go from here,” she says. “We’re obviously not friends anymore because I can’t support anything you’ve done anymore. And I’m really going to miss you. Right now, you don’t deserve any friends, and I can’t get behind any of this.” That was his last chance at an ally, and he blew it.
Katie won’t talk to Sandoval, of course, but she uses her opportunity to speak with Schwartz to ask him what he knew, when he knew it, and what he did to stop it. He tells her he only knew for a month and then Katie brings up a comment he made at BravoCon. Katie reminds him that when Raquel was parading around in a Tom Tom sweatshirt with nothing on underneath, Schwartz said that she wasn’t fangirling for him. When he denies it, Katie says, “Why don’t you get on the right side of everything and shock everyone and tell the truth for a change.”
He actually does and says that he knew about the one-night stand, but he thought Tom would break up with Ariana so he wouldn’t have to do anything about it. This has been a bad season for Schwartz, from the sniveling way he treated Katie during their divorce to covering up for his best friend (which we’re reminded Tom, Tom, and Jax have been doing for a decade). But the worst was tonight. When his best friend shows up with his life destroyed, he’s not worried about him; he’s concerned about their bar and his reputation. The only thing as selfish as what Sandoval did was how Schwartz reacted to it.
Even when he shows up to talk to Ariana at the rooftop bar, he tries his old puppy dog, “Isn’t this place cool” gimmick on everyone, but they’re no longer buying it. Even as Katie is trying to get him to take responsibility for his part in all of this, he’s talking about how he’s worried about man-eating crocodiles in Florida. Come on, Schwartz.
We don’t get to see much of Raquel in the episode, just the one scene where Sandoval goes to her house and she’s alone with all the lights off but her fucking galaxy globe like she’s a 12-year-old who just got caught sneaking out after curfew. She seems to have little remorse for what she did, just that she’s so isolated. Well, no duh! Everyone who liked her (um, Scheana paid for her apartment???!!!) she just totally screwed over for Sandoval’s cocky cock. (Ugh, maybe James was right to be so cruel.) It’s still hard to get a read on her or what she really thinks about all of this. In the scene, she and Tom share “I love you”s, but we know that they have just broken up today, so we know how it all ends. I have a feeling that we’ll be talking about her next week in the recap of the reunion. (Yes, that’s right. I petitioned Daddy Moneybags Vulture, the owner of this website. He has allowed us to keep the Vanderpump Rules wing of the Real Housewives Institute open for another three weeks.)
What really galled me, even more than I thought he could, was Tom Sandoval. It starts at the very top of the episode when Ariana talks about finding the footage of him and Raquel in a mutual diddle (at Schwartz’s!!!!) on his phone. “It’s something I normally would have deleted.” Excuse me, “normally would have deleted” [insert every exclamation point ever made]. Why would you have something like this on your phone often enough that there would be a plan of action? If you are in a monogamous relationship, you should not delete it because it should not be something you record. It should not exist.
When Ariana sits down with returning champion Kristen Doute, she says something very powerful about how she and Tom kissed while he was still with Kristen. She says that, at the moment, you think it is situational. You think that a specific set of circumstances lead you to this point, so you make some compromises. But what she learned is that is who this person is, and it took her nine years to figure this out.
I think the same is true for the audience, and that is why this scandal has greatly impacted the Bravo community. Just think about all the things that we’re not revisiting, the cold cases that ain’t so cold anymore, as Lala says. Tom trashed Kristen and made us all think she was awful for cheating on him with Jax, but he was doing the same thing. He made us all believe that Miami Girl was a crazy stalker trying to get on the show and Kristen was evil for bringing her around. Then we find out that, as he says, “Ariana always knew the truth about that.” So he did fuck her.
Then there’s the Billie Lee of it all, and there were rumors that they were sleeping together that everyone so easily dismissed. When Tom is talking to Scheana, he says he cheated another time on Ariana, and it wasn’t with some random person. So is it Billie? Yes, these are not circumstance; these are personality traits. And every time this trait came about, he dissembled and lied about the women in his life so that we would believe him so he could remain likable at their expense. That is what galls me: that he played all of us, constructing so many villains around him that we couldn’t see that he was the Keyser Söze all along. And for that, I’m sorry, but we can’t forgive him, even while he’s giving us some of the best, rawest, realest television I’ve ever seen.
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