It’s such a cruel trick of Vanderpump Rules to come careening back to its unreasonable, alcohol-pickled, shouty self in the very last episode of the season. I thought for a moment that Jax Taylor himself was going to emerge from the DeLorean with a flux capacitor, rip off a chunky knit, and threaten to fight someone in the parking lot of a Santa Ynes (with a Y!) winery. Sadly, no. It did not happen. Instead, we got Brock, the great Australian disappointment, lumbering off to a nearby hotel with his pride as neatly tucked into his forest-green corduroys as his chest hair is tucked into his, wait, are those also forest-green corduroys?
The episode begins with the world’s saddest boat trip, where the whole cast joins the engaged couple who are celebrating their pending-but-ultimately-canceled union. This isn’t a yacht. This isn’t even a mini-yacht. It’s like a raft with some lawn furniture on it that has three teenage boys in the water below kicking it in circles around a thin strip of seal-scattered ocean. Those boys do seem to be wearing flippers and goggles, though, so this is absolutely a professional endeavor. The only person who looks good on board is Sandoval, who seems to be wearing a pair of Erika Jayne’s Gucci sunglasses that he either stole from her house or bought at a bankruptcy auction. (Sorry girl, I couldn’t resist.)
While on the boat, Scheana tells Brock that she thought about their plot to get secretly married at the engagement party, and they call it off. Phew, we all think, wiping our imaginary brows with our imaginary hand towels that we’re always carrying to mop up the very real red-wine stains we leave all over the house.
But they’re not done. While James and Raquel are off with Lisa on a horse gallop and picnic, the rest of the crew goes to an alpaca farm where Brock rattles off fun facts about the animals like he swallowed an Alexa and has yet to poop it out. “Did you know,” he asks, “that female alpacas all go to the bathroom together? [BURP.]” When everyone sits down to lunch, Brock decides that he’s going to give a toast and then Scheana gets up to join him and they’re like, “We got engaged!” Scheana says she’s not wearing her ring to not make this weekend about her, but Lala says that she is watching Scheana, in real time, making it about her.
This is the real reason Scheana and Brock didn’t get married. It’s not because she didn’t want to, it’s because Scheana can’t even eat a decent burrito without sharing all of the details with the entire world. She makes a big stink about how she’s not wearing her wedding ring so she won’t take away from the happy couple, but then she pulls it out of her purse to show Lisa at the party. In her purse! I mean, the only thing more conspicuous than wearing an enormous fake ring is pulling it out of your bag at every opportunity to show people. She might as well just staple it to her forehead at this point. When Lisa asks why she has it she says, “I couldn’t trust it alone in our hotel room.” Um, sister. Even a Holiday Inn Express has a safe in the room. Also, your ring cost about $985 spread across four different credit cards. I don’t think anyone is really going to be coming for it.
Back at the alpaca lunch, Brock and Scheana tell everyone that they were thinking of getting married that weekend but decided against it. What? Why would you say this? Why do you think you get credit for this? It’s like when someone says, “Well, at least I didn’t get arrested.” Girl, that is what you’re supposed to do. You’re not supposed to get arrested, so you don’t get credit for doing what you should have done in the first place. But speaking of spending time in jail, it’s like these two forget that attempted murder is a crime. “Oh, I thought about killing you, and I planned it all out and everything but then I didn’t go through with it.” Sister, you are about to get 15 years with no chance of parole. Just keep your yapper shut.
As this is going down, Katie Maloney-Schwartz, the meanest person on television, says, “This is so wrong. But I’m kind of living for it.” Oh god. I already had to start liking Raquel, a Peloton class that only plays “Baby Shark” on a loop, do not make me like Katie. Later, at the engagement party, she and Lala are talking about this big reveal at the alpacas and Lala asks Katie what she’s drinking to make sure it’s not tequila. Then Lala reconsiders and says maybe she should get wasted and tell James about Brock and Scheana’s scheama (which is how you spell “scheme” if you’re Scheana’s mother). Katie says, “Maybe this is a job for Tequila Katie.” Yes! YES! This is exactly what should have happened. We needed her to unleash her notoriously toxic drunk alter ego to tear this party fairy light from table setting and set this whole winery on fire. Katie, I love you for saying this but, once again, you ultimately disappoint by not doing it.
Katie and Ariana are not disappointed when they finally talk to Randall. Instead, they’re bawling around the dinner table because he’s offered to invest $150K in their sandwich shop, Something About Her [Farts]. What’s weird is that we don’t even get to see him tell them. We see a flashback from ten minutes before and the pair just tell Lisa and the hologram of Ken she projects from her pocketbook. So, is this suitably momentous for the show or not? And do they get to keep the money now that Lala and Russel (JK, I know it’s Randall) broke up?
Those missing moments be damned, the party is a great success. Raquel’s father is there and so is her mother and her sister-cousin, but not her biological mother–aunt, and I was dying to meet that big old pot of chaos, oh boy was I ever. I had to settle instead for James’s mother Jacqueline, a pot of chaos who Andy Cohen had to block so she would stop texting him videos of her and her friends telling him what a great show they would make. We also get to meet Grandma Buttons, who I am shocked to learn is not a hairless cat but rather a woman with secrets. She will tell you all about what happened in that hotel room in Reno back in 1962 and how her neck has never fully recovered but that Jack Kennedy, all of his girls called him Jack, raved about it until, well, you know how this story ends. And Grandma Buttons is still crushed.
We can’t forget Raquel’s speech from a balcony like she’s Juliet in a Netflix remake of the Shakespeare classic where all of the parts are played by humans who were turned into Muppets and then turned back into people again, like how you run song lyrics through Google translate multiple times and you get something that is parallel to language but entirely devoid of it. James is in the background literally Cyrano de Bergerac–ing her lines about him and how his sobriety has helped all of those around him. It is the most intense and craven thing I have ever seen on television and I can’t believe it took 22 years into the reality-television revolution for it to be fully realized.
Finally, after dinner, Lala decides that she is going to “have James’s back” and tell him about Brock and Scheana’s plans to steal his engagement party out from under them. The expected chaos ensues. James approaches Brock and the two start shouting at each other and James is pissed that Brock is shouting at him at his own party, which, valid. “You’re rude, you’re obnoxious, and you don’t care about anyone other than yourself,” he says. Know what? James is right. I think I was blinded by Brock’s buffoonery, accent, and his being just my type (too much man in too-little shorts) that I didn’t realize he is an entire asshole. Even trying to let James and Raquel have their weekend, he and Scheana have made it all about them.
Then multiple fights break out around the venue. James is yelling at Sandoval. Lala and Ariana are making mew-mew noises at each other like a pair of fighting Unikitties. James is once again yelling at Brock for telling everyone and then Raquel is yelling at them for not telling them first. Wait. What are we mad about again? Did someone brief Raquel on her lines? Is she totally off-script? Her family is looking around at the carnage with sneers and sideways glances, wondering how they got here, wondering how this is their life. Guys, this is the price you pay. This is what this whole function cost. James didn’t lay out a dime (he doth protest about the cost too much), but instead you all have to have your life events marred by “drama” for other people’s consumption. Welcome to the attention economy and late-stage capitalism. Please sign here so that the one corporation that owns all the companies now owns your best memories.
James asks Brock to leave the party and he takes off, calling for Scheana to follow him. “Am I kicked out too?” she asks. Yes! Of course you are. You are the accomplice. Also, if your man is kicked out of a party, you have to go with him. That is written in invisible ink at the bottom of your relationship contract along with the fact that all his enemies are now yours and you can get the electric chair if you use the last of the toilet paper and don’t replace it. But Scheana, who has never made a correct decision in her life, stays. She stays, and I just shake my head and, as Lisa tells James and Raquel, “You’re getting married regardless …” my head just keeps shaking, back and forth, like a half-deflated balloon stuck on a fence after a quinceañera.
As the party simmers to a close and someone puts Charli back in the IKEA box she came out of, everyone retires to their palatial rooms with the sounds of their sighs echoing off the sandstone walls. One by one our cast falls asleep, but not Toms Schwartz and Sandy. They both steal out of their rooms, closing the doors behind them just enough so that the knob lets out the whisper of snapping back into place. They meet in the gloomy hallway right near a window that has about a foot of casing and is lit from outside, the floodlights still showing off the architecture for an audience of moths and the nocturnal birds that feed off them. When they meet they don’t speak because their mouths are busy finding each other, surrendering to the other’s embrace, their bodies both active and passive at the same time, tensing and relaxing like a car going over a succession of hills. Without a sound, without any consent but that of their engorged members, their hands are down each other’s pants, searching for the touch that will please the other, the activity that is sufficiently clandestine but suitably erotic for them to leave stains on the stone floor that only the service employees will notice. And they find that combination with hands and mouths and biting and whispers and spit and sighs and gentle prodding until their physical roller coaster comes to an end and they collapse in each other’s arms, as if entangled for the first time, or the very last.