Phaedra Parks, Esq., faces her judge (Andy) and jury (everyone she secretly made up drug rumors about).

By Jodi Walker
May 08, 2017 at 02:51 AM EDT
The Real Housewives of Atlanta - Season 9
Credit: Annette Brown/Bravo
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Let’s be clear about three things upfront:

1. We have been watching the RHOA season 9 reunion for nearly a month at this point.
2. The RHOA season 9 reunion did not need to be four parts.
3.The fourth part, while not worth the wait, was worth its weight… in LIES, LIES, LIES!

Now that those are out of the way: Welcome to the Roast of Phaedra Parks, 2k17. What we need is a reunion for the fourth installment of this reunion, which should have been the only part to begin with. I will allow that Sunday’s hour could have been spread out a little more, mostly because the tea was as refreshing as it was infuriating, and because I was living for those behind-the-scenes shots. Give me more offstage house shoes! Give me more emergency calls for emotional support from long-suffering sisters! Tell me why everyone is constantly gathering in the bathrooms next to the automatic paper towel dispensers instead of, say, a dressing room! Show me exactly how many men there are on staff to carry around these women’s completely unnecessary gowns!

Instead, those are merely glimpses, and we spend almost all of the allotted time breaking down just how shady Shaedra Parks, Esq., is — a topic worthy of breaking down, if ever there was one. Once it’s revealed that Phaedra not only told Porsha that Kandi wanted to drug her, but also that Kandi told her that directly, it’s really all anyone can talk about. Well, except Phaedra. Phaedra doesn’t talk about it at all. She battens down the hatches on every sphincter in her body, repeats the oldest middle school mantra in the mean girls book — “I repeated it because I heard it” — and hopes for the best. Because Phaedra is a snake in peach clothing.

As for Porsha, she manages to find all the words that Phaedra forgot and scream them through crocodile tears. Once Porsha works out that Phaedra played on her tendency to think her words through exactly zero percent before regurgitating them out of her mouth, she repeatedly says that she was “a pawn” in Phaedra’s game to hurt Kandi. And even if that is true, it must be said: Porsha, GIRL. You is a checker at best (a peg from that Cracker Barrel triangle game, more likely), and don’t think I didn’t notice not a single salty tear run down your face until you got backstage and within clawing distance of a bottle of Visine.

Things pick up right where they left off last week, with Porsha ever-so-innocently saying she’s going to let Phaedra field the questions about Kandi wanting to drug her since Phaedra is the one who said that in the first place. Pause for shocked reactions. Porsha says that Phaedra can tell Kandi where she got that from, to which Phaedra responds, “I repeated it because I heard it.” And this is where things get good…

Porsha, whipping her head around: “No, she said it to you, Phaedra.”

Phaedra, after briefly gaping like a fish: “Something was brought to me, and I repeated it.”

Porsha, perhaps learning how the world works or the first time in front of our very eyes: “You told me she said it to you!”

It’s an incredible moment, where about 10 moving pieces suddenly click into place, without causing anything to make one single lick more sense. Kandi’s reaction to the reveal that Porsha heard she tried to drug her directly from Phaedra: “That’s what I’m talking about — the lies, the lies, the lies!” Andy’s reaction: “Well now we know.” My (notes’) reaction: “I LIKE MY CAPS LOCK KEY BECAUSE MY CAPS LOCK KEY IS LOUD!!!!!!!!!!!”

Kandi tells Porsha this is why she says Phaedra pulls her strings: They never had a problem before Phaedra had her run these lies back to Kandi. Porsha just immediately starts weeping — like, tents her hands over her nose, squints her eyes up, darts them around… like the kind of crying you might learn in a particularly bad acting class, or from practicing in front of a mirror. She cries to Phaedra, “Oh, Phaedra,” a very in-character thing for Porsha to say: “That’s awful. I would never say that about somebody if you didn’t tell me that.” Porsha swears to Kandi that she only repeated it because she thought it was true since Phaedra told her Kandi said that directly to her as recently as two nights ago on the phone. Phaedra… says nothing.

I mean, literally, she sits there in silence as the world melts down around her, leaving nothing behind but her bared ass. Porsha storms off the set, which gives Kandi a good opportunity to ask why, if she was the one who started this drugging rumor with Porsha in the first place, would Phaedra not have said something in Hawaii when Kandi was asking her to vouch that she has never had anything to do with drugs? Might that have been a good time to even say, “I was the one who heard you had Rohypnol in your Amazon cart”?

But the real issue here is whether Phaedra heard the rumor or whether she started it completely from scratch, because she seems to have told Porsha she heard Kandi say firsthand she wanted to drug her, but now, at the reunion, she’s saying she merely repeated the idea that Kandi and Todd might have attempted to rape their coworker. And I think we all know what the answer is there. Everyone knows what the answer is. As a lawyer, perhaps Porsha should focus less on using her abacus to do s—ty math for wispy-bearded hustlers and more on learning how to become a better liar. Staying calm in the face of total chaos of your own making doesn’t make you look innocent; it makes you look like a sociopath.

Maybe she could even get in on whatever Groupon Porsha is using for her acting lessons, because while I’m sure Porsha’s reactions and emotions are not genuine, I can’t quite put my finger on her motivation, either. Did she plan to spring this on Phaedra to get the heat off herself? Was she assuming that Phaedra would cop to it, and was genuinely hurt that she was so willing to throw her under the bus? Is she driving the bus? Is this Speed and Phaedra is Dennis Hopper and Porsha is that bus driver who gets shot? Is Kandi Sandra Bullock? Because it truly sucks that they did this to Kandi on national television, but she could hardly have gotten a better vindication; it simultaneously clears her name, makes everyone else look like idiots, and gets Phaedra fired.

At this point, for some reason, everyone is weeping, even Sheree, who barely gets to make a peep all episode. Kenya also has exactly no role in this story line, but she makes about a billion peeps. Porsha asks if Phaedra understands how she has her “looking in these streets,” and Todd hollers, “Drag her Porsha!” I’ve never agreed with Li’l Todd Tucker more. Phaedra says once more that she repeated it because she heard it, and Porsha says she has to stop saying that: “You know damn well the day you told me that, two days before I sat with Kandi, you said she told you firsthand! Then two days ago we talked on the phone and you told me that she said it firsthand. Now, what I’m not gonna do is go back in text messages and reveal that, because we don’t need no motherf—ing receipts.”

Um, Porsha: YES WE DO.

The question finally comes around as to why Porsha would believe that Kandi and Todd were going to drug her and take her back to their house, and Phaedra says she didn’t accuse Kandi of it: “I asked her. I said, ‘I was told this.'” And, as always, I believe that Porsha truly thinks saying “I was told” while lobbing absurd rumors at someone is the same as empathetically asking if there could be any truth to them. Andy asks if Phaedra told Porsha the story because she was mad at Kandi, and for what must be the 100th time at only 15 minutes in, Phaedra says, “I was repeating something. I shouldn’t have repeated it.”

And that’s when it becomes clear that even if this drama is delicious, it doesn’t mean much if Phaedra is never, ever, ever going to take off this mask. She is a snake, but she won’t play one on TV? I don’t think so. This is serious, and it deserves a little screaming. Kandi is happy to oblige: She talks about people hashtagging #KandiAKABillCosby under her business’ photos, screaming, “Y’all accused me of being a f—ing rapist!” Kandi is absolutely sobbing; everyone else is crying and confused…

Phaedra says nothing.

Kandi leaves the stage, and everyone else follows suit for a break. For some reason, most of the cast gathers in the bathroom like they’re drunk at a sorority formal, where they discuss how in all their time on the show, they’ve never seen someone lie so blatantly and harmfully. Phaedra gets her hair curled. Porsha cries to her sister that she’s just been being used to hurt Kandi. Phaedra gets her makeup touched up. It’s really some fantastic editing. Andy briefly brings his talents to the ladies room to have Kandi demand to know if he was also shocked that Phaedra was the one who said it — he agrees, but soon reveals he’s willing to give her one more lifeline.

The women take the stage again, and Phaedra has come up with a new line: “You know I made a rash decision.” Everyone calls immediate bulls— because she had the opportunity to correct that rash decision at so many points. Phaedra then moves on to saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” but steadfastly never admitting that she didn’t hear the drugging rumor; she made it up. Porsha says that Phaedra was adamant she understand she heard Kandi say she wanted to drug her firsthand, and Andy asks if she remembers saying it was firsthand information. “If Porsha says that, then yes.”

I am now completely numb to the situation, but before we resign ourselves to a month of free time where RHOA reunions used to live, a few other tidbits: Phaedra also made up the “Marvin” thing about Todd! I get a big kick out of the other women pointing out that Phaedra had created this huge lie right in the midst of forcing them to a restoration service in a hotel conference room. Porsha apologizes to Kandi in a way that feels very self-aggrandizing, and Kandi doesn’t really accept. But best of all, when touching on the Johnnie lawsuit, Kandi tells Phaedra she would never do that to her — for example, she wouldn’t sit down on television and speak with Angela Stanton, the woman who wrote the tell-all book about Phaedra, which a very light Google shows is available on Amazon. Another light Google shows that Phaedra didn’t so much “win” the lawsuit against her, as she said tonight, as much as… dropped it.

The lies. The lies. The lies. In the episode’s final moments, Andy gives Phaedra one last chance: “You got caught in a pretty megawatt lie. I don’t know that you’ve completely copped to it…” Silence. Ever-so-tiny head shake. Andy says it’s impossible to tell what she’s feeling, and Phaedra says, “All I can do is apologize. I can’t change that it happened.” Oh, Phaedra, no you can’t. Your presence was once your present — and now your absence can be your apology. If this show makes it to a season 10, I hope to see you back here. As always, thank you for reading — don’t believe everything you hear, and only repeat the shade that sounds plausible.

Episode Recaps

The Real Housewives of Atlanta

NeNe, Kandi, Cynthia, Phaedra, Kenya, and Claudia keep the ATL just peachy.
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