If you had told me a few years ago that one day, in the not so distant future, I would be sitting at home during a global pandemic ready to throw a rotten tomato through my television screen at Lisa Rinna, while suddenly appreciating the veritable tableau that is Dorit on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills…I may have believed the pandemic aspect of that premonition most of all.

I have almost always enjoyed watching Rinna stir her pots; since Dorit arrived on the scene with a full roll of aluminum foil in her hair, I have found her mostly intolerable. And yet, here we are. As former Housewives spill out of this episode like breast implants earning their keep in a strapless dress, Dorit suddenly feels like the picture of grace, poise, and wit, while Lisa Rinna is proving herself to be about as generous and loyal a friend as that clown from It who lures children into sewer drains. (Her dance moves are also not entirely dissimilar.)

To quote my new and tentative ally, Dorit: “I knew it was fire season — I didn’t realize the snakes are out as well.”

Listen, it’s not that I think Denise is handling this situation perfectly. It would probably be best if she just trapped her husband in a ring of crystals and hashed it out with her contractually obligated friend group on her own. Because if she did, she might be able to tell them how absolutely absurd it is to insist that just because she talks about her husband’s big penis all the time, she should also be comfortable talking about threesomes in front of her children. And maaaaybe, if they insist, she could also slip in a tiny apology for making them feel guilty about her children overhearing an adult conversation at an adult party. And then — this argument could be over, and we’d never have to hear about it again!

But I think it’s pretty clear from Lisa Rinna’s behavior that there’s nothing Denise could do to make any of this blow over. Rinna simply seems determined to paint her longtime friend as a dishonest fraud. What’s so frustrating to watch is that Rinna only thinks Denise is being dishonest because she chooses not to believe what Denise is telling her about her own life and her own children; it’s not like she has some indisputable evidence that Sammi rented Wild Things on iTunes and already knows everything about her mom’s private adult life. But even if that were the case, I just really don’t get the logic behind Rinna’s theory that Denise is trying to use this season to rehab her image from last season…

Because Denise’s image last season was perfectly fine?? Good, even! The audience seemed to really like her. Was it weird when she said she commissioned a handjob for her husband? Sure, a little. But it was mostly kind of like: “Wow that Denise, she’s one kooky, tequila-guzzling, boot-cut broad.”

No, whatever reason Rinna is finding to stay mad at Denise isn’t founded in the reality that we’re seeing onscreen…which is precisely the kind of trickery she’s accusing Denise of! So let’s get down to the many scenes of awkward water-gulping that open this episode...

Oh, Kyle. Whether she really is this gullible or just this sympathetic, I can never quite tell. But the woman will let just about anyone back into her life. The episode opens with her arriving at Camille’s new house in Malibu, featuring just about the hokiest scene I’ve witnessed in this franchise. It’s…stone-cold terrible. The camera pans up from a pair of jeans to a blousy shirt with statements sleeves — and I will give the editors credit that for just one moment, I thought this body clothed for horseback riding might possibly be Lisa Vanderpump — and up to Camille’s serious face, where the camera lingers. Then the camera pivots to Kyle’s serious face…and they both stare at each other in a pointed way that they would absolutely never do in real life. And then finally, they greet each other.

Camille welcomes Kyle into her new Malibu home, which is lovely, and of course, Kimber is there serving large glasses of water, because Camille seems to have her under some kind of Maleficent-style contract where she’s obligated to be by her side until her eldest has flowered, or whatever.

Kyle says in her testimonial that she hasn’t spoken to Camille since she “alienated every single person that she could ever have a friendship with,” but then Camille called her out of the blue saying she wanted to talk. Once they sit down with their giant glasses of water though, Camille says that she wants to “hear [Kyle] out,” as though Kyle was the one that initiated this meeting. Kyle says that after last season’s reunion, Camille has been tweeting non-stop garbage about the other women, and that’s been a little frustrating. Camille says she was simply calling them witches on Twitter because she thought they were acting like witches toward her, and then — I kid you not — that’s it! Kyle is just like, well, we’re not people who hold grudges, so I’m sure if you come to my party, everyone will be happy to see you.

Spoiler alert: they are not.

You see, Kyle is having a party at her giant manse, but this year, it’s not a frivolous white party — it’s a black and/or white party, made less frivolous because it’s raising money for the L.A. Children’s Hospital. But, as Kyle admits, she whoops-a-daisies spent six figures on this party, which means she needs to raise at least $200,000 to make it at all worth it to have thrown the party instead of just donating the money directly to the hospital. Two weeks prior, she apparently texted Dorit saying how stressed out she was about getting items for the auction, and that in less than 10 minutes, Dorit had texted her back with multiple auction items she’d secured, and more she had her eye on. In my notes, I write: “If only Dorit could use her powers for good.”

Because more and more, I truly believe that Dorit is a highly capable person, who has unfortunately been saddled by a stretched-out V-neck that grew a pair of legs (and yet, ironically, no actual neck) named PK. Ahead of Kyle’s party, Dorit suggests to PK that perhaps he could speak to Aaron about how his aggressive style of defending his wife Denise is being perceived by the other women. In his testimonial, while wearing the clothes of a 25-year-old Miami club promoter — but with the sheen and loose hair follicles of a club promoter twice that age — PK says, “I’ve learned from my own experience that he should help his wife by supporting her, not by fighting for her.” That is incredibly sage advice that PK could subtly offer to Aaron at the party…

Spoiler alert: he does not.

But before Denise and Aaron can make it to another party that they will ultimately flee from, Denise invites Lisa Rinna to dinner so that they can sort things out without any prying eyes or invasive comments. Denise tells Rinna that she hurt her feelings in Santa Barbara when she called her a hypocrite in front of everyone. Rinna asks, “Where’s the line that we can be ourselves and talk to you and be open?” To me, the line has been incredibly clear: it starts and ends with whether her children are present. Denise says as much, but for some reason, Rinna is completely unwilling to accept this boundary. In her testimonial, Rinna says: “The Denise I know is open and honest … and all the sudden, she’s offended by a threesome conversation, and she’s using her kids as the cause of it.”

Rinna!!! What??? Denise was not offended by the idea of a threesome and has continued to speak like a sailor and dress like a biker throughout this season. She simply did not want her children to overhear her friends talking about a threesome — how is that so hard to understand???

It’s making me feel insane, which is how I know it’s making Denise feel insane. I really feel like Lisa Rinna is gaslighting Denise [F---ing] Richards, and it’s not cool.

Rinna does finally whisper that she’s sorry about not having Denise’s daughter's back when Denise gets emotional over how much Rinna knows that she’s sacrificed for them over the years, but she still can’t help but add in her testimonial that Denise’s kids surely watch TV, so they’re surely going to hear Denise talking about Aaron’s penis either way.

But honestly, I am so over listening to Lisa Rinna insist that she knows what Denise’s daughters are doing in their free time — I’d much rather talk about what happened when Garcelle and her production partner went into a meeting with the potential director for a script they’d written about two characters named Lorraine and Christian who meet at a party where Christian is with a younger woman named Susie. And I will now present to you that director’s rewrites of the script in full because there is simply no other way to do it…

“Christian makes an active pursuit of Lorraine, and they end up having sex. Their connection is strong, and Lorraine says, ‘I want a threesome with Susie.’ Susie slowly reveals that she’s actually pregnant ... Lorraine and Christian were once married, and he also has a whole other family … Christian’s violent side comes out … She starts getting crazy … He starts to go insane … He doesn’t know what’s going on … He brings Susie on to try and murder Lorraine.”

Garcelle’s unedited thoughts on the rewrite: “Hell no. Nuts. NUTS!”

Luckily, Garcelle has taken a handsome new lover named Michael to distract her at Kyle’s party. Also a distracting addition to Kyle’s party: the neon sign at the entrance that says, “Bitch please, you could never be me."

Equally distracting is Camille, on account of how much everyone is trying to avoid her, no matter how much Kyle swore they would be waiting at this party with open arms to forgive her. Rinna actually approaches Camille intentionally — with Eileen in tow, one of many ex-Housewives in attendance, and probably the most welcome — and greets Camille with a rambunctious hello. And then she says, with no warning: “Camille, you were an a--hole on Twitter, I’m going to say that to you. But it’s nice to see you. I don’t need beef with you, but you were an a--hole on Twitter.”

Eileen and Kimber watch on in terror.

And to be fair to Rinna’s assessment, Camille takes exactly no ownership over the fact that she has been rude about every single person in the cast on Twitter. She just keeps repeating that she felt like the other women ganged up on her like the Witches of Eastwick, and then complains: “I didn’t come here for everyone to attack me!”

Well then, she probably shouldn’t have come. But then she would have been the only one not in attendance. Adrienne Maloof is there, as is her ex-husband Paul Nassif, and both are being cordial. The Morally Corrupt Faye Resnick is there, but much more surprisingly, so are her cohorts, Kris Jenner and Kathy Hilton. At the auction, while Garcelle and Dorit raise their paddles for vacations, Kris Jenner simply donates $25,000 outright. And, well, she should.

But the real drama that still isn’t quite drama just yet is that Brandi Glanville is in attendance. Kyle explains that though they have been monstrous evil nightmares to each other in the past, she and Brandi have unexpectedly become friends because Kyle saw a video that Brandi posted of herself crying about all of her friends having perfect lives, and Kyle suddenly realized that Brandi has simply been misunderstood all this time…

I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that Brandi has ammunition locked and loaded to blow up Denise’s life. We still don’t know what exactly that ammunition is in the world of the show, of course. What we do know is that once Denise and Aaron arrive, Brandi is all over Denise, bringing her over to the other women when she’s feeling awkward, and complimenting her boobs when the time comes to socialize. But we will simply have to wait until next week — and then 12-ish weeks after that — to see what any of these subtle editing hints mean. See you there.

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