real housewives beverly hills
Credit: Bravo

After the chaos of last week's New-York-based premiere (complete with the flash-forward that launched 1,000 smirk-screenshots) the women of Real House of Beverly Hills are settling back into their Beverly Hills lifestyles, laying the foundation for the season — and boy, are they laying it on thick.

Each Real Housewives franchise has its own calling card and, for better or for worse, Beverly Hills' is its self-awareness. No one chafes more against their own public perception more than the cast of RHOBH. It's why they spend so much time defending themselves on Twitter and producing their own storylines, and it's why everyone seems to already be playing defense against any potential character assassinations in episode 2 of the new season. Teddi isn't uptight, she's totally chill! Lisa Rinna's as nervous about her daughter's vulnerable social media posts as you are! PK and Dorit aren't con-artists, they just wear a lot of leather hats and somehow buy houses when their assets are technically being seized.

These women are setting up the chessboard for how they want to be perceived in season 10, but hilariously, the editors refuse to let them have the final say. I don't know if it will continue for the rest of the season, but between last week's flash-forward and this week's episode, there's as much plot going down in the testimonial segments as there is in the actual "IRL" scenes. All the women are out here trying to lay down the foundation for their character pivots, while the editors secretly take a machete to all those careful plans by splashing counteractive headlines across the screen and splicing in the voices of producers casually being like, So you say you're not broke, but we have a clip of you opening your wallet and a number of cartoon moths flew out — care to explain?

Nowhere is this post-production shade deployed more perfectly than the opening scene at Dorit and Paul "PK" Kemsley's new $6 million mansion.

Color me bamboozled by that flashy premiere, but I somehow managed to completely forget that we would still have to be subjected to PK this season. For one week of bliss, I thought maybe it could just be caftans and infidelity rumors from here until the finale. But there PK was, right at the top of episode 2, waiting to assault our eyes with another signature plunging v-neck.

The Kemsleys are busy trying to get out ahead of some rumors they've heard about themselves, and much to our delight, they're doing a terrible job of it. The episode opens in their new house with Dorit saying that when she found a 9,000 square foot "modern farmhouse," with a movie theater and her dream kitchen, she just had to buy it. "I know it doesn't fit into the narrative that the press are trying to tell, that we have no money, but it's public record," she exclaims, saying that the buyer is listed right there as Dorit Kemsley. And that's when we hear our first fourth wall break of the episode, with the producer asking Dorit why the house is only in her name. "Well what difference does that make?" she asks in her highest-pitched voice. "I mean, is your house in both your and your wife's name?"

But that ain't the game, sis! The producers only ask the leading questions, they don't answer them. And presumably as payback for Dorit coming at him sideways, we're not subjected to seeing Dorit and PK in a dual-testimonial. And let me tell you, as much as I hate to use the limited amount of time that my eyes get to see other humans during these trying times on looking at PK…watching the Kemsleys scoff at the preposterous idea that they're con-artists while she is wearing some oversized leather Brixton hat, and he's dressed in a blazer with leather lapels and some sort of pendant nestled in his chest hair, looking like they're cosplaying Miss Hannigan and Rooster from Annie is just … so much more hilarious than I could have ever imagined.

After a producer prompts PK to talk about his life before Dorit, he explains that he started a real estate company that was worth over $2 billion … right up until it conveniently was worth nothing, making him "a little better than broke" when he met Dorit. The thing is: PK and Dorit have been acting like they're loaded for seasons, and now we all know PK was, in fact, racking up extreme debt the whole time. So why are we supposed to believe that they're somehow still rich when the headlines flashing across the screen are telling us that Dorit's personal bank accounts are being seized by the court in order to pay off PK's creditors?

What is PK's response to the fact that his wife's money from (allegedly) before she even knew him is being seized, you may ask: "I'm sorry, bub, it upsets me." And then this un-ironed shirt with ears has the nerve to tell his wife he's granting his permission to upgrade her closet — WITH HER MONEY!!! — to cheer her up.

Perhaps we should detox with some Garcelle, who has also just bought a new house and is giving her friend and fellow beautiful person, Ali Landry, a tour. Garcelle doesn't seem to get off on being perceived as filthy rich like some of the other Beverly Hills housewives, but between last week's vibrator talk and this week's kitchen island mounting, she does seem to want to convey that she's ready to … well, just ready to get off in general. Garcelle is the only single Beverly Hills Housewife this season, which she expands upon by telling us about her divorce from her former Hollywood agent husband, Mike Nilon, wherein she found out he'd been having a five-year-long affair. She tells us that she then emailed all their friends about it, which was leaked to the press, including the subject line: "What do Tiger Woods, Jesse James, and Mike Nilon all have in common?"

Later, Garcelle grabs brunch with Erika, where her authenticity seems to be contagious. They bond over their adult sons and then have a small existential crisis when Garcelle says she just found that very adult son is expecting a child, which means Garcelle is going to be a grandmother, and Erika could be next. "I mean, do you really want me picking up someone from preschool?" Erika asks the camera, as the editors roll out the perfect clip: Erika nearly eyeball-murdering the cyclist that cut her off in Berlin while wearing a full latex outfit.

Garcelle asks Erika about her marriage to Tom, and after they clear the sex-life elephant out of the room ("it's okay!"), Erika gets choked up talking about how thankful she is to Tom for accepting her son with open arms 20 years ago, knowing that Garcelle is similarly a package deal with her young boys as she heads back out into the dating field. And maybe Erika is playing a little damage control for being extra distant last season, but I'm quite enjoying her energy thus far. Hell, I was getting starry-eyed for Tom last week when he just up and offered to go to a court hearing with Denise, no questions asked.

His support of Erika's dreams is evident, and it was a pretty sweet moment to see Erika show off her contract to play Roxie Hart in Chicago on Broadway in front of him. "I'm really proud of you," he tells Erika, and she just starts sobbing, saying that's all she's ever wanted.

Also in supportive marital bliss are Denise and her hot husband Aaron — and the editors are laying on just how hot and supportive he is extra thick, presumably in preparation for whatever Denise-hurricane is headed our way down the line.  Denise has just found out that she has several femoral hernias that she needs to have operated on right away. Aaron gets her through the 10-hour surgery process and then nurses her back to health with things from the holistic healing center he owns. I made it as far as "pulse magnetic field mat" before I stopped understanding the words coming out of his mouth, and normally I might roll my eyes, but if laying on top of — checks notes — pulsing magnetic fields will make me look like Aaron and Denise … I might just be interested.

We don't get a check-in with Harry Hamlin this episode, but Rinna does go on a hike with Teddi where she talks about her youngest daughter's struggles with starting college in New York City. She also talks about how it makes her nervous when Amelia is so vulnerable about her mental health struggles on Instagram because it opens her up to judgment … but it actually makes me much more nervous that Lisa is open about Amelia's struggles on this show that half the nation watches because then Amelia isn't even in control of her own narrative.

Teddi advises Rinna to look back at her own failures, and how she grew from them, and rest assured that her daughters will do the same…

And I certainly hope that Teddi is ready to sip what she's spilling because she's about to fail hard and these women will happily eat her alive for it. Apparently Teddi's, ahem, accountability coach business is planning a retreat that's open to the public, so she wants to invite her fellow castmates so they can get a better understanding of what she does as an, ahem, an accountability coach. Except when she sends out the text to invite them, she tells them in like six different ways that they don't have to come, and it won't hurt her feelings if they don't. This gifts us with a gorgeous four-way-screen-split of the other women receiving the confusing text message and looking like they'd rather join the cast of Vanderpump Rules than attend Teddi's retreat, let alone navigate her labyrinth of passive emotions.

And maybe they could have just popped into the retreat for a few hours, confusing text message be damned, and it would have been no problem. But then on the way to Sutton's new store — featuring fashion, antiques, silver, and I have to assume, a buttload of overpriced things with no known use — Rinna tells Teddi how confused everyone was by the text, and then Teddi starts spiraling. I can only assume that she's trying to seem laidback about them attending the retreat to cover up the fact that she's actually very anxious about how they'll behave if they do attend. But I don't know why — we're not exactly dealing with Sonja and Ramona here, and I don’t know a lot about accountability coaching, but I assume there won't be liquor flowing at this event.

"Here's the thing, supporting means you come, and you're well-behaved," Teddi tells Rinna in the car. And even though Rinna replies, "not really," this statement somehow turns into Teddi telling the other women that she doesn't care if they come to her retreat, and she doesn’t really need their support, and "anyone who actually wants to come because they want to do it, they should come, but anyone that's going to come and be a pain in the ass, I'd really rather be like, don't come."

And, I mean, nothing could be more awkward than Sutton — who I am finding to be stunningly devoid of charm — trying to perform some impromptu comedy bit about parking tickets with the Mayor of West Hollywood while he's simply attempting to propose a toast to her store, but…

Teddi's thing is pretty damn awkward. Luckily, we know no one defuses a situation quite like Teddi Jo Mellencamp. Just kidding, next week is going to be a disaster — see you there!

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