By Jodi Walker
July 23, 2020 at 01:25 AM EDT
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Somebody bring in the woodwinds because we’ve got an orchestration on our hands. So, won’t you please allow me to first entertain you with an opening act. It’s an impression of Tiffany “New York” Pollard whispering to Abigail “Red Oyster” Kintanar on iconic 2006 reality show, Flavor of Love…except this time, it’s me whispering to Garcelle on season 10 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills: “You’re the only bitch in this house I ever respected.”

Because truly, who else in this house of cards can we trust right now except Garcelle? Weirdly, I think I also might trust Dorit’s judgment in this budding drama, but of course, I can’t say I’ve always trusted Dorit. I certainly don’t trust her not to make that Buca di Beppo dining room look like an Olive Garden that s--- out a Cheesecake Factory…

Now that the long-awaited story of an alleged sexual encounter between Denise Richards and Brandi Glanville has finally arrived on our screens — and boy has it, legs akimbo, crotch a-blur, and gasping for water/wine — I’m a little nervous about the moral work we’re going to have to do if we’re to actually enjoy it. When Brandi finally unloads her story — to Kyle and Teddi of all people — it all feels quite similar to the situation with Lisa Vanderpump last season. Because it’s not that I believe that Brandi’s accusations against Denise are lies…it’s that I find the way they’re being lobbed at us by Kyle and Teddi to be extremely suspect.

I now offer to you a list of all the glowing accolades that Kyle suddenly extends to Brandi this episode, a woman she has previously loathed to no end, with not a single break in nine seasons:

  • “Even when Kim and I weren’t getting along, I was happy knowing that Brandi is a good friend to her…”
  • “I think that says a lot about her character — they’ve come a long way since the ‘slut pigs’ days.”
  • “Brandi can be a lot of things — she can be mean, she can be a bitch — but I honestly don’t believe she’s a liar.”

Switching over to my Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids impression: You doooooon’t?

I’m to believe that Kyle just suddenly started having this gracious opinion of Brandi and inviting her to her parties at the exact moment that Brandi had a damning story to tell about Denise? Okay! Sure! And Sutton doesn’t want people to know how rich she is, and Lisa Rinna’s teenage daughter living in a luxury apartment is going to teach her independence, and Dorit invented bringing '80s bands onstage to perform at charity events…

These are all real things! That! Are! HAPPENING!

Okay, let’s just all take a deep breath and remember the part of the episode where Erika put a blonde wig on her giant, precious dog, and then he got right up in the camera and sniffed around a little. Breathe, think about the cute dog, breathe, think about the cute dog…

And, here we go. The episode opens back up in the middle of Kyle’s party for the L.A. Children’s Hospital, and while nothing much actually happens there, I kind of wish we could stay forever. I wish we could watch some of the most famous middle-aged women in the United States sway in unison to Wilson Phillips singing “Hold On” ... forever. I wish we could hear Kyle say casually to Sutton, “Oh, do you know Kris?” and then Sutton try to remind Kris Jenner that they met "in line for the Met Gala years ago,” to which Kris responds, “Of course we did” ... forever.

I guess I don’t really wish to dwell on the awkward conversation between Camille and Teddi. And given what I know now, I both want to run away screaming — and also can’t look away from — the interaction that happens between Brandi, Denise, and Aaron at an unattended bar in Kyle’s living room.

Denise walks inside to find a completely hammered Brandi tending bar to her husband Aaron, Adrienne Maloof, and Adrienne’s boyfriend. After pouring shots, Brandi toasts to “surrogacy and pretending about babies and then ultimately just loving each other,” as a reference to the time she accused Adrienne of secretly having a surrogate for her children. Adrienne laughs nervously, and then Brandi actually offers a real apology for doing that all those years ago, and then adds: “It was not my idea.” Interesting

But it’s hard to dwell on that too long when, instead of taking a shot like everyone else, Brandi chugs an entire glass of rosé in one large gulp. I know that some people will say the upcoming interaction between Brandi and Denise is proof that she’s lying about their hookup, or that her timeline doesn’t add up…but I might counter that her kind of manic drinking and awkward nonsequiturs during this bar scene could also indicate that she’s indeed uncomfortable about something.

After Adrienne and her boyfriend leave, Denise goes into the refrigerator to pour another shot for all of them, at which point Brandi slaps her butt. Then she slurs to Aaron and Denise, “As much as you guys are codependent-ish, and I like it … I wanna be a throuple with you guys.” When Aaron responds with his signature blank stare and mouth-breathing, Brandi continues: “You have the moment right now to say, ‘We just got married and I love her vagina.’” Aaron does not say that, and he and Denise make their way out of the party. Brandi makes her way to the dance floor where all of the wine she’s consumed seems to replace the bones in her legs, and she goes full Bambi-on-ice right into Wilson Phillips’ laps.

With that, one party is over, and it’s time to head to another one: Erika’a Shoedazzle event. What is that? I have no idea — no one ever really says! I mean, I assume it’s the launch of a line of shoes Erika designed, but truly the only explanation is a giant stiletto made out of cake and Garcelle telling Erika she’s very sorry she can’t make it, it’s just that she has like 100 jobs and none of them involve giant shoes. The only thing of note that happens at this alleged party for shoes is that Lisa Rinna announces to all the other women that she’s “planned a trip” for them to Rome. Even Denise is excited, so she wants to try and clear the air with Erika beforehand. But when they step aside to talk, Erika seems convinced that Denise is unwilling to address the ladies’ frustration with Aaron, when to me, it seemed like Denise was just saying they’d get to that topic after they’d addressed the confusion over Denise’s boundaries with her children…

But all that is about to take a big ol’ backseat anyway, so why ruin a perfectly good Shoedazzle event?

And I know — I know — Brandi’s story was the spilled tea du jour of this episode, but I was actually extremely obsessed with two random interstitial scenes that happened in between. One where Rinna’s daughter Amelia explains to Kyle’s daughter Alexia (a budding real estate agent) what she’s looking for in an apartment of her own. Features include: a doorman for security, a marble kitchen island, white things, a pretty refrigerator, big windows, “everything needs to be, like, the pool with the cabanas,” plenty of closet space, two bedrooms, modern and contemporary, a gym, not ground floor, and of course, not having racks all over the apartment. “Racks will kill my vibe.”

And next, the supremely weird but perfect pairing of Garcelle and Sutton at dinner, wherein Garcelle basically makes it her mission to crack Sutton out of her gentile façade. When Sutton says she might bring glam to Italy, Garcelle just goes ahead and asks what’s on everyone’s mind: “I wanna know, how’d you get your money?” Sutton blinks her eyes reeeeeal big like she can’t believe that Garcelle would ask her about money as though she doesn’t do everything possible to make $100 bills seep out of her pores.

But Garcelle won’t relent, so Sutton tells her: “I got married, and my ex-husband did well, so…”

And that’s all we want to know, Sutton! Well…technically, Garcelle wants to know one more thing. After Sutton says that she’s known her ex since they were 13-year-olds, Garcelle casually inquires, “Did he take your virginity?” Sutton is scandalized, but the way she wants to impress Garcelle is much more charming than the way she generally wants to impress. Eventually, instead of talking about how some shift dress she’s wearing is couture, she tells Garcelle that her hair is naturally very curly so she’s going to have to watch out for her “kitchen” in Italy, which Garcelle explains in her testimonial is a term commonly used by black women to describe the extra curly hair at the nape of one’s neck. Okay, I hope these two can have some fun together in Italy…

Of course, that’s going to be difficult if everyone is trying to sniff out an alleged affair.

And with that, it’s finally time. We’re treated to a signature packing montage that ends with Teddi arriving at Kyle’s house, shocked at how disorganized Kyle’s packing process is. Teddi is allegedly there to talk about the baby shower Kyle is throwing for her…and then, all of a sudden, Kim is hollering up the stairs because she’s there to return some dresses she’s borrowed. And when she gets upstairs, and Kyle asks why she seems in a rush, Kim says it’s because she left Brandi in the car downstairs.

BRAVO

Flabbergasted, Kyle tells Kim to invite their mutual best friend Brandi Glanville up to her bedroom. Kim goes all the way back out to the driveway, where she very easily could have just left to actually take Brandi to the birthday dinner they’re allegedly headed toward, but instead invites her upstairs.

The conversation in Kyle’s bedroom — where everyone is very coyly draped over benches and pillows on the ground — quickly turns to Denise. Teddi and Kyle explain that things are a little awkward with her because she was offended when they talked about threesomes with her children nearby. Brandi starts to say something but then stops herself, and Kim tells the others, “She did something to Brandi which I think is just…”

Brandi bugs her eyes out at her, and Kim cuts herself off, crying, “It’s your thing — I’m just saying!” After some hemming and hawing, Brandi warns that they need to be careful with Denise: “She’s not…who she pretends to be.” This elicits jaw drops from Teddi and Kyle who insist on more details. Brandi turns to Teddi and says, “She doesn’t like you at all, she has said horrible things about you: you’re obnoxious, you’ll do anything to be in this group because you’ve lived under your dad’s shadow your whole life.” Further, Brandi says Denise also doesn’t like Rinna, and she called Erika “a cold-hearted bitch.” Kyle wonders why Denise would tell Brandi those things knowing how “honest” Brandi is…

“She feels like she can tell me things because she has something on me,” Brandi says, immediately after which she gulps out, “You know what, do you have some water?” Kyle calls downstairs for water and wine — but the Housewives gods? They demand tea.

Brandi explains to a captive audience that when she and Denise met, they clicked immediately. But before Kyle’s party, they hadn’t spoken since April. “Some s--- went down over those nine months that was…really f---ed up,” she says. Between the scene in Kyle’s bedroom and at-home testimonials, Brandi lays out her story. Even though she despises cheating in relationships, and even though her introduction to this show was via a very public cheating scandal between her ex-husband and LeAnn Rimes, Brandi says that Denise “kind of put me in the situation where I was the cheater.”

Gasps from Kyle and Teddi. A cry of, “It was the reverse!” from Kim.

Brandi says that at some point she was out with Denise and Aaron where it became clear to her that they had an understanding that Denise could hook up with other women if she wanted to, but not men. Brandi says that on the first night she met Denise, they got really drunk and ended up making out in a bathroom. Fast forward to April when Denise invites Brandi to one of her sets in Northern California and says they can record Brandi’s podcast there. She also says there’s no need for Brandi to get her own hotel, she can just get a rollaway bed where she’s staying, which is apparently a loft situation. Brandi says that when she arrives, Denise’s daughter is staying in a room with a door downstairs, Denise is staying in the door-less loft, and there’s no rollaway bed to be found.

Brandi sleeps in the bed with Denise on the first night, and everything is normal. Then on the second night, they both get drunk, and Denise initiates a hookup. “Like kissing?” Teddi asks, presumably clutching an actual teddy bear just out of frame. “Like everything,” Brandi clarifies. Brandi says that she’s openly bisexual — which Teddi and Kyle say they didn’t know, not that it matters — but with Denise’s daughter downstairs, she just couldn’t get into it. And then the next morning, Denise tells her that, no matter what, she can’t tell Aaron. “He would kill me,” Denise allegedly tells Brandi.

“In that moment, I was like, I’m everything that I have always hated,” Brandi says in her testimonial. The others assure her that she didn’t think what they were doing was cheating because she thought Aaron was okay with it, but Brandi seems distraught. She says she hadn’t spoken to Denise other than a few texts until Denise called her before Kyle’s charity event, making sure she hadn’t told anyone about their night together. And now, since the event, Denise has been confiding all of these negative opinions about the other women to her. “To try and make you feel like you guys are close right now,” Teddi says.

So…

I definitely have some timeline questions. I also have some clarifying questions about what conversation led Brandi to understand that Aaron and Denise had a semi-open relationship. But other than that, I’ll take Brandi at her word until I have a reason not to. What I shan’t be taking at face value is this sudden introduction of Brandi’s story into the season narrative via Kyle’s heart growing three sizes to accept Brandi back into her life as one of her trusted advisors just as the group is about to head to another country.

The episode ends with an “18 HOURS LATER” title car that leads into a preview of Denise and Garcelle arriving in Italy after Kyle and Teddi have had the chance to loop Rinna in on Brandi’s story.

And with that, I’ll leave you with one last impression of my favorite pint-size icon, Marie Kondo: “I’m so excited because I love mess!” (Except, instead of saying the line while excitedly clapping my hands together in front of a pile of broken Christmas decorations and outdated wall calendars, I’ve said it while cowering behind a throw pillow, nervously chugging a glass of rosé like it’s a shot, and praying that Andy Cohen won’t lead us too far astray.) See you next week!

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