Currently, season 11 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is a lot like sitting at the kids' table at Thanksgiving dinner in 2021: everyone is constantly on their phones while frantically stuffing their mouths with cheese. Except, unlike when I want my teenage cousin to validate my middle part, I'm actually thrilled each time the Beverly Hills Housewives bust out their phones in season 11. Because every time those Harry-Hamlin-acrylics get to tippy-tappin' on iPhone screens this season, it means that we're about to get a new morsel of insight into the eye of the Girardi storm…

Or should I say — the rise and fall of Tom Girardi and Erika Jayne?

That's right, this is the episode when the L.A. Times article to rule them all drops about Erika and Tom. The one titled, "The legal titan and the 'Real Housewife': The rise and fall of Tom Girardi and Erika Jayne." The one that finally laid out in full, unflinching detail how Tom Girardi stands accused of stealing millions of dollars from his clients, including Indonesian children orphaned by a plane crash, burn victims, cancer patients, and more. And most importantly, the one that reveals Tom improperly funneled more than $20 million from his law firm to one… EJ Global LLC.

I could honestly listen to Kyle read excerpts from this article for an entire episode, as opposed to just the one-quarter episode we got of her reading off her iPhone tonight, in full testimonial glam. Because when these new headlines come out about Tom Girardi, each woman has a role in conveying the information to one another, as well as the viewer. Kyle is all id, practically ping-ponging around whatever mansion room contains her, asking over and over again what's going to happen to Erika Jayne. Rinna is sympathetic, Sutton is skeptical, and Dorit… well, Dorit always has a suspicious level of understanding about the legal implications of one's husband being an untrustworthy s---head ("Forced bankruptcy? Oh that's when you can no longer get 50 percent of the cash come divorcin' time!").

And call me a cheap reality TV date if you must, but I continue to find these scenes where the women simply read off their phones in real-time and try to make sense of the legal drama surrounding their friend endlessly fascinating. Especially this one — because this is not Reality Tea headline. This is an L.A. Times exposé. An exposé that Erika surely got tipped off about ahead of time, and therefore went the way of Clare Crawley the moment she laid her peepers on Dale Moss: never to be seen at the La Quinta Resort & Club ever again.

So, it's wild to now recall that this episode opened with Erika going full-on The Jinx, burping her way through an emotional meltdown in the Kyle's La Quinta bathroom before the other Louboutin had even dropped; before the bomb in the shape of a $189,000 Cartier panther ring had detonated.

But that is where we reentered the scene, with Erika weeping in the bathroom after Garcelle made the great offense of repeating something to Erika's friends that Erika had already said while mic'd up for a national television show. She comes back out fairly quickly, but she's still heaving and hiccupping her way through saying that this is a very hard time in her life (this time, notably, with waterproof mascara). The implication being that she's completely overwhelmed, and perhaps Garcelle's comment about how Tom still calls Erika was not the entire catalyst for this emotional reaction.

But Rinna still whispers, "I'm sorry that happened, it's f---ed up," while comforting Erika, which pisses Garcelle off enough that she says she's going to go ahead and leave. Everyone is emotional watching Erika fall apart, especially Garcelle, who says she would never intentionally do something to add more pain to Erika's life right now. But Kathy talks Garcelle into staying, and she goes over and tells Erika that she would never hurt her intentionally, and Erika hugs her and tells her it's okay…

But it's so clear that nothing is okay. It's a totally alarming scene, and the other women acting shocked that Erika says she's going to head back to L.A. now is absurd — I'm surprised she was still physically standing after dry heaving for that long.

Even as they're trying to be supportive of Erika (except for Rinna, who is mostly focused on getting Garcelle to "own" her part in the upset because she doesn't think Garcelle is a loyal friend — which, coming from Rinna, is an accusation richer than Sutton), everyone recognizes that there's something off about how upset Erika got over Garcelle's small comment. They're able to discuss and speculate over some Ruth's Chris takeout courtesy of Kathy, but by the time the creamed spinach has settled the next morning, so has the dust of Erika's dry-sobs. And now everyone knows definitively what had Erika so unstable…

(I can hardly get into the "I don't see color part deux" conversation that takes place in the middle of dinner, but as Crystal says, this is the exact reason it's important to have open discussions about race. So that a 62-year-old woman doesn't find herself learning that non-white people are treated differently than white people, and that just thinking of all races as equal doesn't change that fact — it actually denies it. Because saying that you see all people as equally colorless denies the reality that all people are not treated equally, no matter what Michael Jackson told you. In a slightly better turn of events than the last time Crystal and Sutton had this conversation, it seems like Garcelle and Crystal's stories of experiencing racism actually had Miss Kathy thinkin' a lil bit about changing her 62-year-old views. But I will never forget Dorit attempting to brag that her children are used to diversity because they've "had a lot of people that work for us that are very multicultural." Last season was such a win for Dorito, I simply did not see this absolute crash-and-burn of a season 11 coming!)

Anyway, as the women roll out of bed the next morning and apply their signature golden undereye patches, their phones begin to ding — and ding and ding and ding. The L.A. Times exposé has dropped, and everyone is panicked about how long it is. With all of the previous articles, they've been able to read the bullet points from Daily Mail to one another over coffee. But with this one, they're trying to scan through 10,000 words of legalese that look very bad for their friend, while also trying to keep up appearances that they're totally sure Erika knew nothing about whatever Tom was or was not doing.

Except for Sutton, who's been up for hours and already read the whole article, did her googling, and comes down the stairs with thoughts and opinions. As the other women work their way through the unimaginable waters of stealing from orphans, as well as some concepts they're more familiar with like "Ponzi schemes," Sutton veers closer and closer toward suggesting that Erika may have been much guiltier than she's been letting on.

After Kyle has asked for the sixth time what could happen to Erika if it's proven true that Tom funneled stolen millions through her business, Sutton finally snaps that Erika could go to jail. The unsaid bit written all over Sutton's face is that maybe Erika deserves to. "You know I hate to play devil's advocate here," Sutton begins after the conversation has been going around and around: "But if her name is on that LLC, she is responsible for that LLC; she is responsible for where that money comes from."

But even knowing that Sutton is already starting to toy around with novel ideas like complicity, if you had told me she would call a sans-Erika summit the day after the women arrived back to L.A., and that she would not wear the double-breasted tartan blazer dress that she'd already wasted on a random La Quinta dinner to said summit… well, I guess I would have believed you. It's Sutton. I could not begin to imagine what she might do, and certainly not what she will wear while doing it.

But still, it's all so deliciously dramatic. The women arrive at Dorit's house one-by-one as she pretends that she just threw together the elaborate charcuterie spread from the contents of her fridge. As they're all seated, they confer about the wild, and ill-advised Instagram Erika posted of text messages from Tom's alleged mistress that appear to have been taken with one of those cameras where the flashbulb explodes after you take the photo. Until finally Sutton arrives last to the meeting that she called. A power move, if ever there was one.

But I know she's not doing this for show, because baby girl offers absolutely no dramatics upon arrival, she just immediately starts talking, which is actually so much more dramatic. Rinna initially tries to chat with Sutton about the Instagram post, and she just cuts her off, saying, "Yes, but I also have a lot of reservations about what happened in La Quinta and what was said." Well then! The key to improv is the "yes, and" method, and the key to Housewives is, "yes, but [back to what I was saying]."

Sutton apologizes for jumping right in, but she thinks they're being placed in a bad position: "I think we have heard stories that, to me, don't' add up." Sutton says she left the trip with alarm bells going off in her head, wondering what they had gotten themselves into. In her testimonial, Kyle says that it sounds like Sutton is saying, "I don't believe you, Erika, and I think you're guilty"… but it actually sounds like much more than that. It sounds like Sutton is saying she thinks Erika is guilty and she's somehow attempting to implicate her costars in the process. "I am not sure how much I want to be around… my friend during this time," Sutton concludes.

Well, Sutton may not want to be around Erika… but I sure want her to be. Because one way or another, it's leading to someone finally calling Erika out on her empty dinner-table-threats. It's going to be bad, but I'm here, the RHOBH girls are living in fear — get used to it.

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