The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills finale recap: The Year of the Ox
More often than not, Real Housewives finales end their respective seasons not with a bang, but with a whimper (and a montage that looks like what you'd see at the end of a based-on-a-true-story movie, except none of the onscreen text is of any consequence). After all, these finales are hardly final when there's generally three more episodes' worth of reunion special left in the season…
And while this RHOBH season 11 finale wasn't exactly a bang, adding a Chinese New Year celebration at the restaurant from Kill Bill into the mix damn near made it a party! I admit that I've been partial to Crystal all along because I think she's one of the most beautiful Housewives I've ever rested my mortal non-Housewives eyes upon, and I think reservedness is always an interesting quality in a reality TV character. But after getting to see her in her element tonight — both sharing her Chinese culture with others, and throwing a party, which let's not forget, she did thrice-weekly in pre-COVID times—I was willing to absolutely obliterate anyone who dared try to throw a negative wrench in her fabulous party, let alone confuse or upset Crystal's mother and her boyfriend, who I actually think I might die for.
Sutton briefly waded into dangerous waters after the ever-present nag on her shoulder, Kyle, "joked" that she was sweeping her issues with Erika under the rug. But Sutton addressed Erika as peacefully as possible, and to Erika's tiniest credit, she managed to tamp down her rage long enough to finish dinner (and the season). Unfortunately, she did it in a heavy red undereye liner, so she appeared to be crying actual blood during her efforts to stay calm and not unleash Wolverine claws, turning Sutton into nothing but a pile of Dolce and Gabanna ribbons.
Crystal's party is the bulk of the episode, so there are only a few other things to address. Let's take them in chronological order:
- I've heard of second houses and vacation houses; flipping houses and flopping houses; and houses in Palm Springs that you've been told you own, but have never actually stepped foot in. But I have never heard of a "spec house" that someone designs as a fun little "project" with the sole intention of selling it for somewhere around "52, 53 million dollars." That is some quintessential Kathy Hilton shit.
- When Sutton arrives to check out Kathy's spec house, she's wearing a boot, so Kathy's builder — Aidan — swoops her up to his vested chest and carries her inside the house. In a consistently sexless franchise, it is one of the hottest things RHOBH has ever seen.
- We have been asked all season long to care about Garcelle dating, but I simply have not been able to do so. The reason is twofold: I cannot trust a dating coach that would put Garcelle Beauvais on Bumble (which Garcelle accidentally writes a new tagline for when she bemoans, "He was just not as spectacular as the photos"); and I can legitimately believe the possibility Garcelle dating her ideal man, Brad Pitt… so until she does, I will not be satisfied.
- At a dinner of the Old Guard Housewives — Kyle, Rinna, Dorit, Erika — Kyle tells Erika that Sutton still believes Erika is lying about Tom's car wreck. Fuming, Erika spits, "F--- that bitch, my story is true, and it will always be the same." Then she takes the longest pause known to Bravo-kind, and adds an entirely new detail to this story that has changed multiple times on national television.
- When you ever so briefly believe that Kyle is actually about to confront Erika over her "confusing" car wreck stories, she instead tells Erika that her crude Instagram captions aren't great for "the court of public opinion." Erika responds that she's just having too much fun "trolling the trolls," as always, managing to completely ignore the victims of her husband's alleged crimes that she's actually trolling. Fun dinner, gals —the tableside guac was just fabulous!
- And finally, Bravo: we beg of you. Stop trying to make Rinna's wigs — and Rinna naming her wigs — happen. It's not going to happen.
Now, it's time to celebrate the Year of the Ox, which Crystal says "represents stability — I think a few people could use that in her life right now." Indeed, anyone who's about to participate in a four-part reunion that looks like it could absolutely redefine the genre, could use a little extra stability before they get on the plane to New York. But there are also a few key players at this Chinese New Year dinner that you need to know about:
- Crystal's husband Rob, who has proven himself to be a delightful Househusband of my very favorite variety — affable nerd — every time he's crossed our screens this season.
- Crystal's elegant mother Tina and her adorable boyfriend Marshal, who is dressed in traditional Chinese formalwear, and who I would like to request attend every RHOBH event, because I have to assume that his preciousness is the only thing that kept everyone in line.
- Elliot. What to say about Elliot Mintz? Not only is he Kathy's plus-one with nary a mention of her husband… not only am I pretty sure he's a character from Sex and the City… but as Rinna reveals to us once she arrives and greets him by name — Elliot was in attendance at Dorit's infamous cocaine dinner, and was the only one left at the dinner table with Rinna when everyone got up and left to allegedly do cocaine in the bathroom. Or, as the editors put in his title card in the 2016 flashback, "ELLIOT Mintz: Did Not Get Up and Leave."
It's a flawless guest list, obviously, organized by Crystal, who looked so regal in her gold jacquard column gown that I nearly choked when I saw her. She was absolutely glowing, and it's clear that she's genuinely thrilled to share this tradition with her new co-workers, and more importantly, to host a party at the restaurant from Kill Bill. The courtyard is decked out with Chinese lanterns, cherry blossoms, coconut cream cocktails, and gorgeous candies designed to represent each attendee's birthyear (yet another opportunity for the editors to flashback to another of Lisa Rinna's — year of the rabbit, a.k.a. bunny — iconic moments of seasons past).
It is a party, y'all. Rob opens with a toast about how "a friend is someone that doesn't make your problems disappear, a true friend is someone who doesn't disappear when the problems come," and he's so earnest I genuinely believe he did not mean this to be an opportunity for Erika to husk, "Amen to that," while everyone else tittered nervously. During dinner, Crystal offers tips for preparing to ring in the Chinese New Year, like getting a haircut and making sure your home is clean, but not sweeping or taking out the trash on actual New Years Day…
That's when things briefly take a turn for what could have been the worst. Kyle makes a snide comment to Sutton about "sweeping things under the rug," who correctly responds that she's hardly been doing that. But Sutton has expressed that she's having a hard time trusting Erika's bizarro turn to the bright side in Del Mar (not knowing that Kyle already sabotaged her by insisting on telling Erika that Sutton still thinks she's lying). So, she looks across the table at Erika and tells her that in the spirit of staring the Chinese New Year off right, "I don't want to sweep anything under the rug… and I don't want any ill will between us going into the new year."
You guys, when Elliot leaned over and whispered, "I didn't hear her, Kath," it almost broke me. Can you imagine if he had heard her? How could anyone possibly surmise what's been going on between these two?! Praise the Bravo gods that Ms. Tina and Mr. Marshal were seated at the very end of the table, and I hope, mistook this as a comfortable silence…
Because, rest assured, a silence is absolutely what follows. Though Sutton's audio rings clear throughout, you can tell by looking at her table neighbors that no one was paying attention to her when she first addressed Erika, but by the end of her spiel, everyone has turned their attention to her. Her face placid, Erika asks why everyone got so silent. "Because we're looking at you," Garcelle tells her plainly. "I have nothing to say," Erika replies, tone blessedly even. Sutton, tone blessedly unwavering, tells Erika that she speaks for all of them when she says that they all hope she comes out of this "shining bright." With that, Crystal announces that dessert is served on the veranda.
And what goes better with tangerine granita in the open air than one final confrontation to see the season out. Somehow, it comes by way of Kathy telling Erika that she thinks they have a lot in common (why do people always say this to Erika??? I have never encountered anyone like Erika anywhere???), and if it were her, she'd boldly walk over to Sutton and just listen. "Let's listen," Erika says simply as she, indeed, walks right over, and the core cast members assemble around a small table like the Avengers wearing 20 pounds of hair extensions.
Sutton tells Erika that she'd like to clarify some of the things she said originally, and let her know that she's not "judgey, judgey." Erika says that it certainly came across that way, and Sutton admits that "it was at first." Everyone weirdly… applauds this admission, while Erika says it's hard to hear that Sutton was judging her, but she's glad Sutton said it. Sutton requests a one-on-one with Erika, and Erika says she's open to that when the time is right. But when the "where are they now" epilogue sequence rolls, the editors swiftly let us know that Sutton "is still waiting for Erika to reach out."
So, like I said, this finale is not a whimper; it's not a bang; it's simply one delicious course of dim sum. A tease to whet the appetite for what is quite literally a months' worth of Reunion episodes where Andy looks to have taken Chinese New Year superstition very seriously and is leaving no rug left unturned. See you back here for the dirty, dirty truth!
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