The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recap: No good boat rides
Remember those early Real Housewives of Beverly Hills days? You know, in the first two seasons, when there was always a dark, foreboding aura lurking around that you couldn't quite put your finger on until the underlying issues finally came exploding to the surface? Those early days when awkward limo rides to the Tonys belied the dissolution of a marriage; when sisters stole other sisters' goddamn houses; when we hadn't said it, but now we said it?
Well, those days are back, baby, because this was the weirdest, most bizarre episode of RHOBH I've seen in quite some time, and not once did anyone tell anyone to "own it." It seems that freeing ourselves of Teddi's self-righteousness, bringing in the clowns with Kathy, and somehow managing to cast two opposite people in Sutton and Crystal is a cast shake-up destined for the Housewives history books. (If I had to take two semesters of Texas History in 7th grade, then I expect my future children to learn about the history of the Richards family when their time comes.)
Just to give you a little taste before we get into it, I would rank the darkest moments in this episode as follows:
7. Lisa Rinna accidentally responding to the approaching end of a trip that she planned and that everyone has repeatedly assured one another has been so fun with, "Oh, thank God!"
6. That three-minute bocce ball scene with no dialogue.
4. Dorit blinking placidly and staying silent as the group discusses which of them have had nose jobs.
3. Crystal describing curling up naked on the floor to hide her body from a stranger entering her bedroom unannounced.
2. Erika announcing that she filed for divorce via text message to her close friends that she just spent the last four days with, raving about her husband any chance she got.
1. Lisa Rinna telling a story about her husband's friend being arrested for rape to make a point about her missteps on the last season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. (Narratively speaking, it would have worked best to end this list with Erika's divorce, but absolutely nothing will ever be as dark as Lisa Rinna casually referencing rape in order to defend the time she spent badgering Denise Richards to admit to whatever happened between her and Brandi Glanville on the set of My Adventures With Santa.)
The ladies are still in Tahoe, where they've been for the last two episodes, and tonight I had the awful realization that this trip has been spoiling us with all this Kathy content. Soon, there might be episodes where Kathy's not there at all, offering us absolutely no suggestions about how to BE KIND via her many slogan t-shirts; accidentally gluing absolutely none of her orifices shut. Because Kathy is just a "Friend Of," and the only reason we've gotten to enjoy her calling Kyle "Doogie" week after week is that she's been trapped at an AirBNB Luxe from hell with the rest of our cast.
The episode picks up the morning after Sutton lost it over feeling excluded from one of Kathy's classic pranks, and for some reason, took it out on Crystal. They both seem to be going the "cordial" route, but once they're all trapped on a boat, seeing the Lake Tahoe sights, Sutton asks to talk it out with Crystal alone. (Again, this is happening for the second time on a thus-far two-day-long trip.) Sutton has already told Kyle that she feels like she has nothing to apologize for, so it's unclear exactly what she hopes to accomplish with this conversation. She just thinks Crystal "wasn't nice" for calling her ridiculous. As you'll recall, Sutton also thought Crystal "wasn't nice" for saying she was the type of person to say "I don't see color"… moments before saying the exact phrase, "I really don't see color."
It's becoming pretty clear that Sutton thinks it's other people's responsibility to be nice to her even when she isn't being nice to them, which - especially in regard to her conversation with Crystal about race - made me think of a TikTok I recently watched on Twitter (the most Millennial phrase ever recorded to EW.com, unfortunately).
So, Sutton starts off the conversation by telling Crystal that she didn't like being called ridiculous, and she thinks Crystal is "abrupt" toward her. To which Crystal tells her that she had nothing to do with the prank Sutton got so upset about; in fact, she tried to include Sutton on what she did know, and then Sutton turned on her. So, from everything she's seen over the course of two days, she can only assume that Sutton is an untrustworthy person. That seems like a reasonable reaction to me, but Crystal does also call Sutton "crazy" multiple times, which I know is insensitive…
And yet, I have a hard time demanding sensitivity for someone who hasn't considered Crystal's own feelings once. Unlike Sutton, Crystal is new to this group of people, and as she points out, Sutton is the only one who hasn't been warm and welcoming to her. "Well, maybe I'm more complicated than that!" Sutton cries out. Which perks both my and Crystal's interest.
Sutton says she's "really difficult to get to know," and Crystal asks why that is. Sutton says it's because she's surprisingly shy and it takes her a while to warm up to people. And suddenly, as though she's just having the realization herself, Sutton breaks down and starts telling Crystal that she hadn't understood the emotional ties she had to the house she's selling, and leaving it is much more difficult than she thought it would be. Finally, after realizing that perhaps she'd been misplacing her emotions over - checks notes - her house, Sutton apologizes for Crystal getting "thrown into the mix of 'my craziness,' we'll call it." Crystal says she's willing to try and take some baby steps forward, and they head back to the group with some resolve…
But when everyone gathers for dinner that night, Crystal doesn't join. Apparently, she texted Garcelle something along the lines of, "I'm losing my s--- a little bit." But it's a little hard to focus on what that might mean when Erika enters the room wearing multiple pairs of pants. I don't think I've ever related to anything more than Kathy Hilton trying to subtly tell Erika that she accidentally left her jeans unbuttoned, only for Erika to tell her that she did it on purpose. I truly do not know how to describe this outfit, but I will do my best: a pair of boxing shorts - no, not boxer shorts - that appear to have a prescription label sewn onto the waistband, layered under a button-fly pair of baggy jeans with all the buttons open, cuffed at least six inches to expose a pair of chunky socks, contained by a pair of heeled Timberland boots.
On top is a simple black bodysuit, because you know what Coco Chanel always said: When you're wearing a bunch of pants, keep the shirt simple.
Everyone else is wearing normal clothes, and enjoying normal conversation at the dinner table until the topic of Denise is brought up by way of Rinna saying she's learned so much about herself from her relationships with other women, both good and bad. Knowing that Rinna is referencing Denice, Garcelle prompts Rinna to continue the thought, surely never imagining what would come next when Rinna says she wants to share a story Harry shared with her recently.
"Harry had a friend who he went and had a drink with," Rinna begins. "And that night, his friend went and ended up raping a girl, a really close friend." Now, with the proper warning and context, it's important to have conversations about the prevalence of rape in our society. I think the reason everyone's mouths are agape listening to this particular story is that they were pretty sure they were talking about the Denise situation not 20 seconds ago, and now they're… here.
Rinna continues, saying that Harry's friend ultimately went to jail, and when their other friends suggested going to visit him to show that they still supported and loved him, Harry said he couldn't do that. More gaping commences as everyone around the table continues to try and see the connection between Harry not wanting to support this person, and Lisa insisting that Denise tell them the full truth about her sexual relationship with Brandy for an entire season of television…
"Blind loyalty - like, times when you have to evaluate the situation" Kyle stammers, continuing her habit of trying to diffuse a situation just a little bit before it deserves to be diffused. But not Garcelle! She continues to want Rinna to sit in her dirty Denise diaper, especially if she's about to start making biiiig anecdotal reaches to explain herself. "The point of your story… is that you couldn't blindly believe Denise?" she asks Rinna.
Rinna clarifies that she couldn't blindly support Denise. From there, Garcelle and I have the exact same thoughts for about two minutes straight. First, in her testimonial: "I can see that Harry did the right thing, but you can't compare that to Denise - that's not a story you should share again." And then by telling Rinna that she didn't just not support Denise, she was the "ring leader" in trying to get her to confess to something she wasn't ready to talk about. That, at least, Rinna can cop to, saying that she "did the wrong thing" in pushing Denise to be transparent and vulnerable about something that she didn't want to be transparent and vulnerable about.
So with all that fun out of the way, it's time to retire to the ground level for some water ballet, Jenga, and - what's this now?! Crystal suddenly emerges from her room around 10:30 to tell everyone goodnight.
She winds up sitting down with Kyle and telling her that the reason she skipped out on dinner is that, the night before, Sutton came into her room while she was naked, and when she ducked down to cover her body up, "she was like, 'Whatever you're doing in here.'" In the flashback, we see that Sutton lightly knocked on the door, opened it, and then said, "I don't know what's going on in here, but I'm gonna bring you your coat." Crystal seems upset that Sutton walked in on her naked and acted like Crystal ducking down in response was weird. Kyle asks if Crystal spoke to Sutton about it on the boat, which I admit may have been my first reaction too. It seems like odd timing to become upset about something 24 hours later…
But when Crystal emotionally explains her feelings to Sutton the next morning, it seems like she just needed time to think about why the situation made her feel so uncomfortable. "It was weird, and my boundaries were crossed, and I just felt like my space was violated a little bit," she tells Sutton. Tearfully, Sutton takes a while to come around to what Crystal is telling her, but eventually, she tells Crystal that she's sorry, and she didn't mean for her comment about what Crystal was doing in her room to sound judgmental.
It's… an uncomfortable interaction! Partially because it was an uncomfortable topic, but mostly because these are two very different people who have a very hard time communicating with one another, and would absolutely never spend time together if they weren't contractually obligated to do so. But they are, and so they close things out by making yet another commitment to try and get to know each other better…
And stranger things have happened. I remember a pop-singing ice queen who rolled onto our screens in season 6, unwilling to open up to anyone - and by season 11, she considers many of these women her closest friends. Her closest friends who, four days after this Tahoe trip, she sent the following text message: "Ladies, I truly consider you my close friends and this is why I'm reaching out to tell you that I filed for divorce this morning. Thank you for supporting me. This will be tough." Given that Erika was gabbing with Garcelle on the boat cruise about how much she loves and appreciates Tom's devotion to his job - in addition to every other adoring Tom remark the editors have lovingly made sure to include in the last four episodes - Erika's close friends are stunned by this information.
But no one was more stunned than me to find that the episode was ending there. See you back here next week to see how RHOBH's coverage of Erika and Tom's divorce lines up with every major news outlet's coverage of Erika and Tom's divorce.
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