Real Housewives of Orange County
Credit: Bravo

Look, right off the bat, I am just going to give these women the benefit of the doubt about not wearing masks. If anyone else saw the Real Housewives of Dallas premiere this week, Stephanie Hollman broke the fourth wall to mention that all the cast members are tested frequently. Now that we're seeing episodes of Real Housewives of Orange County that were shot well into the pandemic, I'm just going to assume the same goes for the women of the West Coast.

Now that that's out of the way, this week's episode starts with a montage marking a couple of big moments (Braunwyn Windham-Burke is six months sober! Elizabeth Lyn Vargas's divorce is finalized!), annnnnnnndddddd Kelly Dodd left a mask in her fridge.

Anyways, the speedy scenes stop at Shannon Storms Beador walking some organic headboards she ordered into her house in preparation for her eldest daughter Sophie heading off to college. Pretty surprising to hear Shannon's will still has her ex-husband getting all her assets considering how hard she's fallen in love with her new man John, and the fact that she's been preparing her family for her possible death since COVID started.

In the next scene, we see Braunwyn and Sean continue to navigate the new reality of their marriage as she tries to stay sober during the pandemic. Sean doesn't quite get the right words in defending himself, but Braunwyn explains both how Sean hasn't committed to the promises he made after their recent couple retreat, and how she has become increasingly mean toward him in an effort to push him away. She still sees no way out of their vicious cycle though.

Going from one tough conversation to another, we next see Elizabeth chat with her younger brother Andrew, who opens up about the abuse they faced as kids in a cult, saying that he was beaten for being dyslexic at just 4 years old. Thankfully, the scene ends with Elizabeth saying that she scheduled her first therapy appointment to address their childhood horrors head-on.

Now COVID-free, Emily Simpson goes to see Gina Kirschenheiter, and they immediately get into what happened at Lake Arrowhead. Gina acknowledges how eventful the trip was but interestingly is most bothered by Braunwyn choosing to exit the room when they were gossiping about Shannon and John. Emily, in turn, shares with Gina that Braunwyn shouldn't act like that when earlier she was telling her something about John getting super drunk at a golf course. To be fair to Braunwyn though, what she said in Lake Arrowhead is that she didn't want to speak ill of Shannon "while she's sick."So technically sans COVID, Shannon is still fair game.

Elsewhere, Kelly takes her teen daughter Jolie to the beach, and one can already see how she takes after her mother, reaching over to beep the horn when a man is blocking the parking spot they want. They mostly bicker about Kelly being too strict, which she says is something she gets from Jolie's grandmother.

Now three weeks since testing positive for COVID tore them apart, the show next covers Shannon and John's reunion. Copping a bit to what Gina and Emily were alluding to, the couple apologize to each other for their behavior during the pandemic, and Shannon admits to her drinking playing a factor in their arguments.

Going over to another new couple going deep, Gina updates her boyfriend Travis on how her ex-husband Matt turned down the guilty plea to domestic violence. She seems to have gone through all the stages of grief about the incident, and has a clearer perspective about her relationship with Matt, so she mainly sees it as disappointing that he seems to be rewriting what happened the night he was arrested instead of owning up to it. Once again, Travis comes off as a good listener and seems to know the right way to support her. They celebrate that although Matt has more court dates, she's completed everything she's needed to do in order to cooperate with the case.

Maybe it's because she has the antibodies now, but the next person to welcome Emily into their home is Elizabeth. They sit and talk as Elizabeth's brother and her boyfriend Jimmy sit in the other room. The two women have somewhat of a sweet moment after Elizabeth downloads Emily on her tragic upbringing, but apparently, Elizabeth interprets Braunwyn's clinical conduct on the FaceTime chat in last week's episode as dismissive. 

With Jimmy in the house, and news of her divorce finalized, the conversation inevitably turns to whether or not they are having sex now, and the answer is yes! We even see Jimmy overhear the conversation and smile.

The show then goes back to Braunwyn's house where she is with her "wife" Shari talking about her issues with Sean, which include the cake at her sobriety party being red velvet. We also meet another one of her friends named Noella; it's a weird move on the show's part to bring in another guest star during the season's penultimate episode.

Anyhow, the last act focuses on Shannon. First, we see her and Sophie packing again, and her daughter is clearly fed up with both mother's taste, and Newport Beach culture in general. The moment is still kind of nice though.

The wilder moment is when Kelly arrives at the house and sees Shannon has her million-dollar divorce settlement check just sitting out for all to see. Planting the seed for what will be the finale drama, the pair discuss how Gina said she was concerned for Shannon and John but never followed up with her, and that Braunwyn isn't being completely truthful about her connection to Shari.

Thing is, we know that, but the big question about next week's finale is if Braunwyn will discuss the big revelation she told GLAAD last month.

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The Real Housewives of Orange County

Bravo turns its cameras on California's ladies who lunch (and shop, and tan, and get plastic surgery, and bicker…)

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