Just like an argument can be made that the real story of Mad Men is about the women who inhabit Don Draper’s universe, I’d be willing to consider that perhaps the real story of Real Housewives of Orange County is about the men who buzz around our cast members like so many horse flies. Other than Drunk Sarah getting kicked out of the party, last night’s episode was almost entirely about the husbands and boyfriends.
The things they said, the things they saw, the things for which they demanded apologies – the dudes really stole the spotlight, and that’s quite a feat when you consider that they stole it from a group of women who are professional spotlight-hoggers. The men were the ones instigating fights and peeling out of driveways in self-righteous rages, proving once again that the OC husbands and boyfriends are truly the worst of any Real Housewives city. Heather should count herself lucky and hold on to Terry for dear life.
We started back at the party, where the main fight between Drunk Sarah and Heather had fragmented out into several groups of chatty gossip and faux outrage from all involved. Gretchen pulled us out of it by escorting Tamra inside to give her a present: a charm bracelet with three little doo-dads that stood for unbreakableness, fashionistaness and the fact that Tamra always wears black. Or at least those are the three things I remember, anyway. They had a cute little moment that seemed at least halfway sincere, and then they bonded for a second over the fact that Vicki is terrible. And really, that’s something on which we can all agree.
Suddenly, the Heather-Drunk Sarah argument was back on, this time in the kitchen. Sarah apparently instigated the second stage of the confrontation, and at that point, she was slurring her words and asking why Heather was being so rude and not accepting her very sincere apology. The clips from the last episode showed Sarah yelling about Heather being stupid, and I don’t actually remember anything that resembled a true apology, so to me, Heather did the right thing by asking Alexis, who brought her to the party uninvited, to make sure that she left.
When you bring a guest to a party, you’re responsible for that guest, and if the hostess has an issue with that person being in her house, then it’s at least partly your responsibility to make sure the hostess’ request is taken care of, within reason. Asking Sarah to leave was the right move, and with how drunk Sarah was, Heather was right to ask Alexis to make sure she got out quickly and safely. Alexis, on the other hand, apparently believes that she bears zero responsibility for anything that anyone around her says or does – not her husband and not her drunk party guest – and that good manners don’t require her ever to intervene, even in the slightest, so the duties of escorting Drunk Sarah out to the car service actually fell to Slade and Gretchen, somehow.
Slade in particular did a very good job neutralizing the situation and removing Sarah from the house, which is the last thing I expected to happen. If Alexis had been half as reasonable at the beginning (since Sarah was, you know, her uninvited guest), perhaps things wouldn’t have gotten so ridiculous. As it was, Sarah was lead out to her driver, screaming things like “IS THIS THE WORLD WE LIVE IN?” the entire way. The grand injustice of it all was just too much for her gentle soul to bear, you guys.
In another awkward conversation, Vicki went over and violated the personal space of Briana’s husband Ryan to tell him that he wouldn’t be taking her daughter away anytime soon and that Brooks doesn’t deserve to be questioned because she is the mom and also the decider and also she needs Ryan’s help! Will you help her, Ryan? Will you help Vicki, the crazy, possibly drunk lady with the creepy boyfriend who wants to treat your wife like she’s 12 for the rest of her life? WILL YOU? Ryan handled the whole thing beautifully, with just the right mix of firm refusal to accept Vicki’s bullshit and the necessary amount of willingness to listen to her babble. He seemed to be leaning slightly away from Vicki for the entire conversation, which I am going to assume is attributable to her booze breath.
After Vicki was done accosting Ryan, she ran over to accost Tamra and call her a brown-noser, an intention that she announced to a random group of party guests before going over to do it. Tamra is more than used to that kind of behavior from Vicki, as she mentioned at the top of the episode, and like Ryan, she stonewalled her effectively with the bare minimum tolerance for Vicki’s bullshit. It was a scene that’s likely gone down between the two of them a dozen times before, both on and off camera, and I personally find it kind of amazing that no one’s whacked Vicki over the head with a bottle of champagne yet. Also, side note: Vicki needs to buy a lipstick that’s not the same color as her skin.
In a third awkward conversation, Earth Jesus grew a pair (to borrow Heather’s husband’s phrase) and showed up to the party in the ugliest rented tux vest I’ve ever seen, sans jacket. When Alexis suggested that he go talk to Terry about what he said about her at dinner with Gretchen, Earth Jesus snapped at her in front of everyone else about how she’s not the person who wears the pants in the relationship. He did eventually go talk to Terry, though, which was a conversation that confused me from all angles. Why did Alexis think that her husband needed to talk things out with Terry? Jim wasn’t implicated or involved in the first conversation or any of the arguments it spawned. Is Alexis not allowed to speak to other adult men and work out these issues on her own? Does Earth Jesus deserve an apology for every negative thing said about his wife, since she is his possession? I’m not entirely sure what the reasoning was, but I think it’s probably some truly unfortunate combination of those theories.
Whatever the reasons, Terry was game. He sat down with Earth Jesus and calmly owned up to exactly what he said – that Alexis is phony, which was a statement he was prepared to defend, but that he didn’t call her The Phoniest Person On Earth. Jim looked surprised that Terry was willing to admit to saying anything negative and seemed to be trying to gin up some outrage when Heather walked up, which shut him down completely. Perhaps this is me reading into the situation because of the incredible contempt I have for Jim in the first place, but it sure did seem like the presence of an intelligent woman who intended to participate in a conversation with him as an equal made him incredibly nervous. But really, Heather was there when the remark in question occurred, so she had more of a right to be part of the conversation than Jim did.
While Jim was still trying to get his bearings in the presence of a woman who wasn’t dependent on him to pay for her weave maintenance, Tamra also walked up, bringing the total number of people who deserved to be in this conversation more than Jim did to three and the number of intimidating women to two. Tamra didn’t even open her mouth or sit down before Jim had a fit, got up and walked out of the party without saying two words to anyone, including his wife. She had to be notified of his exit by other partygoers who saw him leave, which left her running down the block after his car in her fur coat and giant heels, looking vaguely like a Vegas hooker who had just gotten stiffed on her fee.
Back inside the party, a bunch of the cast members had sat down at the same table, and for some reason, Vicki proposed a toast to Alexis. Tamra apparently rolled her eyes, because that’s really the only appropriate reaction to Vicki toasting Alexis while she’s stiletto-wobbling down Heather’s driveway in pursuit of her misogynist husband and his cater-waiter polyester vest, but it was a move to which Brooks took exception. Vicki didn’t see it, a fact that she was honest about in the moment but lied about later, but Brooks made sure that the whole thing blew up by repeatedly alerting Vicki to the fact that an unacceptable look had momentarily overtaken Tamra’s face.
If you’ve never encountered a man like Brooks in your everyday life – a manipulative, emotionally controlling bag of dicks who always goes after weak women like they’re the sickly gazelles at the back of the pack – count yourself lucky, but know that the entire fight was a classic move to isolate a vulnerable person from her existing support system. Tamra rolls her eyes and makes faces all the time, something that Vicki knows quite well by now, and she didn’t even see Tamra roll her eyes. Brooks stepped in to light everything on fire and encourage Vicki to get upset over something that is not only par for the Real Housewives course, but also that she hadn’t actually seen for herself. It was just a look on Tamra’s face, you guys.
If you thought the cake fight was over nothing, then I’m not sure what the appropriate word for the cause of this fight would be. Absolute zero? The upshot of the entire thing, though, is that it’s harder for a man to control a woman who has outside encouragement to question his actions. Once someone like Brooks alienates his target from those people, getting what he wants becomes a lot easier, and Brooks seems like a man who knows that process like a pro. I’ve been in Tamra’s position, on the other side of a vulnerable friend’s malevolent new boyfriend, and it’s one of the most frustrating positions you can be in, as a woman. No matter how you approach it, you’re probably going to lose.
When Vicki flew off the handle over Brooks’ repeated insistence that she had been given the “evil eye” (whatever the hell that is), Tamra unfortunately took the bait and flipped out in her own right, yelling about how Brooks controls Vicki emotionally. While that seems to be both a true and widely held belief, yelling it in Vicki’s face is exactly the kind of confrontation that makes Brooks’ manipulation that much easier. Shift the attention, Brooks, shift the attention! It’s not you who’s the problem, it’s literally every other person in your girlfriend’s life who has the problem! Sadly, Vicki’s so desperate – and growing more desperate by the moment, if her Costa Rican meltdown about missing Donn is any indication – that she bought into it completely.
Of course, these tensions had been simmering for a while. A good manipulator moves people away in increments, which just makes it more difficult for the former friends to explain how he did anything wrong. Combine that with Vicki’s latent unhappiness, which makes her even more unpleasant and critical than she usually is, and a fight between her and Tamra, whose life is on the upswing, was going to happen eventually. It was alarming how swiftly Vicki decided that some grievous wrong had been done to her, though, and even at the end of the episode, she insisted that Tamra’s off-hand eye-roll was the type of horrible thing that would put a permanent end to their friendship forever. Um, what? Are we all still talking about the same thing here?
Vicki and Brooks stormed out, of course, and while they were waiting for their car to be brought around, Tamra went to talk to Briana. Naturally, they were both on exactly the same page about Brooks and the effect he’s having on Vicki’s other relationships, and neither of them have any idea what to do to burst the bubble that she’s in. Briana went outside to try and talk sense, though, and nothing worked until she said the word “alienate.” If you noticed, it wasn’t Vicki that reacted to it, it was Brooks – his cover was momentarily blown, and if he let people talk too much about the distance that he’s working to put between Vicki and her friends, things could get more complicated for him. Brooks immediately suggested that they go back into the party, and once he had approved the move, Vicki followed along without argument, even though Heather’s (somewhat selfish) pleas and her own daughter’s distress couldn’t convince her.
They did come back in, though, and Heather even let Vicki make a self-indulgent speech that painted her as the victim in all of this (Remember, literally nothing bad happened to Vicki. Tamra made a face for a split second that Vicki didn’t even see, and then Brooks started an argument about it, which he admitted.), which is more than she was required to do. Ultimately, the episode ended like all Real Housewives finales: with passive-aggressive little blurbs about the Housewives’ activities since filming ended. Most of them were pretty standard, but a couple stood out. First, Alexis and Earth Jesus are hoping to open a trampoline park, which is a piece of news so random and sublime that I still can’t think of a joke to make about it. It just…is.
More pertinent to our storyline, though, were the blurbs involving Vicki. First, Brianna is knocked up, so she’s about to be the world’s worst grandma this side of Colleen Donaghy. Second, she’s not invited to Tamra’s wedding, which means that those two really did stop being friends over an eye-roll. Third, Brooks and Vicki broke up. And then got back together. And he’s still driving Vicki’s car. Somewhere, Donn is hanging out with his new girlfriend and laughing his ass off.