RHOC Recap and Unsolicited Advice

RHOC Recap and Unsolicited Advice

I Have Your Number

Satan is the author of confusion

This has to be the finale, right?  Amiright?


I feel obligated to admit my anti-religion bias up front because on the one hand, I’ve been calling for Tamra to redefine herself.  On the other, welcoming Jesus into your life doesn’t sound good to me.  It sounds crowded and weird.  But this baptism serves as a rebirth not only of Tamra the person but Tamra the character.  Her makeup is different, her hair softer.  No longer the hottest housewife, she has grown into a grandma, a pious woman trying to sin less than she used to (but not without lapses). 


Everyone, from every season, from all four corners of the county has been summoned—wear white please!-- to some country club on the bay to witness this transformation.  It has the feeling of a musical, when the entire cast comes together for the big number, all of them arriving at the end of their own storylines while simultaneously gathering for the climax.  Say what you will about this show, the editing here is excellent.  The diverse gospel choir (like, half black half blonde) completes the musical effect. 


In little limousine sketches we get a status update on all the ladies. Meghan still spends only half time with her douchey (or is he?) husband, Jimmy.  It’s a lonely life in her revolving mansions.  The question I still haven’t answered: why does Meghan live in Orange County if her husband lives in Saint Louis?   Shannon insists that she is so so so in love with her husband and the happiness she feels—well, it’s just more than she ever could have hoped for.  Vicki has “nothing to hide.”  Ahem.  Shannon won’t let Vicki’s comment that their lunch was “nasty and disgusting” die.


When the chorus starts up, Tamra is doing her full-on Oscar performance; a sinner come home.  Her eyes are on the sky, wistful, contemplating the lord, eternity, whether her waterproof mascara will prove itself.  I think she’s laced little shells into her hair.  Pastor Mike is in board shorts.


Tamra gives her little speech about God having a plan for her.  I guess there’s nothing harmful about feeling this way, but I can’t say I find Jesus adequate compensation for a bloody custody battle.  “What was once my mess is now my message,” Tamra announces, like she’s launching a brand, and, not to nitpick, but her taglines need tweaking.  “Boldness comes at a cost and I’m willing to pay.”  What does that even mean.  Whatever, Lizzie digs it shouting a halfhearted, Amen! 


The editors work their magic again on the baptism thing, applying what I’ll call the Jesus Edit.  Tamra’s “whole life” (as in the most salacious, negative scenes she was ever a part of on this show) flashes before her eyes and ours.  And in that pool, the horrible feelings go away.


Tamra on accepting Jesus into her life: “Everything is so beautiful.”


At this point, the party is so boring my brain is numb.  Much is made of the angel and devils food cakes.  Come to think of it, cakes have been a leitmotif this season.


But let’s get to the main event already, shall we?  Heather insists that we’ve all “been dragged into this,” where this is the public inquiry into Brooks’s cancer diagnosis.  In fact, I think Meghan stalking commenters on blogs and placing bogus phone calls to radiology centers is the opposite of “being dragged in” but, OK, Heather has a different tale to tell.  Vicki purportedly told both Briana and Shannon the same detailed account of a dark evening, when Brooks was so sick from chemo he reached out to Terry for help.  Terry sent a colleague to administer an IV drip to Brooks in his own home.  The only problem?  THIS NEVER HAPPENED. 


Heather on the story Vicki supposedly told about Terry: It’s a bald-faced lie. 


The only thing this conspiracy theory needs now is a motive and Meghan is at the ready.  Apparently, if you are unemployable (as in because of chemotherapy) then you cannot be forced to pay child support.  Brooks has four children, so… Meghan is just asking the educated questions, y’all. 


Things are up to a nice simmer when Tamra finally makes her entrance.  Then it get confusing.  Vicki's brother Billy starts in on Heather, Shannon and Meghan, clearly delivering his sister's party line: Don't question the cancer!  Vicki tries to palm off Tamra’s baptism present and get the Hell out of there, but Tamra’s not having it.  Heather nabs Vicki to talk to her one-on-one about the IV story, which Vicki straight up denies ever saying.


Meanwhile, Ronda, Billy’s girlfriend, is getting her feathers all ruffled on Vicki’s behalf.  If I had to guess, I’d say that Ronda really likes Billy, and she knows the key to Billy’s heart comes with Vicki’s approval.  She’s going to get Shannon’s hide and bring it  to Vicki, snapping that Vicki didn’t ask Shannon for proof that David was cheating on her; which is both a nasty and incredibly stupid thing to say.


Shannon is so surprised to be slapped in the face with David’s affair—a topic she has talked about nonstop  on camera all season—that she storms around trying to form her argument.  Vicki waits for the world’s slowest limousine driver to pull her ride around, which gives the entire party enough time to join her on the pavement.  And perhaps this is the audience Vicki needs to go full diva, at one point literally holding her arms out and insisting she is like Jesus on the cross (even chill dude Pastor Mike looks askance at that one).


Vicki to Shannon: When nobody else liked you, I was there for you.


Vicki gets in her limo.  Tamra tries to mediate but gets nowhere, and the rest of the ladies stand on the chilly sidewalk waiting.  Shannon points out that it’s like the godfather is in the limo and she’s right.  Vicki is the OG.  Without her, the show fizzles.  I want to tell them all to have some dignity, for God’s sake, but that’s not what they get paid for.  Still, could they not have done better than this inconclusive, bland “finale?”  I’m like almost depressed it’s ending like this.  Almost. 

We All Feel Icky

Vicki looks like a turtle. I’ve been trying to put my finger on it for years.


So my girl Briana has returned to the OC with her brood.  I like Briana.  Did I ever mention I saw her one time in an OC eatery?  She seemed breezy, approachable.  It’s a meaningless impression from a distance and yet unbudgeable.  The thing is, though, I’m really not so sure about Briana’s husband, Ryan.  He showed a streak of PTSD  aggression towards Lydia’s stoner Mom last season (or was it two seasons ago), and now here he is talking a whole lotta shit in Vicki’s house about how it’s dirty and it smells.  He, unemployed father of two, turns his nose up at being Vicki’s business partner in her super successful insurance business. I don’t like him.


Tamra invites people to her baptism by personal phone call, as everyone does.

Meghan to Tamra regarding the baptism: ohmygosh, congrats! 

Meghan’s face: ew.


Shannon and David really seem to be able to do couples therapy on camera, although of course it can’t be exactly the same as if the cameras weren’t there, but I digress.  Shannon hardly ever has “dark moments” anymore except for right now.


Tamra testifies about Brooks’s weird “Pet scan report” to Shannon and Heather.  Why would they choose you? Heather wonders, boggled.  Of course, they all silently believe it should have been them to be the one plucked from the flock and approached with this three-page medical document.


Shannon gets teary.  “We all feel icky.” Heather says.    But no, that’s not the issue.  Shannon feels moved; so close to Heather and Shannon, that of course it’s time to tell them all about…  THE AFFAIR.  For the life of me, I can’t understand why now.  Maybe she’s been advised to put a period on the end of this storyline?


Briana and Tamra meet for lunch where we get to hear more about the hellscape that makes up Briana’s existence in Oklahoma (that’s where she lives).  Endless work, constant threat of tornadoes, underground shelters, and weirdly no parks for her children to play in.  Briana makes it clear that she would rather live in Oklahoma with an unemployed husband and two jobs than move anywhere near Brooks. 


Briana on Brooks’ prognosis: He’s just going to be cured one day. 


Shannon takes her girls to the organic beauty counter as some sort of essential life lesson.  Only use organic makeup and ask permission and no invisible eye shadow and the whole thing was a little stern.  A little devoid of the fun you’d imagine in such a scene.  "Our whole family has been repaired," coos Shannon but I wonder.


Tamra meets with her baptism stylist and—I’m Jewish, so I’m just throwing this out there—this doesn’t seem quite right to me.  Not quite "baptism."


Tamra and Vicki get together, and Vicki throws in some verbiage about Brooks's “bone marrow aspiration” but twitching all the while so once more it comes across bogus. Tamra realizes she was sent to do Vicki's dirty work.  Classic Housewife maneuver.


Everyone hustles to get to Tamra’s baptism/wedding and, in her haste, Shannon breaks off the nozzle of an at home colonic kit in her rectum/anus.  Worse, her unspecified-specialty  Doctor Moon, proves unreachable.  Should we applaud Shannon for her guilelessness in the face of this development?  David ends up looking up her butt and then makes a display of washing his fingernails in the kitchen.  Kind of gross.  Even weirder, the revelation that Shannon had nothing up her butt.


Heather on Tamra’s baptism: She’s ready for a fresh start.  (SHADE) 


Everyone in their limos is getting all warmed up to in some way bring Brooks’s cancer story to a head.  This is the final showdown.  Vicki thinks that the ladies are trying to put confusion in my mind and I have to agree. I thought this was the finale.  Seriously, have these shows always gone on for 20 episodes?

Christian Porn

I decided to challenge myself and do the last two episodes as a double-header.  Also, I had a thing last Monday.  Let’s jump in, shall we?


Shannon and David’s date nights are haunted by the ghoul of Shannon’s  dieting.  The complexities of restricting your caloric intake are too much for Shannon, who has (ahem, bullshit) been gorging on app platters for the first five decades of her life.  She truly demonstrates no literacy with dieting, asking the waitress to identify the lowest fat item on the menu.  A seasoned dieter knows at a glance and would never take the waitress’s word on the meatballs.  Even more mystifying to Shannon, the shifting sands of alliances on the show. 


Vicki to Shannon (via text):  Lunch was nasty.


Pastor Mike is back you guys!  And this time, he sports a necklace: a dime-sized, dime-colored skin flap.  “I’ve hidden it, I’ve hidden it, and now I love Jesus,” says Tamra, and maybe it’s just me, but for some reason this giddy assertion gives me the creeps.  Tamra loves Jesus?  Or is she really just looking for Tamra 2.0?  She gives Pastor Mike the Tamra download: her mom, her brother, her son, his girlfriend, their messed up personal situation.  Then they pray.  Pastor Mike says in his soft, sexy velvet voice, “He touched your heart.  Amen,” in a way that sounds vaguely pornographic.  Christian porn.  Google it.


Vicki and Brooks’s “health coach,” Lenka, is such a quackadoodledoo I had to make that word up just to describe her.  She takes Brooks to a Family Practitioner to treat his exotic, advanced “blood cancer.”  This doctor proceeds to read a supposed PET scan report, does a cursory physical exam and in general seems to be a guy they sent over from Central Casting.  In Bangkok.  Even Doctor Family Practitioner says, when pushed, that he’s only reading the report they handed him.  He proceeds to “oxygenate” Brooks’s blood, which is just indescribably silly as far as cancer treatments go.  I mean, I’m no oncologist but I have a brain.  If Andy Cohen had paid me to write a scene that would subtly but completely convince viewers that Brooks does NOT have cancer, I could never have come up with something this effective.


Heather’s nervous face is a tiny bit more pinched on the way to their shopping channel makeup launch.  And guess what, it’s not without good reason.  Turns out Terry the million dollar plastic surgeon television personality is not a natural at schilling his own emollients on live television.  It’s nice to see him flub up and feel crappy.


Things seem to be a shitshow in Ryan and Sarah’s house in the sense that they just moved in and also they have no jobs and four kids.  I have to wonder if they were hoping to get a show of their own, because Ryan’s job prospects sound limited to “talking to” a few people in a few places.  I have to mention that Tamra marvels that Ryan, her unemployed son, can change a diaper on his baby daughter.  Tamra, stop it.  I get that you think church is the answer for these two, but I’m not sure I buy it.


Ryan on Church: What’s the membership fee? 


Over on Meghan’s Stepmom Journey we’ve finally reached acceptance.  Meghan has just been pushing Hayley the ne’er-do-well away with all her “rules and guidelines.  It also takes a lot of pressure off Meghan to just relax and do organic facial scrubs rather than insist Hayley complete high school.  Phew.


Hayley on chicken teriyaki: I threw it up and now it scares me.


Brooks and Vicki summon Tamra to the room they never sit in to display Brooks's (almost certainly bogus) medical records.  They hand a mysterious document to Tamra knowing that they might as well have given her something in Cyrillic.  Vicki stands by, somber like a beset upon saint. She practically begs Tamra to back her up, promising, “When you’re weak, I will be your warrior.”  Vicki is on the ropes.


In the little snippet amidst the commercials in the show’s second half, Brooks makes a show of taking a bunch of pills which are clearly herbal supplement gel caps full of beige powder.  It’s almost like he wants us to know that he knows we know he is full of shit.


Guess what?  Heather and Terry’s show turned out fine in the end.  Surprise!


Vicki grouptexts everyone that Brooks has had a Pet scan and has masses in his abdomen. Meghan pokes holes in this story immediately and everyone has to admit that something’s not adding up.  Shannon is pissed she wasn’t offered Tamra’s deal.  Tamra wonders, “Why did she single me out?  Did she know I couldn’t read (it)?”   Together they moan, what can we do about it?  Nothing, they agree.  Except, of course, talk about it on television.

Just Produce One Piece of Paper


Is this the finale?  I have to admit I had no idea the season was more than 16 episodes  (how many I am finding it strangely hard to ascertain) when I started.  Where did I get the idea that there are 12 episodes in a season?  A case of beer?


Back at the Aries Party, Tamra continues to moan about Brooks’ all-too-reasonable allegation that she’s an unreliable source.  Heather, the classiest of the group, takes Vicki aside to tell her what everyone’s been saying behind her back.  “Every piece of information that floats out is hinky,” she says, regarding the ongoing Brooks’ cancer situation (which looks increasingly fishy to my eye as well).  Who’s lying?  Heather asks in a carefully crafted sound byte. 


Then Heather takes a strong left turn: “Show his labs!  Show the medical records!  Show the birth certificate!”  (OK she didn’t say that last one).  But does she really think this is a reasonable request?


Who cares!  Vicki, show the records!  Heather’s right.  We need to see some documentation.


The producers make poor Shannon stand up and cut the cake at her Aries party even though like why is there a cake-cutting?  Everyone knows it’s tacky to have a cake-cutting at an Aries Party.  Anyway, Vicki was supposed to be up there making an ass of herself too, two Aries cutting their big red confection, but she’s already taken off.  Someone points out that this is Vicki’s M.O.  “When she doesn’t like what’s going on, she leaves.”  Which is like, totally reasonable unless you’re on a reality show in which case it’s a breach of contract. 


This leaves the rest of the ladies free to rehash all the reasons they doubt Brooks’s cancer diagnosis.  The most salient development here is the consensus that Vicki probably knows about the lie.  If there is a lie.  Whatever.  It’s time to SHOW THE DOCUMENTS.


Meghan takes a relatively functional version of her stepdaughter, Hayley, shopping for a prom dress.  Ah, Meghan.  She rattles off the story of how she orchestrated the booze wagon fuckfest after her own prom.  Hey, no judgments, but technically she is in a “parental” role here, which she only remembers after she explains how she arranged “cabins” for everyone after the afterparty.  Anyway, Meghan’s reevaluating her relationship with Hayley because all those rules and homework was negatively impacting the vibe between them.


Tamra goes, loose braid over her shoulder, to mea culpa herself all over Vicki’s cozy couch.  Vicki admits that it was her mistake to reveal Meghan’s confidence to begin with.  What the fuck is going on here?  Is someone slapping these women around with the maturity stick?  It must be the grandmother thing.  When it comes to the Great Brooks Cancer Debate, Vicki doesn’t budge.  Her argument against releasing the birth certificate medical records is that there will never be a way to shut down the haters.  If I were to write a novel based on this series, in which Vicki conspires with Brooks to fake his cancer diagnosis in order to give her a storyline in Brianna’s absence, this is exactly how I would script Vicki to act upon being discovered.  “Do whatever you can to stop this,” she begs Tamra.


Shannon makes muffins and chili as a backdrop for complaining to David about Vicki’s quick departure and Brooks’s shoddy cancer story.  “I feel like I don’t know Vicki right now,” she says.


Tamra on Brooks’ cancer situation: I’m ignoring it to be Vicki’s friend. 


Heather almost allows datenight with Terry to devolve into conflict over an etching in their new mansion.  The issue is that Heather has just been working so damn hard on this huge new house where there seem to be no financial or temporal constraints.  I cannot be the only one who takes issue with Heather describing this activity again and again as “hard work.”


Tamra shows Ryan and his family the nice house she is helping him pay for and all he has to say is  “The [staining on the hardwood] floor still bothers me.”  Ryan is super itzy.


Ryan on his life: F*ck my life. 


Tamra remarks that her son whom she has coddled his entire life has “big boy problems now…. four kids to take care of.”  Tamra tried to warn him, which is a weird thing to say on camera about the mother of your brand new granddaughter.  Surely that will not win you any fans.  Then again, Tamra really did lose her mind when Ryan announced he was moving in with Sarah.  In any case, Tamra seems almost too happy to conclude of Ryan’s situation: This is the life you chose.  Says the woman who has been married three times. 


Heather has a business lunch with Lisa Rinna.  Nothing to see here.


Shannon has a lunch with Vicki wherein she tries to express, in her passive way, that she didn’t like Vicki leaving their Aries Party without saying good-bye, a fair point.  Vicki’s response: “I didn’t want to eat cake.  I was just over it.”  Rude.  Vicki clearly doesn’t want to talk about Brooks and yet has to entertain once more the request for papers.

“Just produce one piece of paper!” Shannon says.  Vicki is this close to a nervous breakdown people, and after a decade of this, who can blame her. 

You’re waving at no one

Heather shows up at the spa to meet Meghan.  It’s actually a restaurant but there’s something about the Orange County aesthetic that makes every room with a podium at the door feel like a spa.  In any case, no one is surprised to hear that Meghan’s unsupervised stepdaughter Hayley threw a 200-person (I have the number right because Meghan repeats it) party while they were out of town.  Her mother who we are constantly reminded is basically on her deathbed decides to deny Hayley “Stagecoach” as punishment.  What is this Stagecoach?  I feel like it’s the teenage equivalent of a dirtbag bar.  In any case, Heather reports in an interview that if her kid threw an unauthorized party they’d lose everything including hair and teeth.   I do not believe this at all.


At this point we are pointedly reminded that Shannon is late.


It’s impossible to watch any scene involving Tamra’s wayward son, Ryan, and his baby mama, Sarah without thinking of his recent arrest for domestic abuse.  This scene is supposedly about Tamra’s Mom going on a blind date, but Ryan and Sarah’s baby girl, in Tamra’s arms, distracts me.


Shannon finally shows up at the spastaurant, looking and behaving like the textbook definition of hot mess. She demands a report of how many cocktails Meghan and Heather have had because she’s “behind” when it is abundantly clear that she is far, far ahead.  Shannon is quick to announce her Aries party that Friday, which is really an opportunity to talk about Brooks’ cancer(?).  Because who really knows what an Aries party is anyway?


As pure reportage I should mention that they caption Meghan when I think what she says is perfectly intelligible even if it is totally insane.  So Meghan impersonated someone with cancer to find out whether or not the doctor Brooks is seeing treats cancer patients.  Guess what?  He doesn’t!  Shannon then reports this damning story: Brooks never made it to his appointment with her super specialist oncologist because he had two flat tires.  Think about that.


Shannon is blown away by all these revelations because she is full-on Team Vicki but also because she is waysted.   


Ryan on his grandmother’s blind date Marty: He seems legit.


Ryan on the money Tamra gave him for a security deposit: It’s a family thing.


Ryan on his baby mama, Sarah, whom he has subsequently been arrested for assaulting: I don’t know if I want to get married.  I went too fast.  It’s f*ing hard.  Three kids and a pregnancy; what do you expect?


Meghan is young enough to get away with doing her own hair and gossip at the same time.  Douchey Jimmy listens to her recount the tale of how she tracked down Brooks’s ex to verify a comment she made on someone else’s blog about him faking cancer.  Does this sound labyrinthine and stalkerish to you?  I thought so.  Anyway, guess what?  Brooks has faked cancer before.  Supposedly.  It’s such a batshit juicy story that Meghan gets to retell it immediately at the Aries party to Shannon, Tamra and Heather.


Shannon on this whole cancer situation: They should shut the story down.


Brooks on Meghan’s investigation: Why me?


Heather’s husband, Terry, has no childcare responsibilities.  Is that crazy only to me?


Finally, the man of the hour shows up for battle.  Brooks jumps right in, immediately requesting a “couple” meeting with Jimmy and Meghan.  See, Brooks just wants to understand Meghan’s motivation for contacting his ex girlfriend.  It both “breaches his boundaries” and strikes him as “kinda nuts.”


Meghan trots out her whole Powerpoint presentation on why Brooks’s cancer situation is fishy, and then everything just sort of stalls out in a really unsatisfying way that makes one wonder, knowing as we do that Vicki and Brooks have broken up in real life, what the resolution of this could possibly be.  Is Brooks a paid “actor” on Bravo’s payroll, this whole fake cancer story a concoction of Andy Cohen?  Just one hypothesis.


The foursome moves on to some other trivia I can’t bring myself to detail here; the important part is that Tamra’s testimony is called into evidence and immediately questioned by Brooks who says, shrewdly, “Consider the source.” 


Meghan wastes no time relaying this tasty morsel to Tamra (Interestingly, Jimmy says to Meghan, “You have to stop, You have to stop,” about her incessant shit stirring and for like maybe a third time I find myself agreeing with him to the point where I may have to stop calling him douchey).  Personally, I didn’t think it was an all-out declaration of war—Tamra is not famous for her reliability--but it inflames her nonetheless. “Game on, dude,” she says, marching over to Brooks to confront him, huffing, “Consider the source, Consider the source.”  This is a woman who has a televised record of lying to friends’ faces.  A woman who has recently found Jesus.  A woman whose husband watches from ten feet away while eating noodles with Aries-red chopsticks.

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