This week’s episode opens with a moment of schadenfreude: The $18 invitations that Katie personally designed for her wedding lack a space on the RSVP for guests to include their names. So, as the responses pour in, and the number of attendees pile up, Tom Schwartz and Katie are left to guess about who will actually be joining them for the woodsy wedding. Is this some kind of metaphor for their uneasy relationship? Perhaps reflective of Katie’s self-centered nature, or Schwartz’s complete lack of involvement in the wedding, or the fact that they probably need to bail on this relationship, or d) all of the above? Anyway, speaking of weddings, let’s check in with Brittany’s own attempts to get Jax down the aisle.
When prompted about his intentions for crashing James’ DJ gig last week, Jax offers what may as well be his ethos: “It’s wrong, and it’s mean, but I’m gonna do it anyway.” He’s frequently unapologetic, but rarely that self-aware, and his comfort with admitting that he’s a total jackass may pave the way for some real change in Jax. Maybe. But hey, Brittany gets him to a local church – just, you know, to check things out – and the place does not go up in flames. Jax, looking dapper in his gray church suit, is clearly chafing against the experience; he’s fidgeting, puts his head in his hands, and comments on things like “the flat-screen TV!” as Brittany tries to soothe him. Coincidentally, the interim pastor delivers a sermon on letting go of anger. How perfect. While neither one particularly loved this church experience, Brittany was clearly pleased that Jax was willing to go with her. That should fix things between them for a minute or two – until she discovers the plans for Schwartz’s bachelor party, at least.
The men of Vanderpump Rules have a penchant for unintentional homoeroticism that was on full display this week. For that, we are grateful. Tom Sandoval, it seems, has booked a modeling gig…by himself…at the photographer’s apartment. He brings along Schwartz, ostensibly as his hype man, but more likely in case anything gets weird for whatever reason. As it turns out, the photographer in question is Joe Simpson – father of Ashlee and Jessica – who brags about his bachelor pad and gets right to work on Sandoval. Over Sandoval’s billowing tresses, the two Toms discuss plans for the New Orleans bachelor party. Unsurprisingly, it involves drag. This calls for a visit to the closet of Lisa Vanderpump; You know, just for inspiration. Oh, and at some point, Sandoval shoots a part in a short film for Peter, the manager at SUR. It’s described as “Star Wars meets Halo,” and it’s already my favorite movie.
Over in Lake Arrowhead, Stassi is playing nurse to her mother Dayna, who is recovering from a hysterectomy. This gives us an opportunity to check in with younger brother Nikolai, a small child with relationship wisdom well beyond his years. Katie drops by to visit Dayna and console Stassi in the wake of her breakup, which begs the question: When was this scene filmed? It’s been a few episodes since we’ve heard about the saga of Stassi and Patrick, and Stassi’s emotions are right on the surface. It feels like this was plopped into the middle of the episode as filler. When the show cuts to Katie, she’s in hair and makeup from earlier in the season, and seems to be discussing the breakup as if it’s still fresh. Did they get back together and break up again, or is Bravo just trying to paint Stassi as a heartbroken saint? If the chief Mean Girl roles are filled – cough cough, Ariana and Katie – and Scheana is genuinely floundering, it would make editing sense to give recovering bully Stassi a heart of gold. Stassi cries from the guilt of letting her ex bond with her little brother, whose life is chaotic enough, and the camera stays on her as she crumples onto the kitchen counter. Quite the change from watching her drunkenly backhand Kristen at a group dinner.
This brings us all to the next event for Katie’s bridal party: A spa day. As planned by Pandora, a gracious hostess (and Lisa’s daughter), the crew gathers in Beverly Hills for rosé, catered lunches, and beauty treatments. (We can get on board with masseuses that make house calls, but glycolic hand peels? On women in their late 20s and early 30s, who don’t do a ton of work? Only in LA.) But amidst the shiny, happy, youthful-handed crew, conflict is brewing. Ariana and Stassi seem to have patched things over, but not to the standards of Katie, who is rapidly becoming Bridezilla. Scheana, ever sensitive, takes Katie’s dissatisfaction personally; after all, if Scheana facilitated the truce, doesn’t its inadequacy fall on her? (No. No, it does not. Katie is horrible and Scheana is not responsible for as much as she thinks she is.)
By the end, Scheana’s thrown her napkin on the table. She storms away from the group and breaks down, explaining how much and how often Katie hurts her and how Katie “becomes mean and aggressive and irrational” when she’s drunk. For once, we are all Team Scheana. All she’s done is apologize and take ownership for the ways she’s hurt her friends, and for them to turn that around and accuse her of “acting like she’s perfect” is insane. But that’s happening. Supposed best pals Kristen and Stassi barely defend Katie – or Scheana – and in the end, it’s the bride-to-be who goes to Scheana for reconciliation.
As old friendships and relationships begin to chafe, and we hurtle head-first toward the wedding of Katie and Schwartz, we have to ask: What’s going to happen when this entire crew decamps to New Orleans? But, hey, like Stassi’s little brother says: “Life is hard. Especially in your 20s.” So true, preteen Nikolai. So true.