Despite my initial hesitation, I’m really starting to enjoy the way this Taylor and Austen storyline (aka “Poor Man’s Scandoval”) begins to unfold.
Maybe it’s because this week’s episode reminded me of that Winter housewith Taylor’s après-ski themed party and the appearance of several members of the deeply chaotic group southern hospitality, that I enjoyed today’s episode so much Southern charm. We’re also at the point where everyone and their mother in Charleston knows that something unsavory happened in Austen’s house and has made it their mission. At the end of the episode we are left with a cliffhanger where Shep interrogates Austen for the first time. Somehow I was biting my nails even though I already knew the conclusion.
As I said, today’s episode is about Taylor’s product placement party for those mysterious Day Chaser seltzer drinks she’s hawking. But before that, let’s pick up where last week’s episode left off, with Olivia crying in her car after Taylor revealed that she and Austen were thinking about getting together. And she vents to Leva in a shaky voice, as if she had just met an alien. To be honest, I expected Olivia to be more performatively shaken than Strictly speaking shook. But she seems genuinely disturbed by this news and spends the entire episode rubbing the sides of her neck as if to prevent an anxiety attack.
Meanwhile, Taylor calls Austen to tell him how everything went. She is both confused and disappointed that Olivia didn’t want to hear her behave Romeo and Juliet with Austen while Olivia waited for him to claim her. On the other hand, Austen complains that he is “always blamed” for everything, as if he is not the person at the center of the crime. We also just watched him emotionally torture two other women Summer And winter House, sneak away in the middle of the night and avoid blame for its consequences. It looks like he’s trying a similar strategy here by ditching Taylor’s event and allowing her to compete against Olivia on her own. (Thankfully no wine glasses are thrown.)
You know we’re in for a good episode when the majority of it takes place at a party and isn’t just saved for a climactic ending. It’s not like there’s anything particularly wild going on at this “work” event, but there’s something exhilarating about watching the cast eagerly eat up this gossip before the shit gets out to the fans. Meanwhile, the producers have Austen go to Whintey’s (and Patricia’s) house for sausages and a worrying amount of alcohol.
If I turned on my TV in the middle of this party, I would think I was watching an episode of Winter house. Everyone is dressed in their best ski clothes, except Craig, who is wearing a huge spotted fur coat that I think Paige forced him to buy. (Unfortunately, even though he looks crazy, I’ve never been that attracted to him.) Everyone is either gossiping about Taylor and Austen or sipping Day Chaser through an ice sculpture.
When Olivia arrives, she tells Taylor that she “just came to be supportive,” which is what Real Housewives like to say when they’re arguing with someone who’s hosting an event but still want to make time for the movie. They hug each other tightly and go back to their respective corners. Shep also tries to have his own confrontation with Taylor. First, he calls her a hypocrite because she attacks him for sleeping with women so soon after the breakup. (Cut to the reunion clip of Taylor screaming at Shep that we have to watch every episode.) He then asks how she could possibly consider dating Austen after they’ve been making fun of him this whole time. I don’t really think Shep wants to go on record accusing Austen of being a terrible boyfriend, but the rules of the “bro code” defy logic.
Before the two get into a shouting match, the wet blanket reminds Leva Taylor that she’s at work. (Um, she’s working on a reality show too, Leva!)
Back at Whitney’s house, Whitney and Austen each have about three different glasses of different wines in front of them. They’re the height of waste when you start FaceTime and tell people it’s the funniest thing in the world. So they call Craig to invite him, Shep, and Madison, presumably so Austen and Shep can have a big drunken blowup. Venita hears her and asks if it’s an open invitation, to which Whitney rudely, but not surprisingly, says no. This is just another reminder of how divided this cast is and how the show’s boys club will always prevent any real integration with the newbies!
So they all go to Whitney’s house and Shep and Austen immediately sit down to address the elephant in the room. Shep asks if he’s seriously thinking about dating Taylor, and Austen starts talking in circles. Shep tells him he’s being too vague and asks Austen directly if he would tell him if he got involved with Taylor. In case it wasn’t already clear that Austen was trying to hide something, he replies, “Define plugged in.”
Finally we get a proper “To be continued…” with real suspense. And I hope to see a few drunken ruffians the next time we return. If not, we’ll probably just watch Shep and Austen insult each other, which is always funny enough on its own. Either way, I’ll have my popcorn ready.