The Southern Charm reunions have certainly come a long way from those initial clubhouse sessions, but do we ever get to hear exactly what we’re hoping to hear? It’s usually just one giant tease, but at least we got our fair share of veiled threats and backhanded accusations on last night’s first installment with less screaming, for once. Andy Cohen begins by congratulating Craig Conover on passing the bar. He compliments the fierceness of Kathryn Dennis‘ hair (RIP bump-its and bad extensions, thank goodness) while refraining from comment on her busted Scarlett O’Hara knock-off. Andy is happy to learn that Shep Rose has escaped the lingering enzyme, Thomas Ravenel loves being Mr. Mom (when he makes it out to the guest house), and Cameran Eubanks is glowing with a baby girl due in November. Mentioning Cam could name her daughter Landon, Andy basically skips over Landon Clements before announcing newbie Austen Kroll (Shep 2.0) has a nice ass. It’s not a lie!
The evening begins with some jovial Craig bashing as Shep teases him about being a jealous, lying wannabe mediator with no game whatsoever (so I’m paraphrasing). Craig cites quality over quantity when it comes to past hook-ups after Shep jokes that Craig sleeps in the bed with girls without even trying anything. Craig correctly reminds Shep that being respectful is far better than Shep’s nightly kiss-and-tells. Focusing more on the embroidery king, the jabs at Craig’s domesticity abound save for Cameran gushing about the onesie he created. Craig is a hobbyist, and he sits quietly as his friends tease him about going into gardening law. Shep jokes that Craig’s long-winded responses would make him a fortune as an attorney who is paid by the hour.
When Shep’s mean-spirited attitude is brought to light, Shep defends his behavior towards Craig, stating he was just being brotherly. Poor Craig mumbles under his breath as his friends gang up on him with Shep in the lead. Shep calls out Craig for being an easy target, and he’s got a swift ally in T-Rav. Cameran tries to explain that Craig doesn’t deserve all the criticism. He’s just a girly drama queen. That makes it better, right? As Craig sinks deeper into the couch, Andy inquires if Naomie Olindo’s Craig criticism was particularly hard on Craig, Shep interrupts to say he’d love a woman who challenged him instead of placating him. Craig can’t catch a break, so he just sits sullenly. At least he’s not mediating…yet. Naomie joins Craig on the sofa, and she cringes when remembering their early flirtation. Craig laid it on thick in the beginning, but he won Naomie over with his persistence.
Craig is teased for choosing cheese over oral sex. He ties the choice to a question posed in a fascinating college women’s studies class. His crew balks over the thought of dairy over dirty, but it may be the one thing on which both Craig and Naomie agree. They both love cheese. Plus, Craig isn’t talking about regular sex. He’s not giving that up for Brie. The couple’s trials from this season are highlighted, and Craig still feels burned by the feeling that Naomie chose his friends over him when it came to dissing their relationship.
Shep counters Craig values secrecy over loyalty. Naomie wasn’t being disloyal by venting to their mutual friends, but Craig required an absolute bar on any bad mouthing of their issues. Speaking of bars, Naomie admits Craig came clean to her about his bar application, but she didn’t lie for him. Instead, she withheld information when interrogated. One of the pair’s biggest disputes has been over their differing views of loyalty. Craig wants a ride or die partner, but Naomie wonders, “Where are we riding and why do we have to die?”
Naomie doesn’t regret airing their grievances because they aren’t just a beautiful couple in a perfectly filtered Instagram photo. Andy praises Kathryn’s advice when she suggested Naomie be more supportive of Craig. Kathryn recognized the mistakes she’d made in her tumultuous romance with Thomas, and she hated to see Naomie and Craig following in their footsteps (on a much smaller scale, of course!). She recalls a lot of folks reveling in her dysfunction with T-Rav with a pointed stare at Landon. Kathryn discusses wanting to share her negative experience in hopes of steering Naomie in a different direction. Craig and Naomie admit to hitting rock bottom weeks before the reunion but many months after filming ended. They say they are falling back in love and getting back to basics by dating again. I guess the worst really was yet to come after the show’s finale.
Andy introduces Austen as Shep’s protege, but Austen counters that he’s a hopeless romantic, not a helpless romantic like Shep. Ouch. He elaborates that he’s softer, kinder, and goes after a girl if he’s interested. Shep seems mildly peeved by Austen’s statements, but according to T-Rav, Shep is suffering from ABC, a contagious condition he clearly caught from too much time spent with Thomas and Whitney Sudler-Smith. Before Thomas can explain the acronym, Kathryn huffs it’s “Aging Bachelor Condition” which is a pretty spot-on diagnosis. Andy continues to focus on Austen, sharing how Austen’s story about his sister’s death was one of the more emotional moments of the season. Austen hadn’t planned to be so vulnerable on camera, and he was overwhelmed by the positive response he got from fans sharing similar stories. I don’t care about the naysayers, I think Austen is adorable. A fan jokes that Austen is like the girl in his relationship with Chelsea Meissner, and Cameran takes a great deal of joy in Austen’s ability to court her friend and go all in with her friend. Eye rolls abound as everyone on stage reminds Cameran that she forced Shep on her friend despite Austen’s chivalry. Pregnancy brain is real, y’all!
Asked if Austen’s beer hocking is through the roof due to the show’s disclosure, but Austen alludes to a not-so-amicable split between he and his former employer. Apparently, the distributor wanted to transfer Austen to the Savannah territory (perhaps to revive that pathetic spin-off?), and Austen was like, oh, hell nah. If you didn’t know, I’m famous now. Never one to miss a branding opportunity (Bravo’s RelationShep is coming soon!), Shep contemplates a beer business outside of the bar scene. Shepervescence has a great ring to it, doesn’t it? That’s natural segue to Shep’s worrisome drinking situation, and Shep shares he’s moving to the beach where bars close earlier and the lifestyle is slower. Thomas interjects that what Shep loses with an earlier bed time he makes up for with the beach day drinking. Shep explains that when he lived downtown he was two blocks from both his bars, and he was hosting all-nighters. At least this is a slower pace in what Shep calls a major drinking town (he’s correct). Cameran asserts that it’s not just the sheer volume of Shep’s alcohol consumption, it’s his transformation to a more aggressive and angry personality. Craig agrees, stating he believes Shep accuses others of having his own perceived insecurities. Kathryn seconds this assertion.
Kathryn’s sobriety takes center stage, and she claims to have been sober for the last eight months, despite fake news declaring the opposite. She tells Andy that she basically went straight to rehab after filming last year’s reunion. As Kathryn talks, Landon smirks and rolls her eyes before Kathryn accuses her of leaking her failed drug test. Landon lashes out that she’d read the news on the Internet, which Andy also remembers. However, Kathryn calls Landon a liar to which Landon retorts, “I can do what I want and say what I want” like a broken record. Landon shrieks, and Kathryn keeps her cool. Andy interrupts to inquire as to why Kathryn ordered a margarita while in Key West. Kathryn proudly announces that she didn’t drink a sip…not that it mattered as her sobriety was just for marijuana. Every single one of her co-stars averts their eyes at this admission. Sure, just weed, they all seem to be thinking sarcastically.
Kathryn’s in tears about her photo shoot with Kensie because she’s realized that her televised rock bottom is going to affect her babies. She recognizes the time she’s lost and the explanations she’s going to have to give in the future. Kathryn lets loose with the water works while spouting buzz words like “journey” and “accountability.” She doesn’t have a large support system, and she has very few folks in her circle of trust. While she’s a much more tempered and seemingly mature version of herself than season’s past, she appears extremely aware of what needs to be said to sound like she’s in a better place. Of course, she clearly is in a cleaner, stronger person, but there is a cunning edge to her. Not quite as seasoned as how to garner sympathy, Landon sees Kathryn crying and does her best to squeeze out a tear while faux sobbing about how lonely Kathryn must feel and how sad it is to hear of her struggles. It’s not quite as sincere with nary a true teardrop and the fact Landon’s only other words of the evening were ripping Kathryn to shreds.
Taking a page from the last reunion’s playlist, Craig offers Kathryn his fancy ascot to Thomas’ approving nod. He’s a quick study. Kathryn maintains that she has no issue with alcohol dependency, but she has since gone completely sober to silence her detractors. In an instance of what seems like true kindness, T-Rav does defend Kathryn’s insistence that alcohol isn’t her issue. He announces that he had a higher blood-alcohol level in any of the duo’s court ordered tests. Jennifer Snowden pulls up a chair, and she shares the incredible news that her nine-month old is hitting all the milestones that doctor’s didn’t expect him to initially hit. If Kathryn wants to perpetuate support for her declarations of growth, she needs to practice her empathy face when her nemesis is discussing her newborn baby’s terrifying health scares.
Handkerchief-gate is revisited, and Kathryn whines about being hurt due to what she believed was a shift in loyalty. She had no problem with Thomas’ act of chivalry in the moment, but she felt betrayed by her former beau who used to verbally annihilate her one-time bestie. Thomas gives a heartfelt speech about Jennifer’s character and strength with her baby’s diagnosis as Kathryn sits seething. She really needs more self-awareness about her resting bitch face, but hey, it’s another similarity for bonding with Landon!
Kathryn accuses Jennifer of lying under oath when she was subpoenaed to testify in the embroiled custody case still brewing between Kathryn and T-Rav. When Jennifer attempts to defend herself, Kathryn talks over her, stating they aren’t supposed to be discussing the legal battle. Jennifer snaps back that she’s not under the couple’s gag order, so she can say what she wants. There is a great deal of back and forth over Jennifer not being entirely truthful on the stand, especially after she was privy to some much of the couple’s first hand drama when she was Kathryn’s best friend. Why is she now praising T-Rav’s daddy skills? Jennifer wonders why Kathryn’s lawyer didn’t ask better questions on his cross-examination, but Kathryn spits that she’d already discredited herself so what was the point? When Andy asks about Kathryn perpetuating a rumor regarding the paternity of Jennifer’s baby, she plays coy and engages in a great deal of double talk. Of course she did! Kathryn offers an insincere apology (her staple) before shrugging off the fact she can’t say for certain that Jennifer’s baby wasn’t fathered by T-Rav. This obvious falsehood bristles Thomas, and he struggles to maintain his composure as he threatens Kathryn with what would happen if the court proceedings were no longer sealed.
At the end of round one, Craig held his tongue more than one would have expected, Kathryn kept to the script that somewhat redeemed her past reunion antics, and Thomas seemed the most even-keeled of the lot (save for a beautiful, glowing, quieter than normal Cameran and Austen’s aw, shucks charm).
TELL US – WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE FIRST INSTALLMENT OF THE REUNION? WHO CAME ACROSS AS THE WORST? WHO SEEMS TO HAVE MADE THE MOST POSITIVE CHANGES?
[Photo Credit: Heidi Gutman/Bravo]