I don’t know about y’all, but I’m pretty sad that Southern Charm has ended. What an amazing season! We witnessed the complete redemption of Kathryn Dennis, the softening of Shep Rose, the badassery of Chelsea Meissner, and the birth of Cameran Eubanks’ daughter Palmer. Craig Conover
whined sewed, Naomie Olindo tracked him on her phone, Austen Kroll brewed, and Thomas Ravenel unraveled with the assistance of an equally unhinged romantic entanglement. It was about as perfect as television can get!
The reunion begins just where last week’s hour ended. Kathryn is appreciative of her cast mates’ concern when she took a mental health hiatus due to anxiety. She shares that she realized she was suffering from depression when she was eighteen, and even then she was self-medicating with alcohol and drugs. She chose to go off her meds during filming because she felt she had a handle on her problems, but she recognizes that her struggle in the aftermath was an issue that needed to be highlighted. There is such a stigma surrounding depression and anxiety, and she is proud to be a role model who let others suffering in silence know that they aren’t alone. Cameran interjects that the brain is an organ like any other body part, and sometimes it needs medication to work properly. She is the victim of anxiety and has taken medication for it. Craig jumps in to apologize. While he’s always been Kathryn’s champion, he feels he could have been more supportive with her continued recovery. Cameran cites Kathryn’s depression as circumstantial given the crap she’s been put through, and Kathryn is grateful for her friends for rallying around her. Shep concurs.
Andy steers the conversation to Shep’s move to Isle of Palms. Why is browning out better than blacking out? Shep is glad that he is no longer a staple downtown. Andy inquires about how often Shep lands the ladies. Is he getting random action four times a week? Shep tries to circumvent the question, but he ends up bringing in Austen to help his memory. After all, Austen in the new Shep 2.0. The consensus is that Shep beds approximately four to six new girls a week. My brain refuses to do that math. He tries to use condoms most of the time, but if he knows the girl (ie, remembers their name before lights out), he may stray from the birth control. Cameran wonders if he’s sterile. Surely with these odds, Shep should have a bunch of mini-Sheps roaming the Lowcountry. Chelsea is floored by his number of sexual partners, and Craig believes this chat is going to jinx his pal. He’s going to have four baby mamas and at least two STDs in the coming weeks. Andy recaps Relationshep and the playboy’s penchant for going after younger ladies. Shep can’t disagree. He has a problem. Also, he and Craig are horrible grill masters.
The discussion of Shep’s wild ways morphs into the story line of him spending so much time with Kathryn. The viewers want them together…according to Andy. Shep reveals that he often recalls their earlier times together but knows other shiz got in the way. The pair have incredible chemistry, and he endorses Kathryn’s skills in the bedroom. He lets it slip that he may have fallen in the sack with Kathryn a few times. She clarifies that there were five encounters. He laughs, recalling there was one rendezvous after Kensie was born. If it were anyone else, his admission would seem crass, but he and Kathryn are such great friends that she is laughing along with him. The topic shifts to Shep’s rare mean spirited nature. Austen and Craig blame living downtown, and Andy begins to TriVaGo a visit to King Street. Shep admits to being jealous of Austen as his doppelganger. A fan asks about Chelsea’s issue with Austen. She wishes he would stand up for himself more. Austen bristles, saying he’s always had Chelsea’s back.
Austen’s (f)unemployment is highlighted. He is quizzical about the term before admitting that he still has no job. Andy wonders if any of the male Charmers have an ounce of ambition. The short answer is no, and Naomie backs me up on that statement. Austen is in “stages” with his beer. He’s trying out names and networking and branding, so basically, he’s not done anything since filming wrapped. While speaking with Austen, the chat flows into Austen’s inability to pay on his dates with Chelsea. Austen argues that he and Chelsea never went out on traditional dates. In addition, Chelsea always grabbed for the check first. Chelsea counters that he never tried to fight her for the bill. Austen can’t be blamed. He’s just trying to find his way and figure out what he wants to do with his life. Forgive him for not knowing his path early on in adulthood! Chelsea shuts down his pity party. She isn’t sponsored by mom and dad like the majority of the cast. It’s frustrating for her to see someone with so much potential and financial support be such a deadbeat. Preach, sister.
How much is Bravo paying this hairdresser to listen to Ashley’s Dr. Phil mantras? I can’t. Back with the cast, Andy continues with Chelsea’s life. She rescued a fight dog and gets some great dirt from her salon clients about Austen, as well as violent gossip regarding T-Rav and Ashley. Chelsea’s sad childhood is revisited, and Andy asks if she seeks out good providers. It’s quite the opposite. Chelsea has learned to be a provider for herself. Andy prods that Chelsea may not be open with her feelings about Austen, and Austen agrees that she sends him mixed messages. They both confirm that they haven’t hooked up since they ended their fling. Austen interrupts to say that his relationship with Victoria made him feel needed because she loved having fun with him. Without hesitation, Austen and Shep admit to having hooked up with many of the same females. Dissecting Chelsea’s hug-and-straddle, the cast members can’t deny their chemistry but doubt a future reconciliation. Austen and Chelsea both have new significant others.
Ashley makes her way to the sofas, past the cast loitering with Andy in the hallway. Austen mutters, “Oh shit,” and I don’t think I’ve ever loved him more. He informs Andy of the Ashley double (or was it triple?) down, and Andy seems intrigued. Our host is not Team Wallet Princess. The crew joins Ashley on the sofas, and the tension is palpable (and Craig needs to learn how to fasten his belt). Andy welcomes Ashley and questions whether she’s been watching the show this season. She has, and you know what, she’s a funny gal. These folks just don’t get her sarcasm and humor. Is that what it was? She addresses her weight loss, blaming the pressure of being in the public eye and her negative reception by certain fans during filming. Andy notes that her skinny frame appeared after the season wrapped, so she changes her course, asserting that the allegations against Thomas coupled with her perceived inflammatory presence have caused copious amounts of stress. You know what? I don’t doubt that. I still don’t like her, but the girl needs an out and she’s not smart enough to get it herself.
Off the bat, Andy wants to know the story behind Ashley’s first interaction with Thomas. She reminisces about how when she met him he found her nursing occupation to be noble. T-Rav has depth, and she felt in it their first meeting. Andy chides that learning about someone’s job isn’t an uncommon conversation starter, implying that she is way off her rocker. Craig has to hide his face due to laughter while Kathryn and Naomie almost roll the eyes right out of their heads. Ashley shares that their relationship is fun and light-hearted. She leaves fake bugs under his pillow. It’s hilarious and easy. Since the rape accusations have surfaced, Thomas has become a humble, more supportive boyfriend who relishes being a homebody. Ashley isn’t going anywhere. Her man is innocent. Andy brings up Kathryn and Thomas hooking up after the last reunion, and the original cast jokes that it is somewhat of a tradition. Andy breaks down the timeline. Ashley and Thomas starting dating in May of 2017, but the reunion hook-up occurred in June. Ashley fiercely defends her man. T-Rav NEVER lies (has she watched this show before she was on it?), and he immediately confessed the indiscretion to her.
Kathryn and Ashley’s first meeting is recapped, and Ashley claims she was afraid of Kathryn. Kathryn hoped the new girlfriend of the father of her children would just be normal. Kathryn inquires about the timeline of Ashley meeting her kids. Kathryn states she met Kensie and Saint before making the move to Charleston. She also denies having sex with Thomas in the bathroom at Shep’s house, but she is met with giggles and mutters under breath. Heaven forbid the reality TV newbie wanted to find a place where she could have a moment of privacy with her new beau. Focusing on Ashley’s desperate need to score an engagement ring, Ashley swears that she recognizes the couple isn’t ready to marry. She’s happy dating him. Shep almost swallows his tongue in disbelief as Andy shares a tweet from Real Housewives of New York’s Tinsley Mortimer painting Ashley as a gold digger. Ashley finds the money-grubbing accusations to be laughable. She comes from money. Montecito money to be exact. She doesn’t need Thomas’ wallet. Until him, she’s out-earned all her previous boyfriends. Sufers. Bartenders. No wonder she hitched her wagon to T-Rav.
When the subject changes to Ashley hitting on Thomas’ friends, she swears it was all in good fun. Again, we just don’t get her humor. It also didn’t bother her when Thomas hit on Kathryn right in front of her face. The Charmers aren’t buying it, but Ashley is determined to prove she isn’t insecure. Halloween is revisited. Andy questions if Ashley feels badly for posting a family photo of her with Thomas and Kathryn’s children, but she fires back that she invited Kathryn to join them. It’s not her fault that Kathryn chooses not to spend extra time with her kids! My girl Kathryn remains cool as a cucumber. Ashley’s ten grand Gwyn’s shopping spree with Patricia Altschul is revisited. Ashley believed the network was picking up the tab, but she admits she brought T-Rav’s credit card along…just in case. The cast is curious as to why she would feel it was normal to get such a lavish wardrobe from her man of two months, and she deflects. Kathryn maintains that T-Rav is the cheapest person she knows, and Ashley snarks, “maybe when he was with you” before announcing that T-Rav gave Kathryn something better than a Pretty Woman scenario…he gave her children.
Ashley admits that she no longer has a relationship with Patricia because she claims Patricia was trying to pit her against Kathryn. Her biggest regret was shopping with Patricia when she should have been bonding with Kathryn. Craig intervenes in disbelief. Did he hear correctly? The Gwyn’s advertisement episode was Ashley’s worst transgression? Ashley tries to explain her downfall with Patricia came about because of some trolls on social media. Shep can’t stay silent. He ticks off several tweets where T-Rav and Ashley insulted Patricia. Ashley’s insinuation that things may not be right with Pat, but they aren’t exactly wrong (a work in progress, perhaps?) is dashed with Shep’s statement.
The Hilton Head shiz-show is discussed in light of Shep’s busted forehead and Craig’s butter knife injury. Andy reminds Ashley how she became “feverishly obsessed” with being invited to Saint’s birthday party. Ashley promises that she just wanted to be included regardless of the celebration, but Andy goes hard with viewer questions insulting Ashley to the core and commending Kathryn for her insane amount of restraint. Chelsea admits she cried hearing Ashley’s words, and Naomie seconds Chelsea’s words by saying she just held Kathryn’s hand in support. Kathryn reveals that she knew engaging Ashley’s ugliness would serve no purpose, so she chose to stay silent and focus on her children. Cameran states that watching as a viewer, she was disgusted. Chelsea chimes in on T-Rav’s rage honing in on her and the guys fight about who stood up for Chelsea. Austen tried, but Shep and Craig need to shut their mouths. Ashley contends that Thomas was only worried about his and Ashley’s safety and where they would stay if booted from the Daufuskie house. Um, what? Chelsea challenges Ashley’s stance, and Austen intervenes. Craig and Cameran wonder if Ashley has ever been on the receiving end of Thomas’ anger. Cameran thinks Ashley is rightfully terrified of Thomas.
Ashley insists that T-Rav’s friends should be supportive and not enable Kathryn. Calmly, Kathryn reminds Ashley that she has learned to hold herself accountable. Andy sides with Kathryn, asking Ashley why she is so hellbent on gaslighting Kathryn (my words, not his). Ashley poo-poos the drug tests Kathryn has been subjected to at T-Rav’s whim. Kathryn has passed them all, but Ashley inserts that she passed the most recent one “barely” because, that’s a thing when it comes to drug tests. Users all over the world are breathing a sigh of relief for all their “barely” negative tests. Ashley stupidly rides Kathryn about interactions with her kids, and Kathryn defends herself, reminding Ashley that she’s an asshole. A fan wonders if Chelsea felt threatened by Ashley in Hilton Head. Um, absolutely.
Another viewer asks why Ashley refuses to apologize for her horrific actions on Daufuskie. Shep believes that Ashley felt emboldened by her outburst, but Ashley responds that she simply picked a bad time to engage with Kathryn. She apologizes for not pulling Kathryn aside to express her disdain. According to Ashley, she picked the wrong time and place. Craig interrupts to note that Ashley is not at all apologetic about the content of her message, which is the issue at hand. Kathryn relays that her feelings were hurt because Ashley refuses to take accountability for her statements. Craig and Cameran concur. Ashley stands firm in her words, and Cameran is over her. She finds it sad that Ashley only revels in what Thomas tells her when his words may not be the truth. Andy asserts that T-Rav sold out Ashley in his talking head interviews, calling her clingy and over-the-top. Craig interjects that Thomas likened Ashley to a dog that couldn’t let go of a chew toy. Despite all of Thomas’ crap and baiting, Ashley defends Thomas to the end. Cameran reminds Ashley that Charleston is a small town and they hear whispers of his nasty behavior.
Trying to maintain composure, Ashley debunks any negativity surrounding her relationship with Thomas. Andy asks about the rumor Chelsea heard about T-Rav flinging leftovers at Ashley in a fit of rage. Ashley averts eye contact. That never happened. Well, it happened, but he didn’t throw the take-out boxes directly at her…he just threw them in her general direction because he was upset. There is a difference people! I have no pity for her as I watch, but I know as soon as this episode ends, I’ll feel terribly for this incredibly lost, disoriented person who thought she was garnering her sixteenth minute by being the proxy for her absent boyfriend. Funny how we keep pitting Ashley and Kathryn against one another when Thomas is nowhere to be found. Coincidence? I think not. That said, I still find her to be deplorable. Ashley swears up and down that the rumor Chelsea heard was her fault, but only because she was being a brat. She deserved to have him throw it to remind her of how badly she was acting. Craig is appalled (is Naomie impressed by his sweet side?) that Ashley would think she deserved such treatment, and the rest of the cast agrees, with even Kathryn feeling sympathy. She knows. She’s been there. Cameran is quick to deride Thomas’ behavior as a red flag, but Ashley maintains that this line of discussion isn’t fair because Thomas isn’t around to defend himself. Why do you think that is, Ashley? You should be more concerned that your beloved threw you to the wolves without a second thought, knowing he wouldn’t be there. Then again, she showed up to prolong her reality fame, so who is the bad guy? Shep wants to get to the bottom of T-Rav and Ashley’s rift with Patricia. Cameran reminds Ashley of the horrible things Thomas said about her throughout the season. Is Ashley okay with his bashing? Cameran is appalled by how poorly Thomas spoke about his girlfriend. Ashley snarks that she isn’t in need of an intervention. Ashley begs the cast to trust her judgment.
Kathryn comes to Ashley’s defense, telling the Santa Barbara crap show that she has been where Ashley is now. She understands the hold that Thomas possesses. Ashley derides Kathryn’s support and refuses to back down in her defense of Thomas. Cameran can’t even. Andy highlights the reconciliation between Kathryn and Patrica as Ashley looks like she may explode. Discussing the winter ball, Andy tells Naomie that accusing Ashley of being an escort is a pretty big deal. Naomie, for all her Craig faults, has no qualms about spreading such a rumor. Ashley calls her shameful. Additionally, Austen is quick to state he heard the same from multiple sources. Kathryn hesitates to get involved in this mess (laughing face emoji, you know she’s thrilled!), but she reveals that T-Rav’s coupling with Ashley seems more like a business arrangement than a love affair, After all, Thomas told Kathryn he made Ashley sign a non-disclosure agreement. Ashley accuses Kathryn of lying, and Craig wonders if T-Rav keeps Ashley around to ensure that she won’t testify against him in his upcoming court cases.
Craig tries his best to throw Ashley a bone in light her horrid behavior. He’s fine blaming Thomas for her crazy. When she refuses to bite, he gives up, confident in the realization he won’t be included in T-Rav and Ashley’s nuptials. At this point, Ashley bats her eyes at Andy, promising him an invitation to their wedding. Andy seems uncomfortable, and his awkwardness is further validated when he refuses Ashley’s request to officiate whatever marriage ceremony she’s convinced herself is forthcoming. Andy asks Ashley about her intentions when confronting Kathryn at the ball, honing in specifically on Ashley’s “egg donor” comments. Ashley plays remorseful well, but she forgets who she is up against. Kathryn reminds her that her children—the children Ashley pretends to love so dearly—will see how this plays out one day. Andy defends Kathryn to the ends of the earth, implying that Ashley’s negative perceptions of Kathryn come solely from T-Rav’s mouth. Ashley concedes that Andy may be correct, but she can’t stop standing by her man as the cast rushes to judgment Without question, Ashley believes Thomas, but she wants a decent relationship with Kathryn. Shep prods to see if she would be open to hearing Kathryn’s side of the story. Nope.
Craig tries to tell Ashley in the nicest way possible that she is brainwashed. Andy hops on his bandwagon to applaud Kathryn for abstaining from physical violence given her past for aggression. Kathryn agrees that she hasn’t always handled thing in the best way, but now she finds calmness in her children. Even though she’s zen, Kathryn isn’t scared to school Ashley in co-parenting 101. Kathryn goes off (with class, I should add) about what an asshole Ashley is and urges her to love herself instead of focusing on what is going on in Kathryn’s life. As Andy thanks Ashley for joining the Charmers, Ashley begs to make amends with Kathryn because she FINALLY realizes the cameras are watching. It took her a whole season to pick up on that? When Ashley leaves the stage, the entire crowd is incredibly relieved. Cameran states she is worried about Ashley and Katherine agrees. There may be a need for a real intervention. Backstage Ashley is cheerful with her make up artist, but she wonders if her judgment is clear when it comes to Thomas. She really thinks she apologized to Katherine and she can’t understand why her apology wasn’t well received. Thomas deserves redemption. He’s her best friend and she’s truly happy. As a reunion draws to a close, Andy touts the cast mates genuine friendships. He lectures each charmer on their shortcomings, but at the end of the day it’s clear that they are all great people. The group toasts the end of another year with some of Austen’s beer. I am sad it’s over!
TELL US – WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE REUNION? DID ASHLEY REDEEM HERSELF IN ANY WAY?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]