Winter House Recap: High School Never Ends

Attention, class! On this week’s Winter House, we’re headed back to high school. To the time when the popular kids ruled the school. Where backbiting, gossip and constant games of telephone were forms of social currency. And when the info that mattered most was who was hooking up, who was getting betrayed, and who told who what. So, really, it’s not that far off from anything other given episode of this series or either of its Bravo predecessors, right? (On a side note, high school was also likely the time that primed all of us for a lifelong addiction to reality TV, no? I, for one, was a junior in high school when I sat down to watch the very first episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County, and have basically never looked back since…)

At the start of the hour, Ciara Miller and Austen Kroll are just getting back from their double date with Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula. So it’s time for them to fill their pals in on how giddy they are over their budding romance. Craig Conover‘s more than a little happy to see his fellow Charmer moving on and (please god, finally) getting over Madison LeCroy. Ciara’s so in her feels for Austen that she’s literally in tears. And while Paige DeSorbo is, too, happy for her bestie, she’s also left feeling a little excluded and wondering why Andrea Denver doesn’t seem to want to take her on a date.

Meanwhile, there’s still lingering tension between Julia McGuire and Gabrielle Kniery. And Andrea teaching Luke Gulbranson pickup lines to flirt with Julia in Italian certainly isn’t helping matters. His Minnesota charms aren’t working on the blonde newbie though. Because not only does she have a boyfriend, but Luke also happens to apparently be a dead ringer for her brothers. So, mi scusi, no, Lucas. To clear the air, Julia brings an olive branch in the form of a goblet of red wine to Gabby’s room. The two manage to make peace, with Julia promising to be more aware of Gabby’s feelings in the future and promising that she’s so totally not into Luke. Pinky promise.

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For their contribution to the vacation, Craig and Austen are bringing a piece of Charleston to Vermont with a good old-fashioned low country boil. While everyone’s chowing down on Southern-style shrimp, corn and potatoes, Lindsay Hubbard decides to rebound from being rejected by her bestie Austen last week by flirting with Jason Cameron. And now that Julia‘s officially out of the way, Gabby decides to put it all on the proverbial table with Luke by dusting off the single raunchy line she knows in Italian to match wits with his Andrea-fed pickup lines. Turns out all it took was Gabby saying “I want you inside me” to get it through Luke’s head that she has a crush on him…

Pulling Gabby into his room to talk privately, Luke tries to let her down gently. He pulls the whole “you’re beautiful, but I just want to be friends” excuse, but Gabby doubles down that she’s not looking for a relationship. In fact, she’d rather take the no strings attached route. But not even an offer of a commitment-free vacation fling is enough to sway Luke. Though he’s not exactly used to turning down women throwing themselves at him, so he doesn’t particularly have practice in saying no. I guess we all have to start somewhere, Lucas.

As the alcohol continues to flow, Paige‘s insecurities about her relationship with Andrea coming rushing to the surface. Specifically by leaking out in the form of tears. And would you look at that, just as she’s crying to Ciara and Amanda about how hard dating has been in the wake of her split from Perry Rahbar, who should walk in but the Italian Stallion himself. Of course, Andrea takes one look at the emotional turmoil and retreats without saying a word. Only later does he interrupt Paige’s conversation with Craig about timing in relationships (foreshadowing!) to ask her on a date. Not out of obligation. No, no, no. He was totally already planning on doing it. Pinky promise.

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The next morning, Gabby‘s feeling embarrassed and Paige can’t remember if Andrea asking her on a date was real or some sort of drunken dream. And while Kyle and Amanda FaceTime his parents to plan a family ski date, Jason admits he’s becoming more and more “intrigued” by Lindsay while helping Luke build his igloo. Once again insisting that he’s totally never slept with her, Luke encourages his new pal to pursue his interest in Hurricane Hubbard. (Also, how cool is it that Kyle’s grandpa helped found the town Stowe and that his grandma was on the 1940 Olympic ski team?)

As it turns out, Andrea asking Paige out wasn’t just an apparition and he has quite the romantic afternoon planned. He’s arranged to take the fashionista on a sleigh ride, complete with a horse-drawn carriage and everything. As they talk about dealbreakers and past relationships, Paige is admittedly very swept up in the romantic gesture. So much so that before they’ve even finished the sleigh ride, she’s already daydreaming about the Italian wedding they’ll have and all the prosciutto and cheese they’ll serve at the reception. Lemon trees and the Italian Alps are involved. Her ring size is 4, by the way.

However, what Paige doesn’t know is that her romantic Italian dream is about to come crumbling down. Back at the house, her date with Andrea is the sole topic of conversation as everyone pitches in to build Luke‘s igloo. Craig‘s the first person to admit Andrea asked Paige on an official date at all. (And no, it’s not just because he admitted earlier in his confessional that he has a big crush on her.) It’s just a different tune than the one Andrea was singing during the guys’ ski trip a few days earlier. You know, when he told Craig and Austen that he liked being single and playing the field. So is Andrea toying with Paige’s heart? Amanda is particularly blindsided by this piece of gossip, and laments to Lindsay that now she’ll have to be the one to deliver the bad news to her bestie.

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Later that night, it’s time for Paige‘s theme party. And it’s one she’s been dying to throw for ages: back to school night! This gleefully forces everyone in the house to dress up as a high school stereotype. While some go completely against type (i.e. Kyle as the emo kid; Andrea as the nerd), others lean back into their teenage identities. And honestly the only thing that’s less surprising to me than the fact that Julia was a cheerleader or that Luke was voted homecoming king is that Craig was voted “Most Dramatic” in his high school class. Never change, sweet Craigy.

The party is all fun and games — overseen by drunk principal Miss Hubbard, naturally — until Luke decides to make a play for the cheerleader. He’s now been told by both Andrea and Jason that things between Julia and her boyfriend are very off and on. So decides to pass her the classic middle school note: “You’re pretty cute. Wanna hang later? Y or N.” Appalled, Julia can’t circle “N” enough times, and drags Luke halfway upstairs to reject him once and for all. Apparently, Luke had no idea that her drama with Gabby revolved around him, but Julia isn’t about to make that same mistake twice. So just one day after delivering the “I just want to be friends” speech, Luke finds it being thrown right back in his face. My, how the tables have turned.

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At the same time, Lindsay lets slip to Paige that Amanda has something to tell her about Andrea. And then proceeds to tell her that everyone in the hosue thinks she’s being fooled. Oops. This was not good timing, HubbHouse. Amanda’s furious at Lindsay for forcing the issue in the middle of the party, and cries to Julia in the kitchen about what the guys told her. Of course, Julia goes straight to Andrea for answers, and he insists he just meant he wants to take things one step at a time. This obviously a much different message than “I’m not interested in pursuing things with Paige.” But now Paige is left not knowing what — or who — to believe.

And just as the episode ends, we’re granted one final twist of Jason and Lindsay‘s first kiss. As she’s straddling him in his bed after giving him the whole song and dance about how she’s so scared to date someone. I just need to get it off my chest that this coupling feels very convenient. And maybe a little forced. It’s like Lindsay and Jason both took stock of their options in the house. And after being rejected, respectively, by Austen and Gabby, decided that their only option was…each other. But maybe I’m wrong and they’re meant to be together. Though I just checked and while Lindsay follows Jason on Instagram, he’s not following her back. Pinky promise.


[Photo Credit: Bravo]