Here’s a sentence this recapper kind of thought he’d never type: Shane Simpson has passed the California bar. Yes, he graduated from law school in 2003. And it was something like his fourth attempt. And yes, he only passed retroactively after the state of California lowered the required score due to the pandemic. But so what if it was on a technicality? Shane passed the bar and is officially a lawyer. And that’s all the excuse Emily Simpson needs to throw a party. Even if it’s really to get all the Real Housewives of Orange County together for the first time since the lawsuit fiasco from the premiere.
But we have to set the scene for the soiree with many other scenes before that happens. Because these women are not prepared to simply jump back into a group setting after everything that’s gone down. So first, Dr. Jen Armstrong calls up Heather Dubrow to thank her for throwing the premiere party where everyone left screaming and unhappy. And invites her for an impromptu house visit, since apparently she lives right down the road from Chateau Dubrow. (I assume this is meant in the same way that peasants lived across the moat, down the hill and deep into the fiefdom from the king and queen’s castle in medieval times.) Dr. Jen’s on a mission to impress Heather because thinks they just have so much in common. Read: the newbie probably wants to be just like Fancy Pants, because honestly, who wouldn’t?
After giving Heather a tour of her (much smaller) home as well as a crash course on her husband’s penchant for shirtless-ness, Dr. Jen is ready to gain the veteran’s trust through some good, old-fashioned gossip. First, she can’t resist bashing Noella Bergener, claiming her fellow newbie spoke to her “condescendingly” at Heather party as all the chaos was going down. Even in their very first confessionals, these two former friends of Braunwyn Windham-Burke made it clear they kind of can’t stand each other. So expect that to boil over into a newbie-on-newbie feud as the season progresses. Then, Heather fills her in on where things stand since the party. Basically, she’s smoothed things over with everyone other than Shannon Beador. The future of that relationship is still TBD.
Across town, Nicole James has invited Noella out for lunch at Malibu Farm in Lido Marina Village. And the latter shows up in shambles. Considering the state we left her in at the end of last week’s episode, it’s a miracle she showed up at all. But Nicole’s reaction to her friend in her hour of need is just…flat out bizarre. As Noella breaks down sobbing over her husband filing for divorce, shutting off all their credit cards and fleeing to Puerto Rico, Nicole could hardly be called empathetic.
Instead, she’s visibly uncomfortable at the emotion on display. Verging on unfeeling, even. When Noella asks for a hug, she awkwardly pats her on the back and chides her not to push her off the bench. Rather than allow her friend in pain to have a real, human moment, Nicole abruptly cuts the lunch short, tells Noella she doesn’t feel comfortable and can’t be bothered with her pal’s emotional breakdown.
While Shannon cracks the whip on Stella Beador as her new assistant at Real for Real Cuisine, Emily and Gina Kirschenheiter go on a double date with Shane and Travis Mullen. Where all the group’s drama is on the menu. Emily’s apparently made up with Nicole since their blowout argument at Heather’s house. But we only see it via flashback. As the cast’s resident lawyer, Em also has some theories regarding the particulars of the Berengers’ divorce filing — i.e. Noella’s husband likely chose to file from Puerto Rico to avoid California’s laws about finances. One person Emily’s still not cool with is Shannon. Though Gina’s since decided to approach her relationship with the older ‘Wife differently, Emily’s ready to confront her at Shane’s party.
We’re finally introduced to Noella‘s mom, Nancy, this week, who offers her some of the support and understanding that she definitely didn’t get from Nicole earlier. The newbie’s mother was just as blindsided by James Bergener‘s sudden decision to pull the ripcord on his life as Noella was. But she also recognizes that her daughter might be grasping at a kind of hope that’s just not there anymore. Noella’s insistent that if she can just talk to her husband, they can work this whole mess out. (He hasn’t blocked her number, but he’s also refusing to take her calls.) However, Nancy tries to give her the gentle — and supremely difficult — reality check that the man she thought she was married to is gone.
The day of Emily‘s party arrives, and Noella rallies by FaceTiming Shannon. The latter fills her new ally in by re-reading Heather‘s mic drop of a text reply from last week word for word. And I have to say, the editing choices by production in this scene were just top-notch. Noella seems to be firmly entrenched on Team Shannon at this point. In fact, she hasn’t even spoken to Heather since the night of the sushi party. But Shannon’s determined to go into the evening with the goal of apologizing one more time. Suddenly it feels like we’re back at the beginning of Season 9, when the two just couldn’t see eye to eye on anything. But this time, Shannon actually seems to want to get her friendship with Heather back on track.
Heather and Terry Dubrow decide to carpool to the party with Nicole and her boyfriend in order to present a united front and show that Shannon‘s (inadvertent?) pot-stirring didn’t have its intended effect. On the way to Emily‘s, Nicole alludes to Noella‘s entire life falling apart since the last time Heather saw her. And then proceeds to throw her supposed good friend right under the bus by telling Heather that Noella called her a “fake b–ch” at lunch. All while couching it in the pretense that Noella was falling apart…and drinking a lot…and probably won’t remember saying it anyway. Definitely a bit of a red flag for Heather, but Fancy Pants decides to chalk the comment up to her new acquaintance going through a hard time. But I for one would keep an eye out on Nicole, if I were the other ‘Wives. Maybe Emily was right all along and she’s the real bad guy here…
The ‘Wives arrive at Emily‘s house, with half dressed in black and half in white. Introductions are made all around, and everyone’s ready to celebrate Shane‘s big achievement. Except for Shane, of course, who kind of looks like he’d rather be anywhere else. Noella and Dr. Jen offer forced hellos, with the latter asking to “talk later.” But again, it’s clear that the newbies absolutely cannot stand each other. Then, Shannon shows up and all of a sudden you can cut the tension in the backyard with a knife.
Shannon may be focused on cornering Heather into a conversation, but Emily is ready to have words with her supposed friend first. She didn’t take kindly to finding out with Gina that Shannon described them as “manipulative” and “not to be trusted” behind their backs. And while Shannon denies saying this when confronted, she’s since admitted in an interview with Entertainment Tonight that those words did, in fact, come out of her mouth. But at the party, it actually takes Emily pulling Heather into the conversation to call out Shannon’s lie.
Now that they’re face to face, Heather and Shannon can’t avoid each other any longer. Well, they try for at least another second. But then Shannon asks if they can finally talk privately and the duo retreat to a courtyard where they can’t be overheard or interrupted. Shannon lays everything out on the table, and I have to say, her apology seems really heartfelt and genuine. She tells Heather how much their friendship means to her, admits to making a huge mistake by opening her mouth in the first place, and takes accountability where she should. Which is all Heather told Terry she needed from Shannon in order for them to move forward — real accountability.
But Heather‘s not ready to let bygones be bygones quite yet. First she makes it clear that there’s essentially nothing Shannon can say to change her perception of what happened leading up to the sushi party. And she may not be wrong in thinking the intent was to hurt her and Terry. But that’s a conversation for the reunion. Then she delivers a warning that’s so serious, it’s worth quoting word for word. Ready? “If you ever (dramatic pause) come after me (dramatic pause) or my family (dramatic pause) ever again, you are going to lose a lot more than just my friendship. This will cost a lot. And I’m not saying this as a threat. I’m saying it as a promise.” End scene.
And with that, my darling and devoted readers, I bid you happy holidays and adieu for the rest of 2021! Since there are no new episodes until after the start of the new year, I’ll see you in 2022!
TELL US – DO YOU THINK DR. JEN IS LOOKING FOR REASONS TO HAVE A PROBLEM WITH NOELLA? WAS NICOLE’S REACTION TO NOELLA’S EMOTIONAL BREAKDOWN SOCIOPATHIC OR JUST PLAIN HEARTLESS? IS THERE HOPE THAT SHANNON AND HEATHER’S FRIENDSHIP CAN BE SALVAGED AT THIS POINT?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]