‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ recap: Dinner party from hell, part two

If only life could be all Baccarat candlesticks and cheese puffs served on silver platters by a Frenchman named Patrick who tells you that he’s “enchant” to learn that your name is “Lisa” and you’ve chosen to leave your wigs at home tonight. If only we could go back in time to that Tahoe trip when no one was yet accused of federal crimes, they were just acting weird while dropping off coats to one another’s rooms, and talking about the wonderful, un-quittable life of a lawyer on scenic boat rides…

But when one of your friends/co-workers is going through a very suspicious divorce coupled with a very federally charged lawsuit for crimes involving millions of dollars stolen from orphans and widows… it’s a little difficult to enjoy your lambchops with blueberry sauce in peace.

Erika Girardi, however, isn’t quite grasping the challenge that the other women are dealing with as a result of her challenge. Erika is going through a hard time in her very real life, and she believes that her co-workers should shut up about it during the pseudo-real life they’re all contractually obligated to participate in. Because under normal circumstances, they can save their divorces for the off-season, and spend filming arguing about how one of them used the wrong word at the wrong time, or how another one of them is always interrupting, or if we’re lucky, their ugly leather pants.

Unfortunately for Erika, these are not normal circumstances; with the mounting accusations against Tom Girardi, real-reality has crossed paths with RHOBH-reality, and there is simply no ignoring it. Especially not with Kyle and Rinna screaming at everyone to tell the truth, while Erika weep-sneers at them to shut the f— up when they do.

Emerging from these arguments is a clear faction of women who believe Erika is at least somewhat implicated in Tom’s misdeeds (Sutton, Dorit, Garcelle), and a clear faction of women who probably also believe that, but are willing to put it aside for the sake of friendship and/or their own personal benefit (Rinna, Kyle, maybe Crystal… and on an island all her own is Kathy Hilton, who, much like Mariah Carey, does not know her.) But I don’t think it’s the former group who are “torturing” Erika — I think it’s the latter.

Because when Erika tells Sutton to shut up… and Sutton shuts up… but then Kyle demands that Sutton un-shut-up and proclaim how she thinks Erika is lying, lest Sutton be deemed two-faced… who exactly is torturing whom? Either way, watching Erika attempt to keep her composure while sitting through contractually obligated dinners where her co-workers refuse to ignore the fact that she is very closely connected to some awful allegations is absolutely chilling stuff…

And yet, this episode somehow opens up on a sunny note of normalcy: Dorit starting another fashion line that we’ll never hear of again after a year, and PK inserting himself into the operation because he literally has nothing else to do. It seems Dorit is designing wedding dresses now, and while they’re all inoffensive enough, the real highlight of this scene is hearing Dorit attempt to describe her successes as a designer: “I really feel like anything I put my mind to… I’ve got a lot of passion for!” Indeed.

Kyle goes over to see the work happening at Sutton’s new house, after which they sit on some rocks to discuss how Erika snapped at Sutton that it’s “small-town bulls—” that she’s worried about her reputation in regard to Erika’s current legal battles. Over at Crystal’s house, where Garcelle, Erika, and Kathy gather for dinner, Erika is still beating the “small-town reputation bulls—” drum, which Crystal finds equally absurd given that she had never heard of Sutton Stracke before she came into this group — so how much of a reputation could she really have to protect?

Which I find absurd, because who had ever heard of Erika or Crystal before they came on this show either? People whose names are not internationally known can also not want to be associated with fraud and embezzlement! Erika claims in her testimonial that she’s the most disappointed by Sutton “flipping” on her because Sutton was so kind to her when she first announced her divorce. A claim that conveniently ignores the 10,000-word elephant in the room that brought about Sutton’s change of heart: the L.A. Times article reporting the transferal of millions of stolen dollars from Tom’s law firm to Erika’s LLC. Because I think the bottom line is that Sutton wouldn’t just be worried about her reputation no matter what the accusations against Erika were… she’s worried about her reputation because she believes those accusations, to some degree, are true.

Erika’s outburst at Rinna’s launch party showed Sutton that Erika isn’t as fragile as she once thought, and it may be time to tell Erika the whole truth about what she said at the Sutton Summit: that she’s not buying what Erika is selling. “Why do I think Erika lied about the car crash and head injury?” Sutton asks in her testimonial. “Because I think it’s part of Tom’s defense. Erika is acting like she’s totally innocent — emphasis on the word acting.”

Oh, Sutton Stracke is saying it now!

But, as always, it becomes a little harder to say it live, at the moment when someone is hissing in your face to shut the f— up. Kathy Hilton is hosting a gorgeous dinner for the girls, complete with a four-course meal, and an actual butler to welcome the women into her home, even if Kathy herself is wandering around fingering soaps and folding toilet paper for the first 20 minutes after her guests arrive. But ultimately, I guess it’s nice that Kathy has those moments of peace and solace to herself… because the second the women sit down, her beautiful dinner will be soiled beyond repair!

And it actually gets tense before Erika’s butt makes it into the chair. Kathy has inexplicably seated Erika and Sutton next to one another, so when Erika approaches her chair as everyone else mills about, the already seated Sutton says this might be a good chance for them to chat about what happened at Rinna’s launch party. “What are you trying to do?” Erika seethes, still standing: “I don’t need to clear the air with you; you’ve made your position very clear.” Sutton says that Erika has only heard her point of view from other people, and she’d like to explain it to Erika herself. “I have enough problems,” Erika says: “I only have enough capacity for the things that really matter, and your opinion of me does not matter.”

And can you imagine if that was just that? If it all ended right there? I mean, I don’t want Erika to be able to just intimidate people into silence… but I also don’t think Sutton cares that much about telling Erika the truth. I think Sutton just wants to make it clear to the audience (which includes lawyers for the prosecution against Tom, btw) that she’s suspicious of some of Erika’s claims, and not blindly supporting her if she has anything to do with the accusations made against Tom…

Which Sutton has already successfully done! So, when Erika sprints off to the bathroom, Sutton tells the other seated women that she asked Erika to chat, and she “did not receive it well.” Everyone takes their seat, and they make it pleasantly through the caviar and vodka course…

And then someone lets Lisa Rinna steal Patrick’s damn butler bell. Kathy has just reprimanded Dorit for trying to bring up her beef with Garcelle again, begging her to put aside arguing just long enough to enjoy the food at this one dinner, and Dorit actually zips it. But the next thing we know, drunk Rinna is ringing her contraband bell, saying that if any of them need to work anything out, they can ring the bell. She then makes a show of foisting the bell on Sutton, and even though Sutton knows that Kathy doesn’t want her to hijack the dinner, and Erika doesn’t want to hear from her at all, Erika’s friends Kyle and Rinna are demanding that Sutton speak up about what she’s been saying when Erika isn’t there.

But Erika intervenes before Sutton can even attempt to come clean, insisting once again that Sutton doesn’t need to say anything to her or about her because her life does not affect the rest of their lives in any way. Dorit — finally exercised of whatever boring demon has been haunting her all season — says she actually disagrees with that. And despite Erika glaring daggers at her from across the table, Dorit doesn’t back down. “It doesn’t make us bad friends if we just want a little reassurance,” Dorit says in her testimonial.

Garcelle takes the very human but ill-advised approach of asking Erika if she can’t at least understand that it’s only natural to consider how something this big might personally affect you — and in an even more ill-advised move, attempts to stoke away one of Erika’s tears while asking Erika to understand something that she is never going to understand. This woman has never once mentioned the victims of the crimes her ex-husband is accused of without being prompted, never once shown true anger or despair toward her husband… and Garcelle thinks she might be able to appeal to her empathy???

“You can let go of me now,” Erika whispers through gritted teeth at Garcelle who is still clutching her arm. Erika then demands that Dorit look at her; and when Dorit locks eyes with Erika’s streaming face, Erika heaves, “Look at me — look at my f—ing life.” Dorit begins to say that she genuinely doesn’t believe Erika knew about most of Tom’s actions, but Erika cuts her off: “Then why are you torturing me about it, all of you?” Kyle exclaims that they’re not torturing her, they’re here for her…

And then, moments later, after Erika has just begged for compassion and support at this dinner table, Kyle screams from across the table that Sutton needs to be honest with Erika because she’s looking two-faced! And I just don’t understand, if Kyle is really Erika’s friend who exclusively wants to support her, in what world does she then demand that the one person at the table who fully doesn’t believe her speaks up at this moment. Rinna and Kyle’s absolute devotion to owning it and telling it like it is has never once made a single situation better.

Kyle whines that Sutton said the next time she saw Erika, she would say that she thought she was lying about Tom’s car crash — and I can’t be sure because the camera wasn’t on her, but I’m fairly confident Erika’s head spun around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. “What are you doing right now?” Erika seethes at Sutton. “My God, I’m trying to talk to you!” Sutton responds, after not being able to finish a sentence for the last 20 minutes, even though everyone has been demanding that she tell the truth. But Erika says Sutton’s not trying to talk to her, she’s trying to accuse of her lying, and she’s not a liar, despite Sutton being armed with a very clear example of Erika lying.

But a great way to keep someone from sharing proof is to yell at and demean them, so Erika hisses, “Look at me — I’ll go head-on with you all f—ing day, I am not a liar, you have a lot of f—ing nerve.”

Finally, Sutton has had enough and tells Erika not to talk to her that way. “Or what?” Erika spits, to which Sutton responds the only way one can to an all-bark-no-bite threat: “Or nothing.” What is Erika going to do to Sutton if she calls out her inconsistencies? Nothing. And what is Sutton going to do about Erika talking to her this way? Also, nothing. So, I’ll see you back here next week for the to-be-continued of all this very loud nothing!

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The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Bravo’s guilty-pleasure franchise meets California luxe

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