This episode was a lesson in Southern manners, and by that we mean the importance of keeping up appearances, whether that's ironing your shirt before you meet your mom, showing up for work on a regular basis, or treating your girlfriend with a modicum of respect.
Shep irons his shirt on his bedside table so he looks like he's put together to his mother. These are the things that pass for interesting television these days.
Meanwhile, it's the morning after Kathryn's big night out and she wakes up on Jennifer's couch. Kathryn is sad about Thomas taking her for granted and not giving her anything. She's taking care of him, why ain't he taking care of her? Good question.
Shep and his freshly pressed shirt take his patient and loving mom to the East Side to show her the house he's building. We learn a few nuggets: she still buys Shep's clothes. She is wise too, since she realizes that his kitchen will need a stove whether he cooks or not. Shep concerns all the single women in Charleston when he claims: "I don't know these things. I'm pretty helpless. Who can measure up to my mom?"
Back at the carriage house, Thomas finally comes home to Kathryn and says, sans irony, "I'm exhausted from the campaign trail." Do people on the campaign trail really say things like that?
Thomas, being the big man that he is, does not begrudge Kathryn going out with her friends for a night, but then contradicts himself by saying she needs to be there at home, to take care of their child. Ugh. This guy.
Apparently, the campaign trail has wrung the romance out of him, but he says he's ready to bring it back. To fall back in love. Wait — they've already fallen out of love? The've been together a hot minute. How is that possible? Thomas needs to learn to multitask.
Over at the mansion, Patricia hosts an alligator-themed dinner party. Men only. To avoid drama. Ha. As they dine on ham, bourbon sauce, collards, mac & cheese, mashed sweet potatoes, and coconut cake, the dinner conversation devolves into a fight between Whitney and T-Rav over his campaign approach.
You see, Thomas has ditched Whitney's jokey ad campaign for a more serious approach. Whitney's upset and tells T-Rav he's wrong for dropping his ads. But T-Rav says, "It's my money, my campaign, and I'll run it the way I want." Whitney touts the national exposure the ads garnered for Thomas, but Thomas says the coverage was negative and hurt his standings. While we may think T-Rav is a joke, he sure doesn't or else he wouldn't be spending millions on a Senate campaign. Whitney needs to let this one go.
Next, the dinner guests retire to the drawing room for some ancestor worship. Cooper leads a nostalgic discussion of Charleston's heyday, with men whose families date back to the 1700s, but it's hard to listen to this and not think about how these dead white forefathers built their fortunes. Sigh.
The big talk this week is about the Founder's Ball, a party Cooper is throwing to honor the stuffy old side of Charleston. The women are forced to find an escort of the opposite sex, and Kathryn is left hoping that this will be a big night out for her and Thomas. The antebellum throwbacks this week are out of control.
The day of the ball arrives, and Cooper dons his planning visor and walks through the flow of the evening. The Founder's Ball is a celebration of Charleston's founding fathers, he says. "We worship them ... not worship ... We respect. This is not America's most progressive city; it is America's most historic city." So true. So true.
While everyone else gets ready for the ball, Thomas makes fundraising phone calls. Craig and Shep get ready together at Shep's house. So cute. Like girls. Landon, Cameran, Jen, and Dani pre-game and primp.
To Cameran, the Founder's Ball is about "dead white men I could give two shits about." Amen sister.
But for Kathryn, the Founder's Ball is a fairy tale night. She's excited to get dolled up and go out on a special date with Thomas. Trouble is, Thomas doesn't feel the same way. He arrives at the ball alone and proceeds to shake hands and work the room. The work never ends on the campaign trail.
"There's no off time during a political campaign," he whines. "I need to get there early and shake every single hand. They have money and they can stroke a check. I've struggled with the amount of time that Kathryn takes to get ready. I think a lot of men have these problems with women. It's hard to campaign and mingle when Kathryn is with me. She wants my attention." So romantic, this T-Rav.
Kathryn, in the meantime, is back at her house looking like an utterly breathtaking Cinderella waiting for her prince charming to come back and get her. Too bad Thomas arrives.
He's really done it this time, and she wonders: "What is authentic and what is not? What is for the public and what is real? He's trying to please everyone but the one that matters." Word.
Awkward, clenched teeth conversations ensue at the ball as the two try to keep up appearances, and then Landon jumps into their conversation and tells them they need to make it work because love is great, you know?
As if this party isn't sad enough, the episode ends on a real downer when Craig gets the strong arm from his boss Akim, who tells Craig he had so much potential but has proven to be a disaster and must be terminated. Ouch.
Next week: the new Kathryn arrives and Craig takes the guys to visit his folks in Delaware.