This is it, everybody. The end.
Let’s start this season finale recap with a quotation from the woefully underrated 1988 classic Cocktail. Hitting theaters just days before my first birthday, Cocktail cock-tells the story of an ambitious young bartender played by Tom Cruise, who spends his time learning to mix drinks by hurling bottles of liquor into the air and drinking whatever doesn’t end up on the floor. Reaching to conclusion of an ill-fated relationship, Cruise’s character profoundly remarks, “Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn’t end.” Let that be the moral of this season of Southern Charm.
To welcome the beginning of the end, let’s briefly contemplate the “Previously on” intro that runs during the opening of each episode. This week, Cameran’s voiceover informs us that Charleston has officially become “Bizarro World.” There’s no real explanation as to what she means by this, but let me tell you what the Bizarro version of Southern Charm would actually be.
Thomas would be a mild-mannered Charleston transplant from the Midwest. Taking night classes to become a computer repairman, he’d spend his evenings watching reruns of Scrubs while cleaning up after his roommates. His father, a celebrated rodeo clown, would be kicked to death by a horse, leading to his lifelong grudge against equines.
Kathryn would be a lumberjack (or lumberjane, I’m not exactly sure) constantly on the fence about creating an online dating profile at the behest of her friends. Cameran would be an impulsive drug dealer, so a female version of Jesse Pinkman. Shep would be a Quaker, and Whitney would be someone with the faintest understanding of social mores.
Bizarro Landon would make headlines as a female politician who breastfed her child on the floor of Parliament, while Craig would be exactly the same. Except he would own a dog that he hated. The dog would hate him also.
Every episode would be five minutes long, including the credits, and it would just be the entire cast asking to be removed from a group text chain.
What I just described is the reality show we need. What follows is the reality show we deserve.
We return this week for the thrilling conclusion of the Key West Adventures. We find a few of the womenfolk enjoying a nice rubdown on the beach, while the men are riding jet skis and doing cannonballs off an ocean bounce house. Craig briefly deflects the calls from the other guys to join in on the fun while he attempts to text Naomie, who is headed back home early. He says he’s trying to smooth things over between them, since the rift in their relationship is at its greatest. The problem is he immediately abandons this attempt to rescue his relationship to go play on a giant inflatable slide.
Meanwhile, Austen and Chelsea are set to go parasailing — an activity that combines the fun of escaping a downed fighter jet with being dragged by a boat.
Back at the ladies’ massage date, Whitney sneaks up and begins to rub Cameran’s shoulders. A true chaotic neutral, Whitney giggles as he runs away from briefly massaging a woman who never asked for it. He really is some imagination-less trickster god. Better not leave your pies out to cool on the windowsill with Whitney on the loose. He’s a real rooster in the henhouse.
Kathryn then joins Danni/Jennifer/seriously I don’t know anymore and Elizabeth to catch up on what happened during her tête-à-tête with Landon in last week’s episode. Kathryn says that they reached some sort of understanding, but Landon has yet to fess up to actually making negative comments about Kathryn. We are then treated to a flashback that shows Landon and Thomas questioning Kathryn’s sanity. Because angry women are, of course, insane. And mentally ill women are just simply ignored.
Thomas jokingly says, “You know what they did back in the ’50s?” to which Landon replies “Shock treatment” with an awkward laugh.
Let me remind or inform everyone that “shock treatment,” as they call it, is still used today in certain cases. I can say from personal experience that it is a very difficult process for the people who go through it and their families. Of course, I don’t expect Thomas and Landon to keep up with modern medical practices, and I’m sure they meant nothing malicious by their comments. But we should still take every opportunity to address how mental health issues are portrayed on television. This isn’t the show to really shoulder that burden, and it doesn’t claim to be. But that shouldn’t stop us from bringing it up here. With that little digression out of the way, let’s go back to the beach!
Danni (?) informs Kathryn that Landon stood up for her during breakfast, which earned her the ire of Thomas. We then join Cameran and Landon on the docks. Cameran asks “Who else is left here?” like we’ve entered into some passive vacation slasher movie.
“Well, Naomie got chopped up by a boat propeller and Craig was found strangled with all of our old yearbook photos stuffed into his mouth. I know we left that nerdy exchange student here to die exactly 12 years ago today and promised never to talk about it, but this all seems strange,” says someone in my fictional version of the show.
Asked about the relationship between Thomas and Kathryn, Landon says she feels Thomas tends to bully Kathryn. Kathryn questions Landon’s loyalty, but screw all that because we get a little extra info on Todd, the standout of this season. While we were all heartbroken to hear of Todd’s departure, we learn that he and Danni (?) met in Patricia’s kitchen, which Patricia has surely devised as a trap for good men.
Picture if you will, Danni (?) walks into the kitchen. Positioned under the sink, Todd is visible only by his denim shorts and puffy white sneakers as he attempts to fix some plumbing mishap that was surely orchestrated by Patricia earlier in the evening. Todd slides out from under the sink, his brow glistening with the sweat of a working man. He and Danni (?) lock eyes. And the rest is history.
Our cast then sets out for dinner. Half of the gang has chartered a bus, while everyone else is tooling around on mopeds. Kathryn gathers Thomas to discuss their children. The conversation ends with a plan to enter mediation rather than have a judge decide custody issues. This is definitely a life-altering decision you want to enter into during a birthday vacation in Key West. It’s like drafting your will from the top of a roller coaster or naming your child after a Game of Thrones character.
Out of nowhere, Danni (?) faints inside the restaurant. The bus coalition, having arrived on time, handles the situation. Todd has been contacted. He probably has a binder full of solutions. The center console of Todd’s truck probably contains a road flare, perfectly folded road maps, and a cassette tape of Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band’s greatest hits that he purchased at a truck stop.
Back in Key West, the scooter crew manages to get lost en route to the restaurant, so they rally before meeting up with everyone else. Collectively, they decide not to gather at the hospital and instead track down the rest of the crew.
Cameran announces that she received a text from Danni (?) who says she was just incredibly dehydrated. Everyone who wasn’t just rushed to the hospital continues on with their dinner plans.
Lost without the help of place cards, everyone tries to determine where to sit at the table with mixed results. Thomas remarks that Landon should sit “far the fuck away from me” because rather than a prize stallion, he is a night-mare. That is the last horse joke I will be making this season.
Todd texts Cameran to say that Danni (?) is either dehydrated or is lovesick from missing him so much. Todd is the best, and we should all just fall in love with Todd.
Since conversation is a dying art, Craig asks Whitney — a nonperson — if he would give up oral sex for cheese. The question reverberates throughout the timestream.
Almost a century prior, Dorothy Parker breaks an awkward silence at the Algonquin Round Table by posing the cheese-versus-blowjob question. Charles MacArthur wittily rejoinds by saying, “It depends on which is more Gouda fondue,” and the group agrees to never speak of the exchange again. Harpo Marx punctuates the scene with a deflated roll on his trusty slide whistle.
The next morning starts with Shep visiting a newly recovered Danni (?) to check on her well-being. Afterwards, Cameran challenges Shep to walk in a straight line as he clutches his morning beer. Continuing her world tour of personal advice, Cameran wakes Craig to say he should give more consideration to how her speaks to Naomie in public. Giving birth to my new favorite descriptor, Cameran tells Craig that he is the “perceived asshole in the situation.” The beauty of this phrase will be studied by scholars for years to come. The somewhat serious nature of this conversation is undercut by Shep, who comes bounding across the beach with biscuits and gravy in hand. He points out a bird he really likes, and this is the last we see of Key West — Shep drunkenly pledging his undying affection to a random bird as it races across the hot sands.
Back in Charleston, Thomas stops by JD’s office to discuss Landon’s behavior on the trip. Thomas and JD have an unspoken competition to see who can live their life most like a villain from an Adam Sandler movie. The winner is JD’s chair.
Thomas begins to vent, saying he feels betrayed that Landon sided with Kathryn. Clutching his pearls, Thomas begins to quote Pride and Prejudice: “My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.”
He obviously thought this was such a clever reference that he also texted it to Landon. I’m sure Jane Austen always meant for her work to be used to shame women for speaking their mind. Thomas officially rescinds his offer to allow Landon to date him and declares her out of the “circle of trust.” Yes, in addition to quoting Jane Austen, Thomas has also evoked Meet the Parents. He is truly a man of the world.
Later, we find Cameran receiving a visit from her mother. Cameran’s home is filled with HomeGoods bags, all with the logo conveniently facing the camera. Cameran reveals that she has stopped taking her birth control. She and her mother both admit that they don’t really care for babies, but it’s different when the kids are your own. If you haven’t thanked your mother for not leaving you at a fire station, please take this opportunity to do so.
Over at Craig and Naomie’s house, Naomie is trying to be nicer after she had a heart to heart with Kathryn. Naomie apologizes for how she has treated Craig. Craig quietly says that he is incredibly angry, which is very scary, but also reasonable. Craig tells Naomie that he needs a positive influence in his life, indicating that she may not be it. Naomie promises to be more understanding a few more times, and it seems they are going to continue working on their relationship.
Back at Thomas’ house, Kathryn stops by to discuss the next stage of their relationship. The show then just devolves to women apologizing. Two back-to-back scenes have centered on prominent female cast members saying they’re sorry in a way that feels gratuitous.
In response, Thomas quotes Gone with the Wind, saying that tomorrow is another day. Of course it is. Someone needs to revoke Thomas’ library card. He is abusing literature for his own ends. I could quote American Psycho and make it sound like a commercial for face moisturizer, but that wouldn’t really be true to the original work, now would it.
Thomas and Kathryn then hug for a very long time. An uncomfortably long time. The camera cuts to a shot outside Thomas’ home to indicate there is something we shouldn’t be seeing. I thank the editors of the show for their mercy and restraint.
Finally, it’s the night of JD’s black tie party that was announced earlier in the episode, but I failed to mention hoping that it would never come to pass. The whole cast is dressed to the nines, especially Thomas who looks like he’s here to close down everyone’s favorite community ski lodge. Seriously, he looks like the NWO’s personal shopper.
Then comes the moment we’ve all been waiting for — Todd is back!
It’s then revealed that Kathryn and Thomas kissed during their meeting at Thomas’ home. Everyone runs from person to person, spreading the news. It is peak middle school spring fling dance here with the cast of Southern Charm.
During dinner, we learn more about Shep’s drunk airport antics. Apparently, Craig stayed behind to care for Shep who spilled his water on a stranger and got into an argument before being deemed too drunk to fly. It is also mentioned that Shep had a chicken bone stuck in his throat through all of this after drunkenly consuming some hot wings.
We then see Chelsea bending Todd’s ear about how Austen is getting a little too cozy with some other women. Todd, of course, listens because he is an American hero.
Austen gets a dressing down for his behavior, but asks for Chelsea to be upfront about what she wants in their relationship. They both agree to be exclusive in what may be the only true story arch for this season.
On the other side of the room, we find Craig still waging an unnecessary war for Landon and Kathryn to be wholly honest with one another about whatever personal grievances they have about one another. Rather than settle for a peace built on lies, Craig demands the truth, no matter what the consequences.
Shep continues to mock Craig, as Craig continues to threaten to hit him with violence. The situation finally erupts when Craig punches Shep in the leg for saying that he doesn’t know about the Bay of Pigs.
Kathryn joins the conversation just in time for Shep and Craig to begin shouting about who is “the drunk asshole.” If you ever find yourself in this debate, the correct answer is everyone. Everyone is the drunk asshole. Until the drunkest asshole reveals himself by quoting Gone with the Wind.
Shep storms off, but not before adding, “You mess with the bull, you get the horns.” He then clarifies, “I’m the bull.” Just for those keeping score at home, Shep is the bull. Bulls tend to have horns. Although never explained, he will be giving those horns to Craig.
A title card then flashes “45 minutes later,” and we find Kathryn and Thomas getting cozy while they revel in the fact that they’re not at the center of the storm. Thomas, who was previously upset that Landon didn’t take his side against Kathryn, has decided to exert his charms on Kathryn.
Across the room, Austen siddles up to Whitney and asks what he thinks the endgame is with Kathryn and Thomas. In so many words, Whitney answers by saying that they’ll either end up screwing or killing each other — or both. Either way, forget it, Austen. It’s Chinatown.
And there you have it. Whitney has boiled down the entirety of the human experience into two responses. Sex and murder. Whitney casually exits the party and steps into a wooded glen where a bright light absorbs him. Sucked up into a craft familiar only to him, Whitney begins to shed his human suit as he fields a call from the farther reaches of the galaxy.
“What do they want?” asks the ambivalent voice through the ship’s vocoder.
“The same thing we all want,” replies what was once known as Whitney. “Dinner parties cast into disarray. Doomed vacations and failed relationships. They want struggles. Regardless of their own circumstance.”
“Why?” responds the Higher Power. “Why would they toil without need?”
“Because sometimes the toil is enough,” says Whitney. “Because while solutions may seem obvious and easy, trying for something greater means so much more.”
And I’ll leave you with that. Thanks for reading. I hope that it has meant half as much to you as it has to me. It’s been a pleasure to write for you this season, and I hope we get to do it again.
As always, this is your trusted Southern Charm recapper, Dustin Waters, signing off. Until next time.