Hey everybody, welcome back. I knew you'd return. Really, Southern Charm is like bottomless steak fries at Red Robin. Sure, they're the worst kind of fry. But you get an infinite amount. What's even the point in restraining yourself.
I'd like to start off by acknowledging some loyal readers who were visiting downtown Charleston and emailed me to inquire as to which establishment the female Southern Charm castmates had conducted their “vibrator conversation” during an episode this season. I hope the city treated y'all well and assure you that any email containing the phrase “vibrator conversation” will immediately strike me as funny.
This episode starts up with pretty much the entire cast preparing to go on vacation together when they absolutely should not. Shep mentions that he postponed his knee surgery. Naomie is doing that thing where you make plans and then just pray that they fall through. And the rest of the cast isn't faring much better.
“It'll be fun,” is like some bedeviled mantra on Southern Charm. Anytime you hear someone repeat it to themselves, you just know the Candyman is going to jump through a mirror and throw a cocktail in someone's face with his hook hand.
Seriously though, Southern Charm does realistically display that innate desire to not be around a group of people. If Jean-Paul Sartre were still alive, he would spend his days manically gesturing at Bravo programming, saying, “See! See? Does no one see?!”
Fearing that she'll be spending the duration of her vacation in close proximity to Craig, Naomie tells herself and her roommate “I have to stay calm in Hilton Head.” This is usually pretty easy in Hilton Head unless the sight of families crossing the street on bikes sends you into a rage. (Which it should.)
Over at Kathryn's, we eavesdrop on a call between her and Chelsea. It is here that we learn that Kathryn's grandmother has recently passed away. This is sad. Kathryn is sad. But nothing, and I mean nothing will get in the way of everyone getting their asses to Hilton Head.
The beauty of Hilton Head is that it makes you realize how much you'd like to be anywhere else. Going to Hilton Head is like visiting your grandmother at her overly nice retirement home, only to remind yourself that she is mean and racist and the food is bad.
We then jump over to a conversation that was cut right out of a PSA on unhealthy relationships. Thomas and his new girlfriend, Ashley, are riding around. She laments his recent night out with the boys, while also joking/not joking that she needs Thomas' credit card. Straining against the confines of an adult relationship, Thomas tells us that Ashley is “controlling,” in that she doesn't like for him to go out without her.
Thomas then admits that Ashley did move across the country to be with him, and relies upon him for both company and financial support. Together, they are so toxically codependent that they may as well be a human centipede.
Coincidentally, Thomas and Ashley end up at the same department store that's been featured on the last three episodes of the show. Either everywhere else in Charleston stopped selling clothes without a Clemson or USC logo or this place was the only shop willing to open their doors to a film crew.
As Ashley is having her dress altered, she jokes that she could be the next first lady if Thomas were to run for the highest office in the land. Thomas immediately shuts down that idea, showing that even his hubris has its limits. There is a major chance that aspiring political operatives brainstorm how to sell Thomas Ravenel to voters as some sort of character-building exercise, rather than him actually being considered as a potential candidate.
Thomas laughs like he is re-enacting the Russian roulette scene from Deer Hunter as Ashley says that he should really be taking her shopping for a wedding ring. Thomas asks the store co-owner how Kathryn is doing with her new internship, and he learns about the death of Kathryn's grandmother.
Ashley mounts a minor protest, saying that today is about her and Thomas has been calling Kathryn a lot lately. It's at this point that I realize that I would love to see a reality show about two people who absolutely hate each other, coexisting in some passive-aggressive nightmare. Then I realize that if this idea also appeals to you, you're probably also a child of divorce as well. The good news for divorced kids in this TV fantasy is that we get two Christmas specials.
Moving on, Naomie pays an impromptu visit to Craig's house, which is masterfully trash. Everything he owns is literally sitting directly on the floor with no rhyme or reason. He is just placing bright green tape over massive holes gouged in the wall. Also, why are the walls so shredded?
It looks like he tried to hang pictures with a shotgun. Craig's walls look like he and his roommate are trying to tunnel out of jail with a rock hammer, but they ran out of Rita Hayworth posters to cover their prison escape. Craig's home looks like the architectural stain of herpes.
Next, we visit Cameran, who is now comically pregnant. To highlight this fact, we see her enjoy a meal of Goldfish crackers, cheeseballs, and pickles. Cameran calls up Shep — who is likely enjoying the same exact meal — and with a thousand-yard stare Cameran explains that a tiny person remains camped out in her uterus. She is housebound, uncomfortable, and eating. If anything, Southern Charm showcases the borderline insanity that comes with motherhood as Cameran compares her pregnancy to having “a big poop that you just can't get out, but that is actually a baby inside of you.” Jesus Christ.
As Cameran, driven mad by fertility, explains that she showers daily just to feel human, Shep explains that he ran into a glass door while drunk and cut up his face. There exists no better juxtaposition of female pregnancy and male, I don't know, being like Michael Scott, in any nature film in existence.
Later in the episode, Shep reveals that he has broken his nose eight or ten times, officially making him James Van Der Beek's character from the movie Angus. If you haven't seen Angus, watch it. I wish I owned a copy. That would be a great gift for me. This is officially a call for readers to mail me copies of the 1995 movie Angus.
Dustin Waters— Charleston City Paper (@ChasCityPaper) May 25, 2018
c/o Chs. City Paper
1316 Rutledge Ave.
Charleston, SC 29403 https://t.co/3wLyvwqIoF
Anyway, Naomie arrives at Craig's house on crutches with their cat in tow. This is a complicated emotional picture. Naomie apparently broke her foot skateboarding, but she also reunited Craig and Gizmo the Cat, which is cause for celebration.
Craig offers to show Naomie around his new home, beginning with the living room wall that has been beaten randomly with a hammer. Awesome. Looks great.
Craig says they are planning to remove that wall completely, which is a good cover. Nothing really opens up a room like violently gnashing at the drywall. I know every architect says the first step to remodeling is just to bash the shit out of everything until you pass out from exhaustion, so this is right in order.
Naomie says she wants to mend fences with Craig before they travel to Hilton Head together. Craig agrees and then they spend the rest of the scene staring at the cat like two people who have no reason to continue socializing. Seriously, they aren't swans. There's no need to feel compelled to spend the rest of their lives together. Just part ways. Be like a duck — with a watertight ass and a will to carry on alone.
Later in the episode, Craig reveals that he sliced a tendon in his pinky finger while stabbing at his wall with a butter knife. At this point, both Craig and Shep have pending surgeries, which is incredible to imagine. In my experience, a surgery has always been the culmination of a lifetime of scrimping paychecks and ever-mounting pain. How great to watch two young men, hobbled under the weight of their own foolishness, receiving the medical attention that — in all honesty — they rightly deserve. Soon, rather than offer an inside look at the lifestyles of the rich and famous, reality shows will simply provide a unique glimpse at homeowners who can afford to go to the dentist and not cut their own hair.
Man, the thought of seeing a dentist, having my hair cut, and owning a copy of Angus remains the quintessential American dream.
With that said, as the cast of Southern Charm packs for the big trip, we find Ashley laying down the gauntlet with Thomas. Apparently, Kathryn is hosting a birthday party for her and Thomas' child. Ashley has yet to receive an invite, and explains that she can either be Kathryn's best friend or worst enemy. The best thing about this is that Ashley imagines adulthood as having enemies and friends, when basically everyone is evaluated on the scale of “Am I willing to eat with you?”
Of course, this is a sliding scale, depending on how hungry you are and how good the food is that's being promised. As you get older, the chances of finding yourself leaning over a bowl of mac 'n cheese with someone you hate increases exponentially. This is what Thanksgiving is all about.
The best part about what comes after this scene is that it depicts Thomas Ravenel in his own personal hell. We skip around from car to car. The women and menfolk separate and travel down to Hilton Head in their reserves vehicles. Meanwhile, Thomas is reconciled to drive along with Ashley as she continues to explain how she is being excluded by Kathryn. Unwilling or unable to expend the empathy or effort required to offer Ashley a real response to her volley of complaints, Thomas meekly responds with the occasional “yeah,” as he contemplates which ditch to steer the car into.
Everyone soon arrives at the beach house in Hilton Head and begins to drink and hug as if they haven't seen each other in months. As most of the group announces their intentions to go horseback riding and Thomas takes Kathryn on a tour of his room, Ashley again voices her complaints that she is being excluded. This is best exemplified as she continues to ask Thomas what she should wear horseback riding, which is apparently an activity Thomas didn't prepare her for before heading to Hilton Head.
Thomas responds by saying that Kathryn has the boots that he bought her because he is chaotic evil on the Dungeons and Dragons alignment chart. Burn it all to the ground, Thomas. Burn it all down.
The next morning, the entire gang heads out to a nearby island, which Shep describes as “rustic” because the main modes of conveyance are golf carts and ferries, which are the two words in the dictionary farthest away from rustic.
Rustic would be if a farmer had to alternate between a fox, chicken, and sack of grain to shuttle you out to the island. Rustic is when you are trying to make change and have to ask how many John Rocker's equal a Jefferson Davis. If you can go to church on Sunday or Wednesday without seeing a man bitten by a snake, then you are not in a rustic area.
Anyway, the male cast members go golfing, while the ladies break off to go ride horses. In what is some sort of nightmare scenario, Ashley, the sole horse-riding novice, learns that the other riders can only move as fast as the least-experienced rider. This news comes as the other women in the party long to speed off free and untethered.
Truthfully, this isn't Ashley's fault, nor is it anybody else's. The problem is again that Thomas, an experienced rider who brought Ashley on the trip to begin with, didn't mention that she might pose a hindrance. Meanwhile Thomas' golf buddies are quizzing him about how much money he spends on Ashley. Craig steps in to warn Thomas that she may be a gold digger, harking back to when he said the same thing about Kathryn. This just goes to show that there are only two types of women on Southern Charm: Those you've been warned about and those you haven't met.
After night has fallen, both parties meet up for dinner. Thomas ambulates around like he's just been introduced to a new body, and by that I mean he's drunk as shit. Shep passes Craig one of those giant Hulk hands painted Caucasian and hollowed out to hold a beer. I imagine these exist because the No. 1 threat to white men on an island is firework accidents.
Since film time costs money, everyone at the table immediately begins to air their grievances. Chelsea asks if Austen is dating her former friend Victoria. Ashley, meanwhile, asks Kathryn why she hasn't received an invite to the upcoming birthday for her and Thomas' son.Awesome. Fun vacation, everybody.
Thomas manages to tip over the nearest outhouse and bobsled down a hill like Mr. Magoo, while Ashley and Kathryn have it out about a two-year-old's birthday. Kathryn acknowledges that this is probably not the best topic of conversation for a group vacation. Thomas, developmentally stunted, places his hands over his eyes and believes he's invisible.
The episode ends on a “cliffhanger” as Ashley says that she sees the kids more than Kathryn does, and everyone else at the table indicates that she may have gone too far. We viewers get a “To Be Continued” because the emotional roller coaster that is Daufuskie Island cannot be contained to a single episode. All this time, we are missing Cameran's pregnancy madness, which is probably much more entertaining. See you next week for part two.