Early this November, the nation will be transfixed by one of the most conflict-laden events of our time — one filled with shifting and unlikely allegiances, ugly insults, and nail-biting drama. I speak, of course, of the season-five premiere of Vanderpump Rules.
Where season four ended with Katie and Tom Schwartz’s disastrous engagement party, season five opens with a scene of the cast hard at work at Lisa Vanderpump’s SUR, which I am legally obligated to remind you at least once per recap stands for Sexy Unique Restaurant. Tom Sandoval observes that “SUR has been open for over a decade and is busier than ever,” which is no doubt due to fans from around the country making pilgrimages to eat goat-cheese balls and pound Pumptinis (it’s like Colonial Williamsburg for fun people). Ariana has, for some reason, allowed Sandoval to grow out one side of his hair and streak it silver, but they continue to be the most stable couple on the show, so it’s working for them.
Speaking of questionable hair choices, the producers decided to kill off one controversial character this season: Peter’s ponytail. R.I.P. to Peter’s ponytail and, with it, my raging sexual attraction to Peter.
But there’s not much time for mourning, as we move quickly to the episode’s major fight, which goes down at the OK! Magazine party. Before heading over, sentient Auto-Tune machine Scheana says that she’s in “such a good place” with Kristen, Stassi, and Katie — which means they will surely all hate each other again in approximately two episodes. In the meantime, everyone’s enemies are Lala and Busboy/DJ James Kennedy, the former of whom is accused of being the sugar baby of a married man. Lala took a break from reading Ayn Rand’s oeuvre to book a small part in a Nicolas Cage film and James finally slept with Lala, so they both worked toward accomplishing their dreams in the off-season.
James and Lala stride over to the Kristen-Stassi-Katie-Scheana-Brittany-Jax-Schwartz table, are told they’re not wanted there, and retaliate by accusing everyone of being fat. These barbs eventually culminate in James’s picking up a glass, holding it at his crotch, and throwing a vodka-cranberry everywhere. Jax immediately takes off after him, but, unlike previous scenes like this, shows some personal growth by not ripping off his own shirt.
Not that much personal growth though, as he can’t stop spreading rumors that he walked in on Brittany — who is now working at SUR too, much to Jax’s dismay — and Kristen having sex. Brittany vehemently denies it and is incredulous that her own boyfriend would do such a thing, prompting millions of viewers at home to simultaneously let out an “Oh, honey.”
When Tom Sandoval and Ariana show up to the party, the entire crowd jumps over itself to fill them in on what happened with Lala and James, but all I could focus on was Tom Schwartz, quietly laughing as everyone else described the incident before adding a halfhearted “those are horrible people.” Schwartz has always been the most laid-back, levelheaded of the bunch, but this may be the season he fully checks out. Sandoval and Ariana walk over to the other camp, where James cries about his father leaving.
The next day, Katie meets with Lisa to discuss becoming her assistant, a job that will include such duties as changing Giggy’s batteries and wrangling swans. “There’s so much going on,” Lisa wearily sighs. “We’ve got World Dog Day coming up.”
After taking care of that, Katie and Schwartz have Stassi and Kristen and Scheana over. For the group, Stassi bedazzled personalized wine cups, which are a harbinger of darkness if I’ve ever seen one. They spend the whole time aggressively gossiping, and Schwartz listens to them all while quietly petting the dog — both man and beast staring ahead with vacant looks in their eyes. I recognized it as the look my boyfriend gets when I’m three hours into a rant about a dumb tweet I read.
The episode ends as quietly as it begins — with Lisa giving James his 647th talking-to — but there’s still plenty of time ahead to get answers to our most crucial questions, such as: Will Jax’s jawline continue to expand further and further until it fills out the entire TV screen? Who will ruin Katie and Tom Schwartz’s wedding the worst? And finally, will we ever learn even one Vanderpump Rule?