A birthday on Vanderpump Rules means one thing: The night will involve screaming, crying, and probably some scream-crying. So when this week’s episode promised footage from two separate birthday celebrations — Ariana’s in Sonoma and Stassi’s in Montauk — I was hoping for dual bicoastal meltdowns. Instead, it was mild all around, which could partially be chalked up to how comparatively boring this season is, but it was a pleasant surprise nonetheless. (Or a terrible letdown, depending on how much you love to watch strangers fighting.)
The episode jumps back and forth between birthday parties, with some forced face-timing to connect the two, but for the sake of clarity let’s focus on Ariana’s for now. Her crew consists of Tom Sandoval, Tom Schwartz, Jax, Brittany, and Ariana’s brother who I’ve just been calling “Manbun” in my head. Last episode ended on a cliffhanger that could’ve found Lala racing to the airport to join them at the last minute, but, alas, she ends up not showing up and sending Ariana an apologetic text about flaking. When they pick up the camper they’ll all be driving and sleeping in, Ariana and Sandoval joke that without Lala, there’s more room for activities — a reference to the masterpiece known as Step Brothers — and we’re once again reminded that Ariana is cool and funny. Ariana, take that camper and drive straight off Bravo TV. There is nothing but darkness here.
While they don’t yet end up at their final destination — a Nascar race — this episode, they go to a winery for a tasting, and the poor Australian sommelier does not know what he’s in for. In other news, did you know that sommeliers are also called “wine stewards”? I did not until I looked up the spelling of sommelier for this article and now I cannot stop laughing.
They retreat back to the camper to get drunker, and while Ariana and Brittany stay inside chugging an entire bottle of tequila and talking about sex, the men are outside pounding beers and talking about sex. Sandoval bemoans that he hasn’t been getting laid lately, issuing the very dramatic statement, “Jerking off is all I have.” But then Ariana gets even drunker and eats a steak with her hands off the grill and everyone has a grand old time.
On the opposite coast, Stassi, Kristen, Katie, and Scheana are in Montauk having a much more uptight experience. It is Stassi’s birthday, so naturally she is being a monster, but not as much of a monster as we’ve all come to expect from her. She’s turning 28, which both feels too old and too young for her, but, scientifically speaking, Vanderpump Rules time exists separately from our own. The main controversy during this trip is that Stassi thinks that Scheana will be “selfish” and not want to go along with what the rest of the group is doing, which may or may not have to do with the fact that they’ve been relentlessly berating her for a while. Also, Stassi is unsuccessfully on the hunt for a new man.
There are no crossover scenes with the upcoming show Summer House in this particular episode, so it’s just the four gals passive-aggressively hanging out. Scheana doesn’t want to drink, which annoys Stassi. Kristen says she’s in a “perfect relationship,” which annoys Stassi, and leads to some tears. At dinner, Scheana doesn’t want to take flavored shots, probably because she is a 31-year-old woman, which also annoys Stassi. Scheana bows out by saying the shots remind her of bad college memories and Kristen wearily admits, “They’re all bad memories for me but I keep on going,” in possibly her most self-aware moment yet. Then they all go skinny-dipping, except for Scheana, which probably also annoyed Stassi.
Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, one little boy has been left behind: DJ James Kennedy. When he visits SUR to hang out with Lisa’s son, Max, Lisa pulls him aside to ask why Lala was a no-show at Ariana’s. James chalks it up to her mysterious boyfriend, whom he calls controlling and suspicious.
As for the birthday trips, neither one is over yet — so only time, and another episode, will tell how fully disastrous they get.
Read past Vanderpump Rules recaps here.