If you'd told me during the last season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills - as Denise Richards cried out, "Bravo, bravo" during every single dessert course, and Brandi Glanville crashed every Bucca di Bepo baby shower with photocopies of her own texts, and Lisa Rinna performed the worst The Chicks cover of all time - that one day in the not too distant future, the RHOBH editors would be casually juxtaposing the monumental 2020 election with the bombshell mid-season divorce filings of Erika Girardi, I would have called you a gaslighter, denier, doing anything to get yourself farther. Because I simply would not have been able to imagine that such a day could exist…
But in season 11, we have finally been blessed with the content we deserve after making it through the plot dredges of season 10. Not only do we have Kathy asking if Sutton really needs a bathroom in her boutique; not only do we have Crystal opening up about her recovery from an eating disorder, not because she needs a storyline, but because she really needs to share this aspect of her life with her new (contractually-obligated) friends; but, unbelievably, we have the titillating prospect of getting a behind-the-scenes look at the dissolution of a marriage that becomes more and more mysterious by the day.
Now, do the editors tease us by opening with Erika arriving at Sutton's party, ready to face the music about her divorce, only to quickly rewind to three days prior and not revisit the Erika footage again until the episode's final 30 seconds? Of course, they do.
They're artists, not saints.
Tonight's episode opens with Erika, sitting silently in the back of an Uber Black, on her way to see the other women for the first time since announcing via text that she filed for divorce from her husband with no prior indication that there was ever any trouble in paradise. She's gazing out the car window as we hear her say in voiceover: "There's so many layers to this divorce; it's f---ing complicated, it's difficult to explain." The voiceover stops, and Erika's eyes dart up to the camera - fourth wall shattered to smithereens.
BOOM, the scene switches to the other women gathered at Sutton's luncheon, awaiting Erika's arrival, discussing how shocked they were to hear the news. Erika's voiceover says she knows they'll have questions; so, she gets out of the SUV, thanks the driver, walks placidly up the walkway, opens the door, dramatically swings her head toward her waiting friends…
And the title card rolls: THREE DAYS EARLIER.
It is enraging, but it is also, quite simply, art. And just as with any toxic relationship where one entity holds all the power, I'm gonna let these editors mess with me for a little while before I start questioning if they'll ever really be able to give me the answers I need. I just hope the RHOBH producers will also consider that from this moment forward, most of their audience is going to behave exactly like Kyle when she spots - and immediately starts coveting - Crystal's $95,000 Hermès bag: we can continue trying to talk about the weather, or watching scenes of Sutton buying a Bentley… but our hearts simply will not be in it until we get to touch the sparkly thing.
Still, there are some semi-sparkly things going on during the titular "THREE DAYS EARLIER," namely, the 2020 United States Presidential election. All of the women except Erika and Garcelle gather at Kyle's house to watch the results roll in where the theme is "patriotic," but also, "we're rich enough to enjoy some passed apps without being consumed with terror over the ambiguity of the next four years." On the way to Kyle's, Crystal's husband Rob asks how she's feeling about seeing everyone for the first time since her disastrous first group trip, and she says she thinks everything will be fine, "because there's so much stress about the election, it's hard to imagine people would have their own petty stuff going on."
To which Kyle, Dorit, and myself all say in unison: Oh, you sweet summer child.
Kyle and Dorit don't exactly blow the entire party up, but the "stuff" they have "going on" is the definition of "petty." And we didn't even know about it! Ahead of the party, Kyle and Dorit both start talking to their respective husbands about how much they're dreading seeing one another, and it's revealed to us via flashback that they had an altercation on the plane home from Lake Tahoe. Apparently, Dorit was having a serious conversation with Crystal about the weekend's tense events when Kyle poked her head into the aisle to say she wanted to interject something. Dorit did not want her to interject something and squealed, "Kyle, let someone finish a sentence, and then talk!" So, Kyle squealed back: "Let other people talk too, then, let other people get their voice in!"
This is a tale as old as time with Kyle and Dorit. Kyle thinks Dorit talks too much, and Dorit thinks Kyle interrupts her all the time. But while Dorit seems pretty content to just be annoyed with Kyle sometimes, Kyle can only be content if things are discussed and moved on from immediately. So, she gives herself an Applebee's-pour of white wine, asks Dorit to go talk, and won't stop staring at her until Dorit agrees. Spoiler alert: It does not go well! Both of them think the other one was the cause of their issue on the plane, and when Kyle tells Dorit to never talk like that to her again if she values their friendship, Dorit sees it as Kyle being ready to throw their friendship away because of one heated moment…
Really, Dorit does talk too much, Kyle does interrupt too much, and maybe those are just things they can know about one another and not get so worked up about next time? But probably not because Dorit leaves the party after saying "I'm GOOD" (but pronouncing it like "good't") a bunch of times.
Elsewhere, Crystal decides that it's important for her new friends to know something about her: she's a recovering bulimic. After Crystal offhandedly says that the stress of last weekend made her lose five pounds, and everyone cheerfully responds that it's great, she tells them, well no, it's not great, because she has issues with food that she needs to keep an eye on. "I just want the girls to know how hyper-aware I am of my weight, and the sort of struggles I go through," Crystal says in her testimonial. Giving your friends the opportunity to be sensitive to your personal and specific needs, and not just demanding to never be interrupted, or telling them you need them to talk less for no reason - how novel!
It's a nice moment, and everyone responds supportively. But personally, I related most to Kathy in this episode, who takes every opportunity possible to try and get any morsel of information about what's going on with Erika. Kathy either doesn't yet know how to play the game of pretending to be demure on camera regarding other people's misfortune yet, or she doesn't care about appearing demure at all. I so hope it's the latter, and that she never changes. After all, it's pretty normal to want to know more information about a wild reveal that came with absolutely no details. You can care about your friend, and be empathetic about what she may be going through, while still wanting to know… when, why, and how the hell she's going through it.
When Kathy arrives at Kyle's party, she's immediately asking if anyone has spoken to Erika; when she and Kyle visit Sutton's store, she's saying they need to "figure this thing out," and demanding to know if anyone has reached out to Erika beyond texting (and you have to wonder what other forms of communication Kathy is hoping for here, given that this is a woman notorious for reaching out to her loved ones via public Instagram comment, sometimes from accounts that aren't hers). For the record, Garcelle is also down to mine the Erika topic a little more than the others, but she doesn't appear until the final scene of the episode: Sutton's party, of aforementioned flash-forward fame.
Since Sutton hasn't been able to make a single trip to Paris this year, she wants to bring Paris to the other women…
Which she does by filling her house (er, Kyle's house, and don't you dare forget it, or Kyle will remind you) with a s--- ton of roses, jewelry with price tags, and mannequins wearing all of the black and white clothes from her store. I don't take quite as many trips to France as Sutton, but the general combination of "wedding" and "retail" wasn't exactly screaming "Parisian" to me. Either way, everyone wore polka dots and/or Louis Vuitton, and gathered 'round the champagne tray to await their much-anticipated guest: Erika Jayne, née Girardi.
Erika has confirmed to Sutton that she'll be attending the party, so while everyone waits, they discuss how not a single one of them knew this was coming. Garcelle is especially surprised since she was the one who had a conversation with Erika just days ago about how Tom was doing - great! - and she can't help but think of how proud and happy Erika seemed from the very first conversation they ever had about Tom.
"Shouldn't she… wait?" Garcelle asks the group.
They all blink back at her…
"For what?" Rinna asks, blankly. "For what?" the rest say over top of one another.
Garcelle blinks back at them; bugs her eyes.
Dorit begins to rustle. "I literally know what you're thinking right now," Dorit says, aghast.
"I don't know, I just feel like they've been married for that long," Garcelle nudges…
"OH STOP IT, GARCELLE!" they all scream as if it is the most absurd thing in the world to wonder why, after being married to a wealthy older man for this long, Erika has up and decided to divorce him now, as he enters his 80s.
You are allowed to be curious about curious events!!! And Erika seems to agree:
"I know they have questions," she says once more in her voiceover, as the scene from earlier kicks back into play. Erika saunters up the walkway, swings open the door, and - I swear to you - prepares for her close-up, Mr. DeMille. It is not the look of a woman who's ready to eat any sort of crow… nor is it the look of a woman who's devastated… nor is it the obvious look of a woman with the moral weight of widows and trauma-survivors on her shoulders…
Frankly, I don't know what kind of look it is - but I'm sure ready to find out. See you back here next week for more editing shenanigans, but surely an actual conversation between Erika and her co-workers (if it's the last thing Kathy Hilton does).