Can you imagine if this was your group chat drama? Can you imagine if, at happy hour after work, or on a girls’ trip, or at the cocktail hour of a wedding… instead of discussing how one friend overheard another friend call her dress “a little showy,” or discussing if there’s ever a good time to tell a girlfriend that her boyfriend is a dillweed… you were instead discussing if there’s ever a good time to ask your girlfriend if she knew that her husband was committing federal crimes that ultimately robbed millions of dollars from widows and orphans worldwide. And even if she didn’t know, does she consider the rewards she reaped from those stolen millions to be complicit in the crime?
Can you imagine being Crystal, who met this woman approximately 10 minutes ago, and is now required to sit through multiple traumatic dinners with her, and just hope she doesn’t get subpoenaed to verify a story about a man she’s literally never met?
CAN YOU IMAGINE??? For this reason, and many more, reader, we are on our couches watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and not receiving a fat check from Bravo to actually navigate this labyrinth of emotions and legalities. Except for Sutton, of course, who’s simply decided to draw a line in this labyrinth’s sand…
Well, sort of. We re-enter Sutton’s summit right where we left off last week, and the woman is absolutely spitting fire. She eased everyone in by talking about the “red flags” she started noticing in La Quinta, but now she’s throwing down the gauntlet. She says that she’s on boards, she has businesses, and she doesn’t really want her reputation associated with someone that might be complicit in everything that was laid out in the L.A. Time exposé. “Oh, I don’t care about that; I don’t care about,” Rinna chimes in, saying that she’s not worried about her reputation or being connected with Erika, and wondering how Sutton could possibly be worried about herself when their friend is hurting…
And isn’t this episode’s timing just something given recent suspicion about business ties between Lisa Rinna and EJ Global, et al. “Princesses worry about their reputations — queens don’t,” Rinna smirks in her testimonial, never seeming to realize that she is almost always the jester in these situations.
I think the bottom line is that Sutton isn’t good enough friends with Erika to stand by her blindly (like, say, Rinna is), but she knows her just well enough to know that some of these stories aren’t adding up. Namely, she notes, the narrative that Erika was schilling throughout the entire La Quinta trip that Tom’s mental decline started three years ago when he was in a car accident that Erika described as minor at the time, but now describes as everything from Tom being unconscious for 12 hours, to Tom driving off a cliff, to Tom sustaining a serious head injury that was never documented…
Which just so happens to be the narrative that Tom’s lawyers are also floating. Rinna keeps saying that there’s no proof that Erika is lying to them, but the proof is all over Kyle’s La Quinta walls. Erika’s entire description of her divorce from Tom hinges on the idea that she’s been lying to these women about Tom and her relationship with him for years. But now, they’re supposed to believe her explicitly… and Sutton just can’t.
At the mention of the car accident, some of the other women start to get onboard with Sutton’s skepticism. Kyle hasn’t read the L.A. Times article because it was simply too long (Kyle… come on), but she did have Faye’s lawyer-husband explain it to her, and she’s starting to get a little nervous about her former declaration that she’s a friend who would be there for Erika no matter what. (Dorit says that she also sought council, and the editors hilariously flashback to her consulting PK and his one client: notorious legal expert Boy George.) Because when Kyle said she’d be there for Erika, she thought she meant through a messy divorce… not through her messy connection to a federal crime.
Dorit, as always, is extremely vocal, noting a number of times that she wants to be there for Erika, but she doesn’t want her support of Erika to be misconstrued as supporting Tom taking $2 million dollars in settlements from orphans and widows…
‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’
At that point, Sutton is like, you’re working with old numbers, babe, let me pull out my notes. This woman pulls out a crisp stack of printed pages and starts reading aloud that in just one 2010 case, Tom won a $12 million settlement for a burn victim who allegedly only ever receivef $1 million of it, and is now suing Tom and Erika for the remaining money. And that was 10 years ago, not three years ago, following a Wile E. Coyote car wreck. “Is it a coincidence that both Erika and Tom’s attorneys have the same story?” Sutton asks in her testimonial. “I’m just saying: two plus two equals four, and I’m not even good at math.”
Kyle finally speaks up, saying: “So the question is, did Erika know about these things, or did she not?” But Sutton takes it a step further: “I just don’t think that ignorance is an excuse when she’s so smart. You gotta choose — are you gonna be smart, or are you gonna be blissful?”
And I simply cannot believe this was the woman who had to bring her security-jade-roller to make it through a conversation with Crystal a few weeks ago. But nothing shores up a socialite’s nerves quite like a threat to their well-crafted reputation, so Sutton’s spine is made of steel right now. And the ladies all agree: it’s time to stop being polite and start getting real. Kyle says they need to flat-out ask her the next time they’re all together: “Did you know the money that was going to you was meant for these victims?” And Rinna is all, “Then ask her,” as though she didn’t accuse Garcelle of going way too far for asking her the exact same question not 24 hours ago. But now that the line in the sand has been drawn, everyone agrees that if they’re going to continue to support Erika, they need to know for certain what she knew and when she knew it…
As if she’s going to be able to tell them that on primetime national television with an episode of Watch What Happens Live featuring the cute teens from Outer Banks or whatever immediately following her confession!!!!
No, these women will get absolutely nowhere, and they know it. Alas, Kyle’s Christmas dinner rolls around with only a tiny scene of Garcelle’s cute grandchildren as buffer (as well as the announcement that Teddi will be attending, followed by an absolutely cricket-filled pause when Dorit receives the news). The women titter when Erika arrives last, seeming very somber and a little overly bronzed, but there nonetheless. They fill their plates and manage to make it through the eating portion of the dinner just fine until Dorit, for some reason, says that Erika must be blindsided by everything that comes out. Erika says she is, and there’s more coming (which seems… a smidge contradictory)…
And this is the moment I have to take a break and get a snack because I need a solid stomach to handle the look I see come into Sutton’s eye next. She asks Erika: “But do you really not have — are you truly blindsided or do you have some sort of…”
She trails off. Erika purrs, “Yes, go ahead, ask this question.” Sutton asks if Erika is getting tipped off before some of this goes to the press, and Erika does that thing where she swings her head around dramatically to the offending party but doesn’t actually look at them. In fact, she will barely look at Sutton for the rest of the conversation, even though they’re sitting right next to one another. Sutton says she’s confused about the timeline she read in the L.A. Times article, and Crystal chimes in from the end of the table that that’s her biggest question too: “I was so sad about Tom and what happened three years ago, but things started happening before three years ago, so that, for me, was my question.”
Crystal will be the only person who asks the exact same questions at Kyle’s Christmas Dinner as she did at Sutton’s Saturday Summit because Crystal only ever had one question she wanted to ask. Because she also probably knew that Erika would only ever have one answer…
“I don’t know,” Erika responds. “I know what I’ve seen in the last 3.5 years —”
“Well, the burn victim thing was 10 years ago,” Sutton interrupts, and it is invigorating but also terrifying. Sutton is asking the questions, she’s listing the facts, but honestly, she’s not doing it quite as well as she did when Erika wasn’t there. Because, I believe, Sutton’s same survival instincts that tell her to stay away from Erika and all her plot holes, are the exact same instincts that tell her not to say those things to Erika in person. Because, right now, Erika is wound so tight that I truly would not be surprised if she picked up a crystal candlestick and banged it over the table like a beer bottle at a bar just off the highway.
And that’s what makes watching the other women try to navigate what they think is the truth without Erika there so much more interesting than watching them try to interrogate Erika. Because only one of those conversations is going to actually reveal anything new. Plus, Sutton and Garcelle are the only ones who have the guts to really ask any questions. Dorit talks a lot, but she hardly says anything of substance. When she starts a monologue off with, “No one is trying to pry, believe me, I understand,” Garcelle has finally had it, and chimes in, “That’s not what you said on Saturday.” (In a week’s time, Dorit will accuse Garcelle of bullying… but Garcelle can’t help but stay on Dorit’s ass when Dorit is constantly exposing it like this.)
This is when it has to be revealed that all of the other women (sans Kathy, who is silent throughout most of this) met the other night to “get on the same page,” which Erika takes to mean they met to decide whether they should support her or not. They all squeal, “Nooooo,” but that’s only because this dinner was supposed to be when they decided whether to support her or not. At Sutton’s Summit, Kyle said they “deserved to know the truth,” but they’re not going to get the truth. They’re going to get the exact same story Erika has been telling, and they have to decide if they believe it or not…
Rinna, for one, thinks that Sutton doesn’t believe Erika wasn’t involved, which she tells Erika at the dinner table. Sutton doesn’t flinch: “It’s the $20 million elephant in the room — why is the paper saying that $20 million went into your LLC?” Erika is absolutely fuming at this point, you just know it, but she can’t find the energy to truly get mad, or upset, or anything. She just goes silent. “The obvious question is, did you know any of this?” Kyle finally asks.
“No, I did not,” Erika grits out. “That’s another question we’ll uncover,” she says of the $20 million that went to her LLC. When Sutton asks if Erika has spoken with Tom’s attorney and that’s why she’s telling a similar story, Dorit suddenly declares that she’s starting to get uncomfortable with these questions (you know, the ones they all agreed they had to ask Erika to move forward).
So Garcelle says she’ll keep it 100 like she always does. She shares that her sister had a kidney transplant that went badly, and has been waiting for years to receive the settlement that a lawyer has been withholding, so she knows firsthand what it means when someone is waiting for compensation. “So, if what Tom did is absolutely true, then f— Tom.” Garcelle has already expressed suspicion at how Erika doesn’t seem to be angry at Tom about what he’s allegedly done at all, and while I believe the true emotion of what Garcelle says here, I also wonder if she’s testing Erika to see how she’ll respond to that…
And how she responds is with the exact same story: what’s being alleged is terrible, but if these terrible things are true, they’re the work of a man who has not been mentally capable of running his firm, and therefore wasn’t doing the right thing. “Because if he stole the money, I’d like to know where it is,” Erika — a woman who has spoken to the press about how she spends right around a half million a year on glam alone and sings a song on her self-funded pop album with the lyrics, “It’s expensive to be me” — concludes, defiantly.
Garcelle interrupts another one of Dorit’s diatribes about how much she loves and cares for Erika, saying, “The victims are the most important thing — you’ll always be okay.” At this point, Erika sits up a little straighter, and honestly, she should send Garcelle a muffin basket because this is the first time I’ve directly heard her show any compassion for the victims all season. She says the victims should come first and “be taken care of,” but “we need to see what this man knows.” Everyone nods sagely, and the conversation heads toward a natural conclusion.
Erika says she has a long road ahead of her, and she appreciates the people who still want to be her friend, “but those who it’s too much for, who feel more comfortable staying away from me, I understand and respect that too.” Kyle apologizes for throwing so many questions at Erika, and before Erika can even say anything, Kathy just husks from the end of the table (while seemingly wielding an eyeliner she’s been working on reapplying): “It’s good practice.” Because Kathy is perhaps the only person in the world who can easily imagine this situation going down in the group chat; she is certainly the only person who has been completely unfazed by this dinner.
Personally, I’ll be calling in at least one sick day to recover. See you back here for the next round with a warm blanket, plenty of fluids, and a stress ball for each hand.