Image via Bravo.

I think it would be fair to say that this season of Vanderpump Rules has been kind of stale, comparatively. With most of the cast entering their thirties and settling down into long-term relationships, a severe vacuum of authentic drama has unfortunately been filled by the deadening specter of the “woodsy elegance” wedding between Tom Schwartz and Katie Maloney, a couple who, it might surprise you, are actually not LARP-ing a Psychology 101 textbook but do in fact appear to harbor intense feelings of resentment and disdain towards each other.

So after many, many, many episodes centered around Katie’s drunken pouting and Schwartz’s whiny passive aggression, the Bravo gods have finally rewarded us with some good television. The cast is in New Orleans celebrating Tom and Katie’s bachelor and bachelorette parties, and the group is essentially split between the groomsmen, who mostly believe (correctly) that Tom and Katie shouldn’t get married (spoiler: they do), and the bridesmaids, who mostly believe that Tom should just admit he had sex with a girl in Vegas two years ago and that would solve everything and Katie will move on and they can get married and be happy.

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“Dude, at the end of the day, you don’t want to spend the rest of your life like this,” Jax, a broken clock who is apparently right twice a day, whispers to Schwartz at lunch. Schwartz, who is possibly blackout drunk for this entire trip, looks down at his feet like the crumbly remnants of a human; Tom Sandoval, true to form, begins crying and yelling at Tom Schwartz about what a good person he is. “I feel helpless,” Sandoval sobs in an interview.

Later, the groomsmen cheer themselves up enough to get dressed up in full drag, including tucks, with the help of a real queen, while the bridesmaids hire a stripper for Katie. “There are so many gender stereotypes being broken right now!” Ariana exclaims. Sandoval, bustling around in his kimono, has clearly been waiting for this moment for a long time and serves up not one but two distinct looks (“with the blonde, I’m giving it this more sassy, sexy, youthful look,” he explains). Meanwhile, at bachelorette headquarters, Kristen says “the stripper’s, like, really fun. She’s a girl’s girl.”

Image via Bravo.

Katie and Tom had been sniping at each other all day and apparently also off-camera, but everything is actually fine, Katie contends. Sometimes she and Tom take their fights too far, Katie acknowledges in an interview, but “that’s our relationship, and if you have a problem with that then be glad it’s not yours.” I mean, I am?

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Eventually, of course, Kristen gets involved, ever the infidelity detective and determined to relitigate Schwartz cheating on Katie in Las Vegas. While this certainly does seem like an issue that a couple about to get married should deal with, and likely is a source of at least some of their problems, Kristen is aggressive and Schwartz is drunk; the latter, still in full drag, storms away from her, yelling “Doute is the same basic bitch I always knew she was!” Schwartz and Sandoval, who are still in full drag, proceed to get into a yelling match with Kristen’s boyfriend Carter about whether Schwartz actually fucked a girl in Vegas while Jax and Brittany listen from behind their door (“that’s war out there,” Jax whispers). Carter eventually tells Sandoval, in what I guess is supposed to be an insult, “You grew up and you became Sia.”

“Your penis was not capable of going inside [the Las Vegas girl],” Sandoval quietly reassures Schwartz; we realize here that a main issue is that Schwartz was likely too drunk at the time to remember whether he actually had sex with this person or not. “Sorry, but it wasn’t,” Sandoval reaffirmed, for some reason confident on this point.

According to previews, next week’s episode will include Tom Schwartz refusing to marry his fiancée and Tom Sandoval literally kicking open a door to show a crying Schwartz (they’re all still in drag, by the way) while making the fairly offensive and dubious claim that his friend is like “a battered woman!”

Personally, I’m looking forward to continuing this celebration of love and fidelity.