In hindsight, there was never any doubt that Kim Kardashian would retain the power to describe her own experience being robbed in Paris, that she would never lend her story to any platform other than one already integrated into her life. Thinking back to the weeks following that traumatic event, the speculation about what interviewer she would go with seems naive, when she had all the tools at her disposal to do it in her own time and on her own terms.
Sunday night’s episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was a sharp contrast to the Season 13 premiere the week prior—were this not a reality show, it would fit well into the “very special episode” format favored by after-school sitcoms. Utilizing a variety of stylistic choices, such as title cards and time-jumping, techniques favored in past episodes devoted to serious topics—the episode devoted to Lamar Odom’s overdose, for example—the show explored what the experience of Kim’s robbery was like for her and her family. Six months later, not much was revealed that isn’t already out there; what was notable was the way the story was told. The episode was a potpourri of grainy footage from Kanye West’s documentary team, one camera man filming mostly unmiked individuals, and post-mortems we can assume (though perhaps not with full confidence) were scheduled and planned once proper filming of the show reportedly resumed three weeks after the robbery.
The episode begins the morning after the robbery, with footage of Kim and Kanye entering their apartment in New York with his manager, Kris Jenner and her boyfriend Corey Gamble. None of them are miked; there are subtitles over Kim and Kanye’s words. They speak quietly. “I just don’t want to cry in front of the kids,” Kim says, before they agree they won’t talk about the robbery in front of the kids (though later you see them softly referencing it as North plays in the background). Then, the episode cuts back to a week earlier, when Kim and Kourtney are prepping for Paris, which requires a lot of dress fittings. That continues when they get to Paris, with filming at Balmain and Givenchy. The sisters aren’t miked for much of this either (perhaps it would have gotten in the way of the clothes, or perhaps they weren’t sure they’d use any of this footage in the first place; in past episodes, they’ve often been more spare when filming the more high-end parts of their life, such as their forays in the fashion world). We see Kanye fly to Paris for a day because, in Kim’s words, he “saw pictures online of an outfit I was in, and was like, I have to fly out there and help you with your looks.” There is mention of the “prankster” who tried to kiss Kim’s butt and was handled by her security, and Kim with a man at Givenchy lightly joking about Snapchat. Because we know what is going to happen later that night, every event, bad or good, feels more significant—the family is being set up for the fall.
The evening of the robbery, the timestamps begin, noting when Kim and Kourtney get dressed and head to see Kendall walk for Givenchy. (We learn Kourtney has never seen Kendall walk in a fashion show before.) And then the show starts to take on a bit of an E! True Hollywood Story feel—there is footage from Kanye’s documentary team of him finding out about the robbery during his show, b-roll of police cars, images of news articles and anchors talking about the robbery.
Rob is nowhere to be found save for a FaceTime call he makes to his sisters during the episode’s last scene, and Kylie is not seen once. Instead, Kourtney, Kendall, Kris, and (briefly) Khloe recount in interviews what happened when they found out about the news. Back in New York, there’s footage of the family sitting around discussing security, with the camera switching between Kanye’s team and another shooter not utilizing Kanye’s preferred home video-style filter. “They would have known that if anything had happened to you I wouldn’t have stopped until they were dead,” Kanye says to Kim of the robbers. The family discusses how they’re going to have to the around-the-clock security. On the plane back to Los Angeles, Kim remarks how she hasn’t had her phone, but has now seen that people are speculating the robbery might be fake: “Why would I want me to look unsafe for people to target me?” she asks.
It is only at the end of the episode that more detailed sit-down interviews with Kim go further into what happened from her perspective, though much of it repeats the since-released police reports from the robbery. It is her additional commentary that is the most jarring: she says she was “fully mentally prepped” to be raped by the men, and adds, “I just prayed that Kourtney’s going to have a normal life after she sees my dead body on the bed.”
The episode ends with a family video Kim originally released online soon after the New Year (that has since been taken down) set to a Jeremih song. It was part of her return to social media after her post-robbery hiatus, and features grainy family images in the style recently favored by herself (and Kanye). There’s also footage of Kim hugging Khloe and Kourtney at the end of their discussion about the robbery. Next week’s episode purports to show more of her emotional fall-out after the experience, as well as Kendall’s struggle with her stalker; the rest of the season will likely address what Kim only briefly mentioned in this week’s episode—the tension between her need to take care of herself and Kanye’s breakdown.
On Twitter before the episode, Kim noted that it was “going to be very tough for me,” before adding, “However, I thought it was important to share this story through my eyes and not in an interview where my own words could be twisted.”
“I have always shared so much and I’m not going to hold back when this was probably one of the most life changing experiences for me,” she said. “I took a tragic horrific experience and did not let it diminish me, rather grew and evolved and allowed the experience to teach me.”
“I can say I’ve become so much better because of it... thank you for allowing me to share my story tonight.”