When Ludwig van Beethoven completed his Fifth Symphony, he turned to his dear friend at the time, Stephan von Breuning, shrugged, and said, “Who gon’ check me, boo?” Thus the legend of “Who gon’ check me, boo?” began. That story is completely fabricated, but there are at least two people in the world who would believe it and run with it: Phaedra Parks and Porsha Williams.
Phaedra and all her treachery came undone in last night’s reunion finale, an hour-long dragging that was a long time coming. When Bravo announced that the Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 9 reunion would be spread out over four weeks, it was clear that Andy Cohen was ready to milk this stressful tragedy for the highest of ratings. Now we see why the three parts were necessary to set up this epic ending. In fact, the whole season served as a setup for the undoing of Phaedra, the Southern sinning saint who may or may not have been fired from the show.
Fortunately, rather than drag us through additional jokes about dating rich Africans, the episode opens with the bombshell we’ve been waiting for. Part 3 of the reunion last Sunday left off with Porsha revealing where she had heard the rumors that Kandi and her husband Todd allegedly wanted to drug Porsha and take her back to their home, as well as the rumor that Todd masqueraded as “Marvin” to cheat on Kandi. This was all discussed in that dinner scene between Kandi and Porsha during the lesbian drama episode.
Porsha says the rumors she spouted came from Phaedra. And of course, it was Phaedra the long-con queen who planted the seeds of this mess. “Yoouuuu said that??” Kandi squealed. Yes, Phaedra was the secret investor in this Fyre Festival storyline all along.
Right away, in last night’s finale, a crying Porsha confronts Phaedra about the one-on-one conversations they’d had about Kandi. “I repeated it ’cause I heard it,” Phaedra says of the rumor, giving the worst excuse. Porsha corrects her: “No, she [Kandi] said it to you, Phaedra... You told me she said it to you.”
Do we have any answers as to why Phaedra lied about the Kandi rumors or where she got the rumor from? No.
Everyone’s yelling at Phaedra to speak and clear things up. A sobbing Kandi stresses that Phaedra basically accused her of rape.
Cynthia’s mouth and her beautiful blown-out hair are agape.
Sheree is trying to console Porsha, who’s still crying into Phaedra’s bosom, despite the betrayal.
Phaedra is stoic.
Kenya is fake incredulous about Phaedra—“There’s no tears even coming out your eyes,” Kenya mutters.
And Todd is the one-man chorus and part-time psychologist of the group. “It’s the Pinocchio Complex,” he diagnoses.
This is the moment that Porsha, who said “I don’t feel controlled” in a previous reunion episode, realizes she’s being controlled and she leaves the stage.
In an earlier reunion scene, Inspector Sheree made the point that the reason she refuses to keep secrets is because she understands common sense—these women will see this on TV anyway, so why lie. It’s unclear why Phaedra was so focused on keeping up the farce of being the saint of this franchise, but maybe it had something to do with having famous, influential friends like Omarosa.
Unlike the Kardashians with their E! show, none of these women truly have control over what Bravo airs, so it’s common for the cast to assume their best bet is to devise plots, lie and hope the storylines fall in their favor. Phaedra’s real-time unraveling was the awful, tragically entertaining stuff only reality television could produce. “Drag her!” says Todd, who really could’ve used some popcorn on this show.
Andy, naturally, performed this reunion autopsy with a strange level of distant fascination. Behind the scenes in the break room, when Kandi asks for his thoughts on what happened, he tells her, “I’m shocked...” in the monotone voice of a host who just wants these women to go back out there and talk it out for ratings.
It’s almost admirable how much Phaedra keeps up her wall of silence the entire time, cops to nothing, continues to lie, apologizes reluctantly, and responds mostly with blinks or blank stares. At some point, viewers (and Andy) have to wonder what’s going through her mind. “Phaedra, you knew she was bringing it out on television,” says Andy. “Are you that mad at her?” Phaedra says no (but means yes?) and reiterates that she “shouldn’t have repeated” the drugging rumor. Or is she the one who made it up?
“Just say ‘I lied’!” Todd proclaims.
By the end of the reunion, Kandi has been vindicated, but we still don’t know Phaedra’s motives or intentions. We’re all exhausted. As entertaining as the reunion turned out, it’s mind-boggling to know the amount of malice that goes on behind the scenes among women who pretend to be friends for a show, but so goes the art of manipulation. Real Housewives is their livelihood and they’ll do anything to maintain their positions both on the show and in real life.
“You got caught in a megawatt lie. I don’t know that you’ve completely copped to it,” Andy tells Phaedra, who responds with silence. He adds, “I’m trying to figure out what’s going on in your mind because you’re very—”
“Calculated,” Kandi finishes.
Phaedra says she didn’t think it would happen like this, aka she wished she had gotten away with it. “What more can I do?” Phaedra wonders.
Somewhere, Kim Fields is quietly laying back and giggling while reading a good book.