April 12, 2024

Ariana and Sandoval finally become furious with each other

Ariana Madix’s life may seem better than ever, but it’s become abundantly clear that she’s still reeling from the scandal and struggling to come to terms with it all. After weeks of stonewalling, Ariana finally snapped at not just Tom Sandoval, but the entire cast this week, unleashing the anger and resentment she’s built up in the wake of her new reality.

Even though we’re only 10 episodes in Vanderpump Rules‘ new era, it’s almost hard to remember how different things were before. Just two seasons ago, Ariana and Sandoval were still a power couple, while Katie and Schwartz were married (certainly not a power couple, but married nonetheless). This entire season felt like one long, drawn-out epilogue, and in many ways placed each cast member in a role that was foreign to them. That’s what makes Katie and Schwartz’s funny consistency stand out amid a sea of ​​change.

For no matter how different everything has become, those two are an ever-present constant, serving as a nice reminder that dysfunction will always be at the heart of this show. It’s night and day watching Katie and Schwartz coexist on-screen as they battle the cold war unfolding between Ariana and Sandoval. The two have completely stayed away from each other for the entire season, and their first words spoken to each other didn’t happen until the ninth episode. But once they started, neither of them could stop this week, leading to an all-out carnage.

It starts with Ariana and assistant Ann organizing a secret meeting behind Tom’s back. Well, it’s not really a secret since Tom and Ariana still share a house and the meeting took place in their kitchen. It’s kind of funny how transparent Ann’s whole grievances are here, and I respect it. Ann takes a job as Sandoval’s assistant at the height of his villainous streak just to gain sympathy and sneak up on Ariana, all in a ruse to start a podcast and make a few bucks off her quest for fame, and Ann has it all figured out. Turns out some people have the… Vanderpump Rules social climbing spirit alive and well.

Ann is evil in the funniest way. And luckily for her, once Sandoval finds out she’s in cahoots with Ariana, he kicks her to the curb so she can start part two of her master plan. Crazy Sandoval doesn’t even realize he’s playing right into her hands. Godspeed, Ann; I look forward to the CliffsNotes of your tell-all.

While Sandoval and Ariana have largely kept their distance, they finally come face to face at Lala’s water tasting. Yes, you read that correctly. Lala had a water tasting with a sommelier. As someone who is also a passionate water drinker, I admit to being intrigued, but unfortunately for Lala, most of her peers can’t say the same. Scheana shows up with Smirnoff pink lemonade, while Katie just wishes Jesus could come and turn this water into wine. James, even though he’s sober, would just prefer a Diet Coke. This is simply not a water group. I mean, Katie’s nickname isn’t Tap Water Katie, is it?

Tasting the water goes smoothly, but the tension between Ariana and Sandoval only increases as the day goes on. First, the pizza arrives without ranch, and Sandoval chases the driver to see if he has it, much to Ariana and Katie’s annoyance. I understand, I like ranch with pizza too and I won’t apologize, but I could get a Cobb salad if I ordered a pepperoni pizza and I still wouldn’t say anything. That driver doesn’t get paid enough to deal with Sandoval harassing him for a ranch.

Interestingly, Scheana noticeably dips her pizza in ranch, which begs the question: Was there always ranch? Did they have some in the fridge? Did the group set up a ranch very quickly? Unfortunately we will never know.

When the group splits in two to eat, Lala and Scheana nudge Ariana into coming up with a reasonable mediation situation with Sandoval, while Brock does the same with Sandoval outside. The conversation turns from productive to explosive in an instant when Sandoval walks in with Ariana calling him an “attempted dog killer.” This comes after Sandoval let Ariana’s dog Maya into her room while Ariana was away, and Maya munched on skewers from a takeout box left on her bedside table, leading to an expensive hospital visit.

It’s definitely not a blameless situation, as most people should know better than to leave takeout food on their bedside table, especially in a home with pets. It’s also understandable why Ariana would be upset about the situation, and it’s clear that neither of them are in a rational head space to take responsibility. Lala makes the best, or at least the funniest, point in her confessional: “Throw away your trash. Didn’t you advertise garbage bags? Shouldn’t you know how to throw trash in the trash?”

Sandoval does not take the accusation lightly and withdraws after weeks of impasse. Obviously no one wants to be accused of trying to Cruella de Vil on someone else’s dog, so I guess this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The fight quickly escalates, with the two directly expressing all their grudges for the first time all season.

‘Don’t go to my room. That’s the only safe place I have in that house, because you fucking destroyed it,” reminds Ariana Sandoval, who feels like she’s retreating considering Maya is still very much alive.

Scheana Shay, Ariana Madix, Lala Kent

(l-r) Scheana Shay, Ariana Madix, Lala Kent

Casey Durkin/Bravo

Now that he has her attention, Sandoval brings up the house, a topic that Ariana is not happy about. Her lawyer reportedly hasn’t responded to Sandoval’s buyout offer in two months (a claim Ariana doesn’t deny), but that’s only because he types out a well-thought-out response, Ariana says. I also love how seriously she says it. All I know is that Ariana knew how to expertly talk her way out of a forgotten high school homework assignment.

Ariana’s outright anger is so genuine, even if it’s almost uncomfortable to watch. It’s a relief to see her let go of everything and actually explore this grief, as she clearly feels immense sadness for what she has lost, despite all the opportunities this scandal has presented her. And while it falls on deaf ears, Scheana and Lala (and somehow Brock and James) make good points that Ariana needs to let go of her anger so she can truly move on. No, she doesn’t have to forgive or like Sandoval. He clearly ruined that forever, and no one should expect her to ever let the past be over. But it is not implausible to hope that she could reach a point of indifference.

Of course, the other side is a little more cynical. Scheana and Lala have been well aware all season that they have to put on a good show, and the realization that Ariana may never reach a point of neutrality with Sandoval worries them deeply. Maybe that’s why those two bought houses in the Valley, just in case a certain spinoff needs newbies.

Meanwhile, while Sandoval and Ariana battle it out inside, Schwartz and Katie have a polite chat outside. There’s something charming about how this couple, who’s been through a rollercoaster relationship, marriage, and divorce, is somehow the show’s most stable dynamic. That probably shows how ill-fated their relationship always was, as these two clearly should never have gotten married.

As they calmly shoo away Katie, who may be sleeping with Schwartz’s boyfriend Max, their fight is interrupted by the screaming match inside. The two just call it a day and move on. One thing Schwartz and Katie have in common is a quiet work ethic, and as soon as they heard others making a scene, they immediately clocked out. They don’t work hard, and they don’t play hard. They just float through it.

The next day, Scheana hosts a beach get-together, yet another opportunity for Sandoval and Ariana to vent their frustrations with the other. Producers revealed that they had a mid-season “Come to Jesus” meeting with the cast to break the impasse, and it’s pretty clear that these back-to-back group events are a result of that after eight episodes of no interaction between the exes. Scheana briefly tries to invite Sandoval to the event, but producer Brock quickly vetoes it.

Beach Day once again offers a contrast of how starkly different the exes live together. As Katie and Schwartz lightly banter about him cheating on her, Brock brings up Rachel and Sandoval’s affair the second time, Ariana ends the conversation and begins the second round of her and Sandoval’s verbal feud. Well, it lasts about a minute before she repeats ad nauseam, “Stop talking to me.”

“Everything I do or say is clearly a trigger for Ariana. I had this delusion that we would be even more civilized than Tom and Katie,” Sandoval says in a confessional.

It’s funny that he thought this would end differently, especially since this is the second time he’s started an affair with a co-star, and his latest is Kristen. Sandoval should know by now that divorces are never so calm and rational when there are issues involved. But I wonder how different things would have been if he had broken up with her without cheating. Part of me thinks this path of deep-seated hatred between the two was simply inevitable, but we’ll never know as Sandoval took the messiest route possible.

After Sandoval walks away, Ariana again shares her frustrations with the group. It’s pretty clear that she feels trapped. She doesn’t want to let go of this platform, but despises the fact that it means filming with Sandoval, and she finds out in real time how difficult that is. And it’s interesting to see how she then lashes out at the rest of the group, because Ariana is usually so passive.

It’s not easy to be thrust into a leadership role after years on the sidelines, and it’s clear that Ariana misses the days when she could simply exist among the group at ease. She’s never really been a reality TV strategist, and that puts her at odds with her friends, who want to add a timeline to her grief for the sake of their jobs. Everyone’s position here is understandable, as reality TV inherently inhibits the typical functions of reality, and Ariana finally standing up and fighting is a much-needed progression to keep this season moving.

So yeah, the season was awkward and perhaps the most suspension of disbelief in Bravo history (certainly in VPR‘s), but it’s a fascinating look at the aftermath of a scandal and the more nuanced side of reality. It hasn’t been the most linear journey, nor the most flattering portrayal of any of these characters, but it’s a necessary evolution of the Vanderpump Rules formula. Who knows how sustainable this is, but it is still a fascinating season.

Also, there’s no other place to mention this, but whoever is working on the transitional stock footage is doing a great job. The random shot of ants eating an orange was an inspired addition.

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