Vanderpump Rules has managed to become one of the most beloved—or reviled, depending where on the reality television spectrum you fall—shows in recent history. Once a mere spin-off of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, today VPR stands on its own merits, those merits being tequila shots, screaming in alleyways, love triangles, Taco Bell, fluid friendships, and a very flexible definition of feminism. Now the cast is back for season 8, and we’ll be doing weekly Vanderpump Rules recaps.
Our recaps will give you the need-to-know details and rehash relevant backstories so you’ll leave with an intimate knowledge of our SURvers’ neverending saga. Oh, and there will be GIFs. See You Next Tuesday! (Er, Wednesdays to be exact.)
Vanderpump Rules recap, season 8, episode 8: “Ex Best Man, Ex Best Friend”
The VPR crew is still reeling from last week’s drama, wherein Tom Sandoval confronted Jax and Brittany about the fact that they didn’t fire their homophobic, transphobic wedding pastor until after Lisa Vanderpump confronted them about his statements. Sandoval was relatively gentle (if mildly self-serving), but Jax nearly walked off the set, and Brittany went full Kentucky (you never go full Kentucky) and encouraged her fiance to punch Sandoval in the face.
Lines have been drawn: Jax says Sandoval is out of the bridal party, and out of the wedding unless he grovels. Brittany is upset Ariana hasn’t come to check on her, since it’s her wedding. These two are becoming an amalgam of terrible wedding cliches.
Soon, Jax heads to SUR, where Sandoval is working a shift to tell him he’s out of the wedding unless he apologizes. Aaaaahhhhh yes, a classic VPR alleyway confrontation! As these kids grow out of their big-box apartments and into turnkey houses, it’s delightful to see them pull up a couple of disgusting chairs that sit next to a dumpster and have a tete-a-tete behind SUR. The tete-a-tete does not go well: Neither of the men is much for backing down, and their respective personalities are such that they perfectly trigger the other. Jax’s ego is intensely out of control and he’s clinging desperately to the life raft of relevance that is his wedding. And Sandoval has staked his reputation on holding the moral high ground (which, to be clear, he has in this situation) and leaving no room for conversation. Neither will give an inch. (Again, to be clear, Sandoval needs to give an inch and Jax needs to give several miles.) Jax announces to Sandoval he’s out of the wedding---he will not be a best man, a groomsman, or even a guest.
Later, Sandoval heads to TomTom where he and Ariana meet up with Katie, Schwartz, and Beau. A moment of praise for Katie: In seasons past, she gets the “crazy” edit. She screams and starts fights and gets too drunk; she generally comes off as unhappy and unwilling to let anyone around her be too happy. I’ve always thought this was relatively unfair; she’s had to deal with cheating rumors regarding her boyfriend’s/husband’s infidelity, intense bullying from James, and the all-around catty behavior that has existed within her friend group. But finally, Katie is getting hers: Her marriage appears to be in a good place, she owns a home, she isn’t working at SUR, and she gets to hang out at TomTom as a sort of queen bee. Life is good! And this year, she’s consistently been the voice of reason, the one you feel yourself nodding in agreement with. Yes, Sandoval can be difficult, but Jax is hugely overreacting. Also, she looks amazing.
While you might nod in agreement with Katie, moments later, if you have a heart, you will find yourself tearing up with the Toms. Sandoval delivers that news that he won’t be at the wedding, and he and Schwartz break down together. Schwartz worries he won't be able to carry best man duties on his own, and Sandoval adorably promises to help him behind the scenes. But what they’re actually crying about is the dissolution of their friendship.
It’s always been Jax and the Toms, and it’s been falling apart all season---for years, realistically. Jax is never going to un-Jax, and the Toms are growing into men who don’t tolerate a lot of the things he’s going to do and say. They’ve grown closer, while Jax has become something of an island in the group. Which, to be fair, he always sort of wanted to be (because he’s the No.1 guy in the group): But he wanted to be a mountain that the two of them looked up to, not the black sheep that needed to be dragged along the path toward becoming respectable human being. But here we are.
While the Toms console one another and honestly, have all the feelings you have when you’re realizing certain friendships aren’t going to make it, Jax is growing closer to someone else: Randall Emmett. Randall. Rand. Finally, we meet Lala’s boyfriend, a mystery man whose name wasn’t even uttered in earlier seasons of the show (because he was finalizing a divorce). Now the two are engaged and Randall is making his VPR debut. I could probably write an entire essay on this reveal, but I’ll keep it short: For starters, I’m more charmed by this man than I want to be. He clearly worships Lala and at least for cameras, appears to be kind to his friends as well as restaurant waitstaff. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from someone who takes these kinds of selfies and (poorly) feuds with 50 Cent. Also, I hated The Irishmen; it’s a movie about old white men made by sort of old white men for old (and I guess not old) white men. There, I said it!
That said, I like Rand! I can’t help it! The man ordered a fried chicken sandwich, double the chicken, hold the sandwich, and celebrated it like a child being told, sure, go for it, mix all the sodas into one cup. My dude charters private jets, and yet, has an intensely human reaction to his dope dinner order.
I’ve said more than I intended to, but the real point here is that at dinner, Jax and Brittany ask Randall to step in for Sandoval as a groomsman. The only chink in Randall’s armor I see so far is that he is a yes man to the Nth degree, and it’s a little weird that someone of his age and success wants into this group so badly. What’s the draw? Maybe he wants a little more household notoriety. Or maybe he just really loves Lala. Whatever the reason, he is sucking up to Jax so hard that it’s unpleasant to watch.
So Sandoval is out, but Ariana is still in---though, she’s uncertain she will be able to stomach going to the wedding, as a bridesmaid, without her boyfriend. Later, Stassi and Lala confront her, trying to convince her that if she and Sandoval can just roll out and apologize and beg, they will be allowed to go to the wedding and everything will be fine. But Ariana breaks, and explains that all of this is bigger than the wedding: She tells them she’s struggling with her mental health and that this group is not a safe place to have or talk about those feelings in. They understand, but Ariana is absolutely right. This isn’t a safe place to be a human being with feelings and insecurities and vulnerabilities---made obvious by the jab Jax made at Ariana's expense while at dinner with Lala and Rand. Sandoval should mind his own business, Jax says, and figure out what Ariana's sexuality is. This misplaced burn indicates that Jax is both stupid and cruel, because Ariana is openly bisexual.
I could go on and on about how hypocritical Jax is; he is angry that people are angry he didn't fire his homophobic pastor quickly enough, even though he also doesn't care what said pastor says about anyone... plus, now a gay man is officiating his wedding, so he's angry that acting like he cares about the gay community isn't working! And then, he insults Ariana for being bisexual, while sounding angry. He's very angry. He cares about public perception but also wants to do and say whatever he sees fit. He's the living embodiment of a giant MAGA hat, screaming that the PC police are hindering his rights to free speech. He's indefensible, and Brittany allows it. It's all gross.
After meeting with Stassi and Lala, Ariana falls apart telling Tom she “can’t do this anymore” and that she “wants to leave” her life. I honestly interpret that as she wants to leave this show, leave this group, and ditch L.A., and girl, I can tell you from personal experience, do it: Leave L.A.!
Anyway, this adorable exchange takes place and I’ve never loved Sandoval more.
Honestly, this season, I’ve really fallen for the dude. Schwartz is easy to love, but Sandoval, as tempestuous as he may be, is going down on the right side of VPR history.
And now, for your B and C plot summaries: Brett is interested in Charli, but Scheana is interested in Brett, and thus makes a very sad attempt at disinteresting him in her.
Brett and Charli, I think, eat at Cafe Gratitude, a place I have actually eaten at in L.A. where they make you order like this. Charli, who has never eaten pasta, announces she just tried avocado for the first time this year, to which Brett's face responds appropriately. She is awful.
Now that Dayna and Max are official, Max is seemingly less invested in their relationship. Max is awful.
And there you have it. Next week, we finally find ourselves in Kentucky for the ceremony of the century. Jax and Brittany have squeezed every last privilege out of their engagement and have publicized it so intensely that I cannot wait for it to be over. In the preview, we see Sandoval and Ariana on-site, so obviously things will be at least somewhat settled ahead of leaving L.A. I’m not sure what I’m more excited for: Tom and Ariana to possibly get some sort of justice, or for this wedding to finally be over… who am I kidding they’re going to stretch that thing out for at least two episodes.
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