Part 2 of the ‘Vanderpump Rules’ Reunion Is a Mess in the Best Way

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Bravo
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Bravo

Vanderpump Rules just came off an intensely polarizing season, the fan base firmly split down company lines as some yearn for a return to no-holds-barred messiness, while others champion a world in which the sandwich sisters can live their best girlboss life.

That has led to accusations from one side that production is biased, heralding a Tom Sandoval redemption arc in order to save the show, while others feel the “Ariana Madix is an infallible angel” narrative is unsustainable. But the VPR reunion is achieving the impossible, dare I say, giving every type of fan something to talk about.

Part 2 picks up where we left off last week, with Lala finally unleashing on Katie after a season of barely hidden resentment. Although Katie admits that she did vent about Ariana off-camera, she stands 10 toes down that she wasn’t being fake when she spoke a different tune during the season. Schwartz accuses Katie of hiding her true feelings for fear of the pro-Ariana mob cannibalizing her, but Katie doesn’t agree, saying she’s simply moved past those feelings. Ariana comes to her side to remind us that the fans have hated Katie for years, too, so why would she even care?

It’s an amusing defense, albeit one with merit, and it’s a conversation that ultimately paints all the players in a better light. Or, rather, it paints all of them in a more coherent light. It’s too bad we didn’t get more of this context during the season, as it would do the show good to see more of the nuance between even the strongest friendships. It seems pretty clear that Lala’s mad that, when the cameras went up, she and Scheana were hung out to dry, doing the work to produce a watchable show, while Katie got to flutter around on the set of a sandwich shop.

The rift doesn’t resolve, as Andy notes that Katie seems pissed, despite Lala’s best efforts to claim all is hunky dory. It seems that Season 12 will explore that more intensely. This is a big opportunity for both Katie and Lala to grab the baton and lead the show, if they’re willing to take it. If one thing’s been clear about Katie over the past 11 years, it’s that she’d rather just chill and collect a check rather than get in the thick of the drama. But Lala’s gone on a nonstop press tour bashing her, clearly goading Ms. Maloney into a feud, whether she likes it or not. There’s something amusing about a guns-blazing Lala doing her best to railroad an apathetic Katie. We might have something special here.

Lala Kent, Katie Maloney, Ariana Madix, and Andy Cohen.

(l-r) Lala Kent, Katie Maloney, Ariana Madix, and Andy Cohen.

Nicole Weingart/Bravo

Next, we jump into the recently unearthed Schwartz/Scheana kiss from 2014, a plot-point that seems so far removed despite having aired this very season. Scheana breaks it down a little bit, making it clear that she was kissed and didn’t reciprocate, and had no intention of telling Katie lest she be painted a whore once again. Then Scheana launches into an oral history of every time she was hit on by a Vanderpump Rules male cast member, reminding us of her effervescent ability to make any and every situation as funny as possible.

‘Vanderpump Rules’ Reunion Finally Charts a Path Forward as Lala Doubles Down

After that detour, we return to the Lala show to tackle her growing annoyance with Ariana. When Andy mentions to Lala that she had very clear boundaries for the cast filming with her ex Randall, she says there’s no comparison given the tumultuous custody battle she was facing. Ariana, on the other hand, wants her friends to stay 10 miles away from Sandoval all the while cohabitating with him, Lala says.

Ariana finds Lala’s criticisms tiring, though, wishing she could just respect her boundaries, even if she doesn’t understand. That’s when their irritation for the other goes from passive to aggressive. And Ariana gets a genuine jab in on Lala, too, when she says that Lala’s method is to “talk louder than everybody and then you’re right.”

Lala may be going full-tilt villain at this reunion, but her prodding of Katie and Ariana is giving those two further reasons to show their worth on the show, and this feud is much more enticing than a season full of mild digs in confessionals while everyone’s playing nice in person.

As for Scheana, though, her intent is to keep things smooth sailing with Ariana, and the two manage that decently—for now. How will that change once the cast watch the finale in tandem and see her rant as Ariana ditched the finale party? Scheana may find herself in just the same spot as Lala, even if she wants to play Switzerland.

For now, though, the two come to a resolution, as Ariana admits it was important to defend Scheana when the pic of her with her arm around Sandoval made its way to social media, while she acknowledges Scheana’s hurt for not getting the Dancing With the Stars gig. And Scheana’s willing to let bygones be bygones, not only with Ariana but with the ABC casting department, who have snubbed her time and time again from appearing on the D-list haven.

Although Andy makes a direct plea to ABC to cast Scheana, she says she’s simply too busy now for DWTS. But… obviously, “I’m not going to say no” if they do call, she admits. I personally think the call should be coming from NBC Universal instead to cast Scheana on Season 3 of The Traitors. Please make this happen, Peacock.

James Kennedy, Lala Kent, Katie Maloney, Ariana Madix, Andy Cohen, Lisa Vanderpump, Tom Sandoval, Tom Schwartz, Scheana Shay, and Brock Davies.

(l-r) James Kennedy, Lala Kent, Katie Maloney, Ariana Madix, Andy Cohen, Lisa Vanderpump, Tom Sandoval, Tom Schwartz, Scheana Shay, and Brock Davies.

Nicole Weingart/Bravo

Speaking of people who would be hilarious on The Traitors, Jo comes out to join the rest of the cast on stage, alongside Ally. The surprise breakout of Season 11, Jo’s presence at the reunion is a much-needed dip into the bizarre, as we learn even more about her dynamic with Schwartz, producing more questions than answers.

I truly have no idea how Jo ended up living with Schwartz. I have no idea how they became friends. I don’t know if Jo is real or merely a figment of our collective imagination. I do know that she’s a fantastic television personality who should be given a full-time contract.

One of the great things of Jo’s appearance on the reunion is we finally get further into the meat of Schwartz’s deceptive display. Even Katie admits that she feels bad for Jo as Schwartz clearly “breadcrumbed” her, a phrase Jo has never heard before. Schwartz has skated by for many seasons as a hapless doof who’s just too silly to be devious, but the Jo arc has given a final blow to that thinly veiled facade after years of Katie-induced cracks. There’s no denying that Schwartz is simply a menace to women everywhere, and Jo needs witness protection.

There’s something so devastating watching the cast explain to Schwartz that you can’t tell people you love them and sleep with them without confusing them that you might, just maybe, want to date. When Sandoval blames this dynamic on the edit, the women roll their eyes all the way into the back of their head. Is this the Sandoval redemption arc I keep hearing of? The Toms have a lot in common, and misleading and mistreating women make their worlds go round. Good luck to Schwartz’s 23-year old girlfriend.

Jenn Fessler Is the Savior of ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey’

Jo finally breaks down in tears over being called a rat girl—tears of joy, I assume, for receiving such an iconic moniker—and she and Katie attempt to hash out their issues to mild success.

“I know it wasn’t nice or kind, but I was dealing with a lot of shit. And the last thing I needed was you,” Katie says. Her translators explain that in Maloney language, this is an apology, and Jo takes it. Yay! Now these two can be besties and open a flower shop or something. As the Jo segment closes out, she shares she’d love to date Aaron Rodgers, and a collective chill falls over the stage.

“He’s a conspiracy theorist…” is murmured as the rest shudder, and it becomes utterly clear that Jo’s vice is men who are definitely hot but do look like they don’t go out of their way to shower. Please, if you are God-fearing, light a candle for Jo, this week. Lift her in prayer.

As for Ally, her segment is a lot less enticing. Sorry girl, I know you support women and I think that’s great, and those $195 astrology readings are an inspired grift, but unfortunately, Ally just doesn’t have a magnetic screen presence. And neither does James, really, in his modern iteration. The James and Ally segment is probably the reunion’s least interesting package, and further proof that James is the weakest link on the cast these days.

The episode closes out on a return to Sandoval vs. Ariana, as we discuss assistant Ann and the accident that almost killed Ariana’s dog. Though, it’s not those two who erupt into an argument, but James launches at Sandoval, instead. It’s a bit of a surprise given those two spent most of the season on decent terms, but hopefully we dive further into the rekindled feud next week, as the reunion concludes.

It’s safe to say this reunion has been a major success, and it’ll be interesting to see how the live finale viewing impacts Part 3. Keep in mind, Ariana has admitted she didn’t watch the season, so this will be her first viewing of any of the finale. Will things go down in flames, or will the group find resolve?

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.