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Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Recap: The Trial of Kathy Hilton
The much-hyped Kathy Hilton Aspen meltdown is finally here, but there must be more to the true story than we’re seeing. A recap of ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ season 12, episode 19, “We Need to Talk About Kathy.”

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Recap: The Trial of Kathy Hilton

Season 12 Episode 19 Editor’s Rating4 stars ****

Photo: Bravo

This week on our favorite show, The Richards Sisters Destroy Each Other, the Richards sisters destroyed each other. Or did they?

This is a hard episode to recap because, in the great tradition of late-night antics on Housewives trips, the main event happened off-camera. The episode starts with the women in their various and sundry luxury accommodations (which, in this instance, includes the bunk beds in Kyle’s basement where Kathy is sleeping). Next, we see they’re all on the plane and talking about what happened the night before without Kathy.

Sutton tells us that Kathy wanted everyone to get in a conga line and no one wanted to do it because conga lines are the new drinking Kathy’s tequila. Next thing you know, this revelation about the conga line is getting the full “true-crime documentary ominous-music” treatment, like Kathy is the mother of a cheerleader who just killed her daughter’s main competition. Who knew that this Kathy Hilton Aspen meltdown that has been hyped for months would be kicked off because no one wanted to conga like they were on GHB at a Miami Sound Machine concert? Sutton then tells us that Kathy got up in her face and said that she wanted to leave and if Sutton didn’t leave with her, then she was a bad friend. Um, that sounds like the most basic drunk Housewife behavior of all time. Why do we care?

Then we hear from Crystal Kung Minkoff, witness for the defense, who says she only saw some commotion, but it couldn’t have been a big deal. HRH Diana Jenkins, the sovereign ruler of Liplikia, said she went to the bathroom and came back and Kathy was shouting at all the “girls” but mostly Kyle. Kyle tells us that she knew Kathy was really upset (which probably means she would turn it into Kyle’s fault) but she insisted on leaving the club when they all just got there and Kyle wouldn’t leave.

We then hear from the star witness in this case: Lisa Deanna Rinna. (That is her real middle name, and I would have never guessed.) Lisa says that Kathy was so upset that she put her in a Sprinter van and took her home. The Sprinter van is the real hero of the last few seasons of this franchise, if only for its work in American Crime Story: The People v. Jennifer Shah. Can we get a new series called If Sprinter Vans Could Talk? Seriously though, we’re all wondering what went on in that van; can’t we interview the driver? Can’t someone roll up to Brio Limo and get that guy (or lady!) to spill? As they say on Twitter, we need Andy and a camera.

Lisa says that in the Sprinter and then back at Kyle’s place, Kathy went into a blind rage. She said she is going to take down not just the show but also Bravo and all of NBCUniversal. Hear that, Telemundo? Kathy Hilton is coming for you. At Kyle’s house, Rinna says that Kathy was pounding the walls and that she threw her glasses on the floor and stomped on them. I know we don’t have footage of that night, but where is the cell-phone footage of the broken glasses? Can we at least get a visual of drunk Kyle crying in her pajamas trying to sweep up the destroyed lenses with a neon-green dustpan and a limp-bristled brush? The worst that we hear she said was that she was going to destroy Kyle and her whole family if it’s the last thing she does, like she’s Cruella de Vil with a box-fan fascination.

On the plane, Rinna tells Kyle, “We should talk at some point so I can rid myself of what happened last night.” Rid yourself? It will never go away. Also, why do you want to burden Kyle with your problems? This is one you’re stuck with, Rinna, and much like one of your polyester dusters from QVC, it won’t go away even after a geological age buried in the earth. Kyle alludes to having an awful time in Aspen and how she had to leave her sister in her house because she refused to get on the private plane with the rest of the crew. We don’t get any details other than Kathy spent a few days in an Aspen hotel. How exhausted does raging leave you?

But what is this really all about? If Kathy got wasted and ranted about what an awful person Kyle Richards is, how is she different from about 60 percent of Housewives fans? (The other 40 percent got their house through the Agency and remain loyal or are Teddi Mellancamp — don’t even say her name three times and she’ll appear anyway.) What’s the big whoop? In this instance, I sort of understand why there wasn’t footage — they were in a private club and couldn’t take the cameras so they sent the crew home for the evening — but can’t we get a full account of what actually happened, of what was actually said? I’m gonna need some more non-conga specifics.

Later Lisa alludes to Kathy talking shit about all of the women on the show. Why is she not naming names and bringing up details? This is Lisa “I drove my friend Denise off this show talking about an alleged lesbian affair that didn’t even happen with a castmate” Rinna. We want receipts. We want her to make Kathy “own it,” not just slink out of Crystal’s party without saying a word. She says that she’s scared of Kathy and her standing in Bev Hills and doesn’t want to go against her.

The problem with this whole story line is that those of us who are addicted to Housewives and its gossip have heard about this for months. We heard allegations that Kathy used homophobic and racial slurs and that she sent out cease-and-desist letters preventing Rinna from talking about this. Is there more that we haven’t heard yet — or things the cast is prevented from talking about — that makes this worse than it comes off? Because right now it’s like the airiest of air biscuits. Do we have to wait for the next episode or the reunion to see the real accusations?

So what do we think happened? Kathy clearly had some kind of incident because all of the women witnessed it. There’s no denying that. But is it any worse than just getting drunk and shit-talking her relatives? This show was founded on the Richards stealing each other’s houses and making accusations of addiction in the back of a limo. Would Kathy’s rage be so awful an event? Or was it worse than that and no one will say it?

We’re in a bit of a difficult position because Rinna is not the most reliable of witnesses. We already saw her troll Kathy with the 818 vodka stunt last episode. She’s also, well, Lisa Rinna. No matter how you feel about her, you have to admit that she loves to manipulate a story line. Is she making this worse for Kathy? There’s something Erika said that really struck me: “This game turns on everyone. It’s your turn now.” Is this what the cast is upset about? They have to deal with all the indignity of the show and have their personal lives dragged through the mud but Kathy gets to just show up in a lamp-shade hat, say “The toe that broke the camel’s back,” and then ride her fan-favorite status all the way to a big fat check.

Maybe the reason Erika is amplifying this is as she said: She’s sick of being the whipping boy and she wants the attention on someone else for a change. Or maybe Kathy really does deserve all of this attention and she really did say some offensive things. (Her WWHL moment where she confused Lizzo with Gabourey Sidibe certainly did her no favors.) I don’t know what to tell you, and I’m not entirely sure who to believe. I can’t wait for the reunion to get this hashed out. (Much like, “No, I would not like another hit of poppers,” this is not something I have ever said before.)

I know everyone is going to disagree with me, but since we’re talking about Erika, I think she had a couple of good moments this episode, particularly her interpretation of the Roaring ’20s theme where she came looking like a silent-film star right off the set of Metropolis. I mean, how many strands of pearls and little headbands can we see? At least she tried something different. Also, sorry to say it, but Crystal is now on Housewives death row for committing the capital offense of throwing a party with the tritest and overused theme on all of reality TV.

Anyway, on the plane ride home, Erika apologized to Sutton (and to some extent Garcelle and Crystal) for the way she raged at them in Aspen. She says she gets so incensed because she doesn’t feel heard and that she doesn’t want to fight anymore. You may not agree with what she’s saying, but at least she’s behaving a bit more like a human and taking accountability for her behavior toward her castmates.

At Crystal’s party, she has a little conversation with Garcelle about not getting a heads-up before Garcelle talked shit about her on The Real (RIP). Did she deserve a heads-up? I don’t know. I would say yes, particularly because Garcelle didn’t say anything on the show she didn’t say to Erika’s face. When she said that, she could have at least told Erika, “And that’s what I said on The Real when asked about it.” This is during their conversation at dinner, not the one later when Erika channeled Linda Blair in The Exorcist. I wouldn’t have said anything to her then. But at Crystal’s party, Erika kept it calm and polite. Maybe this is a turning point. But then again, saying she misses her old life and driving by her old house are not the behavior of someone who is looking forward to the future.

The party was very weird. Crystal was trying to get everyone to have fun on her “lower floor” — which is suspiciously close to the “lower level” — even though the invite list was just the cast and their plus ones. Kyle didn’t attend because she’s off getting her nose broken again in a new Halloween movie. Kathy arrives last and doesn’t say anything about Aspen, hoping that the women will forget all about it. Rinna, the president and founder of the Pot-Stirring Institute, seems to have relegated her position to someone else and sputters out like a fart in yoga class.

The only real commendation for the party goes to Sheree, who busted into Garcelle’s house, signed her name with a highlighter on her card for Crystal’s present, and then made sure to tell her, “It’s from both of us” at the party. I’m sad we’re not going to see She by Alene Too next season because she will be missed.

At the end of the party, we have Erika telling Dorit and Diana essentially saying that she is going to expose Kathy because she’s sick of her bad behavior being the topic of conversation but Kathy’s gets a pass. Like she says, she has nothing to lose at this point, not even her reputation. Rinna doesn’t want to do it, though. She’s in her car on the way home, the window of the black SUV down so that the February scents of Los Angeles can come through the window and tickle the hairs that are sticking out of her wig. She’s thinking about everything: Kathy, Erika, her friends, her co-workers, but mostly her mother, Lois. What would Lois, the ultimate survivor, do? Who would she tell? Who would she expose? Would she even do anything? Would she just apologize and try to keep it quiet? Just then, as they approach a stoplight, a bird is perched on the top. Lisa looks at it and, for a minute, thinks that it nodded at her. She knows now. It all becomes clear, and I don’t think any of us are ready for what happens next.

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

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