Welcome back, everyone. If you’ll recall, last week’s season premiere of Southern Charm ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. And by that I mean everyone was trapped in a social prison of their own making.

When we last left our cast of characters, Shep and Craig were preparing for their big cookout by asking everyone if they liked their chicken rare. Meanwhile, Kathryn, Naomie, Chelsea, and Danni gathered to have a few (dozen) pre-party drinks and talk about their recent breakups. So basically, it was an hour of people willfully holding their forearm over a red-hot stove, while talking aloud about how much they like the kitchen remodel. Never forget, everyone decided to go to this cookout of their own free will.

Leading up to a night of firsts, Kathryn prepares to meet Thomas’ new girlfriend, Naomie prepares to see Craig for the first time since their relationship ended, and Chelsea readies herself to see former flame Austen. Together, the Four Horsewomen of the Winepocalypse set out for the party. While en route, they decide to go all “Harper Valley PTA” on anyone who dares cross their path. Should be great.

Back at Shep’s cookout, he, Craig, and Austen continue to shuffle various meats between random heat sources in hopes that through sheer probability they’ll manage to not give everyone food poisoning. I’ve taken it upon myself to write a brief scene of this comedy of errors in the style of the Marx Brothers.

Shep: [Holding up raw slab of meat] “Does this look done to you?”

Craig: “Well, if it’s not done soon, we’re finished.”

Shep: “You got that right. Hey, are you looking to rekindle things with Naomie tonight?”

Craig: “Find love at a barbecue? Talk about a meat cute.”

Austen: [honks bicycle horn]

Guests slowly trickle in and everyone attempts to top each other for most uncomfortable meeting. Kathryn and Thomas’ new girlfriend Ashley shake hands. Craig and Naomie hug. Chelsea and Austin chat. Shep unwraps his birthday gifts. Most notable of which is a shadow box containing a bottle of Fireball, a condom, and a cigar along with the words “In case of emergency, break glass.”

I want you to imagine for a second that you’re caught up in the heat of passion with someone. Suddenly, they rush out of the room. You hear the shatter of glass. Then, wild eyed, they re-enter the room, smelling of hot cinnamon whisky and clutching a single condom in their bloodied hand. Teeth clenched tightly around a lit cigar, they say, “This was my birthday present.” How do you not stick around?

Anyway, back at the party, Kathryn is drinking Red Bull out of a large wine glass. Standing a few feet away in the kitchen, Thomas aggressively gropes his girlfriend with all the grace and maturity of a teen buying his first pack of condoms at a gas station. Thomas Ravenel is every saxophone solo that’s ever ruined a good rock song.

The best part of this is when Ashley tells Thomas to cool down and quit playing with her bellybutton. What is it with guys and the bellybutton? It always seems like that bellybutton play is going to really pay off. Who is that good for?

JD then arrives and greets a very pregnant Cameran. Learning that she is in her third trimester, JD tells Cameran that she is at the point in her pregnancy where she can enjoy a glass of wine every night. This is very bad advice. The scene should come with a medical disclaimer. Next time, just offer her a cigarette and some lead paint for the nursery, JD.

Finally, dinner is served. At first, Cameran sits alone at a picnic table with her meal before everyone else slowly files in. While Shep and Craig offer barbecue to their guests, Kathryn, Naomie, and Danni huddle outside and continue shit-talking everyone, serving up cold shoulder and hot tongue.

Kathryn soon approaches an isolated Thomas. Thomas compliments Kathryn’s new hair color before telling a blonde joke comparing women to dogs. Thomas remains about as funny as a fart at a funeral.

During this exchange, Kathryn learns that Thomas has left her out of the decision to hire a new nanny. They manage to quickly work through this, but then Ashley sidles up to reintroduce herself to Kathryn.

As Ashley explains that she moved to Charleston to be with Thomas, Kathryn explains that Thomas never told her — the mother of his children — that he had a new girlfriend.

With that, the misery trio joins the rest of the party guests at the table as Shep gives a toast. Digging into his messy meal, Shep jokes that ribs are the worst thing to eat on a first date. Craig begs to differ, saying that spaghetti is the worst because no one knows how to eat it.

Having seen Lady and the Tramp, we all know that the most romantic way to eat spaghetti is to bite at mounds of pasta in a back alley until you both clamp down on opposite ends of the same noodle, eventually meeting at the middle for a greasy kiss. If you can’t win someone over by nudging a meatball in their direction with only your nose, they aren’t worth having.

Soon everyone’s attention is directed to the full moon. Austen jokes that this means that all the women are currently fertile, by which I think he means ovulating. Ashley asks if this is true, saying that she is very superstitious. Thus far, Ashley seems nice, but she also comes across as someone who has a vision board that consists of nothing but pictures of pricier and pricier salads.

Ashley later leaves the table, asking Thomas to help her find the bathroom. This is odd because Ashley is an adult and should really have the solo bathroom trip in her repertoire. The couple meanders inside Shep’s house, and as Ashley enters the bathroom, she asks Thomas if he wants to join her inside. Gross.

Shep suggests that they are going to have intercourse, which raises a few questions. Did Ashley really need to use the bathroom? Is Thomas just waiting idly by while she makes before they resume that sweet bellybutton action? Also, why would a just and loving God allow such a thing to happen?

While this latest atrocity is carried out, Naomie takes her opportunity to call out JD for being a bad husband. According to Naomie, she has been looking after JD’s soon-to-be ex-wife, while he goes out every night tomcatting. JD argues that is not the case, but Naomie says she has proof. Chelsea joins in to call JD a conman because it is time to just burn this dinner to the ground. After his dressing down, JD departs, and we cut back to Thomas and Ashley leaving the bathroom. Everything in your body asks to see them washing their hands before they leave, but no such comfort is given.

As all of this is going on, I want to remind you that there is a bartender at this party who has had to stand silently by for the duration of the party. If this was a fair world, he would be the highest paid man in America.This epitome of perseverance can be seen in the background as Craig and Naomie gather at the bar to work through their breakup. Naomie cries as the two debate who is saddest before finally hugging it out. Just off camera, the bartender lobotomizes himself with a corkscrew to escape the cruel circumstance in which he has found himself.

Flash-forward to the morning after, Shep awakes to find that he has left out enough food to feed a hungry family for a week and now there are flies everywhere. Kathryn and Naomie share a moment together over tea or coffee or whatever and discuss the events of the night before.

As night falls, Thomas and Ashley meet for dinner. Thomas is definitely the uncle who talks way too loudly to waitresses and makes awkward jokes at restaurant employees. I don’t know what it is, but if someone told me that Thomas Ravenel hatched from a peanut, I’d believe it.

Anyway, Ashley says she wants to be attractive to Thomas, and he blames estrogen for all of life’s problems. Whatever. Gross. But let me leave you with this.

There is no easy way to get to know someone, especially in the context of a reality show. Lines are cut. Edits are made. Call it the observer effect, but you are probably not going to be your true self when you know people are watching, especially through a camera lens. But remember that the modern assumption is that you are aware that you are always being watched. So with that in mind, consider that you aren’t so much seeing someone as who they are, but rather how they want to be seen — how they chose to present themselves. And that makes a lot of this so much worse.

See you all next week.

Love Best of Charleston?

Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.