Ya know, when this season started, I was curious to see how Southern Charm would adapt to the absence of Thomas Ravenel, the man who has been a main focal point of the show since the beginning. Well, Kathryn moved into a massive apartment and began dressing like she was going to super villain prom. Shep decided to embark on a campaign of psychological warfare with his closest friends. And as with all things, Patricia threw an unwarranted celebration. Somethings are not meant to change.

But it was during last week’s season finale that I finally realized the true moral of Southern Charm. Reaching the final moments of Patricia’s party, the core cast was at each others’ throats. It seemed there was no hope. Then comes Ashley, whose forced removal brought everyone back together. Because friendship isn’t about common interests or even enjoying the presence of another. No, the true meaning of friendship is hating the same person. Being your best can be isolating, but there’s plenty of company down here in the gutter.

Now let’s get this reunion started.

This episode starts with Shep, Craig, and Austen inspecting the fake bar that serves as a backdrop for the show’s set. They are visibly distraught that there isn’t an actual wall of alcohol at their disposal. I swear these guys are always one step away from playing that Pass-Out Challenge game middle-schoolers love.

Host Andy Cone begins the group discussion by reading a series of viewer comments chiding the men of Southern Charm for being listless and unmotivated. He’s not even reading questions. He’s just listing complaints from strangers. Andy might as well be pointing out bathroom stall graffiti that mentions them by name.

This is made all the better by the fact that Andy is clutching a massive stack of notecards. Likely crammed to the edge with the most inane of gripes. It’s like when SNL would do Inside the Actor’s Studio and Will Ferrell would pull from a foot-tall stack of notecards. Except sad and mean.

Shep defends himself by saying he hasn’t touched his trust fund in “some time.” This is like saying I only shitted my pants “a little.” Shep then gets real philosophical, declaring the cast’s existence meaningless in the grand scope of the history of the universe. “Just smile and try not to hurt anybody,” says the man who exactly 10 seconds later (yes, I timed it) excuses emotionally abusing his friends by stating, “You punch first; I’ll punch last.”

What?! Are you just reciting all the bumper stickers you saw on the way to the studio? This is like if you based your entire worldview on T-shirt slogans. As Walt Whitman wrote, “Shep contains multitudes.”

Andy then asks Cameran about her 20-month-old child’s personality. Cameran says her daughter is “very strong-willed” and “doesn’t sit still” because she is a Scorpio. My suggestion would be that it is because she is a child. We don’t need to phone up some pediatric astrologist to read us the “music of the spheres” or whatever. Your baby acts like a baby because she is a baby.

Andy asks if Cameran was ever a big party animal prior to having a child. This gets a rise out of Shep who dismisses Cameran’s definition of what “partying” means and asks if she “would ever go out, like, to a club in Vegas and just wake up, like, ‘Where am I?’”

So let me get this straight: Shep’s basic party advice is to disappear. This would, of course, be a cool metric for “real” partying, you know, unless you were a woman and literally in constant danger.

“Come on, Cam, let’s go help this stranger move his couch into a blacked out van at 2 a.m. It’s not like you practice holding your car keys like Wolverine in the definite chance you’ll have to walk across a dark parking lot at night. Live it up a little.”

We are next reminded that Shep actually lost a woman in a ditch one time on a date, an event that he recounted in a previous episode. They were on a bike ride, and he turned around and wondered, “Where is she?”

But Shep, isn’t allowing yourself to vanish a big part of having fun? Or are ditches a disqualifier?

Later Andy asks Naomie if she tracks her boyfriend Metul like she used to track Craig. She says they track each other, which is great. I encourage it. Start a serious relationship if only to monitor their every move.

I’m realizing now that much of this recap has focused on missing persons. Not really sure what to do about that.

Moving on, we learn that Craig has reduced the workload on his girl Friday and is on track to become the Dagny Taggart of the cushion industry. Craig’s company is even on track to produce its 1,000th pillow. I’d imagine the most difficult part of operating a productive pillow factory is naps. (Not all jokes have to be mean.)

We then learn that Craig really began to turn his life around after he stopped taking Adderall. Andy asks if Craig really needs Adderall, and Craig replies with the last seven words you want to hear regarding prescription drugs: “I started taking it in law school.”

He might as well say “It really takes the edge off” or re-enact that episode of Saved By the Bell where Jessie gets hooked on caffeine pills.

Yeeesh. Craig then explains his pattern of abuse with Adderall. This is actually riveting and worth discussing, so the “Worthwhile Conversation” klaxon goes off in Andy Cone’s head and he turns the discussion to pillow parties and eyeliner. If instead of Frost, Andy had interviewed Nixon, they would have talked solely about Checkers and how in the world Quakers live without Tinder.

Thankfully, after discussing that time Craig wore eyeliner, Andy brings up Craig’s painted nail. This finally allows Craig to discuss the charity with which he partnered to raise awareness about child abuse. Well done, Craig. Good job.

The conversation then turns to the age-old debate over whether Kathryn and Whitney had intercourse. Whitney has up to this point denied it. Andy suggests that maybe Whitney learned what constitutes intercourse from the Clinton impeachment investigation. Cameran says that Whitney has denied everything because he doesn’t want to get pulled into Kathryn’s current custody trial. As one knowledgeable in the law, I can tell you sex falls into one of three official categories: de facto, de jure, and de coit. *Law and Order gavel sound*

In the final moments of this week’s episode, everyone debates if Kathryn was intoxicated during a past television appearance. No definitive answer is ever reached.

As always these reunion episodes remain the talk-show equivalent of standing under power lines and seeing who gets the least bird shit on them. Of course, next week is when things really kick off. See you back here for Part 2.

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