[image-3] I am going to be honest with you. I thought this was the season finale of Southern Charm. I had a whole intro prepared. I thought it was a 12-episode order this season, but no. I was wrong. This season may never end. I may eventually sit with greasy unkempt gray hair and long fingernails dragging the ground writing about episode 463 of Southern Charm season 5. If that be the case, I’m glad to have you here with me. I couldn’t – or wouldn’t get paid – to do it without you.

So this episode starts off in the normal fashion, with a quick montage of each cast member’s morning routine, but everything is just slightly off. Naomie is at a kickboxing class where everything is lit with black lights. In a bit of foreshadowing, we see her call Kathryn only to receive no answer. Chelsea, meanwhile, is chatting with Cameran about how her breasts are dealing with her newfound motherhood. Over at Thomas’ house, he is shoving his face into a sink full of water. This is either a quick way to wake himself up or the only way he can temporarily shut out the rest of the world he shares with his new girlfriend Ashley.

Following back up on the absent Kathryn, Naomie reaches out to Danni and Shep to see if they know Kathryn’s whereabouts. No one has seen her, but Shep offers up two possibilities: Either Kathryn has fallen off the wagon or her chronically shattered phone screen has finally cut her off from all outside communications. I would like to point out that at this point the only sign that there is something wrong with Kathryn is that she missed an early morning kickboxing class, which seems like the right decision.
[image-4] Moving on, we join Shep and Austen for lunch. I am shocked that when the bartender goes to take Austen’s order, he doesn’t pull out a Ziploc bag of his own beer and say, “Can I borrow a straw?”

Shep and Austen then discuss how well the launch party for his beer went. Who can believe that Austen gathering his closest friends and family to drink free beer went off without any complaints? Shep then asks how much money Austen needs to get his beer business off the ground. We are treated to a short scene in which Austen tells his parents that he’ll need around $25,000 to get started. His mother says they want to invest, so that’s good, I guess. If you’ll recall, rather than beginning working out of a garage to carefully craft his formula, Austen paid an actual brewery $400 to make his beer for him. As far as great success stories go, Austen asking a brewer if he can Venmo him a down payment will surely rank up there with other rags-to-riches tales. At this point, I would like to invite you all to invest in me not getting beaten with a sock full of nickels by my credit card company. The ROI is me not setting up a GoFundMe to “realize my vision” of buying groceries.

In another high point of his lunch with Shep, Austen reveals that his girlfriend threw a drink in his face after she became rightfully upset about his enthusiastic embrace of Chelsea at the beer launch party. Austen responded by blocking his now-ex-girlfriend on his phone and going on some long diatribe about trust. As a counterpoint, Austen is tall, so there’s a lot there for you to work with, ladies.

Over at Patricia’s house, we get a visit from Ashley. One thing I’ve noticed about Ashley is that she always greets everyone like they just rescued her from a desert island. There’s just a very forced, unnatural look of desperation that stretches across her face that never seems warranted. It’d be like if every time you walked into someone’s home, you ripped out a lock of your hair and presented it to them at the front door. Then I remember that she’s probably just happy that Thomas isn’t around.

I imagine that after being around Thomas for an extended period of time, not being around Thomas must feel like a break from being waterboarded. I say this having had a few phone interviews with Thomas that he wouldn’t let end. He just kept lecturing for long periods of time without any hint of real humor. Kind of like an episode of Westworld. Really, it’s a fine show, but damn is it boring. I feel like elementary school children should write condolence letters for anyone who has to interact with Thomas Ravenel. He is the Goofus of our times.

Back at Patricia’s, she senses that Ashley’s throat is a bit scratchy and orders up a hot toddy because Patricia is Buck Strickland from King of the Hill. Ashley then begins to vent about her deteriorating relationship with Thomas. Patricia offers up some wisdom on Thomas. Her first lesson is that “Men don’t change,” which seems like she’s going in the right direction as far as Thomas is concerned, but then things quickly fall apart.
[image-1] Patricia recommends that Ashley just keep her mouth shut and go along with whatever Thomas wants. Patricia shares her mother’s favorite expression: “Just lie back and think of England.” Jeez. Does Patricia watch A Handmaid’s Tale with a sense of nostalgia? Patricia explains that security is more important than happiness, which I believe is the moral from “The Yellow Wallpaper.” I know suggesting that women in relationships with men should be happy seems like part of my radical feminist agenda, but really it’s just a good way not to get your penis cut off and tossed from a speeding car. I know as far as life advice goes, it’s no “Be the change you want to see in the world,” but if more guys treated other people like they didn’t want to get their dicks chopped off, the world would be a better place.

Moving on, we find Naomie stopping by Chelsea’s house with two mason jars full of beet juice for them to choke down. Cool. Cool snack, Naomie. Maybe next we can lick stamps for dessert.

Anyway, Naomie is still concerned about Kathryn, but the conversation quickly turns to how Craig is an anti-vaxxer. How has this not come up before?

Apparently, Cameran wants everyone to get a flu shot before visiting her baby. Craig refuses because he thinks that this “crazy government shot” would cause him to walk backwards for the rest of his life. Why Craig’s conspiracy theories haven’t been the entire focus of this show baffles me. Picture this: Craig seated at a desk, going on lengthy, Spalding Gray-style monologues about how chemtrails are controlling the weather and Mr. Rogers was a prolific sniper or whatever. Maybe we should consult Craig about whether Kathryn’s disappearance is linked to her role as a crisis actor for the Lizard People.

Since life is a never-ending series of lunches, we then catch up with Cameran, Shep, and Whitney. Luckily for us all, Cameran brought some fresh breast milk with her for everyone to try. Knowing her audience, Cameran serves up her personal blend in a shot glass. Whitney immediately spits it out, but Shep approves of Cameran’s milk.

I imagine a future where Cameran’s milk becomes wildly successful, while Austen’s beer slowly spoils in a warehouse somewhere. If you’ve never sampled your friend’s breast milk, you’re really missing out. It’s not great, but would you really want it to be? Do you really want to spend the rest of your life cruising Craigslist to get your human milk fix?

Moving on, we see Craig meeting up with Warren, his friend from law school. As they catch up, we learn that Warren’s child will soon be turning one and his law practice is going well. Meanwhile, Craig badly injured his hand with a butterknife and he is a threat to our herd immunity. Craig scoffs at the idea of working for someone else and explains that he is a “pillow seamstress.”

Warren shoots down Craig’s pillow designs for Patricia, which Craig apparently cobbled together out of Clip art. Craig shrugs this off, saying that Warren isn’t his target audience. He then declares, “I’m a straight male who loves to sew and make pillows.” Good for you, Craig. It’s kind of weird that you felt the need to stress the whole “straight male” thing, but you do whatever makes you happy. Or, like most of us, do whatever briefly distracts you from the misery and dread that surrounds us each and every day. Also, affording food and shelter. Has anyone else noticed that it’s really difficult to house yourself, while Craig languishes over pillow designs? Do a surprising number of people on this show not have day jobs? Oh wait, they are on a TV show.
After Kathryn misses a couple days of work, Danni and Naomie try to bust up into her apartment. Naomie tries and fails to pick a lock with a bobby pin before they contact the property manager. Following a quick check, the property manager reports that Kathryn is alive and inside her home, although she still refuses to open the door for her friends.

Briefly stopping by Craig’s cry-for-help of a home, we see him summoned to Patricia’s house for a bit of – wait for it – pillow talk. Bam. That’s it, y’all. That’s the type of rapier wit that earns me the big bucks.
[image-2] After three hours of manically Photoshopping collages of dogs, Craig finally arrives at Patricia’s house. With time running out on their production schedule, Patricia asks to see Craig’s proposed pillow designs. She soon learns that Craig’s designs were made from pre-existing art he found online. Oh no, Craig.

Patricia calmly explains that these designs have to be wholly original. Craig tries to excuse his lack of follow through by saying he didn’t know the designs had to be finalized this soon. Remember that Craig was originally told he had two weeks to complete a design. Since Southern Charm episodes largely exist outside of time, it’s shocking to learn that he’s been working on these designs for two months. Wow.

Patricia tells Craig that time has run out on her offer, and he walks to his car swearing. The interesting thing about Craig’s massive failure is that there likely won’t be any real repercussions. As we’ve seen with Austen’s beer launch, expectations in the world of Southern Charm are so low that simply doing anything is hailed as a major accomplishment. You don’t have to excel, just follow through on what you said you’d do. This is pretty much like instead of patting your kid on the head for getting straight A’s, you praise them for simply remembering to bring home their report card.

Moving on, it is a full-on lady party at Naomie’s house. Cameran shows up, and the conversation immediately turns to her selling her breast milk online. Then, as the hired masseuse works on Cameran’s hands, they play my favorite game. Let me explain.

Following any trip or major event, I like to ask people two simple questions: What was your favorite part about the [trip, evening, whatever]? What was your least favorite part?

One important part of this is putting the right inflection on the questions. You have to say it in a singsong fashion, with a heavy stress on the “fav” in “favorite.” For example, “What was your “FAAA-vorite part about the trip?”

This game comes from when I was in elementary school. Since my parents worked, I’d stay at school until at least 6 p.m. each day until someone got off work to pick me up. At a certain point, my mom, who worked at the DMV, would always ask me “What good happened to you today?” and “What bad happened?” I think she read it in a magazine.

Anyway, Cameran’s “low” or most difficult aspect of being a new parent is completely devoting your care and attention to a single person. The complete loss of any “selfishness.” The “high,” Cameran says as she bites into a chicken finger, is the unconditional love she feels for her baby. See. It’s a great game.

Next, it’s time to go on a horrible date with Thomas and Ashley. They both continue to interact like they can’t remember who is keep who hostage. Every meal with these two is like a Mexican standoff of passive aggression. Watching them interact is like watching two people grapple for position as they both fall from a skyscraper.

Thomas and Ashley proceed to talk about how unhappy they are until Thomas retrieves a jewelry box from his coat pocket. Ashley’s face lights up because she is a chicken waiting to be hypnotized. Her smile immediately fades when she realizes that Thomas purchased her a very nice bracelet instead of an engagement ring. They continue to dislike their relationship. I default to my normal relationship advice: Don’t go getting your penis cut off.

As the sun rises over Charleston, we get our first glimpse of Kathryn this episode. She visits Danni to explain that she just needed a “mental break” and shut her phone off and locked her apartment. That would make sense if Kathryn’s friends had not asked her property manager to enter her home to see if she was still alive. That may be the point when you text back.

We then learn that Kathryn stopped taking her depression meds. I have to say, as much hell as I give this show, there are certain moments when Southern Charm actually shares something important with its audience. This is one of those times. Kathryn voices the shame she feels regarding her medication, which is something that more people should be talking about on television. The fact that an episode of Southern Charm featuring Craig arguing against vaccinations is capped off with a legitimate depiction of prescription anxiety is remarkable.

I guess I’ll see you all next week. In the meantime, take care of yourselves, take your meds if they are working for you, and try not to deserve getting castrated.