[image-1]Welcome back, everybody. Let’s talk about fear.

Yes, fear — it’s both the reason you do and do not do things. If you’re reading this, you probably know a big part of this column is my attempt to try to understand the cast of Southern Charm using only the information presented in this season. Oddly enough, this is like looking through a pinhole at an eclipse and trying to determine the time of day. All that aside, I think knowing a person’s true fears is a major step in getting to know them. It means they’ve let down their guard enough to reveal something intimate that could only bring them harm if revealed to the wider world. In this way, fear is closely tied to trust. If a person is open enough with you to divulge what truly frightens them, protect that knowledge and respect it. This is why I stopped throwing bees at my wife and dry-clicking my revolver at people on the bus.

So, what does this have to do with Southern Charm? Well, after last week’s cliffhanger, I realized that the episode had all the makings of a horror film. Shep had led all of his pals into a secluded cabin/mansion, and drinks and revelry had given way to infighting before the scene cut to black. The episode left me thinking, “What if this were a horror film? What would that mean for our cast of characters?” And in pondering this, I started to wonder what would they be most afraid of? Now, I can’t really presume to know what frightens these people. They are real human beings after all, but I can guess based upon what I’ve learned thus far from the show.

To be fair to the cast, I’ll reveal my biggest fears before moving forward. They are spiders, simple enough and definitely not related to any deep-seated childhood torment whatsoever, and making mistakes. Coincidentally enough, when I would make a mistake as a child, I would be forced to go sit in what was referred to as the “dummy shed” which was full of brown recluses. Armed only with a wet book of matches and the reminder that “dummies get the shed,” I would wait out my time, and I honestly haven’t thought about it since. Moving on to the cast of Southern Charm.

Cameran, as she’s said many times before, is afraid of motherhood. This makes sense. Not only is giving birth some Cronenbergian nightmare, the end result is that you’ve created something that just wants to disagree with you regardless of how right you are. I am so sorry, Mom.

Landon, who we’ve seen try to mount a media empire with her travel-arts-wine magazine, seems to be most afraid that she can’t live up to her grand ideas. In a similar fashion, Craig is reeling from the lesson that he’s not ready to run J.D.’s bourbon business. After reinventing himself, #NewCraig’s fear seems to center on it all not being enough to succeed and that he’ll lapse back into some Jekyll-and-Hyde scenario. This episode presents just that dilemma.

Picking back up where last week left off, we find Craig disrupting everyone’s mountain retreat to discuss Whitney’s past dalliances with Kathryn, the mother of Thomas’ children. Craig has been apparently lying in wait to un-quiver this attack since Whitney insulted him in front of his parents in a past season. Given a flashback to that episode, we see hints of #OldCraig and learn that hell hath no fury like a Craig scorned.
[image-4]Faced with a mountain party gone awry, I find the Shep of my dreams. First he says that only champagne will fix this situation, he then quotes Shakespeare before saying, “I’m going to make a weird drink.” Yes! Classic theater. Improvised cocktails. Avoiding confrontation. This is the Shep I’ve been waiting for. By the way, next time you’re in a bar, order a “Shep on the Rocks.” You will receive a hubcap filled with bourbon and Pop Rocks. This is of course garnished with a home paternity test.

Looking back to Charleston, we learn that Kathryn’s delivery date has been moved up by several weeks as doctors plan to induce labor to avoid any complications. This means there is only one-week until the baby arrives and Thomas says this just means he gets to meet his son sooner. What an adorable way to approach fatherhood.

We then catch back up with Patricia, who is paying a visit to Whitney. She finds Whitney rocking out in his loft, which she compares to an “ISIS prison camp” of some sort. Also, Patricia has brought her son a bottle of Crystal Head Vodka because she is incredible. As the two begin to discuss Craig after his unprovoked mountain attack, Patricia mentions that she ran into J.D. at the bank. Can you even imagine? The very thought of happening upon Patricia as she carries out mundane errands is fascinating to me.

Me: “Hello, Patricia. That’s a mighty fine wheelbarrow you brought to the bank today. Refilling the money trough?”
Patricia: “Do I know you?”
Me: “I write about you on the internet. So in a way, we are like family. Oh, what a lovely bottle of pepper spray.”
End Scene

The remainder of this episode is split between Los Angeles and Charleston. Whitney has traveled to the West Coast to visit a woman he is sweet on and check in on his house in California. After arriving in L.A., Whitney carries in a weird Dr. Seuss plant and immediately starts to clean his sliding-glass doors. Whitney’s L.A. home is a minimalist void that either reveals nothing about his personality or absolutely everything. Also, it turns out Whitney is a filmmaker! What an interesting revelation. Please allow me to pitch my idea for a movie. It is the story of a young fortune-teller who seeks revenge against criminals before they have actually wronged her. The working title of the film is “Miss Fortune.” Please give me money to make this.

[image-3]While making his trip to the West, Whitney has invited all his Charleston pals to come stay with him. This upsets the apple cart in a number of ways. Shep wants to invite Craig. Kathryn is upset that Thomas wants to leave town the week before their child arrives. Thomas apologizes with a flower arrangement and a note that simply reads, “I’m very sorry.” I feel like Thomas has a stockpile of identical cards that he just hands out to everyone in Charleston. This is probably the first thing he says when he meets someone: “Hello, my name is Thomas Ravenel, and I am very sorry.”

Turning back to Whitney’s Kraftwerk house, we find that his lady friend has arrived. The two quickly disappear into a back room, and the show cuts to a message that says “Two hours later” as the two re-emerge. So did the camera crew just hang out for those two hours while Whitney and his friend were getting reacquainted? What is the etiquette in this situation? Whitney later corners this young woman, who is dressed like a cat burglar, on the couch and sings an obscenity-laced rockabilly love song. The West Coast has done strange things to this show.

Wrapping things up, we see Craig join Shep at his bar. Shep reveals that he has convinced Whitney to allow Craig to join them in California. This would be a heartwarming scene, but all of Shep’s words are propelled by burps. In all honesty, this is a very nice thing that Shep has done for Craig. Acknowledging this act of kindness, Shep questions why anyone would donate to a charity anonymously. He wants his name on the hospital, he says. Let me remind everyone out there, Shep isn’t the name of a place where you go when you’re sick. Shep is the reason you feel bad in the first place.

But really, this episode has shown me just how good of a guy Shep is. Maybe I haven’t given him enough credit this season. Perhaps Shep merely plays the fool to hide a warrior’s pain. Maybe I shouldn’t judge Shep just because he’s named after the guy who invented the giant foam cowboy hat. Maybe just because he has the wet handshake of names, I shouldn’t be so quick to assume the worst. Maybe he deserves a second chance. Maybe we all do.