After a pretty humdrum premiere—yes, Taylor screaming at Craig over her ex-boyfriend Shep’s infidelity was ultimately more sad than amusing—the cast of Southern Charm gets right to work in tonight’s riveting whodunit—or didtheydoit, rather—episode.
Unfortunately, for viewers waiting for the downfall of “Craige,” Craig nips last week’s rumor about Paige cheating on him right in the bud. Luckily, though, a new cast member named JT (not to be confused with creepy Keebler Elf JD) launches his own investigation into Austen after finding out Taylor slept over his house one night. It’s a clunky but hilarious start to what will ultimately be the show’s less buzzy attempt at their own Scandoval.
Before we dig into things, I’m going to break a cardinal rule of mine and say that I actually enjoy Paige’s limited presence on this show. Maybe it’s because the typically grating Summer House star has less power on this series (and is seemingly despised by the fanbase) that I can finally stomach her antics. I especially enjoy her withdrawn-ness from Craig, like this phone conversation at the beginning of the episode where he suggests they go on a double date with Madison and Brett. She responds, clearly paying attention, “Oh, wow, good!”
Ultimately, Craig decides that he’s not going to tell Paige about Taylor’s accusation at Madison’s non-wedding event that Paige had cheated on him. But I’m assuming Paige will begrudgingly fly back to Charleston later this season to address the rumor, at a producer’s behest. And I’m honestly excited for her reaction because we haven’t seen these sort of messy allegations hurled at her throughout her time on TV.
A woman I’m admittedly less excited to see on this program is Taylor, who, by all means, seems a lot more pleasant than Paige but hasn’t displayed much personality outside of being distraught over Shep. And I don’t blame her! There’s no point in reiterating how rotten (and frankly, irredeemable) Shep is at this point. However, he reached a new low by convincing Taylor to quit her orthodontic-assistant job for him with the impression that she would start a family. That said, watching Taylor have to start her life over again by selling canned cocktails makes me slightly depressed.
Yes, Taylor is now a “salesperson”—which could also just mean she has a sponcon deal—for a beverage company called Day Chaser, which is a perfectly dignified job, BTW. However, this is clearly something she’s been forced to take on in an emergency situation. (Shep should’ve paid her some non-marital form of alimony!) She also doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing, as evidenced by a practice sales session she has with Leva at her restaurant, Republic.
Leva curtly suggests that Taylor stop by Republic occasionally, where they’re also selling the drinks. And they quickly move on to discussing Taylor’s meltdown at Madison’s party. She says she regrets her outbursts at Craig and that the Paige rumor was solely a rumor. She also admits in confessional that, despite her best efforts, she still cares about Shep. So it sounds like the rest of the season will be really fun for her!
Then we meet new cast member and chaos agent Jarret “JT” Thomas, who befriended Craig and Austen a few years ago. On the surface, this man is as exciting as a stack of paper, in that he has a monotonous voice and looks exactly like every other rich, white man that’s appeared on this series. However, he’s described by Craig as having a “bullying complex.” And in his first big show moment, he lets it show by pressing Austen about his “friendship” with Taylor following her and Shep’s split. He also could possibly be in love with Taylor himself, as they have a history of partying and traveling together. It would certainly explain how concerned he is about this whole ordeal.
When all four guys meet up for beers, JT rails into Shep for screwing up his relationship with Taylor. He then asks if Shep cares that Austen is friendly with Taylor, which he initially shrugs off. But JT, already the hardest working man this season, is intent on getting under Shep’s ever-aging skin. So he brings up a recent night-out where he, Austen and Taylor went to a bar and ended up back at Austen’s place. JT apparently went home that night. But when he texted Taylor the next morning to get coffee, she said she had slept over at Austen’s.
Austen is blinking his eyes a bunch and looking anywhere but in Shep’s direction. When Craig asks if he’s ever kissed Taylor, he promptly answers no. He explains that Taylor slept in his guest room without his knowledge. This is almost a repeat of the Tom and Raquel “sleepover” micro-scandal on Vanderpump Rules last season, except the stakes here are a lot lower.
The guys circle back to this topic at another restaurant meetup at the end of the episode—this time with another new cast member named Rodrigo Reyes, who’s the series’ first openly gay cast member. (Good luck!)
Aside from this crucial storyline, we watch a series of much less interesting conversations, including one between Olivia and another new guy/romantic prospect named Rod Razavi. Overall, he seems a little too polished to be on the show. But I’m guessing the producers just want to set up a giant love pentagon within the cast. Meanwhile, Madison chats with her mom about how much she loves being a wife, while hinting that her partially long-distance situation with Brett might not be ideal. She also meets up with Venita to discuss an all-girls get-together to help lift Taylor’s spirits.
Speaking of cast members who feel like they’re on a completely different show, Patricia and Whitney make their first appearance, doing their usual mother-and-son banter. You can tell Patricia is pissed that Whitney couldn’t hold onto Naomie because she’s getting on him about not being married again. Apparently, he’s still dating 22-year-old models like a much less attractive and charismatic Leonardo DiCaprio, which is gross to think about. Anyway, I’m guessing Patricia will hold some events for the cast this season, but it’s not really clear how often we’ll see these two going forward.
The episode ends with all the guys having drinks again and busting each other’s balls on a rooftop. JT reveals he was married straight out of college to an English woman, which none of the men knew previously. He still seems burned by it, which gives me hope that this man is a total drama king. Then, Shep goes on some Fox News rant about how “traditional” marriages are obsolete because women want to have careers now. As if he didn’t completely screw up what would’ve been a “traditional” marriage with Taylor if he hadn’t cheated! I’m sick of this man pretending like he even wants to settle down and that it’s “modern women” holding him back.
Anyway, Craig asks Shep how he feels about Austen violating “bro code” with Taylor. And Shep is almost certain that they had sex at this point. Will this be one of those juicy storylines that the cast runs into the ground after five episodes? Will this revelation actually change this already disjointed dynamic amongst the group in a substantial way? For now, it’s impossible to be invested in Shep’s feelings—if that’s ever been possible—regarding this matter. But I’m all for watching a bunch of grown men fight like Real Housewives.