After a week off, the Southern Charm gang is back on our TVs and kicking off what might not be a totally pointless cast trip to Jamaica, after all. It seems like Craig (or maybe the producers) really set himself up to fail with this “last-minute” vacation, which was originally planned as an opportunity for Paige to finally mingle with the group. Just as I predicted, the Giggly Squad host didn’t end up on a flight to the Caribbean. So Craig shows up to the island looking like a fool with an unsupportive girlfriend—or most likely, IMO, someone who’s intentionally keeping his relationship away from the cameras while everyone else’s publicly crumbles. Let’s get into it!
First of all, I have to give Craig and Paige credit for trying to pull the wool over our eyes. But there’s something very obviously premeditated about this FaceTime call they have about Jamaica. When we open the episode, Craig has already invited the cast to Montego Bay. But Paige, the woman who the trip has been planned for, has “accidentally” been left in the dark by Craig.
If Southern Charm cast trips are arranged the same way as Real Housewives cast trips, this excursion was planned during pre-production. Particularly, if the trip is out of the country, I would assume the producers would want to assure that everyone’s passports are in order. Even though it was planned last minute, I do think it’s very convenient that Craig can now say he at least “tried” to get Paige to hang out with the group.
Regardless, there’s also no way this is the first time Paige is hearing about this trip in this episode. On one hand, Paige is way too calculated not to make Craig prep her before their scenes. When Craig calls her just days before to inform her about the trip, she calmly tells him that there’s no way she can go with her work schedule. However, there’s no tone of surprise in her voice, no, “Oh my god! You’re going to Jamaica! Why didn’t you tell me??” She doesn’t offer to make up for the missed trip at another time.
Craig also doesn’t seem disappointed that she can’t make it. Instead, he does the whole “I’m just a dumb man who’s bad at planning!” thing in a confessional. These two are getting away with murder at this point, regarding their relationship. And I’m glad Shep eventually calls Craig out on it.
Anyway, the first half of this episode is mostly the cast drooling with excitement over Jamaica. Cast trips outside of the U.S. aren’t really a thing on this show, so it’s like watching a bunch of teenagers learn they can stay out past their curfew. Before they head off though, Shep meets JT at a swimwear shop to get some vacation wear. And Shep tells him about another unfortunate incident between him and Taylor.
After last episode’s guys’ dinner, Taylor hit up Austen and Whitney to see if they were going out afterwards. So she met both of them, but Shep didn’t tag along. According to him, Taylor texted him, wanting to hook up. And when Shep rebuffed, she replied “Fine, I’ll just stay with Austen.” We see some of the texts where she asks how he’s doing “dick wise.” (I’m sure Shep sent her a very nasty message after she brought up Austen.)
Anyway, everyone’s using this as yet another example that Taylor has gone completely mad. I’m not saying she doesn’t look pathetic, especially after Shep said he enjoyed cheating on her. But Shep should’ve expected this after he let her sleep in his bed in Linsville, like JT says. Likewise, Austen sees his therapist Kristen to rant about Taylor weaponizing him against Shep—as if Austen didn’t try to have a full-on relationship with this woman! Kristen lectures him on the importance of trusting his intuition. If only she wasn’t being duped into thinking Austen is a man with morals.
Then, everyone starts packing for Jamaica and discussing some possible drama that might pop off. Olivia has fully gone from wanting nothing to do with Austen to adopting a “we’ll see what happens” attitude. Meanwhile, she’s decided that she just doesn’t want to deal with Taylor on this trip. Meanwhile, Craig tries to convince Austen that Paige’s absence was a slip-up on his part, which he doesn’t buy. “I’m not saying there’s trouble in paradise,” Austen says in a confessional. “But if there was, you can tell me!”
Finally, everyone heads to the airport to board their American Airlines flight and arrives at the Rose Hall resort in Montego Bay. Everyone’s being overly nice to the staff, to the point where they’re spending what seems like hours checking in because they’re making small talk. Real Housewives tend to do this with service workers as well. (Whitney, of course, just wants to upgrade to a presidential suite.)
Once everyone gets settled in their rooms, they meet on the beach for dinner. Shep tells the group that the last time he visited the island was 22 years ago when he was in college, which everyone laughs at. It’s always shocking when Shep reminds us of his age because he still dresses and acts like a college frat boy. That said, he starts mocking Taylor at the table for her lack of travel experience. Did he forget that made this woman quit her day job, so she could travel around the world with him? She was also in Europe with JT before the season started. But Shep will find any moment to remind people that he’s rich and cultured.
After dinner, they all drunkenly mill around the beach. Madison and Austen sit away from the group to talk, which made me a little nervous for her. I would assume that she’s fully over her ex at this point, given that she’s married and trying to have another child. I’m more worried about optics, especially with shady editors involved. Plus, their banter is kind of naturally flirty. For the most part, though, the two of them talk about Austen’s never-ending girl problems. And Madison insists that he and Taylor have chemistry.
Austen tells her that he’s annoyed that Taylor’s making it seem like they only considered dating for an hour or so when it was a weeklong conversation. Isn’t this the version of the story that Austen wanted Taylor to tell Olivia so he would avoid getting into trouble with her and Shep? Ever since Olivia caught Taylor lying about their kiss, Austen’s been acting like he’s some man of integrity. Meanwhile, Olivia is eyeing Madison and Austen from a few feet away and getting more and more jealous. At least Austen reminded her that he’s untrustworthy and will purposely do things to piss her off early on in this trip.
Next week, thanks to a Page Six exclusive that I’m sure production had nothing to do with, we finally receive “confirmation” about Taylor and Austen’s hookup. In the preview, we also see Shep confronting Craig about hiding his relationship from the cameras. He even brings up the rumors about Paige cheating on him again, which unfortunately made me very giddy. If Paige actually has a boy toy in New York, this will be the most exciting thing she’s done in her Bravo career. Craig and Paige’s shady relationship might actually be the scandal we’ve all been waiting for this season.