“I’ll never see you again.”
That’s the last thing Andy Cohen said Brooks Ayers told him, after their sit-down for the Real Housewives of Orange County reunion – a three-part special that ended, in Sunday’s episode, with the women all agreeing on one thing: Good riddance to Ayers.
Gunvalson, who defended both Ayers’ controversial cancer diagnosis this season and his seasons of controversial behavior before that, bore the brunt of the questioning in the reunion.
At times, she seemed reluctant to denounce him: “I don’t have any proof that he doesn’t have cancer and he won’t give me enough proof that he does have cancer,” she said. “So that’s where I’m at.”
Heather Dubrow wondered if Ayers didn’t have some influence over Gunvalson still: “He’s got something on you, you’re too smart for this,” she said.
Cohen asked Gunvalson the reverse: Was she afraid of Ayers?
Both women claimed Ayers physically abused Gunvalson. Culberson said she and her husband, Ryan, allegedly separately witnessed him physically abuse her.
“I saw him shake her so hard that her head was going back and forth,” Culberson alleged.
Culberson claimed that since he and Gunvalson broke up, Ayers has continued to abuse her verbally, including through recent text messages.
(Ayers has “categorically” denied the allegation from Culberson that he hit on her while she was pregnant by offering to show her his penis.)
Shannon Beador brought a copy of a CAT scan performed at Newport Imaging, the same place where Ayers has said he received a PET/CT scan for his cancer – though the documents varied wildly.
Beador said Ayers’ subsequent clarification, that he got his scan done at another facility where his doctor practices but that it was transcribed at Newport, “cannot possibly happen.”
By the end of the reunion, Gunvalson said her gut was telling her that he didn’t have cancer. She said she had been repeatedly asking him for his medical records behind the scenes, before they broke up, which became a sore spot in their relationship.
Gunvalson also admitted to “fabricating” a story earlier this season about calling in Dubrow’s doctor husband, Terry, to treat Ayers one night with an IV after he became ill.
“I fabricated [the story], because I really was looking for compassion from somebody,” she said – an admission that Cohen took as a breakthrough – during the reunion as the other women tried to understand Gunvalson’s attachment to Ayers, which has corroded her relationship with friends and family.
In his sit-down with Cohen, Ayers said, again, that he has cancer, and that Gunvalson “misspoke quite a bit” about his health.
Ayers told Cohen that is “numbers are normalizing” and his lymphatic legions were gone.
Asked for a response to Meghan King Edmonds, one of his most vocal and determined critics during the season, Ayers said, “F— off. How ’bout that?”
While vowing that they were truly broken up, Gunvalson said she could not yet “put her finger” on the root of the relationship’s endurance.
She elaborated later in the hour that she was hurt, thinking she had been taken advantage of by Ayers and duped, and that she was hurt knowing how much hurt she’d caused others.
“I’m sad, but I’m relieved now knowing I’m not with this man anymore,” she said.
Edmonds was blunt in assessing Gunvalson’s behavior: “You lied a lot.”
“I covered a lot,” Gunvalson replied.
Her bright side has been Culberson, and the last two weeks of their mother-daughter relationship have been “perfect,” Culberson said.
Still, there were wounds: Beador, a close friend and supporter of Gunvalson’s during much of the season, was visibly betrayed by what she said was Gunvalson’s callous dismissal of their friendship – including telling Gunvalson’s brother about Beador’s husband’s affair.
As they argued over whether or not Gunvalson had truly appreciated Beador’s support during the controversy, Beador fired back, “Dig yourself a bigger grave.”
There is no easy way back from that, Gunvalson said as the reunion wound down.
There is no easiness for her, either, following what she said is the definitive end to her relationship with Ayers and the sudden death of her mother.
“I’m not in a good place, I’m really sad,” she said.
Real Housewives of Orange County Recap: Brooks Ayers Confronts the Ladies About His Cancer Controversy
But her heart is not bitter or angry, she said, and she is going to work on restoring the trust and love she knows she has lost.
Judge, a longtime friend, will be waiting: Speaking just the two of them on the couch during a commercial break, the cameras caught this exchange, where Judge urged Gunvalson to renounce Ayers.
“I want Vicki back,” she said.
Time will be the truest test, after what Dubrow said was an “epic” season 10 (and Edmonds, a first-time cast member, made the slightest joking reference to her hopes of returning next year).
Shots of whiskey were lined up in the final moments as the cast toasted. To the future.