Even a season finale of The Real Housewives of Orange County that is cleansed of sin cannot be free of shouting.
Tamra Judge may have wished for sweetness and calm at her after-baptism party on Monday’s episode – which she got, a little – but she had to have been bracing for a blow-up.
There’s no way at this point in the season that Vicki Gunvalson, Shannon Beador and Meghan King Edmonds could be in the same room without kicking off the newest chapter in their ongoing, layered feud.
Call it, Which Is More Important: Our Friendship, My Boyfriend’s Cancer Diagnosis or the Truth?
And so while the finale spent much of its time gathering everyone, all in white, in celebration of Judge, it could only look away from the approaching conflict for so long.
(Which it did! There were entire shots of Gunvalson and Beador walking past one another with their heads swiveled in opposite directions.)
Gunvalson, already not shy about invoking religion in the middle of the controversy over ex-boyfriend Brooks Ayers’ cancer diagnosis, again colored the ladies’ mistrust demonic.
“Satan is the author of confusion,” she told the camera, adding, “I know the truth. And I will pray for everyone that’s confused.”
(Which, for the record, apparently includes her daughter Briana – labeled a “s— stirrer” by Gunvalson, who nonetheless does love her, she said.)
But Gunvalson, strong in her conviction and ignoring the swirling (if hardly concrete) rumors about Ayers, tried to leave the post-baptism party as quickly as possible, lest she have to deal with more questions or “negativity.”
Edmonds, Beador and Heather Dubrow – as they have for probably the 10th time this season – stood around and talked about What to Do About the Cancer.
Soon Gunvalson’s brother, Billy, and his girlfriend, Rhonda, were involved; and though Dubrow said Billy is just the nicest person, the conversation soon turned nasty.
He was adamant that Ayers had cancer, the ladies were all still deeply skeptical and then, thanks to Rhonda and also probably the alcohol, Beador’s marital issues got brought up, turning everything to 11.
Beador immediately stormed over to and Gunvalson, angered by her apparent betrayal of Beador’s secret. And then:
It was quite something to see Beador, serving the chilliest burn, heavily imply that Gunvalson was a tyrannical witch while actually telling her what a good friend she was for not spreading around Beador’s business to others. You could almost feel the acid air quotes.
Gunvalson had no idea what was going on, actually was in fact in the middle of telling Dubrow about how she had no idea about this whole other thing to do with Ayers’ cancer, when Beador walked over.
Then Gunvalson walked out.
This led to the angriest, most cathartic moment of the episode, when Gunvalson, breaking into tears, railed at the episodes-long suspicion that has surrounded her, seeming to cover over what a hard time she’s recently had with her mother’s death and the thought that her boyfriend was seriously ill.
Everyone has been pushing her, instead of giving her a hug, she said.
“You know what the truth is? I’m not doing good,” Gunvalson said.
“I’m really, really sad and all this stuff is just disgusting minutiae,” she said.
What could the women say back to that? Basically what they’ve all been saying lately: Clear up the cancer confusion. Be more transparent. Help us make this go away.
Later, instead, Gunvalson listened in her limo as Judge named off some more of the accusations against Ayers. Gunvalson did not dismiss them.
“They can do all the detective work they want to do,” she told Judge.
Then she told the camera, “Let’s say he’s faking cancer, let’s just say he’s faking cancer. What would that have to do with me?”
She decided not to stay at the party, though the other ladies all did, gathering around Judge for a final group selfie as updates about their lives popped onto the screen:
Dubrow’s house is behind schedule, both Edmonds’ and Beador’s marriages are doing better, and Judge is still in real estate (and in church).
And Gunvalson? Ayers broke up with her.
Will we ever know what really happened with that whole series of events, in any definitive way, beyond all the gossip? Dubrow wondered this to the camera, just before the finale ended.
Not on Monday. But there are still two more hours of reunion. Give it time.
The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Mondays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.