‘Southern Charm’ season finale leaves much to be desired

(left) JD Madison and (right) Thomas Ravenel chat at the Southern Charm benefit for the Wounded Warriors Project on Nov. 07, 2014 on the aircraft carrier Yorktown in Charleston.

It’s easy to play armchair quarterback when a season finale airs, but good grief, the final play of Bravo’s “Southern Charm” went down about as badly as Seattle’s decision to pass instead of run at the end of this year’s Super Bowl. The episode was titled “Dysfunction Junction” and that’s about right — not so much because of what went down, necessarily, but because of the editing. But some stuff went down. It had to. This is “Southern Charm.”

It’s the day after the election results party and Craig is thrilled that he wasn’t the one to make a fool of himself. Cameran, who has admitted to a low tolerance, was more than a bit tore up from the floor up (literally) and Shep, well, here’s what Shep said over the microphone at one point in the evening: “I’m running for Senate next time. My message is a thing of beauty. Everyone is a total catastrophe except for me and my message.” Let it be said, though, that the word “catastrophe” had some extra syllables and consonants thrown in there. He admits to Craig that he was in a “feeling no pain kind of mode last night.”

Craig and Shep discuss Kathryn’s less-than-delicate behavior from the party — she made a big scene when she dropped an F-bomb in Landon’s face and flipped her off. Shep says he feels sorry for Kathryn, but then she goes and does things that make you not feel sorry for her. Craig agrees that he was rooting for her, but then she shows up and acts like a crazy person.

In what is clearly foreshadowing by the editors, Craig then reflects, “Maybe I should figure out how to help myself before I try to help these people out anymore. Because it clearly doesn’t matter what you do.”

At Patricia’s house, she is redecorating a room in the manse with the assistance of Mario Buatta, who she refers to as “America’s top interior designer.” When she married her husband and moved into his apartment, she recalls, three previous wives had decorated it and she knew it needed Mario’s touch — they’ve had four homes in Architectural Digest together. As far as décor, she says, she likes “antiques, paintings and discreet collections of things.” She tells Mario that she wants to look at the Sotheby’s catalogs for the upcoming sale. So, I guess it’s fair to say that there is no IKEA furniture in any of those Architectural Digest photo spreads.

Whitney arrives and fills her in on the events of the election results party, more specifically, Kathryn’s behavior. Patricia had left before things got crazy. Whitney explains that Kathryn had three of four breakdowns and Mario asks what he means by that. Patricia says they call them “psychotic episodes” and Whitney, who truly does have a way with words, explains that Kathryn is a “feral, wild girl who flips at the slightest provocation.”

Thomas goes to JD’s for some best buddy time and they end up having a heart-to-heart talk about the TomKat relationship, or lack thereof, since Thomas had recently broken up with Kathryn on Facebook.

JD: He tells Thomas that the guy he’s seen during the campaign is not the guy he knows — he’s borderline unrecognizable. He’s got such tunnel vision on his own journey and it hurts the feelings of those around him. Is it the campaign? Is it the baby? Is it Kathryn? He suggests that Thomas take a break, compartmentalize, and figure out what he needs to do to get his life back on track.

Thomas: He tells JD that he needs “to get the chaos out” and talk with Kathryn. Of course, he wishes he had ended it better. He’s waffling back and forth as to whether he wants to be with Kathryn or not. He loves her and misses her (and her “physicality” and her “red hair”). Then he quotes the line from “Steel Magnolias” when Shelby tells her mother she wants to have a baby. “I’d rather have 30 minutes of something wonderful than a lifetime of something not very special,” he says. I’m still trying to decide if I think that’s really awesome or kind of creepy.

The last section of the episode is the fundraising event that Patricia has planned for the Wounded Warriors Project, to take place on our local aircraft carrier, the Yorktown. It features an open bar, heavy hors d’oeuvres, live music and an auction. The auction is not for romantic getaways or art or jewelry, mind you, it’s for dates with Craig and Shep. Let me preface by saying that when this event was filmed last year, it was common knowledge that it was supposed to be for the final episode. Hence, my disappointment with how squished up and sloppy the storyline editing got at the end. Anyway, bygones.

Best arrivals: JD strolls in with his “pimpin’ ain’t easy” fur coat and Patricia literally rolls up in a golf cart, while everyone else has to schlep down that 27-mile gangplank.

Up-and-coming country artist Kelsea Ballerini performs — Craig can’t partake in conversation because he wants to go “fall in love with a country singer” and Shep also wants to “check her out.” Note that this is another attempt at foreshadowing by the editors.

Auction time: Craig goes first with the starting bid at $500. It shoots up to $1,750 by none other than Kelsea, the country singer. Next thing you know, it’s $5,001 and Kelsea closes it out. Craig’s smile is huge. He’s “happy on the inside and giddy as hell.” Shep is crestfallen and in a relative state of disbelief. But then it’s his turn and the starting bid is $1,750. And the closing bid is $1,750. From Cameran. Shep is embarrassed and wonders what’s wrong with the world. Craig thinks it’s payback and Shep says Craig is walking around like he’s all “hot stuff.”

It continues to play out like that and they act like two teenage girls talking behind each other’s backs about the prom queen results. Cameran appears to egg Shep on a bit and before you know it, a seemingly jealous Shep is all up in Craig’s face. Cameran tells Shep that Craig wants to be accepted and craves attention and positive reinforcement. Craig feels like everyone is ganging up on him again and Shep thinks he’s being “indignant.” Craig then leaves, heartbroken that he doesn’t have the support system that he thought he had. Key words: editing and foreshadowing.

Kathryn, on a mission to show Thomas just what kind of mistake he made, saunters in wearing a full-length fur coat. She’s not a woman that will be easy to get rid of and she’s not going anywhere without a fight, she says in an earlier diary. She wants him to know that she’ll still be there for him and support him, no matter how he treats her. She’s worked too hard to walk away. She arrives with confidence in what she’s wearing and what she’s doing. And it works. Cut to the slow-motion reaction of Thomas making “eye contact” with Kathryn while she waves coyly. He says the chemistry is overtaking his willpower. He’s desperately trying to make his way over to her, but he keeps getting stopped for handshakes and pictures. He’s finally alongside her and he keeps finding a way to touch her in some way. He’s absolutely mesmerized.

Cut to Whitney and his Southern rock band, which includes members of Bad Religion, Minor Threat and Junkyard. They finish performing and based on the editing, Whitney gets a glimpse of what I can only assume is the schmoopie-ness of TomKat and he throws out a pretty hairy eyeball in that direction. He eventually sits down with Thomas and asks him if he’s “going to stay with this girl.” He keeps trying to bring up the assault charges and the campaign sabotage and the night on the beach with Craig, but Thomas continues to minimize everything. Thomas doesn’t want to believe certain things that he would find distasteful in Kathryn, he says in diary. Whitney’s advice to Thomas: “Set her up, sort it out, make sure she’s well-provided for and move on.”

The evening is coming to a close and Thomas and Kathryn are holding hands and getting along. Thomas asks her if she wants to get out of there (together), which confuses her — and here it goes:

Kathryn: Are we together or are we not together?

Thomas: What do you want?

Kathryn: Love, acknowledgement of love, in public and in private; loyalty, and I want to be treated like a lady. I’m the mother of your child.

Thomas: I say we split child custody, live separately, continue to see each other and try to work on this thing.

Kathryn: So you want to keep “dating” me? I’m ready to have some stability. It’s either all in or all out.

They start to debate over who has been trying the hardest. But then Kathryn lets that little insecurity flag fly a little bit and questions Thomas about his friendship with Jenn — past and present. The accusations start and Thomas is reminded of why the relationship will never work. “She’s caught in a loop,” he says. But bless his heart, he opens his mouth and out comes, “Let’s just move toward being friends.”

Then he leaves. Kathryn follows him, hollering his name and running all the way down that 27-mile gangplank in her fur coat and her heels.

On the screen appears, “Two weeks later.”

Craig packs up his car with some boxes and calls his mother because he’s heading back to Delaware. He’s starting to realize more and more that he can’t become the person he wants to be in Charleston. He needs to go home to Delaware and study for the bar exam. For once, he needs to stop talking the talk and (instead) walk the walk.

Um, yeah. So that’s it.

At least the good news is that Patricia’s event raised over $100,000 for the Wounded Warriors Project.


Kathryn has a “lesson” with Suzanne of the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits. Yes, that’s a real place. Thomas has made it very clear as to what he expects in a partner, so Kathryn is “learning” how to become the perfect political wife and homemaker. There are some cooking tips and the take-away is that Kathryn compares her relationship with Thomas to a parsnip - a grey, dirty parsnip. Bless her heart. Their relationship is like a roasted winter vegetable.

Cameran’s best friend/old roomie swings by for a visit and they talk about how Cameran isn’t ready for motherhood. She’s not the type that thinks that pregnancy is beautiful. Pregnancy changes your life, your marriage, your body — she’s not ready to get fat. She’ll hate being pregnant because she’ll feel like there’s an alien inside of her. She admits that she’s just not there yet: she thinks she’s too selfish and the idea of staying home all day with a baby is her own version of Hell.

Landon progresses with the finishing touches of her pop-up shop, The Trading Post, in a historic downtown residence. She’s really excited about it, but is nervous because her mother is coming to town. Their relationship has been strained since Landon’s divorce. They have a “push-and-pull” kind of relationship, not one that’s real “buddy-buddy,” rather it’s “civilized.” Well, I have to say, her mom hasn’t even put the pocketbook down before she starts with the Negative Nancy/Critical Carol routine. Her mother apologizes, saying that the divorce was really hard on her. Umm, not the most supportive thing to say to your daughter, who stayed in an “awful” marriage because it took her two years to get the guts to admit she was unhappy. Her mom says that her generation comes from a place where you just powered yourself through those rough places. Landon feels her mother left her ill-prepared for real life. She grew up “not thinking life was hard, that it would be an afternoon at the beach club.” She tells her mom she doesn’t need to be judged right now and then they cry and hug it out.

BIGGEST UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE EPISODE: “We’re so close to a Jerry Springer episode.”

— Craig to Shep


— Mario Buatta to Whitney — but then again, Mario also mistook the zipper for scotch tape.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE OF THE EPISODE: “When it doubt, get the bourbon out.”

— JD to Thomas

LANDON’S LATEST OPINION OF KATHRYN: “She likes the crazy and I don’t ... (She’s) a joke.”

— Referring to their bird-flipping F-bomb confrontation

MOST ASTUTE OBSERVATION ABOUT THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP: “We come from two different Souths. She’s old school and I’m a newer progressive version of the Southern woman.”

— Landon

WHAT CRAIG AND SHEP THINK ABOUT EACH OTHER’S AUCTION OUTFITS: “You look like George Bush.” — Craig to Shep; “You look like a (GD) lollipop.” — Shep to Craig

A SIGN THAT WHAT YOU’RE WEARING MAY BE A LITTLE ON THE EXPENSIVE SIDE: “You could pay for a whole third world country with your outfit right now.” — Craig to Kathryn