If there is one big takeaway from Vanderpump Rules, other than that you should never allow your fella to go on a guys’ trip to Vegas or give Katie Maloney tequila, it’s this: LA men are the worst. They are by and large an unruly mob of deceitful, lecherous, ignorant, hard-partying narcissists who only care about the next shiny thing. They’re like the Jan. 6 insurrectionists if they were all hypebeast dorks armed with vape pens and the Capitol was an IG influencer’s panties. And among these Angeleno d-bags, Tom Sandoval stands alone — an empty vessel of a man who is only interested in feeding his outsized ego. His partner in life and business, Tom Schwartz, is a Renfieldian yes man who allows Sandoval to steamroll him at every possible turn. If he feels his closest friends or girlfriend are outshining him (see: Ariana’s cocktail book, Stassi’s book party at TomTom) he will either bully his way in or throw a puerile hissy fit. If you so much as question his nefarious methods, he’ll mutter a few “dude’s” and “fuck-off’s” before turning it right back on you. He is seemingly incapable of accountability or empathy, and, to quote Kentucky belle Brittany Cartwright, he can rawt in hail.
With that said, we’ve finally arrived at the Season Ten finale of Vanderpump Rules and the aftermath of “Scandoval.” For the uninitiated, “Scandoval” refers to a tectonic plate-shifting event wherein Sandoval conducted a clandestine months-long affair with Raquel Leviss, the best friend and confidant of Sandoval’s partner of nearly a decade, Ariana Madix — an elfin, extraordinarily loyal former sketch comic and the closest thing the show has to a moral conscience. To make matters worse, Sandoval and Ariana had recently purchased a pricey home together and were in the process of fertilizing embryos; Sandoval had previously helped plan a luxe engagement party on the Coachella grounds for Raquel and his good mate, DJ James Kennedy; Raquel’s been aggressively pursuing Sandoval’s BFF Schwartz on camera, in either a case of deliberate misdirection or a clumsy stab at making him jealous; Sandoval had turned Ariana against her bestie and business partner, Katie, over the Raquel-Schwartz imbroglio; and Ariana had just lost her beloved dog and grandmother in quick succession. Oh, and Ariana learned of the affair by stumbling upon a saved FaceTime video on Sandoval’s phone of him and Raquel masturbating to each other.
Last week’s penultimate episode was supposed to be the original season finale, but once the affair came to light in March, Bravo picked up filming to capture the fallout. And now we have one more messy, messy episode. The devil works hard but Andy Cohen works harder.
When we last left the crew, Raquel confronted Katie (and shaded her delightful mom) over her weird Schwartz offensive at SUR, causing Katie to go full Mob Wives on her (it was glorious), Sandoval to curiously rush to Raquel’s defense, and Ariana to cry on Lisa Vanderpump’s shoulder because she felt caught in the crossfire. Earlier, Sandoval attempted to guilt-trip Ariana over them not having sex even though, between opening his strip-mall tiki bar Schwartz & Sandy’s, butchering famous songs with his cover band Tom Sandoval & the Most Extras, and sneaking around to bang Raquel, he’s been checked out of their relationship for the better part of a year. The audacity.
Episode 15 of this season, titled “#Scandoval,” opens with Ariana and Sandoval both describing the moment Ariana discovered that Sandoval and Raquel were having an affair the likes of which we’ve never seen on reality TV before. As the story goes, Sandoval was performing with his joke of a cover band at his bar TomTom — which he owns 5% of but thinks it’s 100% — when his phone fell out of his pocket. Someone handed it to Ariana, and she went through it.
“In his camera roll I found a screen recording of Raquel and Tom on FaceTime. My stomach dropped into my fucking ass,” recalls Ariana. (This is the aforementioned video of the two getting their rocks off to each other, which Sandoval apparently recorded, which is very sucio, and deposited into his spank bank.)
Raquel was in New York City filming Watch What Happens Live with Scheana and, after Ariana texted her about her findings, Scheana remembers how Raquel nonchalantly turned to her and said, “Yeah… Sandoval and I have been having an affair for seven months. Ariana just found out.” Scheana, who’s been one of Raquel’s most ardent defenders, is flabbergasted. There’s no way Raquel could hang a TV in under seven minutes, that’s for damn sure.
We return to Sandoval and his off-putting mustache. He reverts back to his preposterous shtick about how he executed this obscene betrayal because him and Ariana weren’t “happy” in their relationship, while Ariana doesn’t mince words: “I learned on Wednesday night that there are evil, evil people in this world, and sometimes they’re the people closest to you — and you have no idea.”
These two LA strivers are still sharing a home, though, presumably because Sandoval has refused to move his ass out. Cut to Ariana chugging wine out of the bottle and commiserating with a friend, while Sandoval stalks around the place in furry sandals with AirPods in like a divorced ghost. Maybe he’s listening to Ben Shapiro, one of the only people on earth with a voice more grating than his.
“Do you want anything?” Sandoval asks her. “For you to die,” Ariana replies (!).
It’s been two days since the big reveal, and Ariana shares that Sandoval still “hasn’t said sorry for what you actually did,” which is astonishing even for him. Then, Ariana reads him for filth:
“I’ve been with you for nine years. Back when you lived with Schwartz we became friends, when you were literally fucking, like, wearing combat boots and skinny jeans and didn’t have a dime to your name, driving a 1997 Honda Civic. I loved you then when you had nothing. You got a little bit of money, a little bar, a little band, and then this girl is gonna act enamored with you, like, ‘Oh my god, I’m so, oh…’ Because that’s what you want, right? You want someone to just gas you up. That girl is searching for identity in men. She has no identity of her own. She’s willing to stoop so low as to fuck one of her best friends’ life partners, and that’s someone you think is, like, a good person you should be around?”
A Mortal Kombat-worthy Fatality from Ariana, and what we all needed to hear. Flawless victory.
“Me and Raquel became, like, really good friends,” mumbles Sandoval, ever the gaslighting weasel.
“I DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT FUCKING RAQUEL!” Ariana screams, drowning out his whine. “YOUR FRIENDSHIP IS FUCKING BULLSHIT!”
“NO, IT’S FUCKING NOT!” Sandoval shouts back, adding, “Well, guess what? It’s real because she treats me with fucking respect — something I haven’t gotten from you in a long time.”
Sandoval proceeds to emptily complain about how the relationship had run its course, they “had no sex life,” and he’d lost his “mojo.” (What is this Austin Powers shit?) He, as is his wont, refuses to take responsibility for the terrible thing he did and proceeds to exhaustingly justify the unjustifiable.
So, Ariana comes back for seconds:
“I regret every moment that I stood up for you, defended you, supported you. You’re worth nothing. And I want you to feel that deep in your soul. I want you to hear those words coming from the mouth of the woman who stood by you, and loved you, and was ready to build the rest of my life around you. Hear my words and know that that’s how I feel about you. I regret ever loving you. Any last words before we never speak again?”
All of this, by the way, has transpired within the first ten minutes of the episode. This thing has more wall-to-wall action than the opening of Face/Off, which boasted a child being accidentally assassinated at a Griffith Park carnival (?), Nic Cage planting a nuclear bomb in DTLA disguised as a horny priest, and Nic Cage feeding peaches to a honey-trap FBI agent who’s curiously dressed like Martha Stewart — before shooting her in the back.
But alas, I digress.
Next, we see Sandoval enter Schwartz’s sad breakup apartment — the very place where he would often get down with Raquel — and witness Sandoval, sporting gold lightning-bolt earrings for fuck’s sake, hug Schwartz whilst pushing out some of the most fraudulent tears ever put to screen. Schwartz has, by his own admission, known about the affair since the summer, so this entire exchange feels bogus. The big takeway, I suppose, is that Sandoval continues to try and blame Ariana for his ugly misdeed, and Schwartz is still a spineless coward who refuses to check his guy and is mostly preoccupied with how their bar, Schwartz & Sandy’s, is being review-bombed on Yelp. (May I remind you that Sandoval “borrowed” $250K from his firefighter-mom’s retirement fund to help bankroll the very bar whose reputation he lit on fire?)
Ariana’s pals console her at her home. Scheana is among them, even though Scheana firmly backed her influencer-pal Raquel in Randoval’s twisted campaign to tear Katie and Ariana apart, and has been far more invested in adopting penguins for twenty-something fuckboys than having her girls’ backs. Ariana reveals that Raquel told her the affair began after the girls’ trip to Vegas/Havasu — right after Ariana’s dog, Charlotte, died — and that Raquel said they’d only kissed after boys’ night at the Mondrian, but Sandoval, when pressed, admitted that the two “fucked in her car that night,” with Ariana adding, “And he didn’t have a key to get in [the house], so he had to ring the doorbell and I had to let him in.” Even Katie is speechless. Give this lady a few shots of Clase Azul and her mobile and let her cook.
Scheana tells the group that, post-Watch What Happens Live, she shoved Raquel after learning of the affair, and Raquel is claiming she punched her. In a truly hilarious moment, Scheana claims this is an impossibility because she can’t make a fist with her long nails, while making a fist with her long nails. Logan — who you might remember as DJ James Kennedy’s possible ex-lover — grabs the wooden penis flute from Playa Del Carmen, which has apparently been displayed on Sandoval and Ariana’s living room shelf like an Academy Award (Rihanna did call it “easily the best clip on TV,” after all) — and breaks it in two over his knee. Very on the nose! Then again, so was that cursed penis flute.
The action turns to DJ James Kennedy and Ally the aspiring astrologer. DJ James Kennedy says he isn’t mad at Raquel, but rather Sandoval for being a “backstabber.” This is pretty rich stuff coming from DJ James Kennedy, since we all know he went behind Sandoval’s back to shtup Kristen — “in my bed… with my condoms,” Sandoval once said — right after the two had broken up and when he was about to move in with Sandoval so they could make unbearable music together. He’s also a vile, crybaby misogynist. So, he can sit this one out.
Cue Lala, who cuts through the BS as always: “He did this to Kristen. He did it to Ariana. And guess what? He got bored with Ariana, he wants to go be with the sloppy drunk — and she’s fun — and he got off on the fact that he could sneak around. You think this is the first time he’s been creepin’ around?”
She continues: “I think that Tom has been hooking up with a lot of people. A few years ago, I heard the rumors that Tom and Billie Lee go off and do whatever they go and do. We need to open that case back up. It got cold, and I don’t think it need to be cold no more!” Put Detectives Lala and Kristen on this immediately. (Billie Lee is the trans SUR hostess who popped up in Seasons Six and Seven.)
Sandoval and Raquel meet up at her apartment, and she has her Galaxy Night Light on, making the whole exchange resemble a scene out of Spring Breakers, but a whole lot dumber. Raquel might be the worst brand ambassador for the Galaxy Night Light ever, and that’s really saying something. They say they love each other, but, like most of the words out of these two conceited people’s mouths, it doesn’t ring sincere in the slightest. The sequence as a whole is more cringe than the leg-knife selfie Scheana snapped in Playa.
In her one-on-one interview, Raquel, who has a tiny scratch on her face and a slight bruise under her eye yet is acting like she went 12 rounds with Canelo Álvarez, says, “I was just so curious to know what it would be like to be physical with someone that you love, because I already knew that I loved him as a friend, and I’ve never had sex like that before. I should have completely removed myself from the situation, but I did not have the willpower to not see him.” Yuck. Tom Sandoval isn’t capable of loving anyone other than himself, Rachel.
After this nauseating display, we are transported to Heaven — Villa Rosa, where Lisa Vanderpump is playing with her dog, Puffy. Ariana enters, and Lisa does her best to console her.
“On the other side, there’s going to be something beautiful for you,” LVP says. “You know that.”
Katie confronts Schwartz at his fratty apartment, who lies through his teeth that he only learned about the affair “a month ago.” Following some light grilling, Schwartz confesses he knew “about the one-night stand” after that night at the Mondrian, which happened last summer, prompting Katie to say, “You’ve been his bitch boy for, like, how many years?” (Get his ass, Katie.)
Enter the OG chaos agent herself, Kristen Doute — who is shot in slow-mo, from the legs-up, like a horror movie villain (in Nike slides!). She greets Ariana and requests “an alcohol.” They venture to Ariana’s backyard, where Doute presents a breakup goodie bag containing a tuning fork, a giant crystal dildo (?), and amethyst. She has Ariana scribble messages on paper about “that which no longer serves you,” only to have her light them on fire and stomp them out. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, life is beautiful, so slay we must,” Doute chants. It’s The Craft spinoff we never knew we needed.
Sandoval enters Villa Rosa, and Lisa’s in full-on funereal mode, wearing all black. Sandoval spews more nonsense about a supposed plan to come clean about the affair before the show’s reunion, and Lisa continues to treat Sandoval with kid gloves — just as she’s done for years with DJ James Kennedy. Sandoval pushes out some more fraudulent tears, and Lisa seems to fall for the Daytime Emmy-winning performance, though I doubt anyone else will. “You’re not a bad person, Tom. You just did a bad thing. Make sure you know that,” Lisa tells him, despite all evidence on her show pointing to the contrary. At this point, LVP needs to literally slap some sense into Sandoval, Stassi-style. It’s the only way to get through to him.
All the gals congregate on the rooftop of the trendy Hollywood hotspot Grandmaster Recorders, where Scheana tries to make it all about Scheana by weeping over Raquel’s temporary restraining order against her — but then Katie reveals that she’s made Schwartz join so he can personally apologize to Ariana for his part in Scandoval. Ariana tells Schwartz that Sandoval “apologized to the business before he apologized to me publicly, which is, like, pathetic.” (Hard agree.) Schwartz tries to claim he’s being unfairly “painted as this co-conspirator” in all this drama, even though by all accounts he knew about the Sandoval-Raquel tryst since summer; was sneaking off on double-dates with Kristen’s friend Jo, Sandoval, and Raquel; and the smoking-gun FaceTime video was taken at his apartment.
“Look, I don’t think that you are that person,” Ariana tells him. “But I will not have mutual friends with him. So, I’m not your friend anymore.” (Ariana, he is that person.)
While everything up to this point has been A1 reality TV, the episode’s coda leaves much to be desired. It ends with Sandoval and Scheana weeping together as she grills him, and Sandoval saying even more terrible, blame-y things about Ariana on-camera that are so shameless they’re not worth repeating here. Why is the final scene of an otherwise gripping hour-plus of television between Sandoval and Scheana? Who cares about the two most self-serving people on Vanderpump Rules having a heart-to-heart? Unless Scheana makes Sandoval and Raquel cameo in one of her music videos as punishment, I don’t wanna hear it. How great would it have been if the episode closed with Ariana and Katie opening their lovely-sounding feminist sandwich shop, Something About Her? Or Kristen giving Sandoval the business? For any true sense of closure, we’ll have to tune in to next week’s reunion — the first of three parts, airing weekly through June 7 —where the fireworks will rival Rachella.
Jerry Springer may be dead, but his spirit lives on.