If you even wondered what a Henrik Ibsen play would look like as a reality show, look no further.
Vancouver is all about the psychic vortex swirling around the Unholy Trinity, but there are also some fun side characters hanging around to look on in horror whilst eating canapes. Let’s meet them first.
Starting from the bottom, we have Amanda Hansen (unfortunately not the Amanda Hansen from U.S. Big Brother, a program I will never mention again on these hallowed e-grounds). Amanda is a friend of Mia Claman, and, coincidentally I’m sure, a recovering alcoholic. Her hook and entry point into the cast is her new kombucha business, which is worth it if only for the look of horror on Jody’s face when Amanda explains what the Mother is.
Let’s dispense with Amanda right away though, because she’s baaasic. (I did mention that she’s friends with Mia, right?) She’s mostly notable for sad attempts to come for Ronnie or Ioulia that end with them absolutely savaging her, sending her sobbing out of the room, etc. Thank you no.
Ioulia Reynolds is an art dealer. As you may have guessed from her name, she is also an absurdly transparent Russian trophy wife, who flirts with her stepsons, never seems to know where her husband is, and chronically fails to keep track of the various luxury purchases she makes with his money. Ioulia is the comic relief in a season otherwise defined by hatred and gnawing despair, most notably through her insistence on staying at dinners that other Housewives have already stormed out of, because why waste delicious food? Same, Ioulia.
Rounding out our trio of new ladies is Robin Renee Richmond Reichman, a Texas transplant, horse lover, and possibly the strangest person I’ve ever encountered on this show.
The first half of Robin’s arc revolves around her protracted efforts to be chosen to sing the United States national anthem at a showjumping event. (It’s even weirder than it sounds.) The second half revolves around her inexplicable, profoundly socially unwise loyalty to Mary Zilba, which usually takes the form of her compulsively reporting back to Mary every single venomous thing Jody ever says about her. And on that note…
The Ancient Evil
When we return, Mary and Jody are barely willing to film together, chiefly because Jody insists on lobbing increasingly baroque insults at Mary, many of which take the form of actively ideating her death.
This is very easily portrayed as a battle of good versus evil because, well, Jody is pure evil. Incompetent simp that she is, though, Mary of course fumbles this easy PR victory. The unravelling begins when Mary starts habitually storming out of events and venues because Jody is being too mean to her. Bitch you know what show you’re on. Everyone quickly tires of this showboating, so they’re already primed to turn on her when she drops one of the most outlandish lies this show has ever served up.
Yes, Mary Zilba tries to leave an event because her friend’s kid got run over. Except Ioulia’s friends with this person too, calls her in a panic, and learns that…it didn’t happen. Oops. Mary whips up a sad lie about “mishearing” her friend, then leaves anyway “to check up on her sons’ house party,” and then is immediately spotted by Ronnie hanging out at the restaurant next door.
We reach a point, then, where the central conflict of the season is trench warfare between a psychotic social dictator and a whiny, compulsively lying martyr. Let’s throw an emotionally unstable alcoholic into the mix, shall we?
The Passion of the Negus
At the start of the season, Ronnie has gone sober because of her daughter’s recent near-death experience, and let me tell you, sober Ronnie is a trip man. She relies on Ativan to get through the day, and it only makes her more sullen and merciless in savaging her enemies. At its best, this is admittedly very enjoyable—I could watch Ronnie send Amanda fleeing from a room on loop—but point being the woman is, uh, on the verge.
Torn back and forth between Jody and Mary, Ronnie starts careening. She confronts Mary on their disintegrating friendship, then tearfully hashes things out with her, then decides she needs a break from her after all because her husband called her to say Mary is NOT her real friend(!!). She relapses and gets completely hammered on a yacht, then accuses Robin of drugging her(!!!!). She reveals a supposed one-night stand she had with Mary decades ago(!!!!!!!!).
It all comes to ahead, deliciously, at an Alice in Wonderland-themed tea party thrown by Amanda to mark the release of her kombucha line. Ronnie accosts Mary, Mary is baffled and exasperated, Jody intervenes to “save” Ronnie from Mary, and the rest is (unbelievably vulgar) history. I recommend you track it down and watch it (there’s a nice abridged version here), but if you can’t, enjoy this transcript that I simply had to create.
After all that it’s not really surprising to me that there was never an S3–tragic, sure, but damn, what an ending. The canonical final words spoken by Jody to Mary? “You have bad breath.” I’m happy leaving the ladies there, personally.
THE QUEEN STAYS QUEEN ADIOS!