Not even a luxe gala could make everyone happy this week, and it may be that every relationship is destined for failure.
This week’s episode was mostly just a big tease — dramatic music and empty threats from the characters culminated in a huge gala (rich-people word for party where they ask for your money) and… wait for it… no fist fights!
What are we even watching this show for anymore?
It all started with Alex's robotic narration of his manufactured girl problems: He's getting “major vibes” from Kelsey (who’s with Garrett); Juliette wants to be exclusive; and Chloe found out that he slept with Amanda.
Alex sleeping with Amanda was the main focus of the first third of the episode, as each of the different characters went around confronting each other. Chloe went to Siesta Key Marina and confronted Alex, but she cooled off pretty quickly (kind of a bummer — we were hoping for more of that Chloe rage we’ve come to love and identify with).
When Brandon rolled up to Amanda’s house and told her that he'd found out and that it kind of bothered him, she told him she just wants to be friends. Brandon, clearly uncomfortable at finding out he’s not the über-macho ladies' man he thinks he is, slinks off to lick his wounds.
Cut to Juliette pulling up to Alex’s house. Before she’s even closed her car door, he tells her he slept with Amanda. She becomes visibly upset, giving him the solid telling-off we’ve been waiting for. She calls him a “piece of sh--,” and Alex tries to shift the blame to her, saying if she had made it seem like things between them were “official,” he wouldn’t have done that.
Juliette was not having it, and rightfully so.
She gets in her car, saying, “It’s been real. Bye, Alex. See you, maybe.” Cue triumphant cheers and dancing around from us — we are absolutely thrilled she finally seems to be done with him.
In the meantime, we’re seeing Kelsey confiding in her mom and Garrett talking with his friend Conner, both discussing how rocky things are in their relationship and how the two may just be in different places.
(This is where we would dramatically mourn the imminent loss of our favorite couple, but we’re a little annoyed at them right now. See the sidebar for details about the web of lies we’ve fallen into.)
Alex and Madisson are also working with Alex’s mom, Beth Kompothecras, to plan this huge Gatsby-inspired gala to raise money for autism. We learn Alex has two teenage siblings — Bronson and Sarah Alice — who have autism.
For the first time, we also see them on the screen. Alex and Madisson make lunch for them, and each has a moment of airtime, though they appear uncomfortable.
There's more gala-prep and worrying over seeing exes and love interests, but we’ll spare you the details.
When the gala arrives in all its sparkling splendor, it’s a lot of the cast (even a few real Sarasota socialites!) standing around in formalwear sipping champagne. Kelsey keeps ditching Garrett, and there’s a lot of shots of him looking confused and concerned, But he’s not as antisocial as he seems and is laughing with other party-goers a lot ... just not his girlfriend.
Alex and Brandon have a weird fake bro moment where they have a “no hard feelings” talk with monosyllabic words and Chloe watching on, laughing openly at how awkward it is as we cringe.
Madisson descends a spiral staircase swathed in gold like an actual princess, and Brandon trips over himself trying to bring her a drink and not drool at the same time. Ew. Kelsey also calls his pickup line creepy and for a moment, we forget that we’re mad at her.
Amanda also makes a grand entrance (complete with a little booty shake the second she steps out of the car) and the cast stares daggers into her with a cloud of mixed feelings hovering over them. Juliette grabs her and pulls her aside. She tells Amanda she blames her for sleeping with Alex, but she wants to be the bigger person and show him she can still be friends and not be petty. So they go get a drink together in front of Alex.
Like grown-ups, I guess?
Eventually, Alex gives a speech about the purpose behind the event, talking about watching his siblings grow up and wanting to do something to help the less fortunate. (So he spent his parents’ money on a lavish party and flirted with girls the whole night, obviously. How generous.) Gary Kompothecras actually cries, and everyone else swoons.
This includes Kelsey, who takes Alex outside and asks him to reveal more of this side of himself to her. Alex tells her to come around more often to see said soft side. In between this are several shots of Garrett looking, as always, like a lost puppy.
The episode ends with a confrontation between Kelsey and Garrett. He politely tells her he is going to leave because he wants to hang out with her, but she hasn’t been with him all night. She wants to deflect but resorts to several eye rolls instead because, of course, he’s right. She asks if they’re okay, and he says it seems like Kelsey always wants to be around Alex.
“I don’t want to talk to you,” he finally says, before slow-motion walking out of the Kompothecras palace and back into our hearts.
Next week, Brandon puts the moves on Madisson (gross), and maybe something happens between Kelsey and Alex. We hope not, though.
- Cassidy Alexander
Soundtrack of the Summer
OK. This bothers me every week on this show, but this week was the worst. Can MTV stop clinging to its tattered page in the book of American music history (today’s teenagers don’t know that MTV stands for Music Television, so you can let it go) and stop relying on the show’s soundtrack to carry so much weight?
Producers need to stop setting up every scene with songs featuring ridiculously specific lyrics. Every single scene in this show is set up in a way that tells me exactly what’s about to happen, what just happened and how I’m supposed to feel about it — and it’s all in the lyrics. It’s both comical and exhausting. Yes, it ups the drama, but this week I actually laughed out loud at how specific the lyrics were. Here are my favorite examples:
- After Juliette finally gets smart and calls Alex out for being the poor-planning player he is, she makes a dramatic exit to the song “Last Time” by Rachele Royale. The chorus oh-so-subtly sings, “White flags in the air, I’m done.” We can only hope it’s REALLY over, sweetheart.
- Before Brandon and Amanda have their awkward discussion about her fling with Alex (in her driveway, because her mom clearly didn’t think their house was camera-crew ready), he drives up to the lyrics “I thought you were someone to trust,” from “Plot Twist“ by Sigrid (the song title alone is just too good for words). The song repeats the words “shots fired” so many times that I wanted to email the show’s music director with a bunch of clapping emoijs and the subject line “For your bluntness.” In case the song didn’t make it clear enough, Brandon, you probably can’t trust the girl who has lied to nearly every character on this show (and supposedly punched her ex-best friend in the nose — don’t forget that little hiccup).
- A terrible attempt at a catchy electronic/indie pop/emo song that is — no joke — called “I Won’t Let You Keep Bringing Me Down” by the appropriately named band Friendswithbenefits plays at the opening of the scene, in which Madisson, Alex and his mom go shopping for gala decorations, as if to give us a direct listen into Madisson’s stream of consciousness, which mostly consists of her screaming “I know this guys isn't worth my time, but it's fine, don't worry about it, I like being the supportive ex-girlfriend who can't let go, ok?! Get off my back!"
- Niki Kottmann