‘Vanderpump Rules’ season 4, episode 20 (finale) review: Who kissed and made up?

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When we last checked in with the “Vanderpump Rules” gang, Tom and Katie recovered from another blowout fight and planned their big engagement party to be held at Lisa Vanderpump’s palace, Stassi and Katie worked on forgiveness with progress being made, Lala felt jealous of James’ feelings for his ex, Kristen, when he told her they had a surprise sexual encounter, Scheana and Ariana grew further apart while Ariana and Tom grew closer together, and Jax is feeling pressure from girlfriend Brittany as he is about to face the music regarding his felony charge for stealing sunglasses in Hawaii. Tonight we find out on the season 4 finale whether or not the cracks among the group can be sealed, or opened even wider.

Jax returns home from Hawaii and managed to get his charges lowered to a misdemeanor from a felony. He had to endure torturous conditions like an uncomfortable flight, no sleep, no food, and a television stuck in German. He somehow braved the harsh conditions for an entire 24 hours and made it home to Brittany. He is on probation now, and needs to stay out of trouble for a while. If he can manage to do this–which we have doubts about given his history–it will be wiped from his permanent record. As usual, Jax gets off pretty easily. Brittany is hurt that he doesn’t seem to be excited to see her, and Jax gets instantly irritated with her for his perception of her nagging personality. He’s just survived a horrific ordeal, and wants peace and quiet. It seems to us like Brittany can’t do anything right in Jax’s eyes lately. It’s hard to watch how he talks to her at times because she seems to want his acceptance so badly.

Stassi found a cute apartment and is really excited about her new independent chapter of life. Kristen brings her yellow flowers as a housewarming gift, and they celebrate with champagne.

At SUR, James tells Tom Sandoval that he hasn’t had a drink in two weeks. He lets Tom and Ariana know that he has been in contact with Kristen. Many different types of contact. They laugh and shake their heads in disbelief. James lets us know he also still has the feels for Miss Lala, and whichever opportunity looks to be in his best interest is the one he will take.

Scheana helps Lala fix her dress, and they discuss how Katie and Tom’s engagement party will go the following day. Lala is concerned she might need a few drinks to feel comfortable, as she and Katie have never gotten along. Scheana brings up that she feels the same way about seeing Ariana there, and isn’t sure their friendship will survive. Lala is pissed off that Kristen told James that Lala is a “ratchet wh*re”, and feels she should stay out of what she and James have.

Jax returns to SUR to bartend and Tom asks him if he made out well in court. Tom recounts the various ways that Jax has completely screwed him over and in spite of all of it, Tom wants to be friends forever. Things like this are why we love Tom. His loyalty is unconditional, and while we feel it gets him used and abused at times, it is a really endearing quality.

Lisa finds out from Jax how things went in Hawaii, and as usual Jax downplays the situation like it is no big deal. We think it might not be so bad for Jax’s personal growth if he were to pay a steeper price for his reckless actions at some point. Lisa tries to tell him to take his actions seriously, but he cuts her off repeatedly in a condescending manner. Not many people could talk to Lisa Vanderpump like that and leave with their job intact. Jax has charm unlike most. She does manage to get the last word; she is Queen Lisa of Beverly Hills.

It’s time to set up for the engagement party for Tom & Katie at Lisa’s house. Lisa seems to find it precious that there is no hired help to set up and that the group intends to do it themselves. Tom and Ariana are getting ready at their apartment, and Tom is super stoked to be performing in public at the afterparty at SUR. Ariana is not looking forward to coming face to face with Scheana, because she is not a fan of the false persona Scheana has been portraying to be the popular girl who everyone loves. They think today needs to be the day it ends one way or another. Kristen and Stassi are also getting ready for the engagement party-crashing they have been plotting. Stassi is concerned by how they will be received, but is grateful that Kristen lacks dignity, which makes her the perfect partner-in-crime. Kristen seems to want to give James another chance. A final chance. We wonder if she is more in love with the attention he gives her than with James himself. Attention from the wrong guy even feels good sometimes. Over at Jax and Brittany’s place they discuss Stassi and how it will be for she and Jax being in the same place together after so long.

The guests start to arrive! We meet Schwartz’s mom, and Katie’s mother, grandma, and brothers. They are both sad that not everyone they love were able to get time off to attend, but they are thrilled to see the ones who could. The music changes, and in walks trouble in the form of Lala. Scheana is instantly annoyed that they are wearing matching hairstyles and similar clothes. Lala doesn’t seem to care because she is inebriated, and she is Lala.

Lisa spends time with Tom’s mom and Katie’s mom and grandmother, and they discuss how Tom is great with his mom and that is a good gauge for how he will treat Katie. Scheana is visibly upset that Ariana is off privately with Schwartz in their own private world of bubbles and fan waving. Everyone is laughing and having an amazing time. The gates open and in walks Kristen and Stassi. Stassi seems terrified but Kristen is right at home walking in to places she is not wanted. You can almost hear the needle scratch across the record when everyone is aware of their presence. Katie is really genuinely happy to see them and rushes over to hug them. Schwartz worries that Lisa will be pissed, but she accepts that Katie wants them there and lets it go. Classy move.

Stassi and Brittany finally meet while Jax watches closely. We think we may have seen him sweat a little bit. They get along fine and Stassi notices how sweet and opposite of her Brittany is. James presents Lisa with the PUMP Sessions CD and is really proud of himself for following through with the project. Lisa tells him that he is capable of anything he puts his sober mind to. James approaches Kristen with a warm hug and double kiss, and Lala is paying close attention. Kristen is proud of him too, and feels the same way that Lisa does about his potential for success.

Lisa toasts Katie and Schwartz briefly and asks if anyone would like to speak. Kristen takes the opportunity to talk. And talk. And talk. Eventually Drunk Lala shouts out to “wrap it up!”, which everyone definitely was thinking. Katie jumps to their defense and says Lala can leave if she doesn’t like it. Kristen thinks Lala “needs to take her skank Shih-Tzu looking hair home”.

Night falls and it’s time for the SUR after party. James is not drunk. He is stoned. Scheana immediately grabs Ariana to talk and see if they can fix things between them. Ariana is very honest about how Scheana has made her feel lately in her efforts to be popular, and Scheana cries. Scheana confesses the reality behind how she’s been acting and how she’s been sad. Ariana’s face softens and she immediately lets her guard back down and lets Scheana know she still loves her. This is what we like about Ariana and Tom together. They are both very forgiving and accepting people, as long as you’re sincere with them.

Drinks are flowing. Kristen eagle eyes James and Lala kissing and walks past them making gagging noises. She makes a comment about Lala being a “walking STD” and Lala is one drunk pissed off puppy. She walks straight to Kristen and pushes her hard. James steps in to keep it from escalating. Nobody is pleased with Lala. Lala thinks they can accept her for who she is or blow her.

Tom is ready for his big public debut of “Touch” as Charles McMansion. They gather to watch and Kristen is disgusted that James is choosing Lala over her. Lisa is puzzled by Tom’s music, but we think it’s a catchy tune. Well done, Sandoval! Everyone thinks James is drunk, but he, as mentioned, ate a bunch of pot brownies and smoked pot instead. Kristina the server points out that he is wasted and he tells her to STFU. She storms off and Jax the hero steps in to put James in his place, which is ironic because earlier he was doing the same thing to Brittany essentially. James tries to egg him on to fight, knowing that Jax is on probation. To his credit, Jax eventually calms down and the situation diffuses before it turns physical. James makes a good decision and leaves, but not before coming back for a quick kiss from Kristen. James is happy with how the situation with Kristen and Lala ended up, with him taking Lala home.

Jax tells Lisa that he will always have a soft spot for Stassi as he looks at her across the room. He approaches her at last and Kristina excuses herself to grab drinks and give them space. It’s such a different dynamic between them now than in the past. Stassi seems borderline superficial and Jax is still trying to get her to see things his way, but the energy is lighter. At first. Jax says he will always be there for her, no matter what. She brings up how this group started because of the two of them together. This moment of sweetness quickly turns into a rehashing of the mess it became. These two will always be like oil and water. Jax thinks she’s only back trying to make amends because her relationship failed. Through talking to Stassi, Jax realizes he is lucky to have a supportive girlfriend in Brittany and should appreciate her more. His hopes for Stassi and himself are to be cordial and get along in the group. She agrees.

Jax gets Brittany and tells her that he loves her. He lets us know that things between them are going to be okay. Stassi tells Katie how happy she is to be there experiencing important moments in Katie’s life with her, but while Katie does want to be friends, she is not ready to just go back to how it used to be. Katie has really grown the most this season, we feel. While she has occasional setbacks, like the brutal text fight with Schwartz, she is a little more practical about what to expect from people. We like Katie 2.0. Schwartz does too, as he is looking forward to going home and having sex with her. Lisa talks about how each of the group have gone through many changes and growth stages this year. Some good, some bad, some who will never change at all. She leaves us with the perfect summation of this season in one sentence. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” We could’t have said it better.

We really enjoyed this finale. There are no major cliffhangers, and everything wrapped up pretty neatly. While things have come full circle for the group, we feel there is a lot to come in the James/Lala/Kristen triangle, Jax and his challenges with monogamy and legal trouble, Scheana and Shay and his struggles with addiction, and Stassi and Katie starting over. We can’t wait for season 5! Episode grade: A.

If you want to take a look at our other most-recent “Vanderpump Rules” episode review, you can read it here. Also, sign up at this link to get some more updates on all we cover at CarterMatt, sent right over to you via our Newsletter.

This review was written by Michelle Wilmot, and if you’re interested in following her on Twitter, you can do so at the link here. (Photo: Bravo.)

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