Here we are. We've managed to avoid the giant "c-word" in the room for the first two-thirds of the reunion, but in this final installment, it's all the ladies are going to talk about. We knew this was coming. We have to get through it. Let's see if we can get any kind of definitive answer once and for all about Brooks Ayers and his possibly fake cancer.
A History of Deceit
The cancer issue kicks off with an examination of Brooks' long pattern of lies and untruths. Heather points out that at its heart this cancer situation is a credibility issue since Brooks has a history of not telling the truth. Case in point - he was caught in a lie during Season 8 about dating a porn star while on a break with Vicki, who quickly jumps in to say the girl was a poker party waitress, not a porn star. Uh huh. Ok. In fact, not only does Brooks have a reputation for not telling the truth, he's left a trail of playing the cancer card in the past. Tamra reveals that on the Season 9 trip to Hawaii, Vicki told her off-camera that Brooks had been diagnosed with cancer and was getting tests done at City of Hope. As soon as she and Tamra landed at LAX, Vicki was frantically calling to find out the test results, but Brooks wouldn't answer her calls. When he did, he told her to call back when she was in the car. The verdict? He was fine. Tamra follows that bombshell up by revealing that way back in Season 3 (her first year on the show), she and Vicki immediately bonded. At the time, the OG opened up to the new Housewife and told her that someone she had a connection with had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She regretted carrying on the attachment and now felt like she needed to leave Donn to go be with him. That person was Brooks. And again, the cancer turned out to be pancreatitis. Red flags, anyone?
Cancer Victim or Con Artist?
Next, we get more of Andy's interview with Brooks from the WWHL Clubhouse. Brooks claims he's been in treatment for the past 11 months - meaning a combination of chemotherapy and holistic remedies. His "numbers" are normalizing and the lesions in his lymphatic system are gone. As Andy fires off questions from the 'Wives, smooth-talking Brooks has an answer for everything: Shannon's not the only one with world-renowned doctors, he actually went to Hoag Memorial for his PET scan but it was transcribed through Newport Imaging, his ex-girlfriends were out to get him, etc. Andy says it appears to be a pattern of using cancer to manipulate people and gain sympathy, but Brooks shoots back that people can believe what they want - the truth is the truth. I find it really interesting that all these things not adding up are the fault of everyone else but Brooks. In this one segment alone, he blames Vicki, Briana, the other Housewives and two of his ex-girlfriends, but never takes responsibility for a single thing.
Back on the couches, Heather asks Vicki if Brooks ever saw a real cancer specialist, because all they showed during the season were meetings with "non-cologists." Vicki claims that the oncologist Brooks met with at City of Hope didn't want to film, but Heather knows that a lie because the doctor lives down the street from her. Brooks never met with him. Plus, City of Hope allows filming - Heather even shot scenes there! A flustered Vicki throws her hands up and declares that she doesn't have any proof he was faking cancer. But Shannon does.
Examining the Evidence
It turns out that Shannon did some Meghan-style investigating and like so many of us, took a screenshot of Brooks' shady PET/CT scan results. As evidence he was lying, Shannon presents a copy of what an actual CT report looks like from Newport Imaging. The verdict? It looks nothing like the one Brooks showed Tamra. Plus, Shannon insists that there's no way a radiologist would have ever signed off on a document with a "1" handwritten into the date and the words all jumbled together. Briana backs that claim up, explaining that she worked at Hoag for four years and their radiology department is several times bigger than the one at Newport Imaging - there's no way they would've needed the report to be dictated through another medical center.
In his interview, Andy next asks Brooks why there were so many inconsistencies throughout the season between things he and Vicki said. Again, Brooks blames Vicki for all the mix-ups, claiming that she had the tendency to tell people what they wanted to hear, or to try to gain sympathy for them as a couple. According to Brooks, Vicki "misspoke quite a bit" during the season and naturally, nothing is ever his fault. As for the rumor that went around in the finale about Terry sending someone to the house with an IV for Brooks? He claims Briana repeated the story and it never happened. Andy asks why Brooks wouldn't show Terry the medical records to prove his cancer was real, and Brooks claims that in hindsight he wishes he would have. Andy points out that there was still time to prior to the reunion being filmed and Brooks says he'll reach out. However, Heather categorically denies she or Terry ever hearing from Brooks at all.
Heather wants the truth about the IV story though, and Vicki offers to clarify. She explains that she wanted to call Terry but Brooks shut it down and she never did. However, that's clearly not what she told Shannon or Tamra at the time. Finally, the OG admits she fabricated the story in an attempt to get sympathy for Brooks because everyone was being so hard on him and she just wanted some compassion. As the other 'Wives start angrily piling on, Andy actually steps in to defend Vicki. All Tamra wants to know is why she made up the story and Vicki explains that as the season wore on, Brooks was getting quieter and quieter about his cancer situation. So even though she had seen him sick, she chose to let him deal with it and focus on other things, effectively turning a blind eye to the potential deception.
Meghan in particular seemed to have it out for Brooks and Vicki all season. The newbie thinks Brooks wasn't expecting Miss 30-Year-Old to come onto the scene with a cancer situation in her own life, ask real questions and care about the issue. She tearfully explains that she came onto the show thinking she had an ally in cancer but instead got attacked time and again by an angry Vicki.
"We Don't Believe You"
Vicki insists that she only knows what she saw and experienced. Apparently that doesn't include Brooks' chemotherapy sessions. The one time she went, she sat in the waiting room and didn't see the needle go into Brooks' arm. With all the conflicting and confusing details, Heather points out that none of them believe the OG and need more answers. Heather thinks that Brooks must have something on Vicki. Whether it's a business deal or something other big secret, she's simply too smart to be fooled. Tamra jumps on that comment, saying Vicki's done nothing but lie for Brooks and throw everyone else under the bus. As Shannon angrily demands she "fess up," Vicki explodes, yelling at the other women to stop. She's not going to say anything that's not true! The OG never knew anything different and still believed Brooks has cancer.
Tamra starts getting emotional as she tearfully explains that all she ever wanted was to protect Vicki from this man. Vicki claims she understands that now in hindsight, but Shannon says she doesn't see any remorse in her former friend. Andy asks if Vicki is scared of Brooks, to which she responds with a small nod. So yes, Vicki is scared of this man she just spent four years of her life with. Andy follows that up by asking if Brooks had ever gotten physical with Vicki, and both Briana and Tamra jump in to say that they'd both seen him abuse Vicki at different times. The OG claims that he was more verbally abusive than physically. However, Briana claims that no one else knows the things she's seen Brooks do to her mom, even up to the previous night when he was texting her rude things in the hotel room. Andy tries to get to the root of this issue with Vicki. Is she just lonely? Is it low self-esteem? But the OG says she hasn't quite put her finger on what kept her in a relationship with Brooks for so long. Fixing her relationship and putting up with all the bad things was easier for Vicki than the idea of being alone.
Casseroles & Compassion
Vicki reveals that as the season wore on, she started growing more suspicious of Brooks' claims, but that every time she brought it up to him it turned into an argument. Andy asks if the women think it's possible that Vicki didn't want to know the truth. Shannon says no way but Meghan thinks that Vicki looks like an idiot with all the evidence lined up against her. For her part, Fancy Pants says she kept giving Vicki opportunities to tell the truth, but the OG never took them. Another possibility is that Brooks was sick, just never as sick as he claimed and embellished his illness in an attempt to fix his damaged reputation. That option has Tamra's vote. Vicki explains that she was expecting compassion and casseroles from her cast mates, but didn't get any. This comment sets Shannon off, who angrily reminds Vicki that she gave her everything she could in support. Keep digging your grave, Vick.
Vicki's Rock-Bottom Relationships
This leads into a package and yelling match about how the fake cancer issue affected Vicki's relationships with her friends. After a quick debate over whether the OG of the OC is going to heaven or hell (seriously), the topic turns to Shannon's anger at finding out Vicki had told her brother and his girlfriend about David's affair. As I said in the finale recap, this is the ultimate betrayal of trust, but this time Vicki takes accountability and apologizes rather than getting defensive. Vicki is visibly deflating by this point, sick of the fighting and being put in the hot seat. Shannon's not finished though, as she points out that both Tamra and Heather said more about their doubts and yet she's the bad guy?! Dig that grave a little deeper, Vicki. At this point, Briana intervenes to point out that Shannon was essentially the only person in her mom's corner, but that Vicki would flip out at any sign of doubt. Tamra asks Vicki what her gut tells her and finally, Vicki caves and admits that her gut is telling her Brooks doesn't have cancer. STOP THE PRESSES. VICKI GUNVALSON JUST SAID WHAT WE'VE ALL BEEN DYING TO HEAR FOR 23 WEEKS!
The OG explains that about three months ago she started really questioning Brooks because his story was making less and less sense. Every time she pressed him, he told her she had no right to his medical records because she would try to take them to the other women. That's not suspicious at all...Heather thinks that if Vicki had red flags herself about the situation, she should've opened up to at least one of the 'Wives rather than getting defensive, deflecting and turning it around on them. Andy points out that Vicki seems rather disconnected as she's talking, and it's true - she hasn't been herself for the entire reunion. Briana jumps in to say that she thinks her mom is just now starting to see the damage her relationship with Brooks has caused to her life, her family and her friendships and it's freaking her out. Vicki gets teary as she explains that no one ever wants to feel duped or taken advantage of. Why would he spend all this time and money if he didn't have cancer? She's sad as she realizes what's happened to her life, but relieved that this man is no longer a part of her life. She was manipulated into always going to bat for him, and now that it's over Vicki has a lot of pieces to pick up and put back together.
We Are Never, Ever, Ever Getting Back Together
Briana says that the last two weeks have been the best in her relationship with Vicki since her divorce with Donn. Vicki's devastated that she was taken advantage of and insists to everyone that she and Brooks will never get back together. Briana, however, thinks that Brooks will never be completely out of their lives and predicts that he'll try to weasel his way back in once the dust settles. Unfortunately, she doesn't think Vicki is strong enough not to be manipulated by him. However, Vicki is mostly hurt that she hurt her friends - she wants the other 'Wives to love and respect her, and promises that she'll work hard at getting that respect back.
During a break, Shannon walks off set while Tamra and Vicki have a candid heart-to-heart. Tammy Sue begs her BFF to stop defending Brooks, telling her that it's time to take a stand and just say that he lied to her. In all the wreckage, Tamra says her heart is broken for her friend because she knew what kind of person Brooks was from the day Vicki started dating him. However, Vicki explains that she just wanted Tamra to like him so badly that she couldn't see things for what they were, and reiterates that she's never going back to Brooks. He doesn't deserve her. It's going to take a while to get the old Vicki back, but next time Tamra can conduct the interviews for any of Vicki's potential boyfriends.
Wrapping things up, Andy asks the women for some final thoughts on the season. Meghan thinks the whole thing was overall a positive experience and hopes she can do it again next year. Andy points out that Vicki went further in admitting culpability than many in the room thought she would, but it's still not enough for Heather. Fancy Pants straight up tells Vicki that's she's not satisfied, but is happy with the friendship she's developed with Shannon and continues to have with Tamra. Looking back on the past year, Shannon explains that it's nothing she could've predicted. She's grateful for where she's at with her marriage and family as well as her unexpected friendships with Heather, Tamra and Meghan, but is still sorely disappointed in the implosion of her relationship with Vicki. Tamra had a big year as well, and says she can only hope her relationship with Vicki will get better, even if she doesn't believe the story her friend has been selling. Vicki admits that she's not in the best place, and wishes she would've been more aware to the reality of her situation this year rather than trying to blindly defend her boyfriend. However, this is an opportunity for a clean slate and a fresh start, so bring on the fireball shots!