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Spinoffs & Other Shows

Recaps, opinion pieces and analysis of Bravo TV shows including Don't Be Tardy, Manzo'd With Children, Ladies of London, Tour Group, Shahs of Sunset and Southern Charm.

Ladies of London Ssn 2/Ep 9 - Unbelievable Balls

Glenn Rowley

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We open the penultimate episode of Ladies of London back at the Hotel D'Angleterre in Copenhagen. Dressed in a Norwegian onesie, Luke visits the Carolines' suite to get the dirt on the dinner from the night before. Caroline Stanbury is convinced Annabelle's had a total lobotomy and lost her mind, and claims that whenever Annabelle comes into the room it's as if the wicked witch has arrived and hell has frozen over. The queen bee thinks that if Annabelle isn't having a good time on the trip, she can always go home. After all, it's a five-star hotel, not a prison cell. 

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Having packed up, the Ladies leave Copenhagen to head to Caroline Fleming's family home. And by home I mean castle. All Caroline Fleming wants is for the Ladies to behave respectably when they meet her family, but Caroline Stanbury is still upset about the night before and lets it be known that she refuses to spend the rest of the trip letting Annabelle tell her how she should feel or act. Julie still isn't sure what's going on with her BFF, but this isn't the Annabelle she knows. Caroline turns her attention to Lady Montagu, saying that one minute the American has a voice and the next minute she's acting as Annabelle's puppet, which the queen bee finds "pathetic." This car ride is incredibly awkward since Annabelle is two seats over and can hear every word Caroline in saying. Caroline wants to know what Julie is so afraid of. What's the worst Annabelle will do if she crosses her?

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Eventually the group arrives at Valdemars Castle, the childhood home of Caroline Fleming. Greeted by servants Downton Abbey-style, the girls are aghast as the baroness gives them a tour. I mean, come on. There's a stuffed polar bear in the entryway. The family owns Europe's largest collection of "hunting trophies and ethnographica" (a.k.a. dead, mounted and taxidermied animals) including the penis bone of a walrus and a genuine shrunken head. This castle has 18 bedrooms. Juliet has a literal chapel attached to her bedroom. Marissa's sleeping in the West Indian suite. Sorry Mapperton, but I honestly didn't know estates like this still existed. It feels like something out of a fairy tale. 

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Caroline Fleming is understandably nervous to have her family meet her new friends and the dinner on this first night will serve as a kind of test run to see how the Ladies behave. However, almost immediately after being seated at the table, the drama starts as Julie begins whispering to Luke about what everyone's saying about Annabelle. Julie thinks Annabelle is bringing everyone down by not addressing why she's in a rotten mood. Cutting to the chase, Marissa asks what exactly happened on the bus earlier, and Annabelle explains that Caroline said Julie was her bi***. But of course the comment wasn't to Annabelle's face. Caroline owns what she said and follows it up by remarking that Annabelle and Julie's co-dependent relationship seems to be lessening as Julie is finding her own voice. Caroline simply thinks Julie finally grew a pair, and Lady Montagu admits that she's happy someone is finally noticing her newfound independence. 

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Annabelle vehemently defends herself, and Julie, by saying that Jules is capable of anything and it isn't contingent on having friends by her. Caroline can tell that she's struck a nerve and posits in her interview that Annabelle actually wants to keep Julie exactly where she is so she has control over her. Driving the point deeper, she tells Julie point blank that she can be her own person and people can like Julie Montagu for who she is. First she was Caprice's puppet, then she was Annabelle's and now she's finally stepped out of other people's shadows to become her own person. Annabelle doesn't want to hear it, explaining in her confessional that she knows precisely what Caroline is trying to do by driving a wedge between her and Julie. However, Caroline scoffs at the suggestion, claiming that she merely wants to know Julie's true opinions and feelings. From the sidelines, Juliet - who's wisely been quiet during this entire exchange - remarks that the real tensions underlying this entire conversation are the ones that have been quietly brewing between Caroline and Annabelle all season. This is less about Julie and more about a power struggle between the two Brits. 

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The next morning, Caroline Fleming is livid. Not only did the group decide to have it out over dinner the previous night, but now they're all late for breakfast that her servant has been so diligently preparing all morning. As the women and Luke sheepishly shuffle into the dining room late, Sophie tries to apologize but the baroness isn't having it. To drive the point home, she launches into a lecture on the importance of manners and respect, even snapping at Caroline Stanbury when she tries to break the tension with a joke. Caroline Fleming informs the girls that she will not stand to have her parents disrespected when they arrive for dinner, so everyone had better be on time and on good behavior. Yes, ma'am. 

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Later, as Julie's doing yoga in the ballroom and ruminating on her floundering friendship with Annabelle, the brunette Brit is lounging in her room when Sophie drops in for a visit. However, before Sophie can say more than a couple words, Annabelle's phone rings unexpectedly. It's her sister Camilla calling from London and it seems to be terrible news. In tears, Annabelle can only manage gasping for air and asking "how bad is it?" leaving Sophie confused and concerned. Soon the Ladies and viewers all discover exactly what has Annabelle in tears: it's the five year anniversary of her friend Alexander McQueen's death and the Daily Mail has run a salacious article about a slanderous tell-all book that's being released about his life.

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After regaining her composure, Annabelle decides to open up about the situation to Sophie, Julie and Caroline Fleming, telling them that it feels like her late friend has been killed all over again by hundreds of people. She feeling hurt and angry that people have done something so vile in an attempt to tarnish his memory, and he can't even defend himself from all the nasty sensationalism. Finally letting some of her walls down, Annabelle emotionally explains to the women that because of who McQueen was, everyone wants to own a piece of his story and right now it's a particularly nasty piece. The Ladies listen compassionately and empathetically as Annabelle pours out her story to them. Caroline Fleming is particularly kind-hearted as she tells Annabelle, "you know what darling? They didn't know him like you do." Sophie explains in her confessional that the more she gets to know Annabelle, the more she sees the vulnerable center she never shows anyone. All of this explains what's been going with Annabelle the past few days of the trip. For her part, Julie feels relieved her friend is finally opening up, but still senses a growing divide between them.

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In another emotional moment, Caroline Fleming asks Caroline Stanbury to accompany her to the church where her mother is buried. On the drive, Caroline Stanbury asks why she doesn't visit more often, and the baroness explains that it's always been too painful for her. When she was just a child, her mother thought she had kidney stones. When she went in for a scan, the doctors discovered a tumor and she passed away just a few weeks later. The two Carolines arrive at Svendborg Church, which is full of Caroline Fleming's family tombs. As she shows her friend the urn her father designed that holds her mother's remains, Caroline Fleming laments all the things in life she could've shared with her mother. This moment puts everything into perspective for Caroline Stanbury and losing Gift Library seems inconsequential to bigger problems in the world. Losing a business, you can survive. Losing a parent is another story altogether. 

After the Carolines arrive back at the castle, the Ladies all don gowns for dinner with Caroline Fleming's family. Having been her friend for decades, Caroline Stanbury explains in her interview that bringing all the girls here is a giant step for CF. Because her relationship with her family has been so fragile over the last few years, Caroline thinks the baroness is understandably nervous about them liking and accepting these friends she's brought all the way from the UK. However, things seem to go surprisingly well between the Ladies and the aristocratic Dutch family. Caroline's father, Baron Niels Krabbe Juel-Brockdorff seems charming and kind as he connects with Caroline Stanbury, Annabelle and Marissa over the course of the evening. Fun fact: apparently one of Caroline Fleming's uncle's forefathers killed Lord Montagu! That's not awkward at all for Julie, who's bonding with CF's stepmother Molise over the difficulty of running an estate. 

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The formal dinner is served and Caroline Fleming gives a heartfelt toast bidding everyone a warm welcome to her home. As they say in Denmark, "skol!" In her interview, Marissa claims to have a new understanding and appreciation for Caroline Fleming because of this trip. Seated together, the two bond over Caroline's visit to the church and the baroness admits that, despite all the cougar drama, she feels very close to Marissa now. As dinner nears its end, Marissa stands to give a lovely toast on behalf of all the Ladies, thanking Caroline for bringing them to her homeland and toasting to falling in love with her family all over again. The evening ends with dancing in the ballroom, where Sophie gets plastered and the women have a moment of genuine, lighthearted fun together. As they settle down for a nightcap, Caroline Fleming insists on a big group hug and thanks the Ladies again for coming on the trip. Even though the vacation has seen its share of ups and downs, Caroline tells us that clearly, there's a lot of love and care between these women.