This week in Charleston, the Southern Charm gang is focused on the joys of bourbon. With Craig rising to the top at his new job, his ambition starts inflating his expectations for just how high he can climb. Can someone say "blame it on the alcohol?"
The episode opens on a blissful Craig Conover waking up in bed with girlfriend Naomie Olindo. #NewCraig is one happy man: he's got a gorgeous, supportive girlfriend and he seems to be really thriving at his new job with the Gentry Hospitality Group. Craig's boss, longtime recurring cast member JD Madison, has him overseeing the construction of the Gentry Group's new hotel in downtown Charleston. The hotel project is going well, but Craig's secretly most excited about the company's upcoming launch of its new bourbon brand and has his ambitious sights set on JD putting him in charge of the bourbon division. However, Craig's also focused on his committed relationship with Naomie. As he gets ready for work, Craig sneaks the promise ring he bought for his girlfriend a few weeks ago into his watch collection and surprises her with it. Naomie is taken aback by the expensive bauble, but I'm even more surprised when Craig drops the bomb that the next thing they'll start talking about is marriage. #NewCraig is seriously in love and this romantic gesture just took the couple's relationship to the next level.
Meanwhile, Cameran Eubanks and Shep Rose have officially gone into business together as a real estate team. However, when Cameran arrives at their first joint listing appointment, Sheppy is nowhere to be found - at one o'clock in the afternoon, he's still at home making breakfast for the day. My favorite moment of the week was easily when Cameran called him and the genius person at Bravo in charge of subtitles simply put "(incoherent yelling)" on the screen. When Shep finally shows up to the appointment, he and Cam have a quick conversation about the disaster that was his birthday party last week. When the discussion turns to Kathryn Calhoun Dennis's isolation from the group, Cameran admits she turned down the redhead's attempt to reignite their friendship, and Shep admonishes her that it's much easier to take the high road and be kind than it is to continue shunning Kathryn. Yet Sheppy's words of wisdom continue to fall on deaf ears as no one wants anything to do with the scarlet letter of the South.
Over at Gentry Group headquarters, Craig meets with JD to touch base on the upcoming tasting event for Gentry Bourbon. Even though Craig's focus is supposed to be on the hotel, JD asks him to put together invites for the tasting and gives him the responsibility of making sure all the other Charmers show up. Craig is eager to show his boss that he has the potential to run the bourbon division, and tries to add his two cents about what he thinks the bourbon's brand should stand for. JD cautions his young Padowan not to reinvent the wheel - all he's asking is for Craig to add some fuel to the fire and get everything on his to-do list accomplished to make the bourbon tasting a success. Slow your roll, Craig!
While Landon Clements packs for her trip to New York City, Kathryn is reevaluating her attempts to get back in the group's good graces and concludes that she's been reaching out to the wrong people. The person who should've been at the top her list all along was Elizabeth Madison, JD's wife and baby Kensie's godmother. The last time Kathryn saw her erstwhile friend was at Thomas Ravenel's ill-fated polo match, which she readily admits wasn't her greatest showing. Once the redhead arrives at the Madisons' home for a heart-to-heart, Elizabeth immediately asks her if she's done something to upset or offend her. After all, Elizabeth's had no contact with Kathryn for almost six months - no returned calls, no texts, absolutely nothing. Kathryn opens up that she was the real root of the issue and explains that she had simply pushed everyone away because she didn't know who she could be safe around. In a touching moment, Elizabeth reiterates the promise she made at Kensington's christening last season that she will always be there to support both Kensie as her godmother and Kathryn as a friend. Both women break down in tears at this point and it becomes clear to Kathryn that her relationship with Elizabeth was genuine all along and the pair promise to renew their friendship over a sincere hug. After weeks of being shunned, scolded and shut out, it's nice to see someone in the group finally accept Kathryn with open arms.
At the same time, Shep drops by Thomas's mansion in downtown Charleston for a FDR-esque "fireside chat" with Kathryn's two-time baby daddy. Sheppy's trying to get to the bottom of the invitation scandal from his birthday and recognizes that even though they're no longer together, Thomas does want Kathryn to be included in the group. T-Rav voices his opinion that Kathryn being continuously excluded by the rest of the group has the potential to put their unborn baby at risk. In his confessional, Shep opines that Thomas is being more than a bit melodramatic with this statement, but gives the former politician his word nonetheless that he'll do everything he can to include Kathryn in the future.
Landon has landed in NYC and arrives at the headquarters of Vox Media to pitch her idea for a new online travel magazine to Lockhart Steele, the media conglomerate's editorial director. Sitting down in one of Vox Media's spacious conference rooms, Landon gives her elevator pitch for the project, describing it as a travel website for Charleston's gentlemen of leisure and ladies who lunch. Sounds simple enough, right? Not so fast. From there the pitch goes quickly downhill, with the brunette going off on tangents about everything from an annual coffee table book to snow polo matches in Aspen and a "See and Be Seen" section. Lockhart tries to help her refine her idea into a single, simple sentence, but even then Landon bumbles over her words by claiming she wants the website to be about "arts and travel and...the arts." Awkward. Seeing that she clearly needs to develop her idea further, Lockhart challenges Landon to put together a prototype for the website and bring it back so he has something more concrete to give feedback on. Ever the sunny optimist, Landon explains via confessional that even though she doesn't know what exactly a prototype is, she always sees herself as being incredibly successful and will figure it out.
Before heading to the bourbon tasting, Shep meets Cameran and Whitney Sudler-Smith for pre-game drinks and pitches his own idea: a group trip to his family's cabin in the Appalachian Mountains. As I said during my live-tweet, only my beloved Southern Charm could get away with a trip to the Appalachians as the season's major cast vacation. With the getaway being planned, most of the Charmers head to the bourbon tasting to support Craig and JD. As the pair set up for the event, it becomes increasingly clear that Craig is eager to get involved but is fairly out of his depth when it comes to his knowledge of the bourbon industry. In fact, he wasn't even aware that the entire inventory of 10,000 barrels in the warehouse belonged to Gentry Bourbon or what the difference is between bourbon and whiskey. Yet, even with this evident lack of information, Craig has still talked himself into thinking he's qualified to be named the head of Gentry's bourbon division.
As the majority of the cast arrives, including Shep, Cameran, Whitney, Naomie, Elizabeth and fellow recurring cast members Danni Baird and K. Cooper Ray, JD directs them to rate the four different samples of bourbon based on characteristics like heat, aroma and finish. When JD puts Danni (who has 15 years of experience in the liquor business) in charge of the table of Charmers, it starts to become clear to him that JD has no intention of making him the head of Gentry Bourbon. Despite the mounting tensions between Craig and JD over the former's professional responsibilities with the Gentry Group, the bourbon tasting goes well overall. Seeing that Craig's agitated, Shep pulls his buddy aside to tell him how proud he is to see this new version of him succeeding in his career. However, Craig admits he's feeling a bit slighted to learn he's not an integral part of the bourbon brand and feels dumb for having assumed he would be taking the reins. Shep counsels him to look for ways he can contribute and get his foot in the door, but at the same time, JD is offering Danni the position of vice president of Gentry Bourbon on the other side of the room.
JD says flat-out that Craig won't be getting handed the reigns to the bourbon division any time soon, and Danni openly questions whether the entrepreneur has actually informed Craig of that fact. Obviously, something's been lost in translation between Craig and his boss, and JD now has the unenviable task of giving his employee a bit of a reality check. Pulling Craig aside for a chat, JD tries to explain that his protege simply doesn't have the historical knowledge or qualifications necessary to successfully launch a bourbon brand that has JD's family name and reputation riding on it. Now that Craig's ego has been sufficiently bruised, he has to tell an adoring Naomie that all these ambitions and plans he had for the future weren't quite based in reality. The episode ends on a low note for Craig, as both he and Naomie are visibly upset with the left turn this tasting event took, but he rightfully points out that the slice of humble pie may actually be a blessing in disguise. I guess we'll have to wait until next week, though, to find out whether that supposition is actually true for #NewCraig...
What did you think of this week's episode? Was Craig out of line for assuming he'd be in charge of Gentry Bourbon? Or was JD wrong for how he handled the situation and communicated it to Craig? Leave your thoughts and opinions below in the comments!