The Kardashiad, Part 15: The Beverly Hills of Cancer
Kourtney, putting on a leather jacket, says she has to ask Scott something important. “I gotta ask you something. About this jacket,” she says, really turning up the gain on the vocal fry on “jacket,” so we know it’s important. Scott says “Wait, are you wearing a nightgown?” “It’s a robe,” Kourtney says, annoyed that he’s getting stuck on this. Then Khloe comes in and looks at Kourtney in the jacket and then says “Ooooooh — greased lightnin’,” which is pretty much the ruling Kourtney’s been looking for. They talk about the fact that, for fun — “for a fun thing to do to just bond,” Scott says — they’ve been prank-calling Kris and pretending to be an old friend of the family named “Todd Craines.” Scott talks to her in a creepy sock-puppet voice and keeps calling her “Auntie Kris.” Somehow Kris hasn’t figured out that it’s Scott on the phone. The call is coming from inside your impenetrable fortress of oblivious self-regard! This B-plot recurs a couple of times, but trust me that it’s a diminishing-returns kind of recurrence.
Family dinner. Khloe talks about being at Staples Center for the Lamar Odom/Kris Humphries jump ball and how insane the crowd got when it happened. Somebody asks Bruce if he was at that game and Bruce doesn’t hear the question at first. Montage: B&W Kardashi-klips of Khloe yelling at Bruce about his earwax and Bruce insisting there’s nothing wrong with his hearing, Kris saying “Hi, honey” at Bruce and Bruce blithely continuing wiping down the rims of his car for a second until she says it again. Scott goes way out on a limb and suggests that Bruce can hear them just fine, he just doesn’t want to. And he hasn’t even seen the montage! Bruce runs two hands fussily through his hair.
An antique shop in Agoura Hills. “I’m sure a lot of people look at us and think that our lives are always these wild times,” Scott tells the talking-head camera, “but no. After you settle down, you end up at antique shops.” Scott knocks something over. It’s a little trophy. A World’s Greatest B-Roll Acting trophy, hopefully, because he deserves it. Scott finds an antique stuffed cat staring out in mute stuffed-cat shock from a glass case and says “It’s Mercy!” Kourtney spots a bag that would be perfect for her dad’s first cousin CiCi and says something note-to-selfish out loud about how she should make sure to get “tested for her bone marrow.” They’ve always been really close — we see a few clips of CiCi from past shows to prove it. Kourtney pulls out her phone and calls CiCi. Kourtney calls CiCi “Chonch.” Kourtney calls what they’re doing “vintage shopping.” Kourtney talks to the talking-head cam about how Scott always makes jokes whenever CiCi’s cancer comes up. CiCi tells Kourtney that she should check with the Armenian Bone-Marrow Registry — move fast, people with as-yet-unnamed At the Drive-In tribute bands — and Scott is all What, do they give you a little hummus on the side? and it goes over like a fart in church or a hummus joke in the ear of a person with bone cancer. Kourtney says to Scott, “You’re not annoying.” Scott says, “When this is done, can we go shop somewhere luxurious?”
He goes to his watch guy with a man-friend and haggles good-naturedly over the trade-in value on a couple of Rolexes. He’s actually pretty good at it, or the Rolex guy is pretty good at pretending Scott’s pretty good at it. You don’t get to be Scott Disick’s Rolex guy without being pretty sharp, I guess. Kourtney calls Scott and says she’s trying to arrange a trip to Vegas to go see CiCi. Scott gets all weird about it and admits to the talking-head camera that he’s “not that good at being around people that are in bad shape,” and so dies the buzz of an otherwise successful Rolex-haggling session. Scott says “I’m sorry, I love you” to Kourtney, and it sounds exactly like “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Bruce is watching the Speed Channel at jet-engine volume and making vroom-vroom noises at the cars like Harry Dean Stanton on the hotel bed watching the jackal show in Wild at Heart. Kris yells at him to turn the TV down. She gives him a hard time about his hearing as Bruce lies on the bed, arms folded, face taut, the Count of Calabasas over here. He says he doesn’t care if he doesn’t hear as well as he used to — he’s 63, he’s raced cars, he’s been around loud noises his whole life. When you’ve been around loud noises like Bruce has, you know what life’s about. Kris accuses him of not wanting to seek relief because he’s worried it will make him an old person. “I’m not worried about being old,” Bruce says. “I can still hit the golf ball 300 yards — it’s not a concern.” He tells her in a firm voice the conversation is over, but he’s lying back on shiny silver pillows while he says it. No one man should have so little power.
Kim says she wants to get to know Brandon and Leah better, so for a fun thing to do, to just bond, they’re eating lunch in the yard behind Brandon and Leah’s “studio” — which looks an awful lot like a house, but the show keeps calling it their “studio.” It’s a windy day, Kim’s eating some kind of a sloppy sandwich, and Leah’s maybe drinking out of a jar? Brandon talks about how he and Bruce are alike in that they don’t take Tylenol or Advil when something hurts. Kim’s left breast isn’t flopping out of her dress, but you can tell it’s about to. Serious acoustic-guitar strumming falls like warm spring rain on a conversation about how maybe Brandon’s the only person who can convince Bruce to go get his hearing checked.
Kourtney and Scott are in the kitchen and Kourtney’s making juice. She asks him if there’s anything he’d like her to juice. Scott’s not himself. After a beat he’s like, “How about juicing this [bleeped b-word]” (possibly “boner,” although who knows, maybe he’s trying to bring back “bozack”) but it’s a beat too long. Repartée foul. Scott’s got something on his mind. There’s this woman who’s dying, in Ohio, and she has a bucket list on the Internet, and meeting Scott Disick is on the list, because there’s no Meet-a-Douche Foundation. Scott asks Kourtney if she remembers when they were first going out and she’d do things for him; asking him if he needed water in the middle of the night and then going and getting it for him is the example he uses. “You should go hang out with her,” Kourtney says, even though in this situation “Why don’t you go bang the dying lady, then?” would also be totally appropriate.
Kourtney and Khloe go wig shopping for CiCi and decide to bring Scott along so he can take a few micro baby steps toward acknowledging that mortality exists. “I’m kind of into this whore hair,” Kourtney says, fingering a bright-orange Michelle Pfeiffer–in–Scarface wig. Then she puts some kind of a merkin on her chin and Kourtney takes a picture of it to put on the Internet. Kourtney brings up CiCi and how they need to focus and find her a wig, and Scott gets all flustered and weird and has to leave the hair store. Back at the Jenner house, Kendall and Kylie come in with a new puppy — a boxer, named Bernard Hopkins — and Kris immediately says No, no, no, no, but it’s OK, it’s Khloe’s. Cut to file footage of Lamar at home sitting in a chair whispering “B-hop, B-hop” in the dog’s ear. Lamar really knows how to live.
A nurse named Laura checks Bruce’s hearing. She puts him in a room with headphones on. He’s supposed to hold his hand up whenever he hears a beep. He gets real struggle-faced during the test and after a few seconds he says, “It’s tough!” The next test involves him having to repeat words back to her. Later he’s told that he did fine on this part of the test, but for maximum dramatic effect, the actual test-taking is edited so you can’t hear the words he’s being fed. He just stammers out “Fat … bloat … choice … dime … ” like Will Graham trying to draw a clock. An otologist/neurologist named Rick tells him that as men get older they lose some of their ability to hear high frequencies, “and guess who has high-frequency voices?” (And be shoppin’?) Women!
Rick recommends that Bruce get a set of open-fit hearing aids — and an MRI to make sure it’s not a brain tumor. Spoiler alert: It’s not a brain tumor. They try to make you think it might be a brain tumor. Kim and Khloe show up to the appointment when it’s time for Bruce to get his MRI results back, so as to ratchet up the seriousness, and there’s even a commercial break when the doctor’s in mid-sentence giving the diagnosis — not now, single tired-of-the-bar-scene dad who tried a dating website! — but it’s not a brain tumor.
We see Scott packing for a trip to Paris for Fashion Week, laying out clothes and jewelry and watches, trying to find the “vibe.” Kourtney asks if he’s thought about paying a visit to that woman on the way — she means the woman with the bucket list, but she says “that woman.” Scott says, “I don’t know. I don’t know why people keep asking me these things.” Scott admits to Kourtney that he’s not sure he knows how to be around somebody who’s dying. Kourtney says it’s important to not run away from these things, even when it isn’t easy — and here Scott says “I agree” in a voice so strained it has to be subtitled — and then Kourtney finishes the sentence by saying something like Especially when it’s people you love, implying that this bucket-list lady might be a good low-pressure dying person for Scott to practice not being weird around. Then Kourtney unburies the lede by telling us Scott’s dad has been sick “for years.” Scott says he’ll check on some flights, and one establishing shot of a jet landing later he’s in Toledo, Ohio, ringing this woman’s doorbell, saying “The Lord is here.” There’s a Santa Claus decoration on her door, but E! has blurred it out like it’s a boob or a gang sign.
The woman who opens the door is legitimately thrilled in a way that makes it not matter that she’s obviously not surprised — she’s wearing a nice necklace — and her name is Josie. Scott turns on the full Eddie Haskell, says the neighborhood must be “the Beverly Hills of Ohio.” This isn’t the last time he uses the “[blank] of Ohio” line, like he’s amazed Ohio has roofed dwellings and not everybody’s drinking stagnant tornado-water out of puddles. He tells the talking-head camera that Josie has an “amazing energy” and sure doesn’t look sick for a sick person. Josie’s daughters tease her and Scott about how into Scott she is. Josie’s got a surprise for Scott in the corner of the living room: It’s a throne! But Scott calls it a “king’s chair.” The king wears a king hat and lives in a king house. You can tell Josie’s daughter thinks the king’s chair was too much. She looks away in embarrassment and the look is almost to-camera and they leave it in like the gem of authentic human behavior that it is.
Josie has a picture of Scott — this picture; it’s literally the first picture that comes up when you Google image search “Lord Disick” — on the wall, next to little-kid-drawn cards that say CANCER SUCKS in bright-colored little-kid writing. She’s been sick since July 2010. She started feeling terrible pain in her chest. She was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer; after an aggressive course of radiation they thought she’d beaten it. In September it turned up again, in five places. Scott reels. Her daughters are 10 and 18 and she’s trying to figure out whether to spend what will in all likelihood be the last days of her life trying chemotherapy again. Watching Scott try to know how to be in this moment is like watching a man armed with nothing but a toothpick try to fix a copier. The inside of Scott’s brain looks like this right now. At least he has the presence of mind to not still be sitting in the king’s chair when he hears this story. He’s sitting on a regular kitchen stool, like a regular person, or a cool king.
Josie’s daughters don’t want her to pursue treatment. Scott talks about how his father has diabetes and needs a heart transplant but won’t get one. Sort of judo-ing the conversation into being about him. Josie says, “A lot of people ask me, Why’d you pick Scott Disick?” and they all laugh together, even Scott — the subtext of this whole conversation is that both Josie and Scott know that Scott’s a tool, that what matters to Josie is just that Scott cared enough to be there, not whether he has anything to offer, which is good news for Scott for obvious reasons. Josie implies that she first glimpsed his humanity in an Oprah interview, presumably this Oprah interview (the one where Scott talked about how the Kardashians looked down on him at first because he wasn’t a professional athlete, prompting Oprah to interject “What is your job — do you have a job?”).
Josie’s kitchen fills up with friends and family who’ve come to meet the Lord. Scott meets this one high school friend of Josie’s and says, “Look at the Jodie Foster of Ohio,” and it’s true, she does look a lot like Jodie Foster! Scott meets Anne, who Josie says is “my crazy friend … She gets nuts,” and she totally looks like somebody’s crazy friend Anne who gets nuts! Scott says meeting people isn’t easy for him, but at the same time all these people are so positive, and there are a bunch of shots of him shaking hands and kissing cheeks and just not caring a bit if he gets these people’s middle-class germs all over him. Then Josie and some of her lady-friends do shots with Scott, because apparently that’s what Josie’s bucket list specified, and everybody else in the room takes pictures of them doing it. Scott says, “Who knew that people still enjoyed life like this?” He has never seemed more lordly than he does in this moment.
Crazy Friend Anne starts making a serious speech about how honored everybody is to be part of Josie’s bucket list and Scott makes a dumb joke, about how actually Josie only invited him, and Crazy Friend Anne says to Josie, “It’s not about Scott, it’s about you.” She gets nuts! Scott gives her a Rolex Submariner. He almost ruins the moment by saying things like “I don’t know if you’d call it giving back,” like right there in front of her, but the one-two punch of Josie crying and Josie saying through tears “I’m gonna get this bitch fitted tomorrow” is actually really genuinely moving and I’m not going to make fun of it. Later, in the car to the airport, Scott will tell Kourtney how life-changing it was and apologize for not being there for her on this whole CiCi situation. They take pictures sitting in the king chair and Josie pretends to whisper the rest of her bucket list in Scott’s ear. Scott stands up, pretending to be offended, and says, “I’m not gonna have sex with you!” The episode is dedicated to the memory of Mary-Ellis Bunim and Bonnie Bogard.
Next week: Scott needs to grow up; Kendall wants to find her own identity; Khloe makes a face.
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“He was concerned about the structure of my life, and now I’m concerned about the structure of his life. He’s getting fired from TV shows. He had about six fights since we left ‘30 Rock,’ you know. I’m worried about him. I mellowed out, my daughter mellowed me out, and I don’t get mad at anyone.” —Tracy Morgan on Alec Baldwin