Exposition Hour at Khloé and Lamar’s house. Khloé says something about Rob hoarding Pop-Tarts in his room again. “He’s on all the blogs,” Khloé says. “They’re saying, ‘Did you eat Khloé?'” Kim says that Rob’s gained 50 pounds, that he pulls over in the car and cries about it once a day. “I think it’s cute,” Lamar says. “Mason got, like, a real-life teddy bear now.” Kim says, “We gotta get Teddy to a fat camp. This really is sad, you guys.” Shot of Kourtney not looking all that sad. Kourtney hates your weakness, whatever it is.
Brandon & Leah play music in the backyard of the Jenner house. An onscreen title helpfully identifies it as an “Intimate Live Video Shoot,” as if a show this small is a big deal because usually Brandon & Leah play stadiums. Anyway, in the intimate confines of the backyard of a house that’s on TV every week, Brandon lays down a sweet groove on the djembe, Leah starts in with some strangely familiar “Oomh, oomh, oomhs,” and you’re thinking, No, it can’t be, they wouldn’t, but yes — they’re doing “Showstopper,” a Brandon & Leah original best known as the theme song from Season 2 of Kourtney & Kim Take Miami. Turns out it’s longer than eight seconds and features Leah semi-rapping lyrics like “You’re all uptight and mighty / Let me cut you down to sizey / Like a yummy piece of toasted bread.”
Over by the free food, Bruce runs briefly/awkwardly into Linda Thompson, Brandon and Brody’s mother — cue Bruce reminiscence, with archival photos, regarding the “very tough times” they went through before their divorce in 1984. Here’s Linda escorting Avril Lavigne home from a club back when Avril was dating Brody Jenner, because that was a thing that was happening for a while. Then Bruce complains that Kendall can never go see Brandon & Leah play normally because every place they play is a 21-and-over place, and Leah says something about fake IDs and Bruce pretends to be irate about Leah even suggesting that Kendall should get a fake ID and Leah says “Oh, Bruce” and gives him a playful chest-shove, and then when the cameras are off everybody presumably high-fives and somebody with a megaphone says “Sweet family banter, team,” because it really is, they’ve nailed it. Kendall’s looking at her phone by the time they cut. Shot of a fountain at night.
Rob calls Kim and says he’s never been this depressed. “I’m trying to be in the fashion industry,” he says, “and I’m not going to be taken seriously if I’m 50 pounds overweight,” so take a drink if you had “Fallacy of the Single Cause” on your Keeping Up With the Kardashians bingo card. Rob says he feels like an embarrassment to the family, and Kim tells him to never say that, then they talk about whether or not he should get more tattoos. “You’ll literally ruin your life if you get a chest piece,” Kim says.
Khloé and Kourtney in a car with blurred-out windows, talking about a woman they call “Dad’s ex” who’s been peddling stories about them to the tabloids. They never say her name, but they’re presumably discussing the elder Robert Kardashian’s widow, Ellen Pearson Kardashian, who earlier this year licensed portions of what she claims were her late husband’s 1989 and 1990 diaries to Bauer Publications, parent company of InTouch and Life & Style. If the diaries are to be believed, Robert Kardashian senior was apparently the Samuel Pepys of my-ex-wife-is-a-round-heeled-child-neglecter journaling.
Khloé and Kourtney seem almost ready to laugh off the whole thing, though, until Kim calls and says Kris is depressed. At that point they call off whatever important thing they were going to go do — nail appointment, parkour class, party-store run in preparation for upcoming Purge Party, who knows — and drive to Kris’s place, where she’s indeed having a dramatically announced-as-such anxiety attack over this latest raft of tabloid indignity. “You’ll understand maybe when you have a baby,” Kris says to Kim, without smearing herself with ashes because that would be overreacting. And maybe it’s a tactical error because even though Kris seems to not want to make a public or legal issue out of it, Kim’s immediately all “We’re not gonna let this woman get away with this,” like she’s been doing pregnancy yoga to “When We Ride on Our Enemies.” The only way to defend ourselves is to attack!
Kim really goes in this week. The next time we see her she’s making Rob stand on a scale (241 pounds) and measuring his waist; she crunches the numbers and determines that Rob has “50 percent body fat.” Rob says, “Obviously the numbers don’t add up,” claiming there’s no way his body is 50 percent fat. He’s got her there. Kim calls him “Mr. Klump.” They have a date with a trainer named Gunnar early the next morning — “I feel so stupid having all this makeup on,” Kim swans in and says, “but I just came from an interview.” Mr. Klump doesn’t show.
Kendall and Kylie and Brandon and Leah all frolic on the beach in Malibu with Bruce while Brody sulks, handsome but salty, in the background and just about kicks an ol’ tin can down the street he’s so cheesed-off at his old man. They’re leaving some seafood place and Brody needles him: “It’s interesting to watch how good you are with the girls,” considering that he was not much of a presence in Brody’s life for the first couple years after the divorce, and there’s probably a giant edit here but Bruce seems to go straight into angry–Janet Reno mode in about a nanosecond, snapping “Now’s not the time to talk about it.”
Kim goes to Khloé’s place looking for Rob. Khloé rolls over on her brother without even looking all the way up from her sparkly laptop: He’s with his boys at a barbecue restaurant called Smoke City. Kim pulls up there in a black SUV. (She left the gym in a black Bentley.) Sure enough, inside, there’s Rob basically eating a whole sounder of pigs with potato salad on the side. Kim sits down at Rob’s table and says to his dining companions — it’s a tight shot but he looks to be sitting with three normal-sized African American guys who have no idea they’re all about to die of uncomfortableness — and says to them, “I wish my brother would keep it real.”
Kris is in the car with Kendall and Kylie, who’s driving with one hand and eating a soft-serve ice cream cone with the other. Kylie giggles, “My hazards are on, Mom, can you turn my hazards off?” Maybe better leave those on, Kylie. Kylie tells Kris that her friends have been asking her and Kendall jokingly if Kris ever beat them and this makes Kris cry. Great job, Kylie’s friends.
Brody and Kim go wet-suit shopping and I can’t pay attention to what they’re talking about because OH SHIT Kim’s wearing the infamous “orca dress.” Brody whines some more about wanting a relationship with Bruce. Cool — but we’re kinda trying to watch a meme take its first breath here, Brody. Kim gives Brody some advice that ends with “There’s a lot of family deets you don’t know about,” and you know it’s good advice because she used the word “deets.” Seriously, why does Kim have to meet Brody at a wet-suit store? Does he start to age rapidly if he travels more than 100 yards from the shores of Malibu? Is he Aquaman?
Later Kim and Khloé pick at salads and discuss whether they should break Rob of his fast-food addiction by making him sit in a room and eat himself sick on burgers and fries. Khloé tells a story about someone she knew who got her mom to quit smoking by locking her in a phone booth and making her smoke a whole pack of cigarettes. So Khloé’s friends with Jigsaw, is the point of that story. Also, a phone booth? How old is this story?
Kim and Kourtney and Khloé get their makeup done for a photo shoot. Kris has been out of pocket for what we’re led to believe is an uncharacteristically long time and when Khloé finally gets her on the phone she says to Kris, “You’re too old for an Amber Alert,” and from one makeup chair over Kim chimes in “Gram-ber Alert!” and Khloé says “Kim’s been really funny since she’s been pregnant,” which on second viewing is clearly Khloé making fun of how dumb that joke is. Kim suggests that this situation with their dad’s widow is becoming so grave it might be time to involve Jake the Private Investigator, because there’s not an incredibly recent example involving Jake the Private Investigator in a potentially serious family matter being a terrible idea or anything.
Rob shows up at Kim’s place and she’s ordered a grip of In-N-Out burgers. She claims it’s pregnancy cravings, tells him there’s pizza and Chinese on the way, invites him to dig in, and Rob’s got an Is this a trick? look on his face. But if it’s a dream he doesn’t want to wake up, especially after Kim convinces him by stuffing a wad of cheese fries in her mouth and saying something about how she’s horny for cheese fries. They go really hard on some In-N-Out; the pizza guy comes and they eat pizza. Kim talks in voice-over about all the cool reverse-psychology she’s doing here but it’s not clear if it’s working; the night ends with them in bed watching a movie, him feeding her ice cream by hand. The next morning he’s eating a day-old burger in the kitchen while wearing sunglasses, because he has a burger hangover, because America.
At his office, Jake advises Kim and her sisters against confronting their ex-stepmom directly, but volunteers to “open her up,” biographically speaking, although you can tell he kind of likes using the phrase “open her up” a little too much. Brandon and Bruce are out hitting golf balls around in somebody’s yard and Brandon tries to plant the seed of some big hugging-and-learning conversation between Brody and Bruce and Bruce says some things about how Brody’s mom always made it hard and turns the conversation back to where the golf balls are and aren’t going.
Bruce doesn’t come around until later, when Rob joins him and Brandon and Kendall and Kylie at an indoor go-kart-racing place. Brandon asks Rob “How’s your eating?,” which either is or isn’t a stepbrotherly gig, I honestly can’t tell with Brandon, and Rob plays it off like “Here and there I’ll go get sushi, like spicy tuna and crispy rice,” and it’s up to you to decide how many times a day he means by “here and there.” But it’s Rob who steps in with wisdom here, invoking the memory of his own dead dad and telling Bruce to be the bigger man and reach out to Brody and make the first move on the conversation Brody so obviously wants to have.
How much does Brody really want to have this rapprochement with Bruce and how much is it just him doing what the show asks of him in terms of plot generation? What is Brody doing back here in the first place? Brandon’s got an awful-music career to advance. Brody’s a veteran, a onetime reality-show headliner, a young man who once spent a six-episode season searching for a new best friend on MTV before bestowing the honor on one Luke Verge, who also got a Scion out of the deal — is it silly of me to think of this secondary-character turn on Keeping Up as beneath him? Or is there some financial reason he needs to periodically punch the clock on basic cable, perhaps to maintain himself in the tasty-waves sick-positive-brahs manner to which his Instagram feed suggests he’s become accustomed? (The first line of his Instagram bio is WORK HARD = PLAY HARD, which I’m pretty sure is not how that goes.)
Regardless: I find the Jenners far less root-for-able than the Kardashians because they’re boring, but from a storytelling perspective I like the twist that this season is apparently about Bruce building a separate, mostly harmonious family unit with his biological kids, pointedly separate not only from Kris but also from Kim and her sisters, who’ve been Bruce’s stepkids since 1991.
Bruce has stopped even feigning interest in keeping up with the Kardashians; we’re not lucky enough to have that choice. Kim, Khloé, and Kourtney show up at their mom’s office. After a second, Khloé says they’ve also brought “Todd, our attorney,” and Kris stops mid-bite-of-salad and says “You called an attorney here?” It’s a great moment — you can tell for a split second she (a) thinks they’re here to fire her as their momager, and (b) has known for decades that this moment would come but still feels like her blood is suddenly turning to ice — but then it turns out the girls just want to talk about suing their ex-stepmom. Whew! There’s a conversation where they decide to move forward and Khloé says “I just want to s–t on her face” with the attorney in the room, so the attorney drives back to his office with a great Khloé Kardashian story to tell his attorney friends.
Finally Bruce shows up at Brandon & Leah’s, where Leah’s brewing her own almond milk at the stove — sure, of course — and Bruce and Brody have a stilted conversation about their issues in which Bruce really steps up like a man and blames Brody’s mom again, saying he wasn’t around because she made it too hard for him. But after the commercial break Bruce curls the parts of his face that still curl into a sad-duck expression and says to Brody “I always want to be part of all my kids’ lives,” which is apparently the password because Brody immediately agrees to give him a second chance. Then they drink almond milk together, out of jars.
Next week: Everybody gets a gun!