It begins with Mark Francis and Victoria ostensibly looking at the art in an art gallery, although one suspects MF of casing the joint, pricing it and wondering whether the cafe bar would make a good work station for his live in seamstress. Phoebe blusters in wearing a cape and bright red trousers - you can’t work out if she wants to save Gotham city or make a scale matchstick model of it on Blue Peter in 1989. “I needed to hang out with people with a brain cell,” she breathes, sounding a little like the Professor Dawkins of questionable headwear. “I’m so sick of people gossiping about new relationship.” Sorry love, we’ll focus our attentions on your favourite colours and charity work, shall we?
“Those girls...they’re not even bad bitches, they’re just normal ones,” comforts Victoria, who presumably couldn’t say “basic” without having to pay Kreayshawn £8.12 every time the episode is shown. They’re acting super pally, but it’s the queasiest threesome since Lembit Opik told Gabriella Irmia to bring her sister to the Lib Dem Christmas party.
Spencer is making some major theraputic headway, which is a jolly good thing because his poor psychotherapist is starting to look seriously burned out. Let’s hope they’re paying her wheelbarrows full of money. Spencer has realised that “King bed” is not an instruction, and that he can sleep in one on his own, without piling it full of concubines. If only he’d known about this before he forced Biscuits and Proudlock into that “three man” tent he bought for Cornbury. Following the Great Pratt Flight, the therapist wants to know whether Spencer actually learned anything, or if he still has the moral integrity of a buttered anus. “I’m getting a bit bored of it. I’m sick of hearing it over and over again,” he says of his cheating. YOU’RE bored of it, Spen? We have to LOOK at it! If anyone is in a position to sleep with Spencer, don’t - like feeding the pigeons, it might seem very charming and “London” if you’re a passing tourist, but the residents don’t need any more breeding, diseased vermin, thank you.
According to Biscuits, feminine household items breed even more quickly than pigeons. He attempts to bodily shield Alex from a pink teapot, saying “As soon as you put girly things in your house, girls will make it girly. With brushes, and...” Biscuits, women are allowed to have hairbrushes. It’s not as if any woman is threatening to fill your living space with cyclamen coloured stretch sateen ottomans, once they have detected the presence of oestrogen. And Binky, bless her, made it clear quite early on that she has renounced the hairbrush, and all its works. But it’s OK. Alex is just looking for pointless pink products to give to Binky’s Mum. Start as you mean to go on, Alex - with polite but ultimately hollow gestures. It’s OK, Biscuits has advice for that, too. “Binky’s Mum...she really likes talking about sex, especially sex with her daughter.” Suck Mummy’s finger, Alex! Is life imitating fan fiction? Seriously, if you need advice about posh incest, call the helpline number at the end of the catch up. Biscuits also has a bastardly plan to make Lucy love him - he’s going to be “the nicest guy in the world” to her, while using Alex as an “access point”. You’re going to put a 25 year old credit card inside Alex and take money from him? Fine friend you are.
Andy and Stevie are in the Chelsea Ram (I think it’s like a Donkey Punch) with a couple of mysterious boys, one possibly being Miffy looking like Charlie Simpson on the run from McBusted - and Andy gets a call from Spenny, asking if he wants to shoot “a couple of plays”. As @EwaSR pointed out perceptively on Twitter, the producers are obviously after a real life Battle Royale. “Let’s make them hate each other and give them guns!” Oh, it’s on.
First to arrive in the country are Alex and Binky, who are greeted by Binky’s Mum who is doing the gardening, and subtly wielding a giant castration symbol. Tellingly, she sounds exactly like Joanna Lumley and she’s filmed entirely from behind, so we can’t see her face. Is Jo-Lu her stunt double, for scenes with secateurs? Binky’s Mum eventually puts the giant gardening scissors down, but sparks up a conversation about penis piercing, asks Alex if he wants to come for Christmas, claims “willies aren’t such a big thing?” and breathily intones “Are you a Mummy’s boy, Alex? I like that.” She makes a terrifyingly good Lucille to Alex’s unwitting Buster.
Surprisingly, Spencer’s reconciliation with Andy is much less scary. Andy is gracious about Spencer’s victory, perhaps because Andy is properly dressed and Spencer looks like he made his jacket and cap from adjacent pages of the Gant catalogue. And then Spencer says “you know [Louise] did sleep with that guy.” Which guy, Spencer? If only the national media was covering this! Still, good to see that the therapy isn’t interfering with your sang froid, sociopathic lust for revenge.
Even more offensive than Spenny’s gentleman shooter ensemble is Rosie’s new range of word jewellery. “They’re good presents,” is the consensus. If you’re a spoiled tween who spends a lot of time watching Miley Cyrus videos unsupervised while your parents discuss their divorce in Gstaad, this is what your distracted sisters and cousins will be buying you for Christmas. Sorry, dudes. Only Lucy would buy them for herself, possibly because she can already imagine festooning her favourite bras with them.
Phoebe arrives in a mysteriously shiny checked suit. One suspects that someone at Tatler finally snapped and pushed her into their laminating machine. “I’m new to this, I don’t go to parties, you have a boyfriend now?” asks an endearingly earnest Cheska, and it kicks off magnificently, Phoebe’s agitation manifesting itself in a mysterious new double chin. To be fair, we’d all have a triple chin in that suit. You’d think that PLT would be well acquainted with the first rule of fashion - never wear reflective tailoring unless you’re presenting the darts.
Alex tells Binky that he’s Biscuits’ Access point and hatches a fiendish surprise dinner plan. Surprising because he’s going to attempt to pay with something that became defunct in 1996 and then run away. (Sorry.) We learn Stevie can’t ride a bike (“It’s not something I tell people!”) but is going to get bike lessons off Boulle, even though he “doesn’t strike” Andy as athletic. We find out Lou’s little brother has a seriously bad beanie collection, and that Lou definitely did sleep with “that guy” immediately after they broke up, leaving Andy to shake his head and mutter “I wish I could delete you”. You’d think an afternoon with Spencer Matthews would make Andy much more understanding about inappropriate casual sex.
Now we move from metaphorical bikes to the kind you can run over people’s feet with while you cycle the wrong way up the King’s road pavement. Boulle is teaching Stevie theory first, explaining “a bike is like a lover”. Yes, people will try to steal both if you don’t chain them up properly, and excessive riding can result in crotch sweat. That advice is enough to get Stevie moving, possibly away from scary Boulle and his sexual metaphors. They bump into Andy who makes it clear that he doesn’t want to get back with Louise, as Stevie makes it clear that he doesn’t want Boulle to pretend to be his Dad.
There ain’t no pardy like an awkward dinner pardy, and the Access Point Supper looks like it’s going to be a classic sphincter scruncher. Encouragingly, Lucy doesn’t leap up and run away when Biscuits rolls in late, shouting “I HAVE ACCEPTED YOUR FRIEND REQUEST! I WILL BE YOUR FRIEND!” Won’t someone inbox his ears? He’s accepted that there is “no chemistry” between them. What was that plan, Biscuits? Be the nicest guy ever? How is that working out for you? Alex pours petrol and lit matches over troubled waters. “Don’t worry, it’s just four people hanging out who have kissed each other.” “Who’s a better kisser, Lucy or Binky?” rejoins Biscuits. Oh, you should know, you asshat.
It’s only when Lucy claims Binky and Alex are “better suited” than she and Alex ever were that Binky finally snaps. “Why did it annoy you? Why, why, why?” crows Biscuits, who this catch up columnist is becoming less enamoured of by the nanosecond. “Say it now, I’m a very confrontational person!” demands Lucy. Does anyone else desperately miss the time when the smarter sets were all painfully repressed?
Binky obviously wants to lobotomise herself with a lobster fork, but she bravely tries to explain that having her best pal remind her that she’s fallen for her sloppy seconds is a bit of a boner killer. “You know I’m really insecure,” she murmurs sadly, when she is, in fact, the sanest and most secure person on the show - it’s just that everyone else’s insecurities are masked by their delusional disorders.
On that note, soundtracked by a very unnecessary Depeche Mode cover, Louise confronts Spencer on the Chelsea bridge. It could be carefully edited stock footage, left over from the Caggie days. “Everything’s always my fault!” he cries. Yes, the therapy is working! This is a major breakthrough. Oh, he’s being sarcastic. “If you loved [Andy] so much, why did you sleep with someone straight afterwards?” Oh, Spencer. If only there was someone in the vicinity with the life experience to answer that question. And then he calls Lou “Peanut”. The cameras stop rolling before he squeezes her face and asks to see some of her Powerpuff powers.
Cheska is getting her Louis Balfour on, and has forced everyone to go to a jazz night at Proud. Phoebe is scatting - oh, sorry, she’s just whinging about how every girl in the world is awful and terrible except her, in the same register as a Fisher Price recorder. “Don’t worry, everyone hated Lucy at first,” comforts Biscuits. “Then she started...”
“Sleeping with people?” spits Phoebe. Phoebe, Lucy came in with NO FRIENDS. You managed to drive all your existing friends away, remember?
Andy, still talking like a chunk of deleted script from The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, tells Lucy that he wants to “delete Louise from my life.” How dare she claim to be in love with Andy while sleeping with “that guy”? THEN he sees a girl he “tried” to have sex with. (What does that mean? “Oh, sorry, that’s not my willy, that’s a tube of Special Edition Festive Smarties,”) AND THEN dressed from his “miscellaneous pile of girls’ clothes”!
Andy talks to Lucy - I want to delete her from my life, if she was in love with me, she wouldn’t have slept with that guy. THEN Andy sees a girl he tried to have sex with. “I gave her some girls clothes, I have like a miscellaneous pile, I think it was Louise’s clothes.” Andy, Corey Feldman ended up with a similar “miscellaneous pile” after his birthday party. Andy attempts to patch things up with the girl - it turns out he also “accidentally” locked her in - while Lucy informs Louise, who pushes the girl out of her chair with such force and velocity that the resultant sound is applauded as a short, improvised jazz performance. There is much shouting. “I’m lost, I’m not a happy person,” wails Andy, as it slowly dawns on everyone that everyone else is mutating into Spencer. If the workload doesn’t kill her, that psychotherapist is going to be a very wealthy woman.
Next time, Phoebe attempts to counteract the unflattering properties of the shiny suit by adding a waistcoat adorned with Fuzzy Felts. Rosie is forced to leave Twitter after accusations of cultural misappropriation, having failed to make people see that the dodgy cursive letter earrings are an 80s joke, and read “Ratner”, not “Ratchet”. Andy is found in the Hebrides, writing a painfully bad coming of age novel and wearing every single item in his miscellaneous ladyclothes pile.