Ariana and Sandoval Finally Rage at Each Other on ‘Vanderpump Rules’

After nearly half a season of snoozy standoff, the notorious exes are finally sharing a screen—and unleashing all their pent-up anger. It’s shocking, yet cathartic, to see.Published Apr. 02, 2024 9:00PM EDT Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Getty Ariana Madix’s life may seem better than ever, but it’s become abundantly clear she’s still reeling from the

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After nearly half a season of snoozy standoff, the notorious exes are finally sharing a screen—and unleashing all their pent-up anger. It’s shocking, yet cathartic, to see.

Alec Karam

An illustration including a photo of Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Getty

Ariana Madix’s life may seem better than ever, but it’s become abundantly clear she’s still reeling from the Scandoval, and struggling to process it all. After weeks of stonewalling, Ariana finally snapped at not just Tom Sandoval, but the entire cast this week, releasing the anger and resentment she’s built up in the wake of her new reality.

Even though we’re only 10 episodes into Vanderpump Rules’ new era, it’s almost hard to remember how different things were before. Just two seasons ago, Ariana and Sandoval were still a power couple, while Katie and Schwartz were married (certainly not a power couple, but married nonetheless). This entire season has felt like one long, drawn-out epilogue, and in many ways placed every single cast member in a role foreign to them. That’s what makes the amusing consistency of Katie and Schwartz stand out amid a sea of change.

For how different everything has become, those two are an ever-present constant, serving as a beautiful reminder that dysfunction will always run at this show’s core. It’s night and day to watch Katie and Schwartz cohabitate on screen versus the cold war that’s brewing between Ariana and Sandoval. The two have stayed completely away from each other all season, their first words spoken to each other not happening until the ninth episode. But once they started, neither could stop this week, leading to an all-out bloodbath.

It begins with Ariana and assistant Ann staging a secret meeting behind Tom’s back. Well, it’s not much of a secret given Tom and Ariana still share a home, and the meeting was in their kitchen. It’s kind of funny how transparent Ann’s whole grift is here, and I respect it. Taking a job as Sandoval’s assistant at the height of his villain arc just to create sympathy and slink on over to Ariana, all in a ruse to start a podcast and make a few bucks on her quest for fame, Ann has it all figured out. Turns out some people still can keep the Vanderpump Rules social climbing spirit alive and well.

Ann is nefarious in the funniest way. And fortunately for her, once Sandoval finds out she’s in cahoots with Ariana, he kicks her to the curb so she can start part two of her master plan. Silly Sandoval doesn’t even realize he’s playing right into her hand. Godspeed, Ann; I look forward to the CliffsNotes of your tell-all.

While Sandoval and Ariana have largely kept their distance, they finally come face-to-face at Lala’s water tasting. Yes, you read that right. Lala had a water tasting with a sommelier. As someone who’s also a passionate water drinker, I’ll admit I’m intrigued, but unfortunately for Lala, most of her peers can’t say the same. Scheana shows up with pink lemonade Smirnoff, while Katie just wishes Jesus could come turn this water into wine. James, while sober as well, would simply prefer a diet coke. This simply isn’t a water group. I mean, Katie’s nickname isn’t Tap Water Katie, now is it?

Tom Sandoval

Tom Sandoval

Nicole Weingart / Bravo

The water tasting is smooth sipping, but the tension between Ariana and Sandoval only rises throughout the day. First, the pizza arrives without ranch, and Sandoval chases down the driver to see if he has any, to the chagrin of Ariana and Katie. Like, I get it, I too love ranch with pizza and I won’t apologize, but I could be handed a cobb salad when I ordered a pepperoni pizza and I’d still say nothing. That driver does not get paid enough to deal with Sandoval badgering him for ranch.

Interestingly enough, Scheana does noticeably dip her pizza into ranch, which begs the question: Was there ranch all along? Did they have some in the fridge? Did the group whip up some ranch real quick? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

When the group splits into two to eat, Lala and Scheana nudge Ariana to figure out a reasonable mediation situation with Sandoval, while Brock does the same with Sandoval outside. The conversation goes from productive to explosive in the blink of an eye when Sandoval comes inside as Ariana refers to him as an “attempted dog murderer.” This comes after Sandoval let Ariana’s dog Maya into her room while Ariana was away, and Maya chewed on skewers from a takeout box left on her bedside table, leading to a pricy hospital visit.

It’s definitely not a blameless situation, as most people should know better than to leave takeout on their bedside table, especially in a home with pets. It’s also understandable why Ariana would be pissed at the situation, and obviously neither of them is in a rational headspace to take accountability. Lala makes the best, or at least the funniest, point in her confessional: “Throw your trash away. Didn’t you do a trash bag commercial? Shouldn’t you know how to throw trash in the trash?”

Sandoval doesn’t take the accusation lying down, either, pushing back after weeks of a standoff. Obviously, no one wants to be accused of trying to Cruella de Vil someone else’s dog, so I guess that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. The fight escalates fast, the two directly letting out all their resentments for the first time all season.

“Do not go in my room. That is the only safe space I have in that house, because you fucking wrecked it,” Ariana reminds Sandoval, who feels she’s deflecting, given that Maya is alive and well.

Scheana Shay, Ariana Madix, Lala Kent

(l-r) Scheana Shay, Ariana Madix, Lala Kent

Casey Durkin / Bravo

Now that he has her attention, Sandoval brings up the home, a topic Ariana doesn’t take kindly to. Allegedly, her lawyer had failed to respond to Sandoval’s buy-out offer for two months (a claim Ariana doesn’t deny), but that’s just because he’s typing a well thought out response, Ariana says. I love how seriously she says it, too. I just know that Ariana knew how to expertly lie her way out of a forgotten homework assignment in high school.

Ariana’s unmitigated rage is so genuine, even if it’s almost uncomfortable to watch. It’s a relief to see her let it all out and actually explore this grief, as she clearly feels immense sorrow for what she’s lost, despite all the opportunities this scandal has afforded her. And, while it falls on deaf ears, Scheana and Lala (and somehow Brock and James) do make good points that Ariana needs to let go of her anger so she can truly move on. No, she doesn’t need to forgive or like Sandoval. He’s very clearly messed that up permanently, and no one should expect her to ever make bygones be bygones. But it’s not implausible to hope she could get to a point of indifference.

Of course, the other side of things is a bit more cynical. Scheana and Lala have been well-aware all season they need to make a good show, and realizing Ariana might never get to a point of neutrality with Sandoval worries them severely. Maybe that’s why those two bought houses in the Valley, just in case a certain spinoff needs some newbies.

Meanwhile, as Sandoval and Ariana duke it out inside, Schwartz and Katie have a civil little conversation outside. There’s something charming about how this couple who have been through a rollercoaster relationship, marriage, and divorce are somehow the show’s most stable dynamic. That probably speaks to how ill-fated their relationship always was, as these two clearly never should’ve gotten married.

As they calmly hash out Katie possibly sleeping with Schwartz’s friend Max, their fight is interrupted by the screaming match inside. The two just call it a day then and there, and move on. One thing Schwartz and Katie have in common is a lowkey work ethic, and the second they heard others making a scene, they clocked right out. They don’t work hard, and they don’t play hard. They just float through.

The next day, Scheana hosts a beach get-together, yet another opportunity for Sandoval and Ariana to release their frustrations with the other. Producers revealed they had a “Come to Jesus” meeting with the cast mid-season to break the stalemate, and it’s pretty obvious these back-to-back group events are a result of that after eight episodes without the exes interacting. Scheana does briefly try to disinvite Sandoval from the event, but producer Brock vetoes that swiftly.

Beach day once again provides a contrast of how sharply different the exes cohabitate. While Katie and Schwartz lightly banter about the fact he cheated on her, the second Brock brings up Rachel and Sandoval’s affair, Ariana shuts down the conversation and initiates round two of her and Sandoval’s verbal quarrel. Well, it lasts about a minute before she repeats “stop speaking to me” ad nauseam.

“Anything I do or say is obviously a trigger for Ariana. I had this delusional idea that we’d be even more civil than Tom and Katie,” Sandoval shares in a confessional.

It’s funny that he thought this would go any other way, especially given this is his second time starting an affair with a co-star, and his last ex is Kristen. Surely Sandoval should know by now that breakups are never that calm and rational when they involve affairs. Though, I do wonder how different things would have been had he broken up with her without cheating. Part of me thinks this path of deep-rooted hatred between the two was simply inevitable, but we’ll never know given Sandoval took the messiest route possible.

After Sandoval walks off, Ariana once again shares her frustrations with the group. It’s pretty clear she feels trapped, not wanting to let go of this platform but despising the fact that means she has to film with Sandoval, and she’s figuring out in real time how hard that is. And it’s interesting to see her then lash out at the rest of the group, as Ariana’s typically so passive.

It’s not easy to be pushed into a leading role after years on the sidelines, and clearly Ariana misses the days when she could just exist comfortably in the group. She’s never really been a reality TV strategist, and that’s placing her at odds with her friends, who do want to put a timeline on her grief for the sake of their jobs. Everyone’s position is understandable here, as reality TV inherently inhibits the typical functions of reality, and Ariana finally standing up and fighting is a much needed progression to keep this season moving.

So, yes the season has been awkward and perhaps the most suspension-of-disbelief-requiring in Bravo history (certainly in VPR’s), but it’s a fascinating view into the aftermath of a scandal, and the more nuanced side of reality. It hasn’t been the most linear journey, nor has it been the most flattering depiction of any of these characters, but it’s a necessary evolution of the Vanderpump Rules formula. Who knows how sustainable this is, but it’s a fascinating season nonetheless.

There’s also no other place to mention this, but whoever works on the transitional stock footage does a great job. The random shot of ants eating an orange was an inspired addition.

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