THE
Karate Kid III.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians: S09E02: "How to Deal"

By Mark Abraham · Jan 28, 2014
Editorial Note, 1 June 2015

Just F.Y.I., these recaps were written before Caitlyn Jenner came out, is the reason they use the incorrect name “Bruce” and pronouns.

“How to Deal” is all about how somebody else can affect your shit.

The Set-Up: In the previous episode, “Loving and Letting Go,” we learned that Kris Kardashian and Bruce Jenner were maybe not so much in love anymore, but that people like me were not expected to analyze, interrogate, or qualify that.

Kris: Our marriage is our marriage, and people don’t know! Life is hard!

Right. All that momaging and communist-fighting? Exhausting.

…plus, this show has done a simply amazing job of making their marriage something I’m not the least bit invested in.

Meanwhile, Kim and Khloé were still dealing with the same shit they’ve been dealing with for all 86 episodes of season 8, because this show is their show, not ours, and if there’s one thing the Kardashians have taught me about television? It’s that season premieres are certainly not for new directions and story lines, thank you very much. Ask anyone!

Kim: This season is about how I’m going to use my keen detective insight to crack the mystery of motherhood more than it has ever been cracked before.

The cold open offers some more of Scott’s awesome disdain for the English language (“I think ’80s isn’t too crazy ‘cause they learned what a scissors was”), but this time his word vomit is even awesomer because he’s wearing what look like pleather lounging slacks, clearly the leisurewear of choice for Serendipity Pirates everywhere:

Scott in pleather.

Then Scott deals some of his perfect brand of half-funny/half-offensive wisdom about Kardashian hair removal techniques (“Trust me: if you guys let off on the laser you guys would have a one-piece that started from your knee to your other knee”). Khloé laughs, and Kourtney also thinks this is funny:

Kourtney laughing.

Also, Kim and Kris jaw about Dr. Zhivago for no reason. I love when Kris brings up random shit like Gidget and Dr. Z. This show is so current, right?

Sally Field: My ears are burning!

Omar Sharif: My mustache is itching. Is that the same thing? Also: what’s a Kardashian?

Geraldine Chaplin: Can I have a reality show called Catching Up with the Chaplins?

Sally Field: I want Fortunately Field!

Seacrest’s roster is gonna be full, y’all! But not as full as Kim’s life now that she’s a mom!

The A-Plot: Kim’s a mom now and she loves it, y’all! Meanwhile, BFF Creepy Johnathan (or Creepy J), in town for a visit, is a total a-hole about her maternal instincts. He’s super-disappointed that she doesn’t want to hang out. Can you believe it? Kris Kardashian, always up for making her more-famous-than-her daughters jeals, decides to abscond with Creepy J to Sonoma, at which point she also falls in love with former Bachelor Ben Flajnik because he snots that she’s a dummy for putting ice in her wine. Okay, fine. He snots nicely about it, which is exactly the type of charm you’d expect from a guy who agreed to be a Bachelor after being runner up on The Bachelorette.

Kris: I probably could have just offered to babysit North so Kim could go out to dinner or something, but I’m a single gal now, amirite?

This is kind of my favorite side of Kris, even though it’s probably her least appealing quality: her incessant need to keep up with her daughters, which y’all know is only going to be amplified by about a billion now that she’s cut the anchor line and let Bruce Jenner sink to the floor of the ocean:

Bruce underwater.
"I will kill these communist crustaceans."

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, Kim puts the kibosh on Creepy J’s plan to hit all kinds of restaurants. Second, Kris becomes Creepy J’s new BFF when she suggests going to the mall to get a Hot Dog On a Stick. Which, I’m not super familiar with Los Angeles dining culture, obvs, but that to me seems to be the equivalent of saying, “I’m real sorry that my daughter, who’s a mom and loves it, y’all, can’t go to Nobu with you, J. But have you ever even tried a Taco Bell Taco Supreme with the Doritos Cool Ranch shell? ‘Cause, like, if not? I’m your huckleberry!”

Kim gets uptight, so she goes along but stays in the car while Kris and Creepy J are in the Westfield Topanga Mall food court acting like 12-year-olds, joshing around like a corn dog is the most novel of quaint American foods eaten in flyover country. What a treat to have this rarefied country delicacy in a Los Angeles mall food court! Truly we are living in the golden age.

Meanwhile, Kim hides in the tinted-window car, talks to Special Guest Star Kanye West on the phone, and generally gets annoyed when her mother tries to hand her something. She probably shouldn’t be so quick to look a gift horse in the mouth. I think what Kris was handing Kim was her dignity.

Anyways, Creepy J and Kris have so much fun sitting on carousel horses while random passersby look annoyed. They decide to lie to Kim that they’re going shopping—this is after letting her out of the car—and instead take a trip to wine country, at which point Creepy J lives up to his name by acting out for the cameras and climbing on top of Kris while they’re getting massages and riding a bicycle built for snooze with Kris. He’s also a sweet wing man, aiding Kris as she seduces the much younger BF into hopefully becoming her BF BF because that’s the kind of BFF Creepy J is, folks.

Johnathan: Right. Solid creep. Both the negative and positive definitions.

Kim finds out (off screen) and gets revenge by putting fingerprints all over the plastic containers in Kris’s candy bar and mixing up the candy within them. Which is the best thing ever! Well…wait: the first best thing ever is Kim, verbatim, saying, “Just don’t lie! Like I don’t have time for it, you know!” Because she’s busy loving being a mom, y’all! The second best thing is the intensity on her face right before she fucks the candy bar up:

Kim.

I do not mind telling you that the utter lack of a Kris Kardashian reaction shot (her face is obscured behind Kim’s head) is poor planning, but I suppose that’s what can happen on a spontaneous show like this one, right?

The B-Plot: Scott Disick, who should really just concentrate on the ways he actually is awesome rather than constantly feeling insecure about not being awesome in ways that he clearly isn’t, is once again sad that Kourtney isn’t giving him the intimacy he thinks he deserves. His basic thesis is simple: if she’s not going to fuck him, he doesn’t want to be nagged at, or be expected to be a good husband. Essentially, he sees this relationship like a math formula: “I don’t need everything else that comes of a relationship if I don’t get anything of good parts of it.” Classic Scott. Mangled language, but also: the only good part, he means, is sex, though he’s learned to say “intimacy” so Kourtney doesn’t get angry.

Kourtney’s therapist tells Scott to get a fucking hobby, already, and Scott decides to take up karate. Which, of course, he immediately hates, and quits, and just hangs out at Rob’s new bachelor pad instead. Except then Kourtney’s sisters encourage her to support Scott for all the hard work he’s doing, and oops.

Scott tries to charm his way into a brown belt. And while charm is Scott’s karate, this particular bid doesn’t work:

Scott karate.

Oh well. Kourtney sagely notes that if Scott put as much effort into, well, anything as he did into lying, he’d be a rock star. ‘Course, she doesn’t also note that lying is kind of a hobby, and he’s at least a purple belt in that.

The C-Plot: Lamar’s dad Joe says some mean shit to the press about our beloved Ks, leading everybody to get serious about Khloé’s sitch and ACTUALLY TALK ABOUT IT!

Let me say this: if the material in this episode had happened several episodes ago (like, around "All Signs Point to North" or "Close Encounters of the Kardashian Kind") I think most of my issues with how the show has handled this would be erased. Because while I maintain that a) Khloé has a right to her privacy, and b) Khloé and the show have ethical and emotional hurdles in terms of how to portray Lamar while he’s off the Kardashian reservation, the endless “my life is hard right now” confessionals have done very little to make me sympathize with her. Here, finally, I guess because Lamar’s dad is fair game as far as the show is concerned, we get the characters on this show talking in actual detail about what’s going on while also largely avoiding getting into personal details that may be problematic down the road.

It’s kind of a perfect balance, which is all I’ve been asking for, I know, though I still think it comes way too late. It’s sweet to hear Lamar randomly calling Kim and Kourtney to apologize for his dad, but the show has been addressing Lamar for so long by focusing on how random his calls to Khloé are that even here, while the content of these calls makes him seem sweet and sympathetic, he still comes off as erratic. It still ultimately serves a narrative that has barely been arced in the show itself, and it still relies way too much on people know outside information from the news.

I mean, I don’t know how to solve this problem, as my endless rants about it should demonstrate. I think I would have rather they’d just had Khloé give a confessional 12 episodes ago saying, “Lamar and I are having problems. You know what’s happening in the news, but out of respect for our privacy and my concern for him, this isn’t going to be part of the show.” Basically, exactly what Kim did with North. I like that the show finally treated this topic like an actual issue, but—even aside from the fact that last season would have been about four episodes shorter without the endless non-dwelling on it—finally delving into it a little here is both implicitly and explicitly weird. Kim, for example, comes off kind of insensitive about the whole thing when she essentially says that Khloé should get over it already because the endless hemming and hawing about it is boring (I mean, she’s right, and she also says that more in the “I’m concerned for my sis’s sanity” kind of way, but still). At the same time, the fact that Lamar gets several over-the-phone audibles in this episode which are just him and Kourtney and Kim saying “I love you” to one another reiterates that issue this show always has with self-narrative. Like, no matter how hard a time Lamar’s having, there’s always airtime for speeches about how Kardashians are just the bestest, right? Who, exactly, does this episode serve? It makes Lamar seem vaguely more sympathetic, but mostly it’s just Lamar making it clear that whatever mean things his dad said about Our Sisters of K were lies. So…great?

Because ultimately we don’t learn much. Basically, everybody is concerned; nobody knows what to do; Bruce cares more about the cupcakes Kendall is making him; and the episode ends with Kris and Khloé laughing about how many fries they ate at lunch.

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