Gina is understandably mad at E.J. for keeping his dad’s letter a secret from her. She says she’s going to talk to him after rehearsals but wants to focus on playing Anna at the moment. However, Gina wears her heart on her sleeve and anyone paying attention knows how she’s feeling about E.J. right now.
E.J. explains that they need to save the show and give Corbin and Channing all that reality show drama. E.J. sugarcoats things a bit too much, so Carlos chimes in that they’re “boring.” They need to amp up the drama STAT, and Carlos has a plan: The Real Campers of Shallow Lake. He has all the characters planned out. Each of them has a very particular role to play.
It’s all about bombshells, betrayals, and b*tch slaps, to be exact. Kourtney is the “Judgy One,” Ricky is the “Jilted Ex,” Ashlyn has a “Dark Past,” Maddox is the “Crier,” Gina is “The One With the Catchphrase,” E.J. is “Here for the Wrong Reasons,” Jet is the “Bad Boy,” Val is the “Shrink,” and Carlos is the “Instigator.”
E.J. tells Gina that her catchphrase is “don’t get me started.” Gina claims she can’t improvise, but she doesn’t hesitate to clap back, “And you shouldn’t.” That quick pan to Ricky is quite the choice. Carlos stresses that he has 4 goals for the day: someone needs to cry, someone needs to get slapped, someone needs to throw a drink, and someone needs to get caught on a hot mic saying something scandalous.
Ricky Slaps E.J.
Carlos has everyone practice slapping, a high art in The Real Housewives world. Ricky and E.J. are somehow paired together, and things aren’t going so well. Carlos wants Ricky and E.J. to think of this scenario as actors. E.J. has stolen the woman Ricky “loves.” A little on the nose, Carlos.
“You mean Gina? Because she’s EJ’s girlfriend so he stole her. Or would have stolen her in a fake scenario,” Ricky awkwardly says. E.J. is on high alert. He knows something is up with Ricky.
“Yeah, I like it. You held a torch for her for years sometimes in this fake scenario,” E.J. says. “You even pretend to get lost with her in the woods, and then now it’s weird because like she’s in love with me…” EJ 1.0 coming out. Suddenly, Ricky slaps E.J. for real. The gasp that came out of my mouth.
Carlos moves on to Maddox and Ashlyn. He wants them to pretend like they’re in love with the same guy. He picks Jet, which makes this even more awkward since Maddox and Jet are siblings.
Channing returns, this time without Corbin Bleu. Kourtney asks Gina about what’s going on with E.J. Gina explains that she’s worried E.J. is talking to Val about stuff. She’s self-conscious about it.
Carlos soon realizes he didn’t tell the younger girls his Real Campers of Shallow Lake plan. Kourtney and Gina decide to get the first check off Carlos’ list with Gina throwing a drink at Kourtney. Jet sabotages one of the scenes during rehearsals, so Carlos thinks on his feet and manages to mark a cry and a slap off his list in one minute flat. Dara Reneé’s delivery of “what a baby” is everything I didn’t know I needed.
Gina and Ricky have the last song of the day. Carlos reminds Ricky that he has “unresolved feelings” for Gina as the “Jilted Ex.” Carlos tells Gina to “have fun torturing EJ.” Gina says confidently, “I can do that.” E.J. makes this even easier for Gina when he walks in dressed as Sven.
Ricky & Gina’s Performance Brings The Questions
Gina and Ricky sing “What Do You Know About Love?” It’s an instantly iconic High School Musical: The Musical: The Series musical number. Gina and Ricky’s chemistry? PALPABLE. Kourtney, Carlos, E.J., and everyone else in the room take notice of what’s going on here. At the end, Ricky and Gina look at each other just a smidge too long — and it’s caught on camera. Gina quickly walks out of the room after that.
Ricky storms off after the performance. When E.J. catches up to Gina, she admits that it feels like they’re having “totally different summers.” E.J. has his chance, but he still doesn’t tell her about St. Louis himself.
Ashlyn admits that she’s “impressed” at how Ricky has progressed in the world of musical theater. Val believes that Ricky is “genuinely heartsick.” Ashlyn points out that Ricky and Gina do have history. Val thinks that Ricky is the perfect example of “sublimated yearning.” Ashlyn doesn’t know if Val is in character or not, but either way, she’s spot on.
Ricky returns to The Barn and runs into Gina. She tells him that she didn’t think her summer of firsts would include her first fight with her boyfriend, actually her “first boyfriend secret.” Ricky admits that it can be “really hard not to just say what you feel.” They have yet another moment where they’re looking into each other’s eyes for a little too long.
Channing interrupts them because he wants a group photo. E.J. watches Ricky and Gina walk in together, and Gina finally lets E.J. know about St. Louis right in the midst of the group photo. The cherry on top of a truly chaotic day.
Channing finally leaves, so everyone can relax for a moment. Ashlyn quips, “That couldn’t have gone longer.” Ricky replies, “I, for one, am looking forward to being reviled by America.” This reference to real-life is chef’s kiss.
E.J.’s Full Name Revealed
Kourtney thinks they need to pull themselves together after the drama. Carlos brings up Kourtney being “anxious,” and she wonders if Gina told Carlos about her talk with her mom. Val chimes in to settle everything down a notch, and Ashlyn snaps at her to “read the room.”
Maddox tells Ashlyn that she used to have a crush on Val, too. She says that “yelling” is no way to express her “romantic feelings.” Ashlyn begins to laugh and quickly tells Maddox that she has a boyfriend. Jet steps in and tells Maddox to back off. They begin to fight in front of everyone. The truth about them being siblings finally comes out. The reason Maddox has it out for Jet is because Jet told their parents about her girlfriend after discovering texts on her phone.
Carlos realizes he’s opened a can of worms. Ricky is absolutely shook over the Jet and Maddox reveal. E.J. tries to explain the letter to Gina and admits he refuses to leave Salt Lake without a fight. “Why didn’t you just tell me?” Gina asks. She doesn’t want him to be keeping things from her.
In yet another bombshell, Ashlyn reveals E.J.’s real name: Elton John Caswell. This is just one more thing Gina didn’t know about E.J. Gina walks away from E.J. and says he’s acting like an “old version” of himself.
Ricky Opens Up About His Feelings For Gina
After witnessing all this drama, the younger girls are hesitating about being theater kids. Kourtney settles all of their doubts.
Ricky finds Jet in one of his hiding spots. Ricky wonders what Jet is running from. Jet confesses that he’s been a “bad guy” to Maddox for a long time, and it’s eating him up. Ricky tries to get Jet to sing about it, but Jet doesn’t go for it.
Carlos and Ricky try to decompress from all the rehearsal mayhem. Ricky can’t hold his feelings in any longer. He tells Carlos that he wasn’t “completely acting” when he was pretending to crush on Gina. Carlos says he had a feeling. Ricky makes Carlos promise he won’t tell, but it’s all for nothing because Channing has all of this on tape. Ricky’s been caught on a hot mic! This is the very last thing Carlos needed to check off his list.
While he put up a front with Ricky, Jet decides to sing about what’s going on with Maddox. He plays the piano in a gorgeous solo number. He wishes he could go back in time, and his heart is in the right place. Maddox overhears Jet singing, so all hope is not lost for these siblings yet.
E.J. knows everything is crumbling before his eyes. This production is one scandal away from being ruined. He decides to make a call. “How soon can you be here?” he asks the person on the other line. Who could it be?!