Jax Taylor, TV’s Greatest Monster, Saves the New ‘Vanderpump Rules’

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Bravo
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Bravo

Jax Taylor is one of the most nefarious men to ever appear on TV, in both reality and fiction. He’s a harrowing character, a man whose depraved nature knows no bounds, while simultaneously being a certified larger-than-life diva. He was simply made to be on TV, and tonight’s Vanderpump Rules is proof of that.

It’s become long clear that some of the worst people in society make the best stars, a sad fact of life that has given fame to some truly obscene people. Jax is someone who just can’t help but soak up the scenery with his desire to start drama every chance he gets. Not only did Jax prove he still can stir it up with the best of them, he lit a fire under the entire cast that helped the show recover from a sluggish episode last week.

Our episode opens on the return of Jax, who meets James and Ally at their apartment to discuss their upcoming event, the “Jax Taylor Saves Vanderpump Rules Party, featuring special guest & legend of the craft, Scheana Shay.” Jax’s real mission, though, isn’t to host an event with Los Angeles’ 76th most sought after DJ, but to settle the score with his list of foes.

Petty Jax is still pissed at Czar Vanderpump, no longer feeling the need to bow down to Sur’s eternal dictator. If you recall, Jax’s last full-time season ended with him melting down at Lisa about “his show,” a claim that pissed her off, and one that became especially ironic when he was fired mere months later. While he’s certainly made some fair points in arguing she’s become wallpaper, especially given Lisa has missed several episodes this season, don’t mess with the boss, ’cause you might get fired, as Kandi Burruss once said.

Jax Taylor on Vanderpump Rules.

Jax Taylor.


Unfortunately for Lisa, though, Jax is probably her best scene partner, and the loss of him on the show is a major detriment to her own role. The two arguing over if Jax has heard/used the word “superfluous” before is stupendous TV, and keeps this scene from being superfluous in the slightest.

Jax’s other grudge is with Katie, who had the audacity to say he’s cheating on Brittany based on rumors she read on Reddit. While I appreciate the reveal that Katie spends her days holed up on Reddit (something that would explain her incessant pandering to a certain section of the fanbase), it would be silly to think anything other than that Jax is cheating on Brittany. Jax cheating is just one of those constants in the world, like the sun rising or Vicki Gunvalson barking at strippers to get a job.

It’s great fun to watch Jax and Katie go at it. Jax’s awfulness has the power to make everyone around him more likable by comparison—it’s how Sandoval skated under the radar for a decade—and I really love how the two have such open disdain for each other, especially knowing that in the present day, Jax is separated from Brittany and facing allegations he cheated with his thirsty publicist. Maybe he was just upset the rumors were wrong about who exactly he cheated with!

Delusional feuds are the lifeblood of Vanderpump Rules, and it’s great to have the king of them back in action. Speaking of delusion, our queen of it, Scheana, spent the episode surprisingly lucid. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Scheana is the most sympathetic character this season, and her evolving dynamics with Tom Sandoval and her husband Brock have been intriguing to watch play out.

Sitting down to discuss her marriage with Brittany, the two commiserate over being married to emotionally juvenile misogynists who struggle to accept that their wives are breadwinners. It’s a sad conversation between two women who can and should do better, but watching them delude themselves that these marriages are rock solid is kind of like the “two delusional besties telling each other ‘exactlyyyy’” meme.

When Scheana and Brock go out for an anniversary dinner, it’s less of a celebration and more of a performance review. Brock’s struggle with being second fiddle to his flawless wife has taken a toll on him, but feminist icon Scheana wants him to know: Stay-at-home dad is a respectable job. Kidding aside, it’s actually a nice scene, and one that provides hope for the couple’s future. It’s also funny to watch the waiter put down an espresso martini with a sparkler in the middle of their serious conversation. There’s nothing like the universal experience of having a tough conversation interrupted by a helpless waiter.

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Scheana and Brock have both pulled back the curtain this season, allowing viewers to really dive into their marriage and personal struggles. It’s tough to watch Scheana struggle with her OCD, as her intrusive thoughts eat away at her. This is a side of Scheana that very clearly shows the negative aspects of fame, as we’ve seen documented proof that she can’t look away from the online chatter about her.

Meanwhile, we get to dive deeper into the sad world of Tom Schwartz this week, first with a friendly outing alongside his ex-wife, Katie. These two have rarely been better scene partners than this season, their opposite demeanors creating a great dichotomy. Not so great is the very fake plotline of them both dating Scheana’s friend Tori, but their banter is always fun. They talk to each other like two siblings who live in different cities and meet up bi-annually, despite having been together for a decade.

Schwartz then meets with his other spiritual sibling, sad sack Sandoval, who’s still trying to persuade his fellow Tom to move in with them. The two go for a drive in a convertible, bopping around like they’re auditioning for a Dude, Where’s My Car? remake, and head off to get tattoos. There’s not much to report here other than that whatever charm the Toms once had together is so long gone, I’m not sure if it ever existed. I’ve gotten the retroactive ick.

Before the grand evening, Ariana’s boyfriend Dan makes an appearance via FaceTime, invited to attend the cast trip to San Francisco. The dynamic between these two is still very confusing to me, especially since Ariana almost never mentions him, to the point I often forget she’s in a new relationship. Hopefully, he does appear on that trip (and if next week’s teaser is any indication, it seems he will!), so we can get to know him a little better.

Once Jax and James’ brunch kicks off, Jax makes the rounds like his life depends on it. First, he and Lisa squash the beef, before he goes to gab with the girls, letting slip that Sandoval is courting Schwartz. A handy flashback shows us that Jax had, not even five minutes before, told Schwartz he wouldn’t tell anyone about this, but that’s the Jax special. Lying is his favorite thing to do. Remember when he claimed he was the face of Assassin’s Creed?

At the after-party, the ladies take a few minutes to berate James over the fact that he sucks and didn’t think through the sacrifices Ally would have to make when he re-adopted Hippie (formerly Graham). James shrugs it off, as he usually does, before sobbing. It would be a more heartfelt scene if the allegations that he abused Hippie weren’t reverberating through my mind, but they were.

As the party winds down, Schwartz and Ariana share a surprisingly mature conversation, their first genuine chat of the season. It’s a nice moment before the chaos erupts, as Sandoval and Scheana get into a screaming match while Brock floats around in the pool. First, the continued struggle that is Scheana’s desire to always be with her daughter and Brock’s desire for Scheana to just get over her OCD butts its ugly head once again. When she pauses the fight to discuss her upcoming performance set list with Kyle Chan (who, by the way, is somehow hosting the San Francisco trip?! Talk about a hustler), things explode between her and Sandoval, again.

While Scheana understands Sandoval’s frustration with her cashing in on the Scandoval, she feels she had every right. Then, Sandoval says something that the Scheana detractors have been saying all along: “You did not get cheated on. You are not involved in this,” he says,” before adding “Why are you acting like you’re the biggest victim in this whole scenario?”

Anti-Scheana nation surely feels the “Heartbreaking: The Worst Person You Know Just Made a Great Point” whiplash. However, I would argue Sandoval needs to just take the hit, as this little song of Scheana’s is hardly a big deal, and it’s not in his best interest to try and take the moral high ground. But that’s exactly what Sandoval attempts when he reminds Scheana she, too, has been the other woman in a relationship, a claim that leads her to erupt.

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He may be right, but it’s also fair that Scheana points out how she was in her early twenties while Sandoval was fully 40 when his affair happened. It doesn’t make Scheana’s actions justifiable, but it does add some helpful context. It’s funny, though, to watch as Katie calls Sandoval disgusting for this, given her proclivity to call women, especially Scheana, every name in the book. Katie is a professional hater, and I say that with high praise. There’s nothing like the feeling of getting another good reason to trash the guy you hate, and oh boy, Sandoval gave his haters plenty of material at this afterparty.

It’s smart to close the episode on a Jax-less scene to remind the doubters that VPR can still deliver top-tier scenes without its retired villain, and it’s no surprise that the highlight is yet another Scheana and Sandoval standoff. Those two are dynamic scene partners who have produced some of the season’s best moments, and it’s going to be interesting to see how their rocky relationship ties up as the season winds down.

I’m already foaming at the mouth for the finale scene where Scheana asks Sandoval, “So what do I mean to you?” and he responds, “You mean a lot,” before she hits him with: “Because we’re filming, or because of life?” Scheana exudes star power with every word.

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