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Credit: The CW

Katy Keene Discussion: The truth about Pepper

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May 9, 2020, 9:29 PM EDT (Updated)

As the first season of Katy Keene nears its end, this scrappy group of roommates is having to make some real choices about their futures. As the opening of the Pepper Plant nears, all of the lies and facades that Pepper has carefully constructed feel more tenuous than ever. There are only so many people she can con before people see her for the grifter that she is.

Katy is also dealing with the fallout from her hookup with Guy. Sure, the sex might be good, but stealing her post-coital designs is a slimy move. Will Katy have the guts to stick up for herself and her work? Will Jorge be able to help his family out of their money troubles? Can Josie trust the Cabots (no)? All this and more comes to a head in the penultimate episode of Katy Keene's first season.

We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer, and we're foolishly waiting for someone to make a good decision on this show.

Warning: This discussion contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 12 of Katy Keene.

Credit: The CW

Haute Couture Hookup

Jessica: Well y’all, Katy’s gone and done it now. She’s hooking up with Guy LaMontague on the reg in some shanty he’s set up on the eighth floor of Lacys. It has a cot and a rusted sink. How romantic. Things look to be going well for the pair — she’s sketching feathered masterpieces, he’s offering to blow off Anna Wintour if it means staying in bed — it’s the kind of Phantom Thread fantasy that just won’t last.

Alyssa: Yeah, it’s all very cozy and probably something that Katy has written down in a dream journal somewhere, but it was never going to last. The second you find out that your man has a secret closet that only he is allowed into, it’s time to run. But honestly, Katy’s problems feel like small potatoes with all of the drama with the opening of the Pepper Plant. Pepper’s been a schemer since day one, but I think she’s finally lost the thread. Too many balls in the air, not enough of other people’s money.

Jessica: Her feet are really to the fire this episode and she’s starting to burn. Alex seems intent on getting his investment back — probably because he’s terrified of the prospect of making his own money, without daddy’s help — and Josie’s trying her best to convince him not to call the cops while she works out the truth. Good luck with that, Josie, we’ve been trying for 12 episodes now. Jorge, on the other hand, has finally uncovered his family’s financial problems and he gathers the roommates for a meeting about raising their rent. Josie reacts as any sane woman would. Look, I feel for Jorge’s parents, but they’re the ones who set the lease agreement. No respectable landlord would increase the rent with less than a week’s notice. Jorge’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder when it comes to owing his dad but Josie’s apparently frying doughnuts at her other job that we never see and Katy’s working herself to the bone at Lacy’s with three jobs so he needs to chill on this family drama for a sec. 

Alyssa: Yeah, this is definitely Jorge’s business. Did Katy and Josie not sign a lease? Get it in writing, ladies!!! Jorge gets a job at Lacy’s but apparently has no idea how jobs work because he’s asking for his paycheck before he even works the floor. Boy, you’ve got to charm Debi Mazar and more before you’re seeing a dime from that department store. But Jorge needs money now, so he starts go-go dancing at Molly’s to get some quick cash. The roommates’ hustle continues as Katy works to hold down her job running personal shopping while also doing whatever she’s doing with Guy, and it’s starting to get a little tricky. Guy’s sister Gal lets her know about their extracurriculars and doesn’t seem upset because Guy is happy and his designs are great. Except Katy notices that they aren’t exactly only his designs. The dress that she was working on in bed? Guy has cribbed the design for his latest gown.

Jessica: There have been a few red flags when it comes to Guy but this was a Chanel-covered stop sign for their relationship. Any man who seems cool with copping your genius and passing it off as his own is not boyfriend material. He’s not even f*ck boi material. Take your dress and your lovin' somewhere else, Katy! She’s clearly taken aback by the betrayal but she doesn’t have long to process it because the personal shopping department is still recovering from the Meta Gala (last time we ever use that phrase, please) and in the bustle, a diamond-encrusted purse goes missing. I wonder which blonde-haired, British-accented con-artist who is strapped for cash and just happened to stop by Lacy’s for a dress fitting took it?

Credit: The CW

Jorge's Hustle

Alyssa: Pepper clearly doesn’t care who she hurts in her quest to make the Pepper Plant into something, so she snags the $200,000 purse and hocks it on the black market. Like Lacy’s wouldn’t notice? While Pepper is scamming, Josie is doing a little digging of her own. She confirms that Pepper tried to get her hands on Raj’s inheritance, proving that there really isn’t a bottom to Pepper’s willingness to grift. Josie is still the newcomer, so she is able to keep a clearer head about Pepper’s behavior. While Pepper is trying to social climb with the best of them, Jorge is dancing his ass off to get more money to help his parents. He presents his dad with a decent-sized chunk of change, letting him know that he doesn’t want to feel beholden to him. His dad is pretty taken aback. I don’t think his parents ever intended for their help with his rent to ever come to light, and his father certainly feels bad about needing financial help. Jorge is doing what he thinks is right — and working towards becoming more financially independent is an excellent goal — but I’m not sure this will help his already tenuous relationship with his dad.

Jessica: I’m not sure there’s any good way to hand your dad a wad of bills you’ve earned by go-go dancing for randos but this definitely wasn’t it. He does get his pops to take the money though, so … small victories. The roommates convene at the apartment to compare notes on Pepper’s odd behavior and Josie finally comes clean about what she knows. The hotel scandal. Pepper’s squatting. Her money problems. All of it. Katy and Jorge are clearly taken aback which makes me question just how good of friends they really are. How do you miss all of these signs? More importantly, how are you okay with not knowing a single, substantial detail about the life of one of your closest friends? I know Pepper is an accomplished liar but she’s also benefitted from having a group of besties too wrapped up in their own drama to even ask about hers. 

Alyssa: Yeah, to an outsider, it definitely feels like they should have seen the signs. Pepper has been giving Katy the slip all day to avoid talking about her little case of grand larceny, but when she shows up at the apartment, her friends are there and this time they’re not letting her get out of it with a smile and some flattery. When confronted, Pepper immediately goes on the offensive, trying to foist the blame onto Josie. Not a good look. Luckily, Jorge and Katy realize a bit more who Pepper really is, so they’re Team Josie on this one. Pepper tries to convince them that it’s all a misunderstanding but to no avail. So she storms out, but not before she tells Katy about her real dad and accuses Katy of only being her friend for the social capital. Honestly, in this moment, I thought they were going to have Pepper go full-on villain, and I genuinely wish they had. After her dealings with Pepper, Katy realizes that she’s not willing to be anyone’s doormat anymore, so she goes to confront Guy. 

Jessica: I was cheering her on the whole way but alas, Guy explains away his thievery by implying all of his designs were taken by his mentor and he viewed it as the greatest compliment. He goes on to suggest this is just how things work in the fashion world and Katy is, for some reason, appeased. I’ll chalk it up to her youth because Gucci knows I was an eager young careerwoman once who probably would’ve bought that bullsh*t hook, line, and sinker — especially if it was delivered by a well-dressed man who appreciates a good bowl of soup. Jorge continues his go-go dancing hustle but he’s upgraded to private dances that feel fairly icky and dangerous. His dad catches him and the two hash things out, somewhat, with Jorge explaining why he’s earning the extra money and his dad teaching him a lesson on how family operates. Speaking of family, Alex is pretty quick to go running to his dad when he learns Pepper has been skimming his investment, even though Josie warned him not to. Just when you think this guy is getting his sh*t together and becoming a man, he’s right back in his daddy’s limo, crying about his low bank account. Alex Cabot is the worst. 

Alyssa: Alex Cabot does indeed suck and I really do not understand what Josie sees in him. Luckily, Katy isn’t entirely soothed by Guy’s promise that this is “just how things work” in the fashion world and does a little digging and some light B&E. She has to know what’s in that closet, so she steals a key and takes a little look for herself. While it seems to be innocuous at first, just some extra bits of fabric, soon she finds a number of sketchbooks belonging to Guy’s old apprentices. And no, he’s not just holding onto them for safekeeping. A number of his celebrated designs have been ripped right from the pages, proving that while Guy may have some talent of his own, his best work has been stolen from the vulnerable women who work for him. Gross.

Credit: The CW

Pepper Plant Problems

Jessica: All the men on this show seem to be gross, tbh. Katy’s shaken, but she manages to find the strength to dress in sequins and feathers and attend the grand opening of the Pepper Plant. Is it just me or does all of this drama seem to be too much for a warehouse space that’s just there to throw a good party? Pepper’s surprised the group made it but she’s able to make some kind of amends by showing each of them corners of the studio dedicated to their own artistic brilliance. Josie gets a place for her band, Jorge gets a screening of Kiss of the Spider Woman, and Katy gets a spot to showcase her designs. It’s sweet, and that, coupled with Pepper finally introducing her dad to her friends, almost makes all the lying just water under the bridge. Almost.

Alyssa: This scene just felt so disingenuous to me. Everyone decided to show up and support Pepper because she paid off Jorge’s parents' back mortgage payments, but it just does not make sense for her to have created those little studio sections for each of her “friends.” Pepper has been out for Pepper since the beginning, and I cannot say this enough: it would have been way more fun and interesting if Pepper had been scamming them in earnest to get ahead instead of doing it all in the name of friendship. It was cheesy and boring, which is a deadly combination. Just have the guts to make Pepper bad! Instead, they’re definitely setting up Alex to be a villain. He tells Pepper that he talked to his daddy and they basically own her and the Pepper Plant, and Josie isn’t impressed when he tells her the news. Josie has been dickmatized by this man for too long. 

Jessica: One girl who ain’t mesmerized by the schlong any longer is Katy who finally seems ready to confront Guy over her designs, especially after K.O. gave her a good pep talk. God, do I wish K.O. was more interesting. He’d be such a good addition to the show. Still, he’s boring as a bag of rocks and if they make these two get back together, I’ll scream. Before all this happens though, Pepper, who seems to have come through unscathed, finally gets her comeuppance. The police barge in and arrest her — charges unknown — and all of her friends and investors get to watch her perp walk to the elevator. I took forever to close, and seeing her trying to hold it together while on the brink of tears almost made me feel things for her. Again, almost. 

Credit: The CW

What's Next

Alyssa: Almost, not quite. I’m still holding out hope that Pepper goes full villain in the next episode, but sadly that doesn’t seem likely. Guy claims to have an explanation for his behavior, but I hope it’s not more of that “this is just how these things work” nonsense. Katy needs to make connections if she wants to get ahead in the fashion world, but not like that. I’m also hoping to see Xandra come through and take out her father and brother. They’ve halfheartedly set her up as a monster, but I think she has more potential to be interesting as a foil for the grasping men in her family.

Jessica: Right? Let Xandra and Josie work together to take over Cabot Industries. It’s the only thing I want to see right now.

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