Calling Kim Kardashian a control freak is an understatement, akin to saying that Kanye West likes Balmain. Kardashian is as publicly composed as her husband is predictably unhinged. From her unprecedented rise to fame to the myriad of hyphens she’s managed to quickly accrue, the closet-organizer turned reality-TV star-spokeswoman-video girl-Silicon Valley mogul-emoji entrepreneur has always been about her business. It’s this meticulous work ethic that allowed Kim to avenge her husband in the face of Taylor Swift’s slander, launching a carefully considered counter-campaign across Twitter, Snapchat, reality TV, and print magazines. Cementing her status as the Sun Tzu of social media, Kardashian managed to simultaneously draw eyeballs to her family’s reality-TV show, satiate her voracious Twitter and Snapchat followings, stand by her man, and out her pop-culture nemesis on “National Snake Day.”
Anyone can get petty on Snapchat, but a true strategist consults with her almanac first.
Whether she’s getting married, launching a business, getting divorced, starring in a photoshoot or getting married again, Kardashian owns her own narrative like none other. So when the face of Keeping Up With the Kardashians was attacked and robbed during Paris Fashion Week last October, it was quite possibly the first instance of Kim Kardashian being out of the loop on a Kim Kardashian story.
On this week’s episode—the second of KUWTK’s 13th season—Kardashian opened up about the sense of helplessness she felt on that fateful night at the Hôtel de Pourtalès—from thinking that the robbers were about to rape her to contemplating making a run for it, before being paralyzed by the fear that they would shoot her in the back before she could make it down the hotel stairs.
While Kim’s very public trauma clearly had lasting effects on the star, including but not limited to a very unnerving social-media blackout, this week’s episode is the first time she’s spoken out extensively about the incident. So while the events of October 3rd may have caught Mrs. West completely unaware, the March 19 episode of KUWTK served to take back Kim’s story. Keeping Up With the Kardashians, a show that largely consists of Kardashians FaceTiming one another from different Calabasas mansions, is rarely this riveting. Piecing together footage from Paris Fashion Week, Kanye West’s headline-making Meadows walk-off, and the aftermath in NYC, Sunday night’s episode covered the crime from every possible angle (excluding, of course, footage of the robbery itself). The great minds over at E! leaned all the way into this special true-crime episode, with all the accoutrements (flashing newspaper headlines, timestamps, etc.) of a producer who’s spent a little too much time binge-watching How to Get Away With Murder.
The episode opens on Kim and Kanye being swarmed by paparazzi in New York, post Paris. In the elevator to reunite with her kids, Kim tells Kanye that she doesn’t want to scare them by bringing up the robbery. For explication, we pull back one week to when Kim and Kourtney were naively discussing what they should pack for Paris. Throughout the episode, there’s an unusual emphasis on the claustrophobia of international celebrity. So while Kim clearly had no idea she was about to be attacked, there is a sinister undertone to the way the paparazzi constantly storm and harass her. At a Givenchy fitting, Kim opens up about being “pranked” by Vitalii Sediuk earlier in her trip, noting, “It’s a stupid prank but it really does get into your personal space… it’s not funny.” Meanwhile, in the background, Kanye is pulling looks for his wife—he felt the need to fly to Paris for 24 hours because he wasn’t satisfied with the outfits Kim had been showing him and “you can’t see everything through the FaceTime.” Watching West meticulously dress his wife and her sister offers a fascinating glimpse of the mad fashion genius behind Yeezys.
Snapstories cleverly woven in with the crew’s footage show us various members of the Kardashian family in the hours leading up to the attack. Meanwhile in New York, Kanye’s documentary crew on the Saint Pablo Tour captures West as he receives the terrifying news, stopping his concert at the Meadows and walking off stage. Kourtney recalls the moment when Kim called her, sobbing, causing her and Kendall to race out of the club to be by her side. “I immediately started crying,” Kendall remembers, adding, “When we walked in, Kim was in the corner sobbing.” Kris Jenner confesses that the entire klan was so traumatized that they left Paris “even before the sun came up.”
Now we’re in New York and thrown back into Kim’s reunion with her kids. North West loves her mom, and the camera loves her. After the requisite amount of family hugging, Kanye tells Kim that, “If anything had happened to you, I wouldn’t have stopped until they were dead.” In the second of many family pow-wows—this one is on a private jet—Kim confesses to Kris and recurring cast member Corey Gamble that, “I feel like I’ve been in a fight or something and my body is just exhausted.” There’s a subtle allusion to Kim’s social-media hiatus when she explains that she checked her phone after a few days only to find that, “People like Howard Stern said that I should go to jail if this is fake… Why would anyone make this up?” Corey Gamble is “just so happy you’re safe now,” and I’m just so happy that Corey Gamble got a line in this episode.
The second half of the show finds a handful of Kardashians getting together for salads and some contractually obligated plot synopsis. Kourtney revisits the moment when she picked up the phone to hear her sister shouting “help me, help me, screaming at the top of her lungs.” Kendall thinks that it took them five minutes from the phone call to the hotel, where she remembers fighting with the police to be allowed upstairs. They got through only to find Kim clearly traumatized: “When I went to hug her she was uncomfortable with me hugging her,” Kendall explains. The whole family is clearly shaken up—we know this because they talk about how shaken up they are, and also because their salads are practically untouched.
Much like Rachel Maddow with the president’s taxes, KUWTK takes its time getting to the good stuff. After fifty-something minutes of leadup, the episode ends with Kim describing the Parisian ordeal in her own words. Sitting down with Khloé and Kourtney, Kardashian recalls being found “practically naked hiding in a bush on the balcony” by police officers wearing the same uniforms as the men who just attacked her. While she’s still feeling anxious, especially with Kanye away on his soon-to-be-canceled tour, Kim is calm enough to do a little amateur police work. Upon reflection, she now believes that, “There was probably a group of guys that were following us the entire trip.” Because she was Snapchatting her locations and activities so religiously, “I think they knew Pascal was out with Kourtney and that I was by myself… they had this window of opportunity and just went for it.” Kim was drifting off when she heard “pounding up the stairs.” Thinking that it was her sisters coming home from the club, she called out to them. But when no one responded, “I knew something wasn’t quite right.”
“I saw two guys holding another guy down in police uniforms right outside of my bedroom,” Kim continues. “I called Pascal, the guy came and grabbed the phone from me, threw me on the bed, and I was like ‘This is it.’”
From talking to the hotel concierge after the attack, Kim learned that the robbers came in and immediately demanded to be led to “the rapper’s wife.” During the robbery, they used the concierge as an interpreter. “He goes, ‘Give them your ring,’” Kim recalls. “And I said while I’m being tied up, ‘Are we going to die? Are they going to kill us? Tell them I have babies.’” Next, they asked her for money, and Kardashian responded that she didn’t have any. Then “they dragged me out to the hallway on top of the stairs, and that’s when I saw the gun.” She describes having to make the “quick decision” to run down the stairs and potentially be shot in the back or to stay put. She remembers thinking, “There’s no way out.”
Naturally, Kim remembers every detail from the terrifying attack. “Then he duct-tapes my face… He grabs my legs, and I had no clothes on under, so he pulled me toward him,” she continues, “I thought OK, this is the moment, they’re going to rape me, and I fully mentally prepped myself.” Instead, the attacker aimed his gun, and Kardashian was forced to contend with an even more unfathomable outcome: “I’m not going to make it out of here, I know how these things go,” she remembers thinking. “They’re totally going to shoot me in the head… I just prayed that Kourtney’s going to have a normal life after she sees my dead body on the bed.” Instead of killing their famous target, the robbers dragged Kardashian to the bathroom and made a run for it.
Grateful to be alive, Kim tells her sisters that all of the stolen objects are replaceable, and that none of it matters. The episode ends on a group hug, with the “next week on” promo teasing some detailed discussions of Kim’s therapy regimen.
While Mrs. West undoubtedly has a long way to go before she puts this traumatizing incident behind her, this episode offers reassurance that the most famous Kardashian is back on her game, doling out well-timed revelations and carefully curated content for the masses.