It’s been a tumultuous yet illuminating two and half months since news first broke of the Vanderpump Rules cheating fiasco—now widely referred to as “Scandoval.”
As season 10 of the Bravo reality series has unfolded, it has revealed that a number of the show’s stars likely knew—or at least suspected—that Tom Sandoval and Raquel Leviss, the two cast members at the heart of the scandal, were having an illicit relationship. The season has also made clear that Ariana Madix, the true victim of the affair, went to great lengths to defend her then-boyfriend and best friend against any claims that they would betray her—unintentionally throwing others off the scent of a secret they appeared to be catching on to.
TMZ reported on March 3 that Madix and Sandoval had broken up after she discovered the affair. At the time, Vanderpump Rules was a few episodes into airing its 10th season, which was filmed from mid-July through early September of last year. Since that first report, much has emerged about how the seven-month-long liaison between Sandoval and Leviss apparently played out. Now, the season’s updated finale, an episode comprised entirely of footage shot after the news broke, is set to air Wednesday, May 17.
Here’s what you need to know about Scandoval ahead of the Vanderpump Rules season 10 finale.
Read more: Why Vanderpump Rules Is Suddenly Everywhere
What is Scandoval?
Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix.
A portmanteau of scandal and Sandoval, “Scandoval” almost immediately became the name for the incident, which rocked the world when it was revealed that Tom Sandoval had been cheating on his girlfriend of nine years, Ariana Madix, with one of Ariana’s best friends, Raquel Leviss.
Sandoval has been a series regular on Vanderpump Rules since the show started in 2013 as a spinoff of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills that centered on the young, wannabe-rich-and-famous employees of longtime Housewife Lisa Vanderpump’s West Hollywood restaurant SUR (Sexy Unique Restaurant). Madix joined the show as a recurring cast member in season 2 before becoming a series regular in season 3, while Leviss made guest appearances in season 5 as series regular James Kennedy’s girlfriend before becoming a recurring cast member in season 6, and, finally, a series regular in season 9. There have previously been a number of cheating scandals on Vanderpump Rules, including the infamous Stassi-Jax-Kristen-Tom rectangle of season 2, but never one that fans have considered to be quite so nefarious, underhanded, and despicable.
The initial fallout from Scandoval became pubic knowledge shortly after Madix herself learned of Sandoval’s infidelity, according to what cast members have revealed outside of the show. Madix was handed Sandoval’s phone after it fell out of his pocket while he was performing with his band, Tom Sandoval & The Most Extras, and found an inappropriate video of Leviss on it.
Following the Friday news drop in March that Madix and Sandoval had split, posts about the affair quickly came to dominate social media, with #Scandoval becoming a trending hashtag. By that Monday, the story had ballooned into one of the biggest reality TV scandals of all time, with interest in the drama extending far beyond the show’s fandom.
At the time, Vanderpump Rules’ 10th season was set to air for 14 episodes that fans believed would center on the aftershocks of costars Katie Maloney and Tom Schwartz filing for divorce, as well as the controversy surrounding series regular Lala Kent’s ex-fiancé and baby daddy, Hollywood producer Randall Emmett, facing allegations of civil fraud, sexual misconduct, and other abuse.
But Scandoval changed the season’s tone—with the affair at the forefront of every viewer’s mind, each subsequent episode of the season has been analyzed through a completely new lens. As remaining episodes aired, viewers made a point to look closely at all the interactions between Sandoval and Leviss, revealing that the pair seemed to not-so-carefully be conducting their affair right under the noses of their fellow castmates.
What has Vanderpump Rules season 10 revealed about Scandoval?
Pre-Scandoval, the drama of season 10 largely revolved around Leviss, encouraged by co-star Scheana Shay, making a play for Schwartz despite Schwartz and Maloney’s post-divorce pact that they wouldn’t hook up with anyone in the friend group. During the season 9 reunion, Leviss and Kennedy announced that they had ended their own engagement. Less than three months later, Kennedy started a relationship with his current girlfriend, Ally Lewber, who has appeared as a recurring cast member in season 10.
Now, however, Leviss’s flirtation with Schwartz has since come to be seen as a cover-up for her actual affair with Sandoval, Schwartz’s best friend. Schwartz has said that he knew Sandoval and Leviss had what he claims was a one-night stand in August 2022, while still filming season 10, but didn’t know their relationship had developed into a full-blown love affair until January of this year.
“The one-night stand was in August and then it became, from my point of view, it became an emotional affair,” Schwartz said on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen on April 5. “Which is still inappropriate but I didn’t think it was linear … [Then] in January, he came to me and told me that he was in love with Raquel.”
The in-show hints of Scandoval began in the season’s 11th episode when Lewber told Kennedy she saw Sandoval and Leviss out together late one night at a West Hollywood bar, The Abbey, with Madix nowhere in sight. “I saw Sandoval and Raquel dancing together at The Abbey,” she recounted in a confessional during the episode, which aired April 19. “I personally wouldn’t be comfortable with it, I guess, to have my boyfriend out at 1 a.m. with girls. But everyone’s different.”
Vanderpump Rules matriarch, former Beverly Hills housewife Lisa Vanderpump, also seemed be getting wise about the intimate dynamic that had developed between Sandoval and Leviss, even going so far as to seemingly arrange for her husband, Ken Todd, to reveal to Maloney that Leviss had stayed the night at Sandoval and Madix’s shared home while Madix was away attending her grandmother’s funeral mid-season.
However, despite Maloney’s attempts to broach the rumors with Madix, her longtime friend and sandwich shop business partner, on multiple occasions, Madix remained insistent that Sandoval and Leviss were both loyal to her and would never do such a thing.
The season’s penultimate episode, which was set to be the original finale, also featured a difficult-to-watch conversation between Madix and Leviss about the details of Madix and Sandoval’s sex life.
What are we going to see in the season 10 finale?
Following the initial Scandoval revelations, Vanderpump Rules producers jumped into action to get cameras rolling and document the fallout from the situation, even though filming had long ago wrapped for the season. The resulting footage was turned into a new finale, aptly titled “#Scandoval,” that will include scenes depicting a blowout fight between Sandoval and Madix that took place at their shared home, as well as an encounter between Sandoval and Leviss at the latter’s apartment during which they discuss their affair.
The episode will also feature the return of former Vanderpump Rules star Kristen Doute, who was fired for racial misconduct alongside costar Stassi Schroeder in June 2020, following accusations by former recurring cast member Faith Stowers that the pair had filed a false police report against her for a crime she did not commit.
Doute dated Sandoval for years prior to Madix and was at odds with Madix for several seasons over the circumstances surrounding the beginning of her relationship with Sandoval. However, Doute and Madix ultimately became close friends, and Doute has been a staunch vocal supporter of Madix since the Scandoval bomb dropped.
More Must-Reads From TIME