Kendra on Top finale: An insider reveals where the troubled couple stands now
To say the last year has been a rough journey for Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett would be an understatement and, coming into tonight's Kendra on Top finale, the couple seemed to be at a fork in the road.
Last week, Baskett walked out the door, leaving Wilkinson to wonder if the rift in their relationship had finally reached the point of no repair. After chatting with her dad, Wilkinson decides to hop on a plane to bust in on Baskett's meeting. Only this was one romantic gesture that was not well received.
Seattle or bust
After a few minutes of incredibly awkward introductions, Baskett excuses himself so he can get to the bottom of Wilkinson's impromptu appearance. "What the hell? What are you doing here?" he asks.
It's then that Wilkinson realizes she may have pushed Baskett too far. Despite pouring her heart out to Baskett atop the Space Needle where he proposed many moons ago, Wilkinson is sent back to Calabasas so Baskett can think things over. Despite being a bummer in that moment, it's actually a side of Baskett that his wife has sorely missed.
"Hank was very assertive and strong-minded when Kendra met him and when he was playing for the NFL. That was one of the key reasons she was attracted to him. He took charge and he protected her," explains Kendra on Top executive producer Kevin Burns. "But after he quit playing, Hank grew less confident in himself. He lost his identity. So Kendra hasn’t seen the assertive side of Hank for a while. It’s actually the side of him she had been hoping for and waiting to see again."
Time for a tailgate wedding
Fast forward a week, and it's Wilkinson's dad, Eric Wilkinson, and his fiancee Amy's big day. Wilkinson explains that Baskett's calls have been very perfunctory — he checks on the kids, but that's it. She wants to save her marriage, but will she be able to reconcile the football player she once loved with the gaming pro Baskett is now?
"Kendra doesn't want a football player. She wants a man. She wants someone confident in himself — regardless of his profession. She's never been about status or money. When she moved into the Playboy Mansion at 18, she didn't even know who Hugh Hefner was. All she knew was that he was strong, successful and confident," says Burns. "In any event, Kendra never stopped loving Hank (last season proved that), but she has been very worried about him. It's possible her 'acting out' and flirting with other guys was her way of forcing him to be stronger and more resolved. She wanted him to fight for her."
As Wilkinson and Hall arrive in San Diego, it's clear Wilkinson is wondering whether Baskett will fight for their marriage one more time. But there's a wedding to be had, so Wilkinson and Hall give Eric and Amy a few gifts.
Little do the exhibitionists (they met at a nudist colony or, as Burns says, "they prefer 'clothing optional' community") realize, Wilkinson's real present is waiting in the wings: her dad's long-estranged sister, Kris Wilkinson, an incredible musician who'll be playing the ceremony music. The siblings have a touching reunion, and they're still close today. Explains Burns, "It was a very special moment, and Kris is an incredible person on every level. Going to the wedding was not easy for her (as she had several work commitments in Nashville, including the CMA Awards), but it was important to her to be there. Eric was really overcome."
Score one for Wilkinson.
On what can only be described as the party bus carting the crew to the Chargers game for the ceremony, the Wilkinson fam lives up to their party gene — so much so, Hall admits, "I'm having trouble keeping up." There's a stripper pole, plenty of beer and live music... what's not to love?
Baskett arrives and the ceremony begins. There, as Eric and Amy pledge their life to one another, Wilkinson knows without a shadow of a doubt that she wants to be married to Baskett.
Taking the next steps
According to Burns, very few people even realized they were quietly saving their marriage in those moments. "It was a very incredible moment when we saw them kiss during the ceremony," shares Burns.
Now that they are committed to making it work, should they have a conversation with Little Hank about what this means for the family? SheKnows Parenting Expert Lori Pace weighs in, saying, "I think that the move to save the family is admirable. With Hollywood marriages seemingly struggling to make it work, I like that they are trying. As far as Little Hank goes, yes, a conversation on his level could be helpful."
This Pace knows from personal experience. "When I divorced, I sat my children down and told them what I could without scaring them. The most important thing, I think, is to allow Hank to ask questions, and then answer them as best they can. He deserves as much uninterrupted time to express his feelings as he can get. Seeing Mom and Dad go from crying and fighting to hugging and kissing can be very confusing."
Of course, that convo might be premature — shortly after the wedding, they file into their marriage therapist's office looking more than a little morose. "We're kind of at a separation point again," Baskett somberly tells Dr. Meise.
Psych! The couple was only kidding. Baskett only wants a self-imposed separation, because Wilkinson quite literally can't keep her hands (or anything else) off of him. Ultimately, the session ends simply because Dr. Meise can't seem to break up their intimacy hug. And while it's nice to see them clicking again, is operating in such extremes a reliable barometer for relationship health?
Not necessarily, says SheKnows Dating and Relationship Expert Laurel House.
"Kendra is known for her extreme personality. And while passion can be great when it's good, the fluctuation — from high to low — that is often inherent within a passionate person can be detrimental to a relationship. They are good for now, but the question is: Were they able to heal their relationship from the bottom up? Did they fill the many holes and cracks in the foundation of their relationship? Or is their extreme passion just another Band-Aid on top?"
Healing those fractures takes real time. "Unless they both individually and as a couple stay committed to working on their relationship in order to let it completely be healed, repaired and then strengthened," says House, "even the smallest of shakeups or even misunderstandings can rock them apart again."
Where things stand
Mere minutes later, however, the last commentary Wilkinson and Baskett reveal is the decision to take a break from therapy altogether. This move could be problematic, cautions House, if the work on their relationship doesn't continue.
"Maintenance therapy is important," she confirms. "But Kendra and Hank aren't yet at the maintenance phase. They need to take their therapy off the screen in order to truly dig deep into territory that they may even subconsciously be unwilling to expose on national TV. It's not about doing more therapy — it's about doing deeper, more intense therapy."
Whether Wilkinson and Baskett choose to follow through in that respect remains to be seen, but not through the lens of reality TV. At least for the time being.
"Right now, all Kendra and Hank want to do is be a family again. Their focus is on their kids (e.g. school, sports, Halloween, holidays, etc.), who are growing up too fast," Burns tells us. "Kendra has done reality television for 11 years now. More than 200 episodes, if you count The Girls Next Door and her other previous series. Eight months a year for 11 years is a long time to have a 15-person television crew in your house. We aren't surprised that she and Hank want to enjoy being together for a while."
But — and it's a big but — Burns adds, "They're very happy... that's for sure. "