New beginnings, family, and drama, drama, drama. These are familiar themes for Keeping Up with the Kardashians, but with the growing number of young children and the serious, sometimes life-and-death relationship issues, the stakes are raised in season 12. The Kardashians always have a lot of balls in the air, and enjoy lively back-and-forth, so it is appropriate that season 12 starts with a friendly game of ping-pong between Khloé and Kylie, with Kim and Kourtney chilling on the sofa. Kim shares a picture of little Saint West. There is some talk of breast-feeding and cabbages, not unrelated. Being a mom is exhausting, even if you don’t have to do those French braids yourself. Khloé is decorating Lamar’s new house in time for his homecoming. She and Kris enlist the help of a decorator to find things like giant sofas for the former NBA star. It’s a tall order in more ways than one; Lamar is coming home in two days, and Khloé has a press trip planned to New York. Khloé is facing two worlds — the independent life that she is building for herself, and her old life as one half of Khloé and Lamar — and struggling with that balance. Scott has new digs, too, having bought a house close to Kourtney and down the street from Kris. He shares some of Khloé’s struggles, even if the fracture in his life was his own doing. “It’s disappointing and hurtful to myself. But I’m trying to make it up,” he says. Later, Scott’s empty-nesting continues as he meets Kris for lunch. They bond over a baby-kale Caesar salad. He thanks Kris for being supportive, which is a major turnaround from where these two were just a few years ago. “I love that I’m near you guys. It makes me feel more safe,” he says. Sure, living in a big house in Calabasas all by yourself is a rich-person problem, but you’ve gotta kinda feel for the guy. When he and Kris go to a cooking class together, and then even go shopping with Kourtney for pots and pans at Williams-Sonoma, it starts to feel like a little too much. It’s hard not to laugh during the cooking class at the Four Seasons. The chef says the chain likes to focus on a plant-based diet, so Scott and Kris learn how to make chicken tenders and turkey meatballs, obviously. Scott’s ex Kourtney, meanwhile, is prepping for an appearance on Ellen. She doesn’t have time to worry about Scott’s dishtowels. She’s nervous about having to dance on television. Good thing her stylist is there with some gold lamé shorts. If you can’t dance in those, what are they even good for? When her big moment on Ellen comes, she drinks calming tea. “There’s a lot going on with everyone in our family. And if you say the wrong thing, everyone’s going to get mad. And you never know what they’re going to ask.” Everyone can relax, calming tea or not, for all goes well with the dancing and the shorts, so crisis averted. As Kris says, “It’s like the old Kourt is back.” All is not well for Khloé in New York. After visiting Howard Stern's show, where she talked openly and honestly about Lamar, her marriage, and Caitlyn Jenner, she got some pretty nasty texts from Caitlyn. “What happened to family sticking together?” she reads to her mother in a video call. “She can tell me to [bleep] off all she wants,” Khloé says. “I don’t have a relationship with her.” Other than the complicated family drama at play here, can we talk about her light-up iPhone case for a second? She was in the backseat of an SUV, at night, FaceTiming while a reality-TV crew filmed her, and she was still perfectly lit. Kris calls Caitlyn later, but doesn’t get very far. Caitlyn insists that no one should talk about her at all to the press. Kris, in one of the very emotional moments that always seem to happen between these two, reminds Caitlyn of what she said in the infamous Vanity Fair article. Caitlyn can’t or won’t back down, even with Kris’ heartfelt defense of Khloé, urging Caitlyn to give Khloé some room. “You were her dad from the time she was five; maybe you could give her a break,” Kris says through her tears. Rob Kardashian, even though we don’t see him, comes up a few times in the premiere. First, Khloé asks him to move out after she catches him with Blac Chyna. “I don’t want that drama in my personal space,” she says. She also warns him that he’s burned his last bridge. Next, he turns up in the middle of a scandal playing out over Instagram. Kylie and Kendall have come across a pic that Blac Chyna has posted of a gift that Rob has given her. It’s an iPad that Kendall gave him for Christmas. Rob has regifted! The horror! Kendall calls him to bust him on it, but compelling drama takes at least two players, and Rob doesn’t care at all. Rob’s last non-appearance in the premiere takes place over dinner at Kourtney’s house. Kris isn’t happy that Khloé kicked out her brother, and this sends the other sisters into full-on attack mode. “We need to stop babying him and step back,” Kim says. Kylie says he’s trying to buy the house next door to Blac Chyna, and the girls put two and two together that Kris is providing the down payment. Kris claims it’s an investment, but the girls aren’t buying it. Someone calls her Cruella de Vil. Someone else says, “You’re the problem.” Kris fights back, pointing out that she’s just supporting Rob the way she’s always supported each of the girls. She doesn’t pull any punches, getting straight to the Kris Humphries point. “I’ve seen you guys through so much shit. 'Oh, yeah, I’m married for 72 days.' Yeah, that was normal.” It’s a strange, but not unusual scene for the Kardashians, and it stands in stark contrast to what was happening with Scott, and even Lamar, in the first part of the episode. Kris, for all of her stage-momager BS, didn’t get any complaints when she was helping Scott buy dishtowels or roll up some turkey meatballs. No one called her Cruella when she suggested a large mirror for Lamar’s living room. Why should she turn her back on her son when he’s looking for a place to live? At least from this episode, it seems that Kris doesn’t spend much time worrying about the Blac Chyna/Tyga/Kylie/Kim/Kanye/Amber Rose (whew!) feud. (This all, of course, played out before Rob proposed to Chyna with a big rock or gave her a purple Lamborghini, so…) It gets even more complicated when Scott goes missing at the end of the episode, failing to show up for his dinner party. Last Kourtney heard from him he was with Tyga, “all day and all night.” Not good, Scott. Not good. Kourtney turns to Kylie, who looks every bit the baby sister at that moment. “I’m between a rock and a hard place,” Kylie says to the camera in her interview segment. It is easy to forget sometimes that she is just 18 and playing in a high-stakes game with people who are much older and richer, and who didn’t grow up behind the Kardashian-Jenner paywall. Kourtney looks her youngest sister straight in the eye and says she doesn’t want Tyga to be a negative influence. (Seems like it might be too late for that.) “It pisses me off that people like Tyga, who are close to our family, who should know better, don’t find some other friends.” Kourtney’s got a point here. Of course, a lot of the drama on a show like KUwtK is manufactured, but some of it just comes from hanging around the same people all the time. The whole Rob/Blac Chyna/Tyga/Kylie love square is awkward on its best day. There are lots of famous (and less-famous) people in Hollywood who would happily sign a release to show up by the pool one Sunday night on E! Maybe it is time to make some new friends.