Tamra’s extremely classy faux-sex fiesta is over now and all that remains is the faint scent of discount-priced lube in the air and the very real need to pull duct tape off of body parts in one quick and incredibly painful motion. But just because terrible fetish wigs have been removed from the heads of Housewives all over town does not mean that any of them have forgotten what went down at a party where the guests were required to watch Tamra and Eddie’s oh-so-clever play on a sex tape that was really a workout video and then not vomit when the scene mercifully faded to black after we all got to hear that Tamra is really tight. See, just because it’s a brand new day doesn’t take away the fact that Vicki told Meghan’s husband that he married an asshole or that Meghan’s husband is a total asshole or that people have questioned the veracity of Brooks’ illness or that Shannon is never happy when she’s sober. Isn’t it sad when we realize that all of life’s greatest problems do not dissipate the moment we remove the leather collar and leash from around our necks? Oh, misery.
Speaking of misery, we begin in the kitchen of Meghan and Jim’s house. She is dressed in white like she is the purest form of an angel and he is in black because he is the personified version of the demon that used to live in the back of your closet who totally exists and the only reason you haven’t felt his presence in decades is because he’s been off playing professional baseball and marrying women he doesn’t much like. He criticizes Meghan for the way she slices vegetables, condescendingly informs her that the directions to make rice are handily printed on the back of the box, and once again takes the prize for coming off as the most quietly terrifying husband on this franchise – which is really saying something considering I have thought that Theresa’s husband on the New Jersey Housewives has been plotting to kill her for years.
Before I can scream to Meghan that she should never turn her back towards Jim or the knives or even the melon baller, we cut to Shannon walking into a restaurant that I’m betting serves vodka in a tall glass. She’s there to meet Heather, a woman I remember Shannon not liking, and the way that I remember such a thing is because when Shannon doesn’t like someone, she calls the person by her full name. “Heather” becomes “Heather Dubrow” in the way that “Vicki” will never become “Vicki Gunvalson” since Shannon likes Vicki because Vicki is a true friend in that she is heavier than Shannon and she is almost as insane as Shannon and it’s nice for friends to have important things in common. Luckily, Heather Dubrow wants to order a cocktail immediately which means that now she and Shannon are all but fucking soul sisters in Shannon’s mind and maybe lunch with her former pretend nemesis can go smoothly. Heather has fortunately stopped bleeding from doing leech therapy – which I really wish hadn’t been shown on camera because like the “Feed her!” scene from Human Centipede and the sequence in the original The Last House on the Left where one of the characters rubs torn-from-a-person entrails across his face that I’m pretty sure includes a small intestine, my life was just better before I saw such a thing. Heather, due to the loss of blood she experienced at Tamra’s party, is a little fuzzy about what went down between Vicki and Meghan and so that becomes the key topic of conversation between two women who don’t really care for or trust one another all that much but they are both cast members on the same reality show and that means they have to have lunch together sometimes. Since Heather all but blacked out from allowing leeches to suck on her body in order to achieve a more glowing skin tone (really), she asks Shannon to explain what happened and the editors make sure to cut back and forth from Shannon telling the tale to Meghan talking about it as well so that an argument that doesn’t really matter and will never ever get resolved seems like it has some sort of levity.
Over in Meghan’s kitchen, she apologizes to her husband for dragging him into her fight and refrains from asking him why he loathes her so deeply. Back at the restaurant, Shannon surprises me a little bit by stating outright that Vicki started the fight the night before and took things to a place that became rude and personal and didn’t keep on point with her message, which I guess should have been, “Just because my boyfriend has lied about everything to everyone and my family despises him so greatly that he wasn’t permitted to stand beside me at my mother’s burial, don’t you dare say he’s lying about having cancer even though you didn’t say it first, a psychic did.” It’s really hard to remember messages sometimes. The upside of all of this is that Shannon and Heather manage to make it through an entire meal consisting purely of alcohol together without one of them throwing the other out of a room. Even more importantly, since both they and their smiles are still really guarded with one another, when they grin they flash all of their teeth and it reminded me to slap on a Crest White Strip and now I feel like this show has become a public service announcement for pearly whites and oral hygiene in general and my teeth would like to thank everybody involved.
Back at Meghan’s, we learn that the meal she cooked has very few calories – which is good as she’s been looking a little plump lately – and that, even when she discusses finding a lump near her breast that she is going to go have checked out, her husband will not look her directly in the eye. I hope she’s okay, I hope that everyone reading this stays vigilant about his or her own health, and I hope to one day soon start a movement to get Jim Edmonds tossed into a simmering volcano because the guy sucks.
Halfway across the country, Vicki arrives at her daughter’s house just in time for a tornado warning, a thing that seems like it should be something symbolic, but Briana lives in Oklahoma so this shit is real. Briana appears to have had it rough lately. Her husband had back surgery, she has two young kids, and she’s working two jobs. Plus, her mother is Vicki. Briana’s home comes equipped with a storm cellar to take possible refuge in and Vicki responds perfectly to the crisis at hand by grabbing a beer before she descends into the cellar and then shrieking that she wants to get out in a way that sounds eerily similar to my friend’s Yorkie’s barking, except Vicki is not at all adorable and Spike the Yorkie has better hair.
I’d spend a moment saying a prayer for Vicki’s safety in the face of that tornado – or that she gets blown straight to Kansas where she will have to live forever without wine or having the ability to speak – but I’m going to leave the spirituality to Tamra. Fresh off her sex party, she arrives at a church with her husband so she can talk to a Pastor about whether or not she is ready to get baptized. I do think it’s a positive thing to channel one’s energy into something that might actually turn you into a better person, but all of these seasons in, I don’t have a whole lot of faith in who Tamra is or who she could be. Still, Tamra reveals herself to be vulnerable as she communicates how the church has aided her through a difficult time and I was just about to think that maybe she’s not that much of a moron, that she’s simply a woman who has been through many trying ordeals, and that’s when she tells the Pastor about the sex party she threw and that it was innocent fun and all done to market the workout video she made where it appears she is banging her husband on a floor instead of doing crunches. The Pastor stares at her and nods like he’s desperately trying to figure out if he can throw some holy water on her before she spontaneously bursts into flames in his office. Tamra’s not worried about a little water, though. She’s got bigger concerns, this Housewife of ours. She basically wants to know if Jesus will forgive her for all of the times she acted like an asshole and if he will continue to love her if she persists in behaving like an asshole. These are deep questions The Hottest Grandmother Ever is pondering and she’s doing it without wearing a hint of hot pink and so I’m going to root for her and hope that finding religion makes Tamra more tolerable and I’m not just saying that because this means that she’s about to be dunked under water.
In windy Oklahoma, Vicki takes Briana, Ryan, and the kids to dinner for Briana’s birthday. She appears to be quite the attentive grandmother and Briana is actually really happy that her mother is there. They may not love Oklahoma, but it’s also pretty clear that Briana has no desire to reside on any coast where Brooks lives. It’s been a long time now and Briana is not about to cool any of the scalding hatred she has for her mother’s boyfriend. She stays calm as she speaks, but you can almost see an inferno bursting forth from her eyes as she speaks of the man she so detests and she goes right ahead and calls him “a terrible person.” Watching Vicki bounce a grandchild on her lap while appearing so happy to be with her family makes me almost feel badly for her. But then I remembered that Vicki is a grown woman (not a child like she claims Meghan is) and the truth is that she chose her own path and that path involved Brooks moving into her home. She also randomly screams out a “whoo-hoo” at the end of the scene and that makes it official: I could honestly care less about this woman’s ultimate happiness and her insistence to continue to broadcast her life on television allows me to make that call. Let’s just say that’s another choice Vicki made.
Back in Orange County, Meghan is relieved to find out that she does not have breast cancer but she is concerned that she might be carrying a mutation that could potentially lead to cancer. She calls her mother from the car and talks with her husband about the issue and he speaks of his wife’s health with the same passion he would probably employ when talking about how to fry slugs or when he tries to describe to someone what water tastes like.
In another car, Heather and Terry are on their way to meet with representatives from their skincare line. Shame on any of us who didn’t believe deep in our hearts that one day Heather and Terry would have a skincare line! Of course they do! Only skincare professionals would cavort with leeches and besides, working with him is the only way Heather gets to see her husband. It just makes good sense, though the investment of over a million dollars of their own money into the brand might make less sense. Still, they are going to try to sell the line on HSN and, if it goes well, they can add another moat to the east wing of their new castle. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them because a moat that’s only on the west side of the castle will just look stupid.
Over at Shannon’s home, her daughters are frantically making a meal in the kitchen while Shannon and David descend their grand staircase overdressed in their finest cruise ship refinery. Acting rather adorably, their kids have set up an evening where they have turned the dining room into a restaurant so they can give their beleaguered parents a date night. This is, of course, the kind of thing that all children do so Shannon should not worry for even a second that her children very clearly understand the misery that is permeating the walls and hallways of their home almost constantly while she walks around muttering that at least she hasn’t gotten a divorce. That said, what these kids are doing is very sweet and I was pleasantly shocked when Shannon didn’t bellow that she wanted vodka instead while her young daughter was pouring her some Pellegrino.
“We made this dinner because we want to make your relationship better and to help you talk about your relationship,” says one of the kids in what has to be the most depressing sentence I’ve heard in a long time – either on TV or off.
“In life, you’re going to have bumps in the road,” responds her mother sagely. “It’s how you handle them and move forward.”
Just to be clear, I think what Shannon means is that it will always behoove you to star on an invasive reality show at the exact time when your marriage is in shambles because, if anything can heal a broken heart, it’s being willing to broadcast your emotional agony to the masses. I tell you, from blood-sucking skincare practices to parenting, I learn so much watching this show.
Shannon tells her kids that she and their father are committed to moving forward and to being happy, but she says it with tears flooding her eyes and with a mile of coldness separating her from her husband. It’s impossible to doubt that she really wants to be happy, but at this point it’s just as impossible to ever believe that this woman will ever be happy and I think everybody in that dining room knows it.
Back in Oklahoma, the tornado blessedly didn’t blow down Briana’s home. Briana looks tired, though; she’s always holding at least one baby and she is sitting on the sofa doing just that when Vicki springs a surprise on her. Briana is getting a new car because she’s been so crabby and Vicki doesn’t know how to fix that so she is going to try to buy away her unhappiness – at least fleetingly – by presenting her with a new truck! In fact, there are three SUVs currently set up in front of the house that are topped with big red bows like they are cherries on top of sundaes that can also drive through the snow and Briana gets to pick her favorite. (Know what this scene makes me realize? That I forgive my mother for things way too easily. Sure, I love him and all, but if I had at least attempted to ban my stepfather from family gatherings for a while – like, five years minimum – maybe I’d be gifted with a new truck too. Mommy? If you’re reading this, I would like a Land Rover in either army green or black. The bow atop my brand new luxury vehicle is not required because I’m so low-maintenance.)
In sunny California, there is not a storm in sight until Tamra and Eddie go out to dinner together. She is still thrilled to be away from working at CUT Fitness because now she and her husband like one another again and he makes sure to toss in a comment that it’s date night so he’ll be getting laid later on and I kind of think that there is nobody on this planet more perfect for a woman like Tamra than a man like Eddie. It’s really so sweet when trashy souls collide. Anyway, during dinner Tamra brings up the controversy that now exists between Vicki and Meghan and Tamra basically lets it come out that she is “confused” over whether or not Brooks has cancer. She has no idea what to think, but she does know that she should not say a word about any of it to Vicki, lest her best friend maul her limb from limb. One thing she does say a few words about is that she gave her thirty-year-old son over eight thousand dollars for rent without telling Eddie about any of it prior. Eddie is annoyed and wants to make sure that both Tamra and Ryan realize this is a loan and not a gift and that he is not about to work his well-sculpted-at-CUT ass off to support another man’s family. “Let him grow up and be a man,” insists Eddie – and the guy has an excellent point here and the two stare one another down and swallow some drinks so they can make it through the meal without behaving in a way that could be seen as less than holy for a woman who is about to be baptized on basic cable.
Back in Oklahoma, Briana and Vicki sit outside and Briana thanks her mother for the car and tells her that she feels a little uncomfortable accepting such an opulent gift. She also tells her mother that they will be in Orange County in about a week and a half and Vicki immediately launches into the sleeping arrangements of Briana’s family when they stay with her. The problem here is that Briana is not staying in a house with Brooks. She would rather stay in a hotel and it doesn’t really matter to her that Brooks will be away on business. His essence will still be there and he makes her physically ill and she mutters that she feels uncomfortable and that’s when Vicki’s calm demeanor dies a sudden death and she asks if Briana really wants to discuss this on camera. Honestly, hearing that sentence is kind of a fucking relief. It tells me that there are things that Vicki at least attempts to keep off-camera and I’d think that there’s something somewhat noble about that, but then I remember that her privacy ship has sailed and already capsized. It’s been too long now that Vicki has brazenly brandished her entire life in front of the cameras. We’ve seen the divorce and the renewing of vows and the break-ups and the screaming and the total intoxication. We’ve seen her fight with more women than I’ve met in my entire life. We’ve seen her dance on bars and vomit on ships. We’ve seen it all, so the fact that she wants Briana to whisper about how vile she finds her mother’s boyfriend when cameras aren’t around comes off as silly. In fact, it’s almost as moronic as shooing the crew out the door so the conversation between you and your daughter can be private WHILE YOU ARE BOTH WEARING MICROPHONES.
Next week, Shannon throws a party where alcohol will be served and Brooks and Tamra fight because she knows that soon she will be absolved of all of her sins and she’d better get her animosity out now.
I really hope that Pastor Mike is able to secure himself some backup…
Nell Kalter is the author of the books Student and That Year, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle.