As the world sinks deeper into chaos and calamity, I spent a lot of time thinking about the women of Potomac this week. Maybe it was just a way to distract myself, or maybe it was through the lens of something bigger. Last week’s fight between Candiace and Monique, while relentlessly entertaining, began to take a different shape in my mind with context. Both women were clearly embarrassed almost immediately after it happened, especially Candiace who spoke about not wanting to play into stereotypes. These stereotypes, of course, are incredibly unfair. Throughout the years on the Real Housewives franchise, we’ve seen white women scream and yell and throw hands all while barely taking a hit publicly. But, if you’re even paying the slightest bit of attention, you know that Candiace and Monique don’t get to play by the same rules. So, it begs the question: where do we go from here?
After a lengthy retrospective on the dissolution of Candiace and Monique’s friendship, we begin to answer the question. Monique suddenly has amnesia about what went down inside the barn, so she’s organizing a focus group of sorts to figure out why she beat Candiace’s ass. I actually do believe that Monique is fuzzy on the details, but it also has the feel of somebody who is desperately trying to backtrack and save as much face as she can.
Karen, who has volunteered to host this tribal council, caters the morning with croissants and mini muffins from Le Pain Quotidien like it’s some kind of quarterly budget meeting. Gizelle, who never misses an opportunity to make a moment about herself, brings a personal security guard named KB with her. What exactly is this man KB going to do that the swath of production crew members weren’t able to do at the barn? KB is all for show and I hope Gizelle paid him well and he ate seventeen mini quiches for his trouble.
Ashley, of course, arrives with baby Dean in tow. I want to see a buddy comedy starring KB and Dean. Wendy arrives in a studded leather jacket, looking like a woman ready to go to war. It sent a chill up my spine. Wendy deals with crusty politicians during live appearances on MSNBC…she can deal with T’Challa’s mom. Of course, Wendy also wants to address the stories, allegedly leaked by Monique, that frame the fight as an act of self-defense. Make no mistake about it: Wendy is here as Candiace’s defense lawyer.
Before Monique can even arrive, the women have a pointed, difficult conversation about what the fight means for the reputation of Black women. This is another reason Potomac is so great. These are smart women who understand the nuance of their actions. Robyn, who usually stays out of the muck, calls Monique “a bad role model for her daughter.” They’re all upset, and rightfully so. Well, except Ashley, who attempts to make some strange argument about holding women to an unfair standard that doesn’t apply to men. I…see what you’re going for, Ashley. But she got shot down quicker than a pheasant on the first day of hunting season. Gizelle, Robyn and Wendy are three women who have already very much made up their minds. Monique is about to walk into a firing squad.
We take a brief sojourn to therapy with Candiace. Her therapist, who seems to occupy some kind of model showroom in the middle of the woods, actually seems to be legitimate in a way that most therapists on Housewives are decidedly not. While Monique doesn’t seem to remember anything about the fight, Candiace gives a play-by-play of every single thing that transpired. It’s clear that she considers herself the victim here (and in many ways she is!), but there’s still a lack of self-awareness and ownership. Monique crossed a line, but Candiace took her all the way there. I do think it’s a positive step, however, that Candiace is seeing an actual therapist about the incident, rather than…Monique’s strategy of getting roasted in Karen’s living room with absolutely zero opportunity for self-improvement.
On that note, Monique finally arrives at Karen’s house seemingly unaware that she’s about to enter the lion’s den. She sits down and immediately gets emotional as she tells her side of the story and…it actually seems very genuine. Monique is vulnerable and apologetic and raw and it’s really wild how quickly I can warm up to these women. The words, though, are not having the same impact on most of these lionesses.
As Gizelle takes notes on her phone, Robyn turns into a crime scene investigator and says that Monique’s assertion that Candiace threw wine in her face doesn’t hold water because “Candiace had white wine in her glass, you had red wine on your face…the reason you had red wine on your face is because of the velocity of the table of things flying everywhere.” This is some Zapruder shit! It’s all a bit odd, because Monique is owning up to everything, but not getting any credit. In no way is Monique attempting to defend herself. It’s quite the opposite, really.
Meanwhile, back at the makeshift therapist’s office with white brick walls and a fireplace for some reason, Candiace is reeling from being attacked on social media after the fight news went public. Still, though, she can’t take any accountability for being the instigator. See, herein lies the problem. I think Candiace has been able to talk a lot of big game throughout her life but, for whatever reason, the consequences haven’t been there. For the first time, she took it to the edge with a woman who has absolutely nothing to lose. Monique is, quite clearly, on the verge of a breakdown. She was just looking for an excuse to take some anger out on something, someone, someplace. Candiace should have known better. Again, she was dealing with a woman who has spent hours potty training a bird. SHE. IS. NOT. WELL.
This odd ping-pong game continues, as we transition back to Karen’s house and, lo and behold, I think it’s Ashley who’s coming at this with the most level of heads. Ashley essentially says “you admitted you fucked up, don’t do it again, work on yourself,” which seems pretty fair to me. It’s not like Monique shot and killed a golden retriever puppy in a PetSmart. She attacked somebody who asked to get attacked.
Gizelle and Robyn don’t have the patience to coddle Monique, and their reaction to all of this is clearly amplified by the fact that they just don’t like her very much. The fight was all the ammunition they needed to excommunicate her. Gizelle climbs atop a very, very high horse and insinuates that she can no longer be around Monique because she and her philandering boyfriend have a reputation to protect. Gizelle, the call is coming from inside the house.
Monique cries again, holds a baby and says she’s going to talk to her pastor. She’s basically a high-ranking D.C. politician embroiled in a cheating scandal. Unlike that scenario, however, I really feel for Monique! This episode really threw me for a loop, y’all. It was basically a Real Housewives bottle episode that dealt with some very real, very tough shit.
Based on the second-half season trailer, it does not appear that Candiace and Monique film together moving forward. As most Housewives aficionados know, there are dueling lawsuits to come. It speaks to the power and depth of Potomac that, honestly, I’m not even upset about the fact that their storyline will, I assume, be largely ignored for the rest of the season. I legitimately care about these women and want the best for them. It’s not something I’m used to feeling while watching this God forsaken franchise. These are complicated women with complex relationships and it’s a fascinating ride watching them evolve.
Until next time, I’m going to work on my spec script for “KB & Dean Take Manhattan.”