Well, ladies and gentlemen, it has been a week! There are bottles of wine strewn about my apartment, pizza boxes are stacked in the corner, I know every single bit of information about Steve Kornacki’s childhood. But…we survived. We got to the other side. And as a reward, it’s time for the ladies of Potomac to go on the first group trip of the season (Monique’s terrifying, creaky lake house does not count). On the topic of AMERICA, it’s nice not having to worry about how these women will represent our fine country overseas. There’s no Shannon Storms-Beador wearing a sombrero in the airport, there’s no Ramona Singer ordering around the wait staff. I hope these are not famous last words. Let’s go to Portugal!
Before we can leave, of course, we need seventeen montages of the ladies packing. As Robyn fills an entire suitcase with bedazzled hats, she and Wendy talk about the countersuit that’s been filed by Monique against Candiace. The two of them are positively shocked, despite the development being the most obvious news in the world. Wendy says she’s looking forward to seeing how things play out in Portugal which doesn’t really make any sense because you’ve ostracized Monique from the group and, therefore, she will not be in attendance.
Candiace, meanwhile, is using the lawsuit as an excuse to buy new luggage. This woman is surrounded by too many “yes men.” She knows exactly who to call in order to get the validation that she needs, and it’s slowly destroying her life. There’s nobody challenging her decision-making, which is evidenced on a micro level by her outfit consisting of a Christmas onesie and a suede hat, and on a macro level by her incessant need to be a victim. With Monique literally out of the picture for the time being, it’s only a matter of time before she finds somebody else to blame for all the unhappiness in her life.
Before she jets off, Karen has lunch with Monique at some odd diner. It feels like the first time we’ve seen Monique out in public in years. There’s such a freshness and a palpable energy between these two. Karen tells Monique that she’s not invited on the trip, which is really a blessing in disguise because I truly cannot fathom being around Gizelle and Robyn together on an airplane. In another Beautiful Karen Huger Pivot™ (now a trademarked term), Monique asks her why she advised Candiace to sue her. With the deft touch of a master, Karen makes a silly joke and maneuvers the conversation in a different direction. It’s almost too sly to even notice. I literally learn things from Karen every week. She gives me an education. Karen Huger remains a beacon for us all.
Watching Michael Darby attempt to parent is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever witnessed and I now I need a cold shower. The man can’t even talk to his infant son without saying shit like “suck on it.” What a weird, deranged man. Ashley says she will be Michael’s support system if he feels the desire to cheat on her when she’s overseas, and he can call her at any time. What in the absolute fuck is this? The man isn’t some kind of addict. He’s just an asshole. I need you to see this, Ashley! Anyway, it comes to light that Ashley has agreed to help Monique’s case against Candiace, by writing a statement about when she was nearly attacked by a knife in her home. And…here we go. Candiace’s chance to pivot. Something tells me hers won’t be as nuanced as Karen’s.
It’s finally time to take off for Portugal. Side-note: I need all the footage from Karen and Wendy sitting next together on that plane. Turn it into a primetime special. Put it on pay-per-view. I don’t care. I will sell my plasma. Upon arrival at the hotel, Ashley greets the hotel staff in Catalan instead of Portuguese, so perhaps my initial optimism was misplaced.
After Candiace eats some lipstick and Gizelle video chats with Jamal in the pitch dark, the ladies head downstairs for dinner. Once seated, Karen orders a full-on glass of milk. Like, cow’s milk. Karen says it’s for her ulcer, Ashley contends it’s so she doesn’t get too lit. Is that a thing? Suddenly Karen has transformed into a 1920’s housewife who gets all of her medical advice via hearsay. Whatever the case, throw that glass of milk on the floor, Karen, because I need the full experience. As the food arrives, Wendy tells the group that she’s named after Little Miss Spicy Chicken Sandwich herself. It’s a fun story and it’s the kind of anecdote that makes me hesitate to throw Wendy out with the bathwater. Hopefully this trip allows her to shine, away from the pressures of home and keeping up appearances.
Gizelle, who is wearing camo pants and a Christmas tree skirt around her forehead, asks Ashley if her husband has been fucking her. I swear to God, this woman. She’s in a loveless relationship with a cheating pastor in another state and she thinks she’s god damn Delilah. Karen, being the queen she is, turns it around on Gizelle and says “your lying ass husband hasn’t been around supporting you, so where do you get off questioning us?” (Not a direct quote.) In a bit of karmic elegance, the ladies start to gang up on Gizelle a little bit, even Robyn. When your best friend starts questioning your relationship in a public setting, it might be time to look in the mirror. But not before you take that headband off, because…oh girl.
Once back in her room, Ashley checks in on her philandering husband and, in a shocking twist, he’s out philandering. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me one hundred times, it’s time to get a divorce. Once she reaches him, Michael (or Mickey Darby, according to Ashley’s phone) says he simply “cannot be molested like this” and hangs up. In a move out of a Hallmark movie, Ashley pulls up a photo of Dean and, I can only assume, cries herself to sleep while staring at the screen. It’s hard to see Ashley constantly struggle like this, but I’m also desperate for her to leave this man. As a friend (and yes, these women are my friends), there’s only so much you can say after a while.
Robyn, in pajamas, and Gizelle, STILL SOMEHOW WEARING THIS THING ON HER HEAD, have a little kiki about the night. Gizelle is absolutely stunned (!), appalled (!), chagrined (!) that anybody dare question her relationship with Jamal. Girl, take every seat in the damn world. Gizelle demands that, next time, Robyn stays in her lane and defends her until the cows come home. It’s very clear that Gizelle isn’t interested in real friendships, but rather individuals who support her shoddy decision-making. Gizelle and Candiace are two peas in a dysfunctional pod.
The following morning, we’re graced with the unfortunate news that Candiace brought her Post-Its to Portugal. She haphazardly sticks up notes that read “you’re okay” and “forgive for you” on the bathroom mirror in a real sign of sociopathy. Ma’am, this narrative is older than Ray Huger and I will not stand for it anymore. A bully finally getting their comeuppance does not deserve sympathy, it deserves a round of applause.
Karen and Ashley have a kiki of their own, except this one is rooted in a little bit of sanity. The stand-off between Karen and Gizelle is long-simmering and it’s almost like they’ve been tip-toeing around each other for years, each hesitant to cast the first real, meaningful dagger. I hope it’s eventually Karen and it goes straight through the heart. Ashley tells Karen about the Michael drama from last night, but again she blames herself for how it went down. Testing me here, Ashley Darby! I’m just thinking about what a shining, shimmering goddess Ashley would be as a single woman. I hope we get there someday.
After the ladies ride cable cars above “the city of Portugal,” as Karen calls it, the group arrives for a beautiful lunch and Ashley sits down at the table with her lactating breasts out. It’s moments like this that make you think she and Michael actually make a lot of sense. I adore new mothers, but new mothers also suddenly think that their insane behavior is somehow justified and normal. Girl, take a few minutes and do your work in the bathroom, we’re trying to drink poom pooms.
As some of the women do their best Jennifer Coolidge in “Best In Show” impression by talking about how much they love soup, Wendy decides to unbutton her disagreement with Karen after buttoning it up mere hours ago. Predictably, she starts talking about her damn doctorate again as the rest of the group nods along. This is not about Wendy proving something to Karen or anybody else, it’s about proving something to herself. Nobody brings something up (unprovoked, mind you) so many times without there being something wrong or unsettled below the surface. Wendy is a very accomplished woman, yet here she is sitting at a table with a woman pumping breast milk. And I think that destroys her.
Karen and Gizelle resume their delicate war of words, which veers slightly into indelicate territory when Karen calls Gizelle “Satan.” The comment doesn’t really stick, for whatever reason. Perhaps Gizelle was too busy calling up Jamal on video chat again, apparently a huge indication of one’s love. It just strengthens Karen’s point, which is that Jamal “lives in your phone.” It’s not a nice or easy thing to say, but somebody like Gizelle is very gullible when it comes to love and attention. It’s not that she doesn’t think she deserves more, it’s that she thinks she’s already getting it. The smoke and mirrors of Jamal Bryant are cheap and flimsy as hell, but for Gizelle, they might as well be top of the line. You just need to take one look at her home decor to realize that she’s not one to be trusted with taste.
So, there we have it. After a week of nail-biting and stress and, ultimately, sweet victory, the ladies of Potomac provided a sweet balm to tie the knot. However, with Candiace and Ashley about to square off, the calm before the storm is waning.