When we last left our princesses of the Beltway, new factions were being formed and new alliances were being forged. In the wake of the Candiace and Monique barn fight, a definitive line has been drawn in the sand. It’s not so much Team Candiace vs. Team Monique, as much as it’s Team Let’s Forgive Monique vs. Team We Never Liked Monique In The First Place And We’re Using This As A Chance To Ruin Her Life.
To kick things off this week, Karen, firmly on Team Forgiveness, pays a phone call to fellow Forgiveness team member Ashley. Karen, for some reason, has been asked to attend her high school’s Homecoming and she’s, for some reason, inviting Ashley. Gizelle, the president of Team Ruin Her Life, has also been granted an invitation to this hometown coronation. It’s going to be three contentious peas in a very confounding pod.
Ashley arrives for the trip without Dean and with a wool onesie and pink heels. What an absolute shock to the system to find that Gizelle isn’t the worst dressed woman in the room. Karen’s husband Ray does not accompany the girls on the trip, which Gizelle interprets as a lack of an invitation on Karen’s behalf. But, let’s be honest, this was every bit Ray saying “I’m not spending two hours in a car with Ashley to go shake hands with your second-cousins.” Ray was undoubtedly asleep on the couch within minutes of that front door closing. Good for him.
Meanwhile, Candiace is arranging cookies and strawberries on a weird platter for the imminent arrival of Robyn, a woman who’s never said no to an embroidered baseball cap. Robyn is here to debrief Candiace about the meeting with Monique at Karen’s house last week. She tells Candiace that Monique is not the least bit remorseful for her actions. I can imagine it’s a difficult thing to hear that your former friend doesn’t feel bad about assaulting you in public, and Candiace accepts the news with the eye-dabbing prowess of an absolute professional. She’s made for this moment.
With the deft hand of a reality television master, Candiace gently pivots and says that she’s considering pressing charges against Monique. Ever so slightly, she throws Karen under the bus and suggests that it was her idea. Before she says too much, however, Candiace pivots again and asks Robyn why the hell she hasn’t been paying her taxes! Robyn, you see, is all over “the blogs” for owing $90k to the damn IRS. Between this and Monique spending $200k to “launch her podcast,” I truly believe these women should not be entrusted with any sort of money. Stop buying baseball hats, Robyn!
We arrive on the farm that belongs to Karen’s family and she tells the very powerful story about how her ancestors were once held as slaves on the land they now own. It’s always nice to get these little anecdotal peeks into Karen’s life and backstory. I think, in many ways, the tumult of Karen’s marriage has humbled her. The veneer has been cracked and she’s finding newfound warmth and comfort in being around her family because she doesn’t have to keep up appearances.
After Karen and Ashley hop onboard a combine because the producers said “we didn’t come all the way out here for nothing,” Monique calls and Team Forgiveness and Team Ruin Her Life are forced to address the elephant that followed them from Potomac. Gizelle, because she’s always hated Monique, has no interest in reconciliation. She can barely even hear Monique’s name. Karen, meanwhile, who has been acting as a confidant to Monique during this time acknowledges that, yes, she may have told Candiace to sue her. There’s playing both sides, and then there’s whatever Karen is doing. She’s trying to please everybody, to a fault. It’s going to come back to bite her.
Back in Potomac, Wendy is grabbing lunch with her surgeon sister Ivy, who is decked out in full hair and make-up despite saying “I just finished up my last patient.” Wendy confides in Ivy that she wants to drop her professor duties and instead focus on being a political commentator full-time. I’m not entirely sure that’s even a thing, but I’m not challenging Dr. Wendy. Side note on this scene: how much damn food did these women order? We see both of them ordering “Bayou penne” and then, at different times, the table is scattered with wings, flatbreads…calamari, perhaps!?! Wendy and Ivy know how to eat and, for that, I respect them. Ivy warns Wendy that, if she does indeed want to leave Johns Hopkins, she should be ready for their mother to be very disappointed. There’s something that isn’t sitting right with me here. In doing a little digging, Wendy is listed as an “assistant professor” on the Johns Hopkins website. I don’t quite understand what she actually does. Or did. Or wants to do. I’m not saying she’s not impressive, but this entire idea that she’s throwing away her illustrious teaching career feels a little far-fetched. Don’t come after me, Wendy. Please. I AM JUST CONFUSED.
The long, agonizing wait is over because Juan Dixon is finally back on my television screen. Looking like a gorgeous newsboy, Juan just wants to have a nice, peaceful dinner…and in strolls Tatyana. Robyn’s alter ego looks like a Forever 21 mannequin from the pits of hell. Robyn, why are you out here buying new wigs?! PAY YOUR TAXES! This entire charade is like a bad Intro to Improv sketch and it’s making my skin crawl. Robyn is upset that her taxes have become the topic of conversation when she was the one to willfully bring them up. Robyn clearly wants more sympathy and support, but Juan is keeping all of it at arm’s length. Juan Dixon ain’t no dummy! This is Robyn’s fight, not his. If she ever needs to go on the run, at least she’s got the ensemble ready.
We head back to Karen’s hometown of Surry for the most depressing parade in the history of mankind. Karen is throwing candy at people in lawn chairs who I think were just, like, sitting there anyway. As Karen revels in being the most famous person in a town of 35, Ashley and Gizelle have an illuminating conversation about marriage. It feels like Ashley is desperate for somebody, anybody to tell her that leaving Michael is an acceptable option. Her face lights up when she talks about being a single mom, her entire posture changes when she’s not around him. She just needs a push. Gizelle, never to be trusted when it comes to advice about relationships, doesn’t pick up on the cue and essentially says “well, people change.” Please, somebody tell sweet, naive Ashley that leaving your cheating, emotionally abusive husband makes you a hero.
Candiace and her mom are at the adoption shelter looking for dogs. Candiace seems to think that if she can keep a dog alive, she can keep a baby alive! That’s not how it works! Seeing all of these dogs in kennels made me really depressed. Don’t do this to me, Bravo. Meeting Tatyana is one thing. Meeting Mowgli is another. I can’t handle it. This entire trip is, of course, just so Candiace’s mom can get some screen time surrounding the Monique drama. You know her mom blurted out “when are we filming?” before asking “are you okay?” when Candiace told her what happened. Her mom is advocating for legal action to be taken and I won’t be surprised if she offers to secure a legal certificate online so she can represent her.
Back in Surry, Karen takes Gizelle and Ashley back to the church where she grew up and, as she says many times, where her parents were laid to rest. It’s another layer of Karen’s persona being peeled back. When she talks about her parents, Karen becomes very childlike and timid. She reverts back to that small town little girl. In many ways, I think that’s why the slow dissolution of her marriage has become amplified since the loss of her parents. She’s desperate for the nurture and care that her mother and father provided, and Ray isn’t capable of providing it.
The Monique-sized hole in the episode is finally filled, as she and Chris welcome their pastor and his wife into their home in an attempt to figure out why Monique beat up her friend inside a barn. The pastor is wearing a full-on tracksuit, looking like he’s ready to help somebody find a lower cholesterol level instead of finding God. He gives a bunch of generic, Hallmark advice, but it resonates with Monique. She gets introspective, apologetic, emotional and says *dun dun dun* that she needs to sit down with Candiace.
But let’s just squash that excitement immediately because, next week, Candiace goes and files second-degree assault charges against Monique and the dream of a one-on-one is dashed. I think most astute Housewives fans knew that we weren’t getting that anyway, but let me tell you something. I’m going to need these two to meet face-to-face at the reunion. I don’t care what sort of legal hurdles need to be jumped over. It’s all I have to live for at this point. Make it happen.
This episode was very much a breather after the intensity, chaos and tension of the past few weeks. It gave me a new appreciation for the strange, quirky trifecta of Karen, Ashley and Gizelle. Sometimes all it takes is fresh scenery for these women to sparkle. I look forward to next week when I hate them all again.
Around and around and around we go.