Real Housewives of New Jersey: The Second World War Begins

On last night's wander into the black forests of the Garden State, we saw a sad woman at a crossroads. We saw an angry woman coming undone. We saw women who were trying to be better, but failing.

This was something of a transitional episode. We were setting the scene for what's to come in one week's time, an epic blowdown of magisterial proportions. It will involve shrieking and women falling down and hyperventilating, and, like any true blowdown, the police. But for now, there is only this. The waiting. The anxious rumbles before the quake. The chicken skin-yellow sky of the terrible storm swirling our way. Let's stand in the eerie quiet and see what we can see.

Ah yes, what's that there, can you make it out? It's the arched roofs and gilded doors of a very fancy shoppe, an emporium perhaps. Aha! It's the Posche store, where one can get a very "classful" Posche automobile. The steering wheel is conveniently located in the middle, so you can drive in England and the US and A. Do you like windshield wipers? Then you will love windshield cats, who lick all the water off, eventually. They live in the engine and eat spark plugs. A Posche is the finest off-brand luxury combustion device since the Marseillesdees, a French vehicle that runs on orange peels and sour wine. Who runs such a fancy dealership? Why Kim X, of course, a woman with a wispy white dead dandelion tuft of hair and a sharp, ambitious face. While she does bask often in the riches that the Posche dealership affords her, she wants more. She wants in with the Housewives, so very very desperately. She wants in so badly that she's been playing both sides of the field. She cozies up to Jacqueline, Teresa & Co. and cackles up to the notorious bug-witch Danielle. Kim X. is an amateur, so you'll forgive her for forgetting that she is being filmed by television cameras, which steal your essence and then rebroadcast it into America's homes. She does seem to forget that, so she thinks it's totally cool to just be completely two-faced. Oh Kim X. Ohhhh Kim.

So first in this episode she drove her Posche Flamingo™ coupe over to a restaurant where Jacqueline and Teresa were eating. "Wait, is that centimeters or inches," Teresa was grumbling, while Jacqueline held a ruler to her forehead. Jacqueline frowned, "It's centimeters, honey." Teresa was about to throw a small fit but then she looked up and saw Kim X. coming, so she slapped the ruler out of Jacqueline's hand, hard, and rose to say hello to Kim X. Jacqueline sulked and kissed her boo-boo and searched the table for her sippy-cup. Kim X folded her long Jack Skellington limbs into her chair and, as the air conditioning blew parts of her hair off, wasted wishes, she told them about a big event she was planning. See Posche not only sells various wheeled machines, they also sell clothing. Very interesting, bold swaths of cloth that the ladies of Franklin Lakes use to lash around their murderous frames in various creative ways. When Kim X. gets a new shipment of cloth from the mysterious, ghostly old steamer ship that appears out of the mist and docks at Elizabeth on the same day every year, she throws a fashion show party to get all the girls interested. (She needs desperately to sell as many of the clothes as possible, if only to make the terrifying trip into the ship's metal belly worth it, with the screaming and moaning she hears from down dark, dripping corridors and the lone, withered old man with no eyes who greets her when she raps three times on the ship's door.) It's quite a big event held at one of North-Central New Jersey's 36,000 event spaces, and all the ladies in town want to come. This year, Kim X. would really like it if Jacqueline and Teresa would go.

But they, of course, are not so sure. See, Kim X. is friends with Danielle and Danielle will probably be at the fashion show. Jacqueline is scared. Twice a week she's been talking with that nice lady, Dr. Karen, whose office is pleasant and has lots of bright, soft toys that she can play with. One day Dr. Karen leaned in close to Jacqui and said in her soothing ladyvoice, "Jacqueline honey, why don't you tell me about these pictures that you drew?" and she pointed to all the pictures that Jacqueline had drawn in art class, of a fissure-thin raven woman with bug eyes and red (blood?) spewing from her mouth, a thick black crayon halo surrounding her. And, after having been too scared to tell her for weeks, Jacqueline finally said to Dr. Karen, in a quiet voice, "That's the mean lady Danielle..." And Dr. Karen took in a quick breath, something was wrong. But then the moment passed and Dr. Karen was calm again, comforting again. "I see. And did this Danielle... Did she... hurt you, Jacqueline?" And Jacqueline nodded, squeezing her favorite Puffalump tighter. "She hurts everyone." And, when Jacqueline was sitting in the waiting room with Teresa while Caroline had grownup talk with Dr. Karen, she could hear from behind the closed door Dr. Karen saying "Something is seriously wrong here, Caroline. She needs to stay away from this Danielle at all costs."

So Jacqueline is really not supposed to be seeing Danielle, ever. She just makes everything bad. Jacqueline does not think this is a good idea. But of course Teresa does. Teresa is the wild one, always sneaking cigarettes and talking to older boys. And she doesn't have a hard time suckering Jacqueline into her bad girl plans. "I think we should go, I think Kim here invited us, so we should go." A strange, sinister look flashed quickly across Kim X.'s face and she said "Excellent..." and then Teresa said, to make sure Kim knew that she was in charge, "Though I don't really trust you being friends with Danielle." Kim X. waved her hand and said "Honey, we're not at the trust point yet. We'll get there. For now we're just having fun." Wasn't that so strange and blunt of Kim X. to say? It was kind of admirable, actually. "No, Teresa, we are not friends yet, I'm just inviting you to a party. But eventually you can trust me. Maybe." Who cares that it's probably not true. It was still a ballsy thing for her to say, especially considering how badly she wants to be on the show. Ten points for Slytherin, Kim.

And that was that. Jacqueline is going. She hopes nothing will go wrong. But of course something will go wrong! In the next scene, Danielle found out that Kim X. had invited two of her many, many sworn enemies to the party and she was angry. She was so angry. She threw a heavy cauldron across the room and her cat, Morgana, ran and hid behind the curio cabinet. "Bring me the still-beating heart of Kim X.!!" she bellowed. But no one, not even Scraps, was around to do her bidding, so she'd have to do it herself. She jumped into her hearse and peeled off toward the Posche store. But when she got there, Kim wasn't there. No, instead it was some other wispy-haired lady who was on the phone. Danielle said "Where's Kim, I need Kim," and the woman put up a dismissive finger, because she was on the phone, because the producers had probably told her to be a little bit snippy when a frothing witch came barging into the store. This really set Danielle off. She stormed out of the store and paced in the parking lot. How dare this strange woman deny her, Danielle of Salem, immediate access to Kim. How dare she! Another enemy! Another terrible person persecuting poor, constantly put-upon Danielle. So she stomped back into the store and said, "Just have her call me when she gets back," and disappeared. The woman behind the desk shrugged her shoulders and said "I didn't catch your name..." Even though, duhhh, of course she knew exactly who it was. That was a disingenuous bit of staging, wasn't it? That was such a line she was fed or decided to say, even though it wasn't true. Ah well.

Kim X. got back to the store shortly after with a pretty young thing named Alina, and the wisp-woman receptionist told her the story and she shook her head. Oh Danielle... And then her phone rang and it was, of course, Danielle, raging in her car, saying she couldn't believe how terribly, terribly disrespected she was, being asked to wait two minutes like that. The nerve! The dreadful nerve. Kim shook her head some more and started to explain, but Danielle hung up. That was that? No, that was not that. Of course Danielle did a U-turn on the highway, causing a fourteen-car pileup and at least several deaths, and roared back to the Posche store. She crashed through the glass door, grabbed the little greeting bell and crushed it in her hands. "KIM!!!!!!!!" she screamed. And Kim was there, smiling at her with her thin fake-friend smile. She tried to soothe Danielle, told her that the wisp-woman meant no slight, and that she herself had meant no slight by inviting Jacqueline and Teresa. It was just business, she wanted people there. So what, who cayuhs? That kind of thing. Danielle gnashed her teeth and snorted from her snout and finally said "OK, I'll be there. But they'd better not cross me." Kim X. nodded and patted Danielle's shoulder. "Good. They won't." Danielle turned to leave and, on her way out, rammed a jewel-hilted dagger deep into the wisp-woman's throat. As the poor receptionist lay on the desk, bleeding to death, Alina stood in a corner, making a mental note to tell her Russian handlers all about this scene. Mr. Putin would surely be interested in this American fact, wouldn't he?

The stage was all set for the fashion nightmare, so we then took some time to turn to another storyline. This one was about sad, lonely Caroline. You see her kids are all grown and she feels terribly bored and alone. Her scenes began with a very interesting shot. We saw the outside of her house, which is normal, usually their houses are used as establishing shots to show us how rich and wonderful they are. But in this one, there was a person. There was... Albie. Our fallen Adonis god, the fizzled-out star. He was walking glumly to his black Lexus, his gaze fixed on the dull gray sky. His hair looked darker. His eyes seemed newly black and beady. It was very unsettling. And it was, even more unsettlingly, all we saw of him this episode. A quick, brief, throwaway shot. Well not that throwaway. It spoke volumes. I'm so glad that Andy Cohen tapped Terrence Malick to film this episode.

Anyway, back to Caroline. Yeah, she's got empty nest fever. Even though her nest isn't really empty. Her kids still live at home! But she feels like they're not around as much anymore because they all have lives and loves and "jobs" of their own, so what do they need her for? All she has left is her dawgs. Well, her husband is around too, but not very much. He's always at the Brownstone, or sitting on the porch late at night, smoking a cigar and staring out watery-eyed over the cold green lawn. The house is echoy and sad. Caroline knows something must be done, lest she go crazy. More than anything else, she wants her husband to retire. That's what she'd really like. So they can spend time together and do things and she won't feel all used up and over. Well, actually, she's a little scared for him to full-out retire. Because that might be too much time together. But she'd at least like him to cut back his hours. Unfortunately, he doesn't really want to do that. So they are at an impasse. Caroline doesn't know where the time went. Children are five and then they are twenty. Children are pulling at your pant leg and then they are disappearing down the driveway, all wheels and smoke. (Careful! It won't be long now til they drag their feet to slow those circles down.) At least she still has Jacqueline to take care of. At least there's that.

Caroline went over the Jacqueline's house to speak with her and Teresa about this awful plan to go to the fashion show. She didn't approve. But if Jacqueline simply had to go, lest Teresa snicker at her and tease her in front of the boys, at least Caroline could give her some advice. So they sat at Jacqueline's ceremonial lemon table and drank their traditional brown goop drink (what was that? Bailey's?) and hashed things out. Caroline warned her to not let Danielle get a rise out of her. The best way to win is to not do anything at all. That way Danielle can fume and spit and curse all she wants, but she'll get nothing in return. It was perfectly reasonable, rational advice and Jacqueline seemed to take it to heart. Caroline was pleased. She'd done some good advising, some good parenting. And she was right. She had. Almost. You see, she made one tragic mistake. She forgot one, loop-haired thing. Teresa, of course, was sitting there too. And Caroline really should have leveled her gaze at Teresa and told her the same thing. Stay away. Don't get involved. Because of course Teresa is really the bad one, the gum-snapping, hair-twirling influencer who does things under the bleachers and hisses at girls she doesn't like when she's stumbling by at keggers in the woods. Teresa is the one who knows the backseat of a Camaro better than anyone. Teresa is the one who stole Mr. Gillardi's gradebook. Teresa is the one that Caroline should have counseled. But she didn't. And, because of that, tragedy struck.

The crows cawed and the wind howled and somewhere off in the forest, Taylor Lautner howled. A brave cameraman trained his camera on Danielle's house and it was time to see her getting ready. There was the sound of car wheels on gravel and up drove Kim G., whose Christian name is Debbie Reynolds. Well, Debbie didn't drive, per se. She has that driver, remember? Ricky or Sticky or Sweet Uncle Sassafras or whatever she's named him, she who just had to hire a black driver to chauffeur her around town. Ugh. Anyway, she went up and pulled the long rope door knocker and after a short moment, a demon's whisper, the heavy door swung open and there was Danielle, standing in two different pairs of jet black spike-heeled boots. Debbie walked into the dark stone foyer and clapped her hands and said "Ooooo, you look delicious." Danielle smiled. "Yeah I just wanna be naked in these ones," she said, pointing to her left leg, forcing us to think of her naked, in thigh-high boots. Once the janitor had come by and dragged away our corpses and mopped up all the tear-blood, Debbie told her to wear the other ones, with big five-inch spikes and frightening heavy metal buckles. "Yeah, it ain't like gonna be runnin' nowhere," Danielle said beautifully. And then it was time to leave.

So they piled into Old Cousin Windigo's town car and it was off to fashion! Could you feel the tension in your bones? Could you feel your body clenching in horrible anticipation? It was very suspenseful. Jaqueline and Teresa arrived first, had Caroline drop them off two blocks away. They were wearing wonderful fur shrugs and looked ready for something. Jacqueline had a kind of dumb, hopeful glimmer in her eyes. I think she really wanted to have some fun. Teresa, meanwhile, had that mean cat's eye look, she was going to pretend to be sweet and nice and then she would pounce. Teresa was looking for a fight, it seemed.

They were greeted by Kim X., whose bizarre wedge hair was even more bizarre and wedgy than usual. Can anyone out there explain to me what exactly her hair was doing there in the back? Did she know that it was sticking straight up like a duck's butt? It looked utterly ridiculous. I mean, Kim is already by definition utterly ridiculous, but even for her the hair was silly. Anyway. She slithered her arms around the girls and said "We're sitting at the same table." Oh she loved this fact. Loved that she was now getting in with the insiders. No longer would she have to beat her head against the brick wall dead-end that was Danielle, like stupid old Debbie Reynolds. No, Kim X. was entering the inner sanctum. Victory! The girls sat down and began chugging booze and then it was time, inexorable time, for Danielle to arrive. The town car pulled up and Fine Moses Jellyfish opened the door. Out came a withered stump, and it was Debbie. Out folded a nasty black heel, and it was Danielle. And then out thudded a big heavy Frankenstein shoe and it was... Danielle's bodyguard?? Sweet mercy, Danielle brought a frigging bodyguard with her. Man, this woman is tapped in the head, isn't she? She is still living in some '80s coke frenzy where thinks that people on a Bravo reality series in the year 2010 are going to physically assault her. (She may, actually, be right about that...) Well, no, really she doesn't actually believe that. She just wants to put that on. She thinks it really plays well on camera, that it really tugs at our sympathies. Oh poor Danielle, we're supposed to say. She's attacked from all directions. But we don't so say that. We just say, OH STUPID DANIELLE. YOU SEEM AND ARE SO STUPID. STOP BEING STUPID, DANIELLE. Because she is so stupid. She is so, so stupid.

The fashion show began. The girls sat at their separate tables and Danielle was furious. She couldn't believe that Kim X. would do such a bitchy nasty thing to her. How dare Kim X. sit at a table with the other two girls. It was ridiculous. I mean, Danielle is so much fun! She is so much fun when she sits at a table with a bunch of other women (the dim, devoted Donnas) at a supposed-to-be-fun event and complains the whole time, and says dumb bitchy things, and pretends to be on her phone. Doesn't she seem like such a fun person? Wouldn't you want to spend so much time with Danielle?? Gosh, that looks like a good time! Sitting silently and awkwardly while a hideous monster woman angrily embarrasses herself. I wish I could have been there then, don't you, Dina Manzo?

Anyway. The fashion girls were all walking the runway. Big, dopey, orange-skinned girls in the cursed bolts of fabric, their cubic zirconia eyes afire with wonder. And... wait... who was that? Who was that slumpfing up onto the runway, devoid of physical slouchy hat, but still quite a slouchy hat herself? Why it was Bouffant! Grand, wonderful Bouffant! Yes, Bouffant made modeltime. We learned in an earlier scene that Bouffant has always considered modeling, because of her height. Well, yes, because of her height. But also because of her laziness and her vanity and her ugly desire to be famous and everything awful and consumery and shitty about some teens today. "I want to be a model or a handbag designer or maybe a singer/actress." Not like "This is my lifelong dream that I am going to pursue and really work hard at." No, not like that at all. Like, "I want that and I am tangentially on TV, so can I have that please?" Ugh. "I've always thought about modeling." As if the only thing standing between Bouffant and a modeling career is her deciding to have one. It's like the American Idol people who say "This is my first movie premiere," with the implication that there will be more. Our entitled youngs deserve modeling careers and movie premieres and recording contracts and skincare lines these days. That's what they deserve. By dint of their wanting it. Thank for you enlightening the class, Bouffant. You may sit down.

But yeah, Bouffant was modeling and this reeeally pushed Danielle over the edge. She was being super dissed right now. And she would super diss right back. See, Bouffant's been sending her all those horrible, harassing Facebook messages. So for Kim X. to plan a big event that her livelihood depends on for the whole year and to not remember every stupid little fight that Danielle has gotten herself tangled up in, well that is just the ultimate slight. Danielle was done. No moah. She made snide comments about Bouffant — she was a "coke whore," she didn't know how to walk (to which Debbie geniusly responded "Well, they're not professionals, none of them are"), Kim X. clearly wanted bad models instead of good models, like Christine (who throws up at runway shows) — and then grabbed her bodyguard, Bricks, and declared it time to leave. Meanwhile Jacqueline was feeling panicked. She couldn't find Teresa or Bouffant and as she saw Danielle leaving, after a series of pointed looks across the room — to which the Donnas responded with their chicken-brained best, sad little glares and awkward huffs of breath — she was worried that there could be some kind of confrontation. She was trying to follow Auntie Caroline's advice! She was trying so hard. And poor Jacqueline, with her little egg-scramble brain, she was mostly succeeding. We were all so proud of her. But of course menthol-scented Teresa was going to go and ruin it all.

Jacqueline never found Bouffant. Who knows where she ended up, probably scooped right up by the Ford agency (which always sends a rep to the big Posche show in Secaucus) and sent off to Milan. Goodbye Bouffant! But Jacqueline did find Teresa. She was sitting in an arm chair in the hallway, waiting to "say hi" to Danielle. Teresa was trying to pretend that she was just going to be all nice, but you knew that she knew that that wasn't going to happen, ever. There was going to be a big bloody showdown and all you, the viewers at home, could do at this point was hold your breath and grab your faces and wait in horror for it to happen. And then there it was — how suddenly awful things happen, snakes bite so quick, sharks sever in seconds, and there is always that terrible moment right before — Danielle walking into the hallway and strutting past Teresa and Jacqui. You thought for a moment that Teresa would let them go, but of course she didn't. At just the last moment she said, in a strange quiet tone, "Danielle?" And Danielle whipped around, emerald Maleficent eyes burning. "Teresa... Hello." And then an odd conversation began, one about last year and the table-toss, about how Teresa wanted water to be under bridges or whatevuh. And then it got into a pointing game of who had to say hello first and then, of course, the room's table was turned and we all realized that we were suddenly caught in the middle of something very bad, the air had that terrible static tingle of menace and moment. Teresa called Danielle "honey" and Danielle said "don't call me honey" and Teresa, brilliantly, said "Is 'bitch' better?" and that was it. There was a sudden groan, the White Star Line's greatest triumph cracked in half, the Hindenburg sparked and rushed, the Archduke slumped in his carriage. And there was a clamor and the camera cut out. Til next week. We have to wait for the real horror next week. We get a reprieve. A terrible, nervous reprieve.

At that moment, Caroline was having a restaurant dinner with her husband, trying to work on her loneliness problem. Albert was saying something about maybe leaving work a little earlier, working more of a regular schedule, and Caroline was feeling a little satisfied and a little happy and then it hit her, a boxer's jab, a swift thud in her gut. Something was wrong. She knew something awful was happening. She realized, with a sickening plunge in her stomach, that she had warned Jacqueline, but forgotten entirely about Teresa. Dammit, it was always something, the one thing you forgot. The secret villain lurking quietly in the corner. Teresa! Goddamnit! She had forgotten. She had to do something. Albert was in mid sentence when all of a sudden his carrot-lidded bride bolted up from the table, ran off without explanation. He heard the car screeching in the parking lot. He sat there in silence for a moment. He turned and looked out over the water. The city was sparkling across the Hudson and planes were coursing through the busy sky. He felt lonely, all of a sudden. Abandoned for tragedy. Left behind for the scene of the crime. He knew how his wife felt. He knew, suddenly then, just how life felt. It was always something. Always something else. Life was a series of turning one's head, craning one's neck, reaching one's hand, trying desperately to find, to feed, to fix, to see what is all the matter. Not here, but over there. And then past that, and past that, and past that. And on and on like that forever, groping along as long as one can.

EXCITING EVENT NOTICE! Gawker's very own Brian Moylan will be asking various Housewives (Jersey's own Teresa and Caroline, along with Alex and Simon from "New York") questions about the new Housewives book, "The Real Housewives Get Personal," a week from today, 7/6, at the Barnes & Nobles on 86th and Lex. The event starts at 7pm (get there around 6:30 for seats!) and ends around 8. Be there! I will!