Last night's adventure through the jungles of North Jersey was spent dealing with the aftermath, rebuilding these lives after the battle. We carted away rubble, we said goodbye to departed weave, and we held people legally accountable for war crimes.
They say that after the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some people walked around as if nothing was wrong. They sat on benches, calmly asked for water, and then, without groan or sputter or start, simply died, quiet and unexpected. Something fast was working against them and they didn't even know, they could not feel it or see it. I was reminded of this tragedy last night, watching stupid Bouffant frown and potato her way through the post-party world. How unaware she was! Or rather, she knew that something bad had happened, that the world was forever scarred and changed, but she really didn't think it would affect her much. How wrong she was. How terribly wrong.
But before we get there, let's look at some of our other friends, see how they are coping with their post-bellum lives. Teresa is, of course, doing just fine. In this episode Teresa needed a little time away from her daughters. She had some final scores to settle vis a vis Weavegate, so she wanted the girls out of the house. Thus childcare fell to Joe, Teresa's beefed-up crab of a husband, and Joe does what Joe wants to do, so he took the girls to learn the ancient and beautiful art of whuppin' ass. (Chineses call it karate-fu or something.) Before they went off to the dojo, Teresa got her girls dressed and be-bowed while Joe stood in the enormous marble airplane hangar they have dubbed "foyer" and waited. Years ago, Sharon Stone fell down dead in a hotel hallway after Robert DeNiro ran her out of his casino. After Sharon had crumpled and died, Teresa skittered out from a nearby room and stole the clothes from her corpse. Since then she's been constantly refashioning the garments into new outfits for the girls. Zebra prints and furs, gold zigzags and bright gashes of color. Sure they smell of mildewed cocaine and whatever strange epoxy was used to keep Sharon's wig on, but the outfits are glorious. Faux gold chains hanging from various places, sparkly denim, gleaming like Vegas from a distance, a haunting desert glint. So anyway! Teresa finally got her girls ready and they rambled off with their Pa to go learn important fighting skills. They didn't really get it. Or they weren't into it. They halfheartedly did their kicks and stretches, but then right before the real thrashing began, the littlest one, piccola bambina, whined and said "I want to go out to eat." A girl after her mother's heart.
Good thing Joe has a place to eat. Yes, we learned in this episode that Joe owns a pizzapie station, an as-yet unopened (right?) joint above which are apartments, that Joe also owns. Teresa explained to us that Joe has always been an entrepreneur. "That's what they call someone who starts a lot of business, right?" she asked the camera, even though she'd been practicing sooo hard with her flashcards. Oh well, it's OK, Teets. We can't remember all of our vocabulary for every test. Joe took her on a tour and, in a grim acknowledgment of the family's fiduciary woes, he showed her the apartments and said "We could live here. Make it look like where we live now." Teresa guffawed at this, oh silly Joe. Little did she know how serious he was. At one point during this segment, Teresa winked oddly at the camera. It was odd that she winked — what did it mean — but she also just winked, oddly. Half of her face scrunched down and the one eye didn't even really close. It was a strange twitch, an approximation of something Teresa had seen in a movie. All the coy girls go wink, Teresa was thinking, her face bending and groaning, eyelid lurching down. Again, it's OK, Teresa. We can't pass every exam.
Another thing that happened this episode was that the Kims had to be dealt with. Those wicked, serpenty Kims. First Teresa went to the Posche dealership to speak with Kim X. Mostly she wanted to apologize for helping to create such a scene at Kim's big Posche auto show. She walked into the dealership and they handed her an enormous, bright orange mimosa (in the Housewives world a "mimosa" is Andre champagne and Tang — what the gay astronauts drink!) and they hashed things out. Teresa hadn't meant to cause any trouble, she was just trying to be nice. Kim X doesn't have opinions about anyone or anything anymore, all she wants is to be on the show at all costs, so she nodded and said "Oh, absolutely, absolutely. It's fine. It's OK." Teresa smiled, happy that she always gets off scot-free. Just as that conversation was ending, the silty mimosa down to a last backwashy gulp, the little bell on the door chimed and in walked Kim G. A convergence of Kims! Oh my gaaahhhhd, Kim G. What was she wearing? Kim G. was dressed up as Baby Huey's drunk hooker cousin, like Terry from Reno 911, only wearing a purple beret and furry vest. It was strange and childlike and looked half-finished. Where were Kim's pants? Wherever are Kim G.'s pants? I don't really remember what happened during this particular exchange, but I think Kim G. mostly did some shady double agent work and tried, after slightly scolding her for her behavior, to make nicey-nice with Teresa and Kim X. It didn't really work. Teresa called her "elderly" to the cameras and that was that. Kim G. disappeared into the afternoon, her purple beret bobbing like seaweed.
Meanwhile: Danielle. Danielle has had enough! Danielle will take no more! Danielle is fighting back! In a deft parallel to the Sisters Giudice and their kung-jitsu lesson, Danielle was taking fighting classes. Self-defense classes, really. Because Danielle is terribly attacked always, set at on all sides by red-eyed demons who want nothing more in this world than the Death of Danielle. So I understand her fighting back, I really do. Attending the fighting class was, of course, her devoted puppy enforcer, Scraps. Oh Scraps. With his sad dollop of Dorothy Hamill hair, his creased Marianne Faithfull face, those oil blob eyes darting forlornly. He's forever there, wanting something so badly it feels like he always needs to pee, it's a sharp tingle in his gut. He just isn't quite sure what he wants. Does he want Danielle? As he watches her pivot and jab, her bones bulging through chicken skin, he thinks no, that's probably not it. Is it the cameras he wants? Maybe that's it. Recognition. A shot at something. But then he watches playback and realizes that if this were a movie he would be played by Dale Dickey and he thinks maybe not. So he doesn't know. But there he is.
After fighting ended, Danielle and Scraps and their strange friend Lurch went to a diner. They discussed various things — the Bouffant attack, self-defense classes, Danielle's girlish figure — and mostly Danielle talked, stabbed her elbows into the table and droned on about the ways of her world. Scraps nodded and added "Yeahs" and "Uh huhs" while Linus Lurch just sat in the corner, eyes wide, unblinking, entirely mute. Wasn't that strange? What was going on with him? Is he in mime school? Does he not speak English? Was his tongue cut out by his enemies, and now he is forever mute, a once raging, bellicose man, turned soft by silence? It was hard to tell, but it was unsettling. He might be one of Scraps' druggie friends, so maybe he was anxious for a fix. Maybe he deeply loves Danielle and her presence makes him uncomfortable, trying to do all he can to not leap over the table and kiss her square on the mouth, wrap his birch tree arms around her shoulders and never let her go. There are so many mysteries living in Scraps and Lurch! I'd like to see a television program all about them, Andy Cohen.
Speaking of Danielle's friends, it came time to summon her coven (that should be a song in a musical about witches, "Summon My Coven") and get to her witchy work. Namely, Danielle would like to press charges against Bouffant for weaveicide and, naturally, she needs an entire posse to do this. REGULATORS! MOUNT UP! The posse consists of Scraps, Linus Lurch, two olive oil lawyers, the indefatigable
Kim G., and two of the Donnas. Those terrible, terrible Donnas. All gussied up in smeared, misapplied makeup, hair teased into feathery wisps, uncomfortable grimaces worming across their faces. I feel really bad for the Donnas. I mean, clearly they are excited to be on television, but I don't quite think they realize the cost. Ah well.
So Danielle amassed her group and they stood outside on a walkway, discussing what to do. This is how most important legal proceedings are conducted. In black trenchcoats, speaking in hushed tones, orange people staring hard at one another. All Jersey justice is done and decided in cabal, nothing in Danielle's life can be done on her own. Or rather, it can. She knew she was going to press charges, she always did. She could have done that all by herself. But it doesn't feel grand and special enough unless she has a huddle of worried "friends" and protectors around her, until all eyes are on her and her dumb drama. So simple assault charges were filed. The news rippled through the community, eventually lapping up on Bouffant's bronze-soaked shores.
She was at her boyfriend's house, the two of them stuffed up against each other. Bouffant's boyfriend, Rudiger, has a tiny dog that Bouffant was antagonizing — of course, of course, symbolism! — and then complaining when it bit her. Oh Bouffant! You are a predictable pack of Kraft singles, aren't you? So boyfriend Rudiger tried to gently dissuade Bouffant from doing anything further and tried, in vain, to maybe make her a little concerned about the potential charges filed against her. Bouffant cared not. Bouffant threw her hatted head back and laughed and laughed, saying "Whatever, whatever, whatever." She threw some French Onion dip up into the ceiling fan and as it rained down on her and the living room, she did a jig, carefree, senseless and dumb, splattered in goo. Rudiger had tried. But Rudiger had failed.
Next it was up to Jacqueline and Caroline to talk some smarts into this clotted teenager. "Honey... this could be really serious." Bouffant laughed. Oh Bouffant just laughed! Danielle and her group of miserable Donnas could do whatever they wanted. Bouffant laughed! Caroline grimaced. "Did you threaten to kill huh?" Bouffant said "No. No." And I actually believed her. I don't think she threatened to kill her. But she did pull her weave, and that was enough. "You handed this to her," Caroline said rightly. "You just gave this to her." Stupid Bouffant. Stupid impetuous youth! Bouffant still didn't get it. "I'll just have to deal with it as it happens." Yes, love, and then you'll have to check that box on every job application and explain what happened. "Well, Dairy Queen, I pulled a 57-year-old woman's weave out of her head once." DQ don't like that! DQ don't like that one bit.
In the end, Bouffant left as clueless as she'd come. She knew the charges were happening, but what could she do? Ha ha, she's just a cool teen. Nothing fazes her. Ha ha. No biggie. Whatever. Charges. Police. Court. Who cares. (I think inside she really does care and is very scared but doesn't want to show that in front of the cameras because that would ruin the image she thinks she's created, someone who always skates, who never really has anything bad happen to her, because she's cool and slick and above it. Ha ha, she tries to project. But really she's very frightened and worried and full of regret and has no idea what to do. Mom doesn't seem willing on this one. Maybe Aunt Caroline. Maybe her. She has legal connections, oh god please let them work. Please please please.) Bouffant will never learn until she learns, I guess. Scraps and Kim G. both had grave conversations about teens learning from mistakes with Danielle, who said "I don't want to do this, but..." Oh, you liar Danielle. Stop lying, badly. Stop lying entirely. "I don't want to do this." Fah. Yes you do. You want to do this more than anything else in the world. Did you notice when a small smile crept over her face when her lawyer said "This is now the state of New Jersey versus Bouffant"? It was a quick, nasty thing. A little smirk. Upon seeing this sneer, angry God reached down to pull out the rest of Danielle's raggedy weave, but she walked away too quickly. Next time, God swore. Next time.
Speaking of Kim G. (again, ugh), she changed outfits and headed over to Jacqueline's to talk things out. She still looked like a strange and upsetting twelve-year-old. She was wearing a headband and some sort of fleece vest or something, like the nerdiest girl in the group of friends that goes to see a movie on a chilly November Saturday afternoon, the sky gray and streaked with crows, the sun thin and dying on the horizon. Jacqueline was very reluctant to let her in the house. You see Kim G. was brandishing newspapers that showed, in huge front page color, a photo of Kim, Danielle, and the two Donnas walking arm and arm from the courthouse after pressing charges against Bouffant. Kim G. had some balls showing up at Jacqui's house after that, didn't she! She is, I think, maybe a little mentally imbalanced. All that weird "heyyyyyy" speak and the weird bouncing she does and the increasingly crazy get-ups. Maybe she never does laundry and is just using the last of whatever's clean. "This fur vest will go with these stretched-out leggings I haven't worn since '89, sure..." She's very unsettling, isn't she? I wouldn't be surprised if she's a secret hoarder.
ANYWAY. Jacqueline looked at the newspaper photos (there is nothing better to run on the front page of New Jersey newspapers?) and appropriately called them "busted up Sex and the City" (or something) and Kim's face did strange gymnastics. She liked being called Sex and the City, that pleased her, but she didn't like being called busted up (or something). Eventually I think she decided to take it as a compliment. Wrong decision, Kim! Totally wrong decision. Oh well. Basically Jacqueline was mad that Kim was being so two-faced and Kim was all "Of course I'm two-faced! Absolutely! Danielle really has it out for your daughter." She said the last part with a really creepy kind of joy and Jacqueline looked appropriately grossed out. Kim's features kept shifting slightly, and I realized that she is not completely of this world, of this dimension. She's popping in and out, she's struggling to maintain her grasp on this place. SHE'S SO WEIRD AND SCARY. Sorry, that was an outburst. I just couldn't believe how crazy Kim G. seemed last night. Jacqueline rightly decided that Kim is no good and bid her adieu. Kim danced off to her car in her crazy old lady outfit and the curtain closed on her for the week.
Lastly we move to the radiant golden flower bulb known as Albie Manzo, our stern-shouldered hero who has been on a harrowing and epic quest of late. One that has, it turns out, only just begun. You see his law school, referred to with no name on the show but we now know it's Seton Hall, has deemed him worthy of... going to another school. Yes, that was the big thing. They have decided that Albie is not incompetent to go to law school, just not competent for their particular school. So... yay? Albie can now apply to law schools that are easier than Seton Hall? Yeesh. In the meantime, Albie's dad, Al, has offered him a job at the Brownstone. But Albie's chiseled pride will not stand for that. No sir. Our brave charioteer aims only to streak across the sky with the sun in his wake, never on the ground with the mortals. Never ever, never ever. So he has a clear and approved and difficult mission now. Law school applications. Calloo callay, miserable day.
After he gave his parents the good news, Albie needed to blow off some steam, he was a jumble of nervous energy. The internet was down so he couldn't... do that, so he decided to go for a drive. He swerved and pealed around corners, feeling effortless and finally full of possibility again. It was a wonderful, joyous feeling. As he zoomed down a leafy street, the sky purpling into evening above him, he saw a hunched figure walking down the road. He slowed, peered out the window. He realized it was his cousin Bouffant, roaming aimlessly. She didn't have that usual petulant strut to her step. No, she was shuffling and slow. At the sound of the car she looked up and her face was streaked with mascara. She'd been crying. "Hey, you need a ride?" Albie asked, opening the door. Wordlessly, Bouffant climbed into the car and shut the door. Albie sat there with the engine idling. "You OK?" Bouffant wiped her eyes. "Whatever," she said, trying to feign some defiance. "Whatever," she repeated, this time more quietly, a sad lost sound, coming from deep down in a well. Albie knew how she felt. He knew. He nodded his head, said "Yeah," and drove on.
They parked on a palisade overlooking the Hudson, north of the bridge. The sky had turned to glossy black and the stars were just poking out to begin their still dance. Albie and Bouffant sat on the hood of the car and stared out, listening to the rush of the river, felt the night air tumbling around them. They sat there for many hours, saying nothing, trying to pry open some spot on the horizon, to gaze into the future. They did not know what awaited them, only what was behind. They did not know if they were young or old, did not know if they would forever be caught in this limbo place, this yawn of water keeping them from something, from stepping out and finding safe earth beneath them. They did not know what was coming. They did not know.
Eventually they got back in the car and roared off, the car's red lights disappearing around a corner, headed, for now, back home.