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On last night's news reel of the latest Southern California disaster area, we saw friendships mended, relationships teased and tested, and the offering up of flesh for the consumption of rabid, water-soaked masses. So, Orange County business as usual.

These Orange County ladies are just forever floating in a sea of we-don't-know-what, aren't they? None of them can tell if they're coming or going, with only blurry recollections of where they've been and sickly sunny visions of the future. All they know is that they want to feel good and happy and like somebody special. I mean, that's what we all want, always, but with them this feeling is highlighted, emboldened, made stark and surreal. So we're stuck watching them glaze along through their days, trying to find and fix vague things, feed guttural and groaning desires, and, essentially, to validate their own existences. Usually, this is done through the administering of body shots.

But before we get to the body shots, let's take a look at this small bungalow over here. It's a Shire-like cottage where the dire-like Gretchen lives. Oh Gretchen, ugly Gretchen. My sister thinks she is the worst Housewife on this show. This is a strong position to take! Gretchen isn't as blatantly hideous or grubby as some of the other wives, but yes, she is pretty bad. You'll remember last week that she dragged Slade through Palm Springs with her two puffy gay friends and basically treated him like garbage. Not that Slade isn't garbage! Slade is actually a maggot that feeds on garbage, but in the grand scheme of things, those maggots get counted in the general category of "garbage." Slade stinks, is the point. But that doesn't excuse Gretchen for being all bitchy and boobsy toward him, making comments about wanting a "lease" rather than a marriage in front of the two Popple-geighs who Slade barely knows. That's just rude. It's almost like Gretchen thinks she's better than Slade. It's almost as if Gretchen thinks she's... people? I think Gretchen thinks she's people! Gretchen is not people. Gretchen, you are not people. You are Gretchen, of the Wretchens. Gretchen should realize that both she and Slade are muck-monsters together and should treat him with the civility that muck-monsters should generally treat each other.

Anyway! That all said, it was strange that this episode was then devoted to Gretchen pedaling around considering the idea of marrying Slade. Hm? Why would she be talking about marrying him if she clearly doesn't want to— Ohh. Oh riiiight. The TV show. The cameras. Gretchen realizes that if her tired business with Tamra isn't going to get her airplay every episode, some nonsense with the faded bohunk Slade almost assuredly will. So she spackled on a few pounds of makeup with her Gretchen Bootay™ makeup trowel and headed off for a very important lunch with her dad. Her dad's main reason for going to the lunch was so he could flirt with blonde bimbette waitresses who looked alarmingly like his own daughter, but he was also willing to listen. Gretchen laid it all out. Slade is old and sad and broke and weird. But she loves him? Despite his not having a job and mooching entirely off of someone twenty years his junior (Slade is 62), Gretchen likes what the guy does for her in the editing bay at the raven-circled Bravo headquarters. Those demon-taloned, red-eyed editors really seem to like footage of her and Slade, so she loves that. And by extension him, right? Right?

So she put it to her dad point blank: "I mean, you go riding with him, you know him. Would you say yes if he asked for my hand?" (What is this business with asking fathers for people's hands on this show? It's almost as if they think we believe they all don't have quickie, gross, tequila-soaked marriages.) And, ha, riding! It's great to imagine that Gretchen meant riding riding, Gretchen's dad and Slade in traditional English riding outfits, boundering through fields, Gretchen's father calling back "Come, Slade, we'll ride to the furthest edges of the warren, where I've built a little pastoral village for Gretchen to play milkmaid and shepherdess in." That would be great! But no, of course. Of course they mean motorcycle riding, the sad, low-sitting zooming through orange baked SoCal streets that the trashbuckets on this show so enjoy. Oh well. Anyway, the point is the dad said "No, I would not say yes." Gretchen pretended to be shocked or hurt or something — was she, even remotely? — but then nodded her head and was basically like "OK." Then the dad was like "No, I'm just kidding. But yeah, Slade's a mess." Which is the exact answer Gretchen was hoping for. Ambiguity. The chance for more episodic tension. She's already broken down whole storylines in her head, beat by beat, imagining the Bravo teasers and the reunion questions and all that. Of course, in Gretchen's head all the people are played by dead mice propped up with marionette string, but other than that she's actually got a pretty clear picture of how things will go down. Ugh. Gretchen. She is pretty bad. But, sis, I gotta say, she's not the worst.

Is Alexis the worst? Could be! This week Jiggles Jungalund was ham-mouthing at us all about her stupid dress line that doesn't exist. How did Juggles know that she had the talent to be a pretend dress designer? Well, see, whenever she buys dresses from Donna Dayno's DayGlo Shop-'n'-Go, where she buys all her clothes, she's always taking them to her tailor friend and saying "Add glitters there, cut a slit here, make boob holes here," etc. Basically she's redesigning the entire dress when she asks for a Puff Paint "I Love Earth Jesus" to be emblazoned on the rear. So, if she can do that, namely tell someone how to do something on a preexisting dress, couldn't she tell someone how to do something on a dress that doesn't exist yet? That's pretty sound reasoning. "I picked out those tiles that one time, so I am now a kitchen designer." Makes sense. Anyway, Jubbles is doing all that nonsense, basically meeting with the actual dress designer and saying "Maybe if you made it out of fabric and had it open in the bottom and if ladies wore it. I think that would be a good dress." Juggums assured us that, let's be honest, she has really great taste in clothes, so this is going to be a hit. BUT. But. If Earth Jesus puts his foot down (with a low mayonnaisey thump, piles of ham salad falling loose and tumbling out of his pant legs) and says that TitSacks Unlimited is interfering with Juggs' duties to the children and to regularly fellating him while he eats oily meats and drinks stinking mead, then it's done. He's pulling the plug. If she can find time to design her little dresses between calling for the nannies and granting rear entry to Earth Jesus's powerful, three-inch, mushroom-reeking godcock, then she can do it. But only then! Only then.

Later on stupid old Funbags took her twins to a clothing store and all Fleshbundles could talk about was how difficult it is having twins and taking them to a store and she acted as if she ever watches her children ever and I'm so tired of her trying to justify her momness. It's boring. It's dumb. She's pretty bad. She might be my personal worst, but mostly because of her insanely creepy religious nonsense, the same kind that seems to have permeated so much of this melancholy spit of land known as America. For reminding me of that when I don't want to be (namely Sunday nights), she might be my worst.

Moving on. We'll talk briefly about Peggy and only briefly. Briefly because Peggy's storyline this week had to do with postpartum depression and there's really no comedy in that. Peggy apparently suffered from pretty serious postpartum following the birth of her first daughter, Tripoli (sorry), and has been dealing with it ever since, especially since giving birth to her second daughter, Mogadishu (again, sorry). So that is very bad and sad and there's no making fun. It's too bad that Peggy felt like the best way to deal with postpartum was to go on a reality show and then film a fake documentary about it and claim that you can suffer from postpartum "No matter what you look like" (what?), but that's how she chose to deal with it, so we, in turn, have to deal with is. As something of a way of showing that she is doing better, Peggy and the fam packed up and drove to Palm Springs for a weekend of swimming in the sun, because sun and swimming pools do not exist in Orange County. (Why not go to the mountains, guys? Something different!) At the resort, Peggy had a freakout because Mogadishu cut herself on something and was bleeding and it was scary and she freaked out and told her husband to take the baby to the hospital, where a very nice doctor very nicely didn't make fun of anyone for rushing the child to a hospital for a very tiny cut. So everyone was basically nice to Peggy, though maybe a little indulgent, and that's all we can say about that. Let's hope for everyone's sake that she's back to getting in brag-fights with Honkers by next week.

Lastly we come, of course, to Tamra and Vicki. Ohhh these two! Such crazy funtimes gals. You'll remember that last week they decided they'd go to Cabo San Lucas for a little friendship-repairing girls weekend. Well, this week they did in fact go and it totally repaired their friendship. Well, maybe. I mean, it mayyyybe did. Mostly the girls hung out in the sunshine (every single one of these women is going to die from sun poisoning) and drank. They tried to figure out how to do tequila shots with salt and lime. You know, those. I can't believe neither of them have never done those before? Well, maybe I can. I mean, probably usually they just glug down the tequila without a moment's thought, so desperate are they for the sweet sweet gooey jellyfish abandon of a nice afternoon buzz. They can't be bothered with steps and ingredients! Time is money. But here in Cabo they were on vacation, so they decided to take their time and do it right. Only they couldn't figure out how! Just couldn't figure it out. Do you do the shot, then rub the lime in the salt and then laugh? Do you eat the lime, rind and all, while throwing the salt over your left shoulder, and then do the shot? They just couldn't get it. For the record ladies: lick hand, put salt on hand. Lick salt. Do shot. Bite lime. That's how it works! I haven't done that since high school, because tequila is basically liquid regret distilled from natural regret springs high up in the Sierra Madre mountains, but that is how you do it. I remember that much from 17. You ladies are both in your early-late 50s. Get it together.

So after they didn't figure that out, they headed down to dinner, where Vicky had something very important she wanted to talk to Tamra about. No, it wasn't the gross nasty fish in her Caesar salad (nor anything in Tamra's Caprese salad — that's all she had for dinner! That's not a dinner!), it was their Friendship. Vicki, once again, wanted to have some annoying talk about the Friendship. Specifically, she wanted Tamra to write a little speech about what she wants from a friend and expects of a friend and thinks a friend should do for another friend. A little statement of commitment. Weird, but OK. Tamra said "And you'll write one too?" And Vicki looked shocked! "No, I'm not the one who screwed up!" Oh. Ohhhh. Oh dear. So. The truth comes out. This is why Vicki went on the trip. So she could lord Tamra's old business over her head and say "We're friends again... but only if you do this, this, this, this, and this ridiculous insane thing for me." Great. Good friend you've got there, Tam-Tam. "She doesn't forgive or forget, but she does hang out with me." Terrific work. So yeah, Vicki wanted Tamra and only Tamra to write a little five-paragraph essay about Friendship and it was due on Vicki's beach-desk by sundown the following day. Quite an assignment!

Quite an assignment especially considering they went out partying on a school night. Or a school day. The next day the ladies headed down to the swimming pool where things got rowdy. They talked about, or rather Tamra talked about, her disgusting sex life with her disgusting boyfriend, basically saying that he'd stretched her vagina to the point of disaster or that it had already been like that or something, she was walking like a cowboy, I don't know, because they have sex fifty times a day. All they do is bang bang bang bang bang. (And she didn't even have to go to college! Do we get this reference?) Vicki was appropriately horrified by all this talk, because Tamra is gross with her late-afternoon wine eyes and her faded tattoos. And her boyfriend is a big gross slab of roast beef and those two things should never mash genitals together. But they do, apparently. A lot. Like a lot, lot. Like the only time they're not having sex is when they're pooping, peeing, or feeding baloney and pickle brine to each other. Even then sometimes. Even then. Vicki threw up all her guts and bones and everything else but a nice pool boy came by and stuffed them back in her mouth.

After that horrifying conversation, it was time to put on cowboy hats, get in the pool, and get crunk. And crunk they did get! Well, mostly Tamra. Tamra was all whooping it up and having sleazy girls do body shots off of her, while Vicki stood by pretending to hate it. Tamra got to talking to a bunch of fine, attractive, upstanding gentlemen, the kind of men who attend boat shows at expo centers, and she found one who looked exactly like Vicki's husband Donn! So of course she had to get Vicki in on the action, and the gross Donnppelganger sidled up to Vicki's Silly Putty-coated body and they got to horrifyingly flirting, Vicki once again pretending she didn't like it, but of course secretly loving the fleshy pawing of the Dark Donn's hand at her taffy-like waist. Tamra eyed them both with vodka-pooled joy and they partied some more.

Later in the evening the two women, slightly settled now, sat on the balcony of their suite, looking off toward the poison Mexican waters, enjoying a breezy, vacation evening. Well, they were enjoying it until Vicki said "So, did you have time to write your vows?" VOWS!!! Vows. Vicki called them vows. In the recesses of Vicki's cobwebby rock-strewn circus funhouse mind, what she had asked of Tamra were vows. Vows to Vicki. Vicki is always in need of formal commitment, she wants it in writing, or if not writing, at least words. She needs it expressed. Vicki has no faith in anyone. Vicki believes in nothing. Vicki is Nietzsche. Oh Vicki. Vows? Vows??? That is so creepy. Especially considering that one of her big plotlines last season was the renewing of her vows with Donn. So now Vicki is renewing her vows with Tamra. Only this time it's only Tamra who is renewing anything. Vicki just wants to sit there and have someone promise something to her. She is demanding it. Vicki is a crazy person. Tamra, god bless her, had completely forgotten about the vows ceremony, so she was just like "Um... you're my friend, I'll be good to you, etc." And, hilariously enough, that was all Vicki needed. Vicki just lovesss to be talked to like this, doesn't she? Because it is, of course, all about Vicki. It doesn't matter really what the specific words are. So long as they are positive and Vicki-directed, that's all that matters. Ugh. Sigh. Whatever.

Then there were fireworks! Surprising, wonderful fizzes of spark and sound went shooting up into the squid ink sky and Tamra shrieked and tried to climb up on the railing to better see them but cautious Vicki pulled her down. Tamra clapped and cheered and gave Vicki a big hug. The kind of hug you give someone out of the sheer joy of knowing that you are witnessing something lovely and unique and surprising together. That there will only be these two people, and this night, and this balcony, and these fireworks once, one time. This is the only time this will ever happen in the world, and it's happening right now! Here it is, finally! If the whole history of the world has been grinding its way to this specific point, well here it is. So let's celebrate! Tamra threw her arms around her friend, vows and narcissism be damned they are friends, and they both laughed. The lights spiraled and spluttered up until they burst and began their slow fade to the ground. Tamra looked at the fireworks as they reached their peak and she wished that she only knew how to step into that moment, to live inside that zenith of light and possibility forever. She wasn't sure how. She wished she was. But she did feel, even with this tattered friend beside her, even on this TV-paid trip, even with stupid Simon still dimly ringing her finger, that she was getting closer to knowing how. She'd almost figured it out.

She grabbed Vicki's hand and they stood there on the deck, watching the sky, until the show was over and all that was left was the memory and echo of all our wonderful exploding.

Programming Note: I am going to Spain later this week because I am a fancy millionaire, so Dame Brian Moylan of the Housewives Institute will be filling in for me again next week. After that, I'm yours 'til the finale!