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We're back! After a technical glitch last week, we have returned to recap Bravo's unsettling study of what happens when you take your brain out of your skull and leave it soaking in a vat of wine in the sun for too long. Good things do not happen.

Firstly, apologies for last week. I was ill and called out sick and there wasn't time to ask someone else to do a recap, so the episode went recapless. I'm sorry for that. In the interest of moving ahead, though, of not dwelling in the past, I will not go into all the fashion show nonsense that went down. Let's just fix our eyes on the future and talk about... what happened last night.

A party! Like any good wistful drawing room play, a party was the scene of the action last night. The trout are running and the ragweed is in bloom, which means it is the time of year for Peggy and Micah's annual dinner party. It's a very lavish affair, one that Peggy, a skinny crab wearing a blonde wig, tells us is very "exclusive." It's what? Who? Yes, I would hope that a dinner party you have at your own house is exclusive. I should hope that no one uninvited comes to your dinner party! I mean teenagers have house parties that are non-exclusive, mostly any old drunk pimply fucker can pass through the door. But a grownups' dinner party? I should hope it's exclusive. Hm, what's that? Peggy was using the word "exclusive" to imply that it was the crème de la crème of Orange County society? And Peggy should stop using words she doesn't understand and that in no way pertain to her life? Ah, OK, I see. I get it now. Shut it down, Peggy.

But yes! A party. Peggy had so much to do. She had to call the "celebrity chef" and have her come over and start cooking. She had to instruct the decorators on how to decorate, sort of. And she had to go upstairs to sit and have her makeup put on. All this before she had her claws rubberbanded and was dipped into a pot of boiling water to get that perfect crab pink she likes. It is exhausting putting together a dinner party! Meanwhile her glorious husband Micah, a very fashionable and classful man, was getting dressed and/or having a brand-naming ceremony. He strolled out of his walk-in closet, all resplendent five feet and six inches of him, and he looked at the camera while trying to pretend he wasn't looking at the camera and said "Hun, I think I've decided to go with the Gucci jacket." Ah yes, the Gucci! And boy howdy, you could tell it was a Gucci. Never has a Gucci jacket looked so good, hanging off the lumpy frame of fashion king Micah, paired with wide-leg jeans and slick loafers. Then, on cue, Peggy asked "Honey what watch is that?", referring to the enormous bejeweled sundial on Micah's pudgy little wrist. "Oh, it's the Bartholomew [or whatever]. My favorite. We bought it to match the Bentley." Hm? Who was he talking to? Us? Peggy? Us. Probably us. The Bentley! Yeah, these fuckers have a Bentley outside and the man of the house has a matching enormous glitterwatch to go with it. A Bentley. I'm sorry, are you currently swanning around some Cotswolds manor home? Is your son coming back after finishing at Cambridge with some boorish American girlfriend and there will be a weekend of high-mannered comedy and sexual enticements? Or are you two fartsacks in some crusting over corner of Southern California where a Bentley has no reason to be? Which is it? I can never tell with those two.

So Peggy has been makeupped — by a woman she considers "like a sister," the kind of sister that you don't invite to your exclusive dinner party that's happening right downstairs — and boiled to a nice cheery pink, and Micah has finished naming all the brands and labels in the house, so they are ready. Around town, other people are getting ready too.

Gretchen went to get her hair styled at a place called Exposition Salon, a great place to sit and have your hair done while also giving lots of story exposition to your stylist. Gretchen explained to her hair man that, yes, there have been rumahz floating around that Slade is a terrible deadbeat dad and that is troubling to her, but here's the deal. When his child support payment amount was set, he was making a lot of money. Now he doesn't make a lot of money, or any money really, but the rates are still the same. And that is a real thing that happens to people! Completely seriously, that definitely happens in these kinds of things sometimes and it's hard. Gretchen said that Slade could get it fixed if he went to court or something, but the ex is making that hard to do, I don't know. Anyway, yeah. Gretchen will not consider marrying Slade until that shit gets sorted out, which of course it never will be. Sigh. Too bad. Conveniently enough, Slade, with so much controversy swirling around him, can't make it to the dinner party tonight. The reason? He's with his kids. Ha! Wow, that all was well-timed huh? Amazing how that happens sometimes.

Over at Woohoo Estates, Vicki was primping herself in the mirror and making her face hard like frozen Silly Putty because she was about to meet Tamra's beau for the first time! Yeah, Tamra figured it was time that she presented Eddie to the world, and what better time and place to do that than at Peggy's fabulous dinner party, attended by her arch-nemesis Gretchen? That's just a really great way to make Eddie feel comfortable in society. Another nice thing that Tamra did? She brought him to Vicki and Donn's for a pre-party drink, the whole way over in the limo warning him about how weird Vicki was going to act, how strange and assessing she'd be, how cautious and distrusting. Eddie nodded his big meat-filled head and said "Uh, that sounds fun..." Poor Eddie. Tamra grimaced, knowing it was going to be uncomfortable, but sometimes you just gotta do something even though it's tough. Which is what Eddie says to himself every time he looks at Tamra's naked body. MEAN. Sorry. Tamra's fine.

So at Castle Vickles, Donn greeted Tamra and Eddie at the door and he was all genial and Donn-like, laughing it up and offering people drinks and just being a normal guy doing a normal thing like entertaining his wife's friends. You know, how like in the real world people tend to act civilly and tactfully, rather than all attitudey and obsessed with past slights and whatnot? Yeah, it's nice to be reminded of that once in a while on this festering pile of bug death that Bravo calls a television show. Anyway! They're all yukking it up, doing shots and having fun, until Vicki comes downstairs and just poops right in the pool. Everyone out, there's a turd in the deep end. Oh well. Yeah, Vicki walked downstairs and gave Eddie a weak hug and then immediately put on an attitude face and the conversation fell to a deafening halt. I'm sure that Vicki had been upstairs psyching herself up to act all Vicki-like and she just wayyyy overdid it when the moment actually came. You know? Like she likes that people think of her as being a tough sell when it comes to new people and that she's described as protective. It's not always a compliment, but at least it gives her the framework of a personality, and she likes that. She likes having a little help figuring out who she is. So yeah, now that she's been assigned this personality, she stresses about keeping it up and delivering at big moments like this one, meeting the new character, on TV. So she got herself all into it, taking deep breaths and tossing her head around, and then when she got downstairs she might as well have yelled "HI I'M VICKI I'M A JERK AND AND ASSESSING YOU RIGHT NOW OH GOD OOPS THIS IS WAY TOO MUCH SORRY LET ME TRY TO BACK PEDAL HERE OH GOD IT'S NOT WORKING I'M SO FUCKING EMBARRASSED SORRY GUYS LET'S HAVE A DO OVER." It was like when Homer is trying to injure himself on the job and he pours the oil slick on the floor and skids onto it, thinking he'll slip, but he ends up just gliding through the whole nuclear power plant. Vicki just went way too far with it. Yikes.

After that initial ugly moment, things settled a bit, as Tamra started gossiping to Vicki about Slade's child support struggles, talking about how he has to go to a judge once a week with proof that he's been applying for jobs. Tamra was all, doing a Slade impression, "Oh well, I went to McDonald's, I went to Burger King, and they're not hiring..." And she cackled at that, even though, haha, whatever, the ol' "working at McDonald's is lame" joke is old and was never funny to begin with really. Poor Eddie, wanting to make a good impression with Vicki even though he was out of his element, tried to join in on the bitching, saying "Yeah, ha, maybe we could stop at McDonald's and get him an application..." and you could tell he felt uncomfortable with it, like watching some kid at school try to fit in with the crowd and be mean like the cool kids but really not being into it. It's sad. Don't sell your soul, Eddie. I mean, for Vicki? For Vicki Funderson-Gunderson? T'ain't worth it, friendo. It just taint.

Then it was time for the party! Gretchen was the first to arrive, obviously without Slade. Instead she brought a gay with her, a gay of indeterminate origin. The gay was young and swishy, as many gays are, and it seemed a bit uncomfortable at the party. Peggy and Micah seemed a bit uncomfortable with the gay too, and unfortunately their problems would only get worse. Remember Alexis? Alexis is the Housewife who is joined in the holiest of matrimony to Earth Jesus, human name Jim, a jumble of deviled ham and god rays that Alexis deeply worships. Well, unfortunately her god could not come to the dinner party with her, he was busy rolling around in a greasy pile of turkey legs and goose lard, so she had to go it alone. Well, not entirely alone. She brought her assistant with her, another gay. Two gays at one party! The gays circled each other, rutting and preening, asserting their authority. It was quite a sight to behold. With that strange ritual over, the dinner bell rang and dinner was underway.

Oh, right, and Tamra and Vicki and Donn arrived, so the shit was ready to start. Things got bad pretty quickly, as Vicki started some bumble-grumble about how it was rude of Jim not to come, even though he had a "work meeting," and what was this work meeting anyway, considering Jim and Alexis are in foreclosure so it seems like Jim doesn't work at all, in fact. Oh man. Can it, Vicki. We get it. You work. You have a job. Good for you. There is more to life. And also stop acting like you wouldn't skip a dinner party because you had a work meeting come up. Stop lying to our faces Vicki, it's no good. Stop it. Anyway, yeah, so that was tense. And then the topic of Jim's absence transferred over to the topic of Slade's absence and Gretchen was like "Yeah, he's with the kids," and a sozzled Donn, usually so polite, but he'd been doing shots so fuck it, burst out laughing. Gretchen was like "What's funny about that? I don't understand what's funny about that." But of course she did, of course of course of course she did. The convenient kids weekend, just coming at a time when Slade is being called out for being a negligent father. It was dude of Donn to laugh, but it wasn't incorrect of him. It was certainly not that.

So then in retaliation to that, Gretchen's gay started whispering something about Eddie, about how he's probably a hired escort. Gretchen and the gay kept hissing about that until Tamra was like, "Yeah, I heard that," and it was awkward. The whole episode was just one person being mean to another person and then another person doing the same to another person and so on. Amidst all this, Alexis got really upset for some reason and ran away in tears, and Gretchen went after her. It seems that Alexis was upset because she missed Earth Jesus, her only true friend in the world, dear sweet kind and gentle Jim. Yes, he really must be so nice to be around. The sound of pork juice sluicing around every time he moves his body, the sharp, acrid stink of mustard and whale blubber seeping out of his pores, the terrible potato and bean farts that come spraying out and fizz in the air with a strange acidity. Plus, y'know, all the weird religious subjugation. He just seems like a great pal! So I totally get why Alexis was so bummed to not have him there with her at the party.

While she whimpered in the bathroom with Gretchen, a few things happened. First, Micah decided to voice his displeasure at the presence of Alexis's gay. He looked at the gay and said "Well, I would never let another man escort my wife to a party." The gay looked taken aback and said something under its breath and Micah continued. "You know, you look like Jim, maybe that's why Alexis brought you." Yiiiiikes! I know the gay is just a trifling play toy and doesn't have human emotions or thoughts, and that's why it was OK for Micah to just talk at it like it was some useless thing, but someone saying "You look like Jim" is about the meanest thing a person can say. That is downright, dungeon-dwelling cruelty right there. The gay looked miserable, but what could it do? Its mistress was sobbing in the bathroom and so it could not leave. It just sat there, Gretchen's gay regarding it with a strange, newfound sense of pity.

The other thing that happened was that Tamra tip-toed off, making that cartoon tip-toe string plink sound, to go eavesdrop on Alexis sobbing in the bathroom. It was mean and an alarmingly showy thing to do in a house full of people, but at that point the dinner party had devolved to the point of zero decorum, so who really cared. Tamra convinced Vicki to go along with her, which meant that basically everyone was gone from the dinner table. The celebrity chef and her staff came out with new courses and served them to empty place settings. It was mostly just the menfolk and the gays at that point, Donn swaying sousedly in his chair, Micah polishing his watch, Eddie smiling while dying inside, the gays shivering like abandoned whippets. Peggy was mortified. I was mortified for Peggy. So that's where you stand on the social ladder, Peggy. That's how exclusive you are. So exclusive that everyone at your stupid stink party, including the poor fish in the flower vase, has no compunction about up and leaving your crabby ass sitting at the table. Oh well, too bad. At least Micah has a Gucci jacket. At least there's that.

Peggy, feeling understandably upset that her classy dinner party was such an embarrassing belly flop, got up from the table to go collect the women. Thus leaving it more empty! Oops. Inside, she rightfully scolded Tamra for eavesdropping and told her to go tinkle upstairs, foolishly actually believing that Tamra had ever had to pee. Vicki stood in a corner trying to look like a sculpture or houseplant or to blend in with the wallpaper. She just really wanted to not be there. Then Alexis came out and collected herself, after admitting to us that the real reason Jim didn't come to the party wasn't because he had a work meeting but because he didn't want to hang out with these people (who could blame him), and returned to the dinner. She gave a beautiful, long toast to herself, in an effort to explain her absence, and then she sat down. All was mended, yay! Except not at all. Alexis was upset that Tamra had been bitchy and not acted like a true friend, but really what did you expect from Tamra, Alexis? Then somehow Alexis got into it with Peggy? Oh for good grief's sake, guys, give it a rest. Just stop crow-cawing at each other for one fucking hour. That's all anyone asks. But no, it is too much. Alexis and Peggy started squabbling about how their friendship is falling apart and the other doesn't call the other often enough and the other isn't making the same effort as the other. All useless hurble-burble. It was just dumb. Who cayuhs.

Meanwhile on the other side of the table, Tamra's still niggling away about a man's responsibility to his children and Vicki and Donn are getting into it with each other about the fact that Vicki can be such a horrid, unfeeling monster woman sometimes. Everyone was fighting! Sweet Space Jesus above and Earth Jesus here with us, why is everyone fighting so much? Stop it with the fussing and the fighting! Just be peaceful! Be happy! Be in love. Enjoy the good food and the good wine and the weather and the lonely sad fish in the vase and just don't fight. I know the cameras are there, but heavens. Heavens help us.

So that's how the episode ended. Everyone fighting and mad, friendships crumbling into ruins, marriages faltering and shuddering, fish praying desperately for the sweet release of death, and gays forgotten about. A man has a duty to his children, and a woman has a duty to her gay. And Alexis and Gretchen were derelict in those duties. You can't just leave your gay at a party and forget about it! How will the gay get back home to its pink fuzzy cage? As it turns out, last night Gretchen's gay and Alexis's gay figured they'd let competition alone for the moment and walk home together. What else could they do? They walked, mostly in silence, the sky above them a deep and mystery-holding purple. There was a warm breeze and the sound of crickets and distant cars rushing on the freeways and it was actually pleasant. The sound of their shoes on the sidewalk, the occasional dog bark, the brief mournful songs of wind chimes on porches. Though they said nothing out loud, both of the gays felt something in themselves, and they wordlessly took each other's hand as they walked. Two gays, out for a nighttime stroll, feeling almost — dangerously, thrillingly — free.

Then, parting sweet sorrow and all that, Alexis's gay, a Fauntleroy-looking gay with a bowtie, said "Well, this is I where I sleep," pointing to its shiny gay glass apartment. Gretchen's gay nodded its head and said "OK. Well, I'm sure that I'm glad to have met you." Alexis's gay squeezed Gretchen's gay's hand and said "You too, girl," which is the sweetest and most formally romantic thing a gay can say to another gay. And then, rather than Alexis's gay going inside, they just stood there, holding hands. They stood there in the whispering night and felt a new warmth building in them, the core of a whole new energy source emanating from the place where their hands were touching. They both felt it traveling up their arms and into their bodies, filling their hearts and heads like wonderful liquid. They felt new sensations all of a sudden, remembered important things. Alexis's gay turned to Gretchen's and said "I'm- I'm Dylan. My name is Dylan." Gretchen's gay smiled and opened its mouth and began to speak but then suddenly their hands broke apart and the feeling was gone and the blackness fell upon them both again and Dylan, Alexis's gay, was shaking its head. "No. I can't," it said. "I'm sorry, I can't know. I can't know who you are." It turned and ran inside, leaving Gretchen's gay alone on the sidewalk.

There's always a fight, I guess. Always a conflict. Gretchen's gay's hair rustled in the wind and that was that. That's all there is. Silence and stars. A long walk home. An empty bed. Pulse and pillow, breath and blinking. And, one hopes, the first small stirrings of soul.