Well that's it! After approx. six hundred and twenty-nine episodes, the third season of Bravo's documentary about prison escapees has come to a groaning end. What was all brightness and warmth ended in rot.

The bulk of this episode was pretty "Feel-Good," as a Hollywood executive might describe it. There was lots of family togetherness and tears and hugs and children screeching, pleasantly I guess, in the night. So let's just round up those bits in roundup form:

Caroline
The show's fire-haired matriarch has been enjoying doing her radio show this season, and she seems fairly competent at it. I mean, the advice she dispenses is certainly pretty general ("Follow your dreams," "Don't fight with family," "A swift blow to the windpipe done with a firm chopping motion is a quick way to hobble any foe") but she has a good radio voice and seems confident enough. So that's nice. As a special surprise, two of of her kids, the fearsome Caroline 2: The Revenge and the rat king Christopher, came to surprise her and made funnies into the microphone, especially when some crazy lady called up to talk about following her dreams and her dream was to fill a house with kids and then travel all over the world with it or something. I think she was maybe imagining something like Up? Floating down to Venezuela in a balloon house full of kids, only to be shot down by a Sukhoi. Sad. But not sad is Caroline's radio success. Good for her!

Kathy
Kathy has decided to stop being bothered by Teresa because so what, who cayuhs. Plus her immediate family life is so much more important to her than any stupid old foreheadless cousin. She really wants to enjoy her family as much as possible, because they grow up so fast! That sentiment was expressed many times over last night as their daughter Victoria, 17 and blushing, went to a big formal dance. I suppose it was the prom, it was probably the prom. She had a makeup stylist over to do her face, because that's just what most American girls do before the prom, while her dad Jerf Goldblum waited downstairs for The Date to arrive. And then knock knock on the door, the date was there. He was what you'd expect, an olive-skinned mumbling teenage boy awkwardly clutching a corsage and a boutonniere in plastic boxes. Jerf did his usual Jerf thing, making broad and bawdy jokes about breaking nuts (he was cracking nuts at the time) because I guess you can... break? nuts? I don't exactly know the medicine behind that, but I'm no doctor. Anyway, there was this whole thing about how the kid was going to have Victoria out until 5am and Jerf was like "What are you gonna be doin' til 5am?" And I was like "Wait, what ARE you going to be doing until 5am???" My parents would never let me stay out until 5am! I mean, they would have let me sleepover somewhere, as I did after the senior prom (I went to my grandmother's and we drank tea and watched Guarding Tess), but not just come stumbling home at 5am. Kids have changed! The Date answered as eloquently as one would expect, mumbling "Hang out." That's what they were going to do, hang out. Mm hm. A likely story. Jerf then told us that his daughter will remain a virgin until her wedding, because gross, because fathers caring so deeply about the chastity of their daughters is gross and disgusting, and then it was off to some enormous tent to take pictures with everyone and their parents, which was really strange and elaborate and, again, kids have changed. Kathy cried, hugged Jerf, and actually said "They grow up so fast." She felt like she was in a movie. She felt the credits rolling behind her. Sigh.

Jacqueline
Jacqueline probably had the least rosy finish to the season (well, until the book part, which we'll get to). She's still having problems with her terrible, no good daughter Bouffant, who has vague plans to move to LA but is also getting kicked out of the house. According to Jacqueline, at least. Hoping he could talk some sense into her, they invited over Chris's brother Fabuloso, a muscled gay man with tattooed arms who apparently styles and cooks for "celebrities." I have no idea who these celebrities might be, but I trust him. Anyway, Fabuloso cocked an eye at Jacqueline's daughter, looked at her new tattoos of swallows and stars and feathers and other things that say flying to this grounded bird, and he said "Bouffant, you in danger, girl." And then he said all these things, really tough mean things like "Maybe you should get a job" and so of course Bouffant burst into tears because why is everyone so mean to her all the time, just so relentlessly cruel saying things like "Maybe try paying rent" and "Please be nice to the people who pay for your entire life." I feel like Bouffant should go on a lecture circuit, speaking to victims of torture, representing someone who endured even worse torment and made it out alive. She's truly amazing. Fabuloso continued to berate her, so she stormed out of the room, then she stormed back in, and Chris was all "Don't take this the wrong way, but you come across as a bitch [ha], but I know you're good in real life so you don't have to move out." Uh ohhhhhh. Jacqueline's face did a sad bit of gymnastics and she was like "Oh realllly.... OK... The princess stays in the castle," and Bouffant was all "Mooom are you serious right now?" and then she stabbed Fabuloso and threw a wine glass at her mother and slapped Chris and I just felt so bad for her. Why does everyone treat her so terribly? But yeah, Jacqueline is stuck with this monster for a little bit longer.

Teresa & Melissa
There stories were combined last night because it was family picture day! Yay! Melissa and Teresa had lots of primping to do, touching their boobs every thirty seconds and pushing them up as if to say "Fie, gravity! Pox, physics!" They also had to lash themselves in the traditional tight fabrics and gilding of their people, oodles of greasy curls tumbling out of the tops of their heads. They also had to dress their children in frilly tutu doilies and jaunty caps and bows and breaches and all that. Lots of work. Then Melissa had to pack up all the kids and drag them over to Teresa's, because it had to be at Teresa's, obviously. Once they arrived all the kids melded into one indistinguishable squealing mass, with only the worst witch, Milania, standing out. She was like hitting and stomping on her sister and shrieking all over the place and holy hell that girl is going to be an unbelievable terror when she gets older. But for now she's great! Wild and weird and feral. I mean, we should not forget that she is responsible for the season's best line, "Gimme pizza, you old troll." Amazing. Teresa, and Joe Gorgon, were especially excited for this photoshoot because their parents were going to be in the picture with them. Nonno Gorgon came over and was all "I can't-a see," because he'd had eyedrops put in or something, so that was kind of sad. He went to go lie down on the couch until it was time to take the photo. This led to a chilling little scene in which Joe G. found his dad on the couch and said "Alls you need is a little drink," and Gia, also in the room, said "No! No drinks. That's the last thing he needs," and it was creepy in her overly precocious way, but also so sad. She's seen that drunken shit ballet too many times. She's done with it. So they didn't drink, not just yet, and instead went out to take the photo with a crazy, mulleted Ruth Buzzi impersonator. I mean, is that what she was? Basically she was trying to get the little ones to smile so she started doing this insane crone howl and tickling Nonno Gorgon with a feather duster and the poor blind bastard just sat there thinking of better days, dreaming of old cobbled streets, the cry of vendors, the blue bay of Naples. All of the children were suitably horrified by this banshee photographer too, but in the end they got the picture they wanted. Everyone was on good terms, everyone was happy, yay oh yay.

But then, oh then. Then Bravo got greedy. So most of this episode, this season, took place in the late fall/early winter. But then all of a sudden we're catapulted into the full bloom of summer and Teresa's second cooking book, Fabulicious, has been released and everyone's in a right oniony stink over it. See because, as anyone from Ina Garten to the ghost of Sheila Lukins can tell you, a cookbook is recipes, yes, but it is also an opportunity to rag on your friends and family in nonsensical paragraphs about your life. I mean, most of Mastering the Art of French Cooking is just Julia Child outing various people as Communists and calling C. Douglas Dillon a fag. It's just what good cookbooks are! So yeah, Teresa went and said ratty things about everyone, calling out Caroline for not being Italian enough, making fun of Chris for his idea for a strip club/mortuary (or something), saying that Kathy makes mean jokes (sick burn), and calling Melissa jealous. I guess she left Jacqueline out, so Jacqueline was the one to go over to Teets' house and be like "The fuck you thinking writing this shit?" And, predictably, Teresa was all "Ohhhhh it was funny haha jokes. I wanted to put it in because people always tell me I'm like Lucille Ball." Uh. Hm?

I guess Teresa could be considered like Lucille Ball if you just picture Teresa standing by a conveyor belt gobbling up snacks. Or if you think about how they both, on TV at least, had husbands who were supposed to be affably stern but in reality were just unpleasant jerks. But also, Lucille Ball was acting? So... Teresa was comparing herself to a fictional dummy, not the smart actress who played her. Anyway! It was just a stupid thing to say and clearly she wasn't really joking when she "wrote" the things, or if she was joking, it was mean joking. It was joking at their expense. Because Teresa is dumb and has no tact and doesn't understand why people don't find her as consistently wonderful and charming as she finds herself. That is the constant mystery of Teresa's life. She is ever questing to solve it. (No she is not. She is not that self-aware.)

Anyway, this whole thing was really ginned-up and stupid and a totally cynical move on Bravo's part to get us to watch the reunion and, I guess, next season. This book had nothing to do with the rest of the season, it was just tacked on there because their season started strong and then ended boring. Maybe if they hadn't dragged the beast out to a jillion episodes everything would be a bit more action-packed, but oh well. It's over now. There's a reunion and there will be fighting and Teresa releases her inner pit viper once more and that is that. Ugh. Another stinking night in stinktown.

And another book! Another damn book. For people who don't read, books sure do seem to come along and ruin these ladies' lives fairly often. Is that irony? I don't think it's quite irony, but it's something. Unlike much of this season. There were moments — a christening crunch, a Milania moan, a Gregor grunt — that were fun and funny and whatever else, but mostly it was just a swift spiral down into the tedious everyday gunk of being alive. I mean, ridiculous and heightened for sure, but also just ho hum, just the expand and retract of body and breathing. Oh well. It's OK. Let's just close our eyes. Let's just lie down like Nonno and dream of better places, filled with better people. Where no one, not crazy Ruth Buzzi or annoying Bravo, tries so desperately to tickle us.