Last night's episode was all about making amends, about being nice to people, about the warmth that these strange Housewives can sometimes give off from their otherwise cold, metallic bodies.
Well, it wasn't all niceness. The show can never be entirely about niceness. But there were several scenes of the women trying to be good mothers or sisters or daughters or friends. Some succeeded! Some sadly failed. Let's take a look at how it all shook out.
We began our tale with Bethenny and Alex. Bethenny had gone to visit Alex in her Brooklyn Bordello, that strange place of creaking noises and dim-glowing red lights. Bethenny, of course, had big news to share. She's engaged! Yes, somehow the Bravo cameras missed this lovely moment, so we had to hear about it in a story, faraway and Chekhovian. Of course Bethenny is also pregnant, but she chose to kept that detail a secret for now. Alex was genuinely happy for Bethenny, which was very nice to see. I'm not sure exactly what's happened to Alex, but all of a sudden she seems rather sane and kind, doesn't she? Did she watch the previous two seasons and think "Oh my god..."? Are her moments of social climbing terror just waiting for us in future episodes? Who knows. But for now, it's safe to say that I like Alex. She didn't try to turn the conversation toward herself, she just asked Bethenny questions and let her talk like normal friends do with each other. Bethenny told Alex that she was the first person she told, and Alex was deeply touched. Though, Bethenny must have meant the first Housewife, right? Surely she told some other friend who isn't on the show first, yes? Clearly she told the producers! Someone knew. Alex wasn't the first, first to know. Just the first of the reality crew. Which makes sense. I mean, who else was Bethenny going to tell? Ramona? Ha.
Ramona remains horribly insane. Ramona is what happened when they did that "This is your brain on drugs" commercial with the egg. The director said cut, nodded his head, and said "I think we've made commercial history here." And he was right! Sort of. But what he didn't know is that as the crew was packing up, the egg continued to sizzle and bubble. Its bubbles then became shapes, limbs and hair. After only a few minutes, a fully-formed Ramona stood dance-sizzling in the pan, humming to herself, new human eyes doing exploratory twirls. The director did not know he had released a great and dangerously unpredictable force upon an unsuspecting world. Is she here to destroy us or deliver us? Only time will tell. I suspect it will be some strange mix of the two.
In this week's episode, Ramona had two matters to settle. The first had to do with her big, weird re-commitment ceremony with her husband, that column of antipasto held together by sausage casing that she's gone and named Mario. Ramona would like her daughter, the worried-eyed Avery, to be her maid of honor. Because apparently you need a maid of honor at your re-wedding. Why?, Avery wanted to know. Why do you need a maid of honor at Wedding 2: Revenge of the Fallen? Ramona made a wimple of her hair and did a sad wiggle with her mouth and said "Because! Because I need you to be there to make sure my makeup is right and that my dress is on straight and to calm me down if I'm nervous." Hah. If I'm nervous. At my re-wedding! What if I get cold feet? Avery was predictably withering and teen-y about that. It's funny/sad to see her entering her self-conscious years, the way she closes her mouth over her retainer, that delicate side bun, the practiced looks, the been-there-done-that way she performs for the cameras. Sigh. Why are people putting their teenagers on television?
Oh well. Avery made a cross look and finally said "Fiiiine" and Ramona clapped and grinned and clearly still didn't care that she was the only family member who wanted to do this ridiculous thing. Ramona was then interviewed about how Avery is growing up and becoming a lady. "She didn't just change physically," Ramona told us, sending Avery falling to the floor with a horrified wail last night, I'd imagine. "We just interact differently now. The way we negotiate has changed." The way you negotiate? Is that how you see interactions with your child, Ramona? As a negotiation? That seems a little awful, doesn't it? Love is a negotiation between two stubborn parties. Family is a negotiation, and nobody gets what they want. Or something. Oh, Ramona. Oh dear.
The next thing that Ramona had to do was bitch about Kelly and Jill. So she zapped herself up into the power lines and traveled crosstown at light speed. She rematerialized at a restaurant, where she was to meet her old friend and newest castmate, Red Sonja. Sonja slithered up and said, voice like a thousand whispers, "Hello..." Ramona reared back and let out an "Eep!" She stared hard at Sonja. "Oh you're giving me the creeps. And I like it." Sonja smiled, hooded wine-eyes glittering with menace. Ramona said it again, more quietly. "I like it..." There was a creepy pause and then the girls got to gabbing about the other girls. Ramona was all squeak-squawk, squeak-squawk about last week's historic Kodiak fight, in which Ramona singlehandedly took on a clan of angry Kodiak bears. "I just tried to tell them that Kodiak is an outdated brand." Sonja nodded, not really paying attention, thinking mostly about the bloodied young man she'd left in a whimpering heap in the dungeon. The acid, she thought. I think I'll use the acid on this one. Ramona kept gabbing and gossiping and eventually Sonja joined in, and the two were just going at it like drunken hens.
The subject of Kelly came up. Sonja said that they'd run into each other several times on St. Barth's, and yet when they'd met at the bloody, bloody Kodiak attack, Kelly had acted like they'd never met. Ramona made a donkey bray and said "Well that's how Kelly is, that's just how she is." Ramona was in her point-making position, lolling on a chair and sticking her head out at a strange angle. "She doesn't remember women. She probably remembered your husband. But she's not a girl's woman." Sonja nodded and added Kelly to her mental list (Another name etched in blood...) and said "It's weird that she won't acknowledge that she dated Max." Ramona nodded again (and it rained in Thailand) and said "Well they went out, they definitely did." Sonja made a hissing/clicking sound and said "I wonder if they had a relationship..." Ramona just skipped like a record and said "Well they went out, they definitely did." Same tone, same hand gestures. Sometimes she just gets stuck on repeat. Sometimes that just happens.
Someone not stuck on repeat, someone on the go, is LuAnn DeLesseps. Yes, it's time now for American Girls: Crackerjacks Learns a Lesson. The lesson was about real estate. You see Lunny is still looking for a new pied-à-terre in the city, and it's just not going that well. She was escorted by Kelly and a realtor to several places in the downtown section of Manhattan, where Kelly lives, where I live, where Gawker lives, where anyone who is everyone lives. This was something of a departure for little Lunz, who is really an uptown gal. Just a butt-crankin', corn nut-eatin', schnapps-guzzlin' Uptown Girl. She's who Billy Joel wrote songs about. (When Billy Joel was drunk and driving his car through houses.) But Downtown. That seems fresh and young and hip. So she's gonna try that out. Only trouble is, it's not the '80s anymore, so rent down here on the Bowery just ain't what it used to be. She was shown two places and both assuredly did not meet her style or size expectations. And yet they were so expensive!
The first place was a palace on a corner of the Lower East Side. High up in the air, it offered views, a stark modern kitchen, and room for both of her ragamuffin kids. But the discerning LuAnn was not happy. She stood in a doorway, sucking distractedly on a Carlton, and grunted. "Not enough room in here for even half'a my Harleys." The realtor looked at her quizzically. "Harleys? As in... motorcycles?" Lu raised an eyebrow. "No, ladies who were in Arachnophobia. Yes, motorcyles. Where'm I gonna keep, 'em? On the street? So every Jorge Mexicano and Lenny Laos can steal 'em? Hell no, Frodo. The Harleys sleep with mama." The realtor coughed, unsure what to say. Kelly made a strange face and went for a jog down the Fifth Avenue in her head. Lu sighed and stamped the cigarette out on the floor. "This place is a dump. How much?" The realtor said "$7,500." LuAnn gasped and sputtered. "A month? You gotta be givin' me the ol' Florida fistfuck, my friend. I know a kid named Johnny Apples, lives down around here, pays $23 a month. Where's he live at..." Kelly gently touched LuAnn's shoulder. "When did you know, uh, Johnny Apples?" LuAnn shrugged. "Dunno. Two years ago. What's it now, '89? '90?" Kelly shook her head gently and said "No, honey. It's 2010." LuAnn's eyes widened. "2010??? Holy cocks. Well that just went, huh? That just pretty up and fuckin' went. Jesus Christmas. And I forgot to feed the cat."
After that apartment debacle, the girls left the Lower East Side and moved further up into the Midtown District, which LuAnn still referred to as downtown. Kelly tried to sell her on the Downtown lifestyle. "Nobody knows me down here. If you want to spend your whole day in a hat, you can do that down here. No one cares." Lu frowned and said "I don't know if I like that, dear. I like a little class 'round my ass, y'know?" She looked around the apartment she was in. Lots of floor-to-ceiling windows and a huge terrace. "Oh hell no," she barked. "There's a brick wall out that window. I don't like all these buildings around me. Why are there all these buildings?" Well, LuAnn, because you're in Midtown Manhattan. That's just what they have there. Buildings. "Hey Mary," LuAnn called to the male realtor. "What's this heap worth?" The realtor took a deep breath. "$11,000." LuAnn gasped again. "Eleven th-... Eleven?? Tits on a turkey!" and then, in frustrated shock and rage, she pushed the realtor off the balcony, who went tumbling down to the ground with a helpless scream. Kelly was counting grains of white powder in her head and hadn't noticed. "C'mon, buttons. Let's go back to the Upper East." Yes, in the end LuAnn decided that she was an uptown girl and wanted to live in an uptown world. Which didn't really make all that much sense because she was worried about price? So she's moving to the Upper East Side? Peculiar.
Free of LuAnn, Kelly decided to go home and cook her girls breakfast. Yes, we got a darling domestic scene in which Kelly and her daughters made pancakes. Well, attempted to make pancakes. Mostly Kelly swatted at a box of batter and broke eggs all over the place and set the house on fire and spilled milk everywhere, weeping. Why she felt compelled to show her maternal side to the TV audience by way of a cooking scene when she hardly even knows what a kitchen is, I do not know. But it happened. She crushed the eggs with her hands and threw them into the bowl, shells and all. She said "Oh I'm outta milk, let's use mayonnaise" and dumped a tub of that into the bowl. "Now we add flour..." she said, emptying a five pound bag of the stuff into the bowl. "And we use the dog to stir... and voila! Pancake batter!" The camera panned down to show a curdling ooze, mysterious gases rising from it like a bog. One of Kelly's daughters was playing a no-talking game, choosing to communicate instead through handwritten notes. She kept holding up ironic little quips about the situation and I got cynical for a second and decided that some producer was writing them for her. But I don't know. Maybe she is just quick on the uptake. The other daughter was getting a little stressed out. You get the sense that she's maybe had to pick up a good deal of mom-slack around the house. So she just whined and whimpered and eventually pushed her mom out of the way and made the pancakes herself. She didn't burn the spatula or obliviously pour in rat poison or try to put the pan in the microwave. No, she just calmly made pancakes while Kelly stood there, covered in mustard and marmalade, pleased with the results. The littlest daughter held up a note. It read "S.O.S." Kelly gulped, smiled widely at the camera. "She's a Rihanna fan. Heh."
After that serious bout of cooking, Kelly needed a drink. A beer. Oh Kelly and her beer. It's so very, very weird to me. The other Housewives clearly find it weird too, but they try not to say anything. They just give her confused looks sometimes. Anyway, Kelly went off to have a brewski with LuAnn and Sonja. She hugged them both when she got to the bar and said "Oh, Sonja, you have a little bit of something red in your hair. Is it lipstick or nail polish or something?" Sonja looked at Kelly, a terrible sort of leer on her face. "Yes. Or something." That was enough for Kelly, who turned to the bartender and said "Beer me!" The bartender lowered his little round glasses and said "Beer you? Beer, madame?" LuAnn waved her hand at him and said "Yeah, yeah, I know Fritz. But that's what she wants. A big ol' beer." And so she got one.
The girls got to talking and, you guessed it, they just gossiped and bitched about the wives who weren't there. Well mostly Kelly called Ramona a nutter and LuAnn fondly remembered her "crazy eyes" comment from last season's reunion, and Sonja just sat there in the middle, unsure what to say. So, she just completely changed the subject. "Sex!" she yelled suddenly. "Sex. Let's talk about sex. I loooooove sex. And talking about sex. And doing sex. And making sex. Do you girls ever like to do that thing where you drip the wax all over each other and try to see if you can eat it all off before the mortician comes back and calls the police?" Kelly looked disgusted and made one of her disgusted faces. LuAnn nodded. "Sure, one time." Sonja then gave the girls a lecture about the importance of having sex even if you're single. She then conspiratorially brought up Max to Kelly and Kelly's face hardened and she started rocking back and forth and saying "Yes. Max. Yes. Max." Something bad happened there, didn't it? Something very not good happened with the Kelly/Max situation. Sonja then appeared suddenly on our screens, eyes boring holes in our skulls, and said "If Kelly didn't take advantage of Max's sexuality, she's a fool. A foooool!!!"
Kelly needed to assert herself at this point, embarrassed as she was by the Max situation, so she said "Well, I'm not like you Sonja. I'm really looking to get married." It was then Sonja's turn to get mad. "I want to get married! I just... haven't met the right guy yet." And when I do, he can scream and scream and scream all he wants, but I will never let him go. Never ever. LuAnn, mainlining vermouth at this point, leaned in and slurred to Kelly, "Well you'll always get a guy, because you're such a kid." Kelly reacted weirdly, but LuAnn pressed on. "Personality wise, you're an infant. You're a fuckin' zygote. You're a goddamned gleam in yer daddy's eye. Just a little helpless, dumb kid. That's all you are, sugarbiscuit." Kelly made a harumphy face and Sonja closed her eyes, feeding off of Kelly's delicious rage. Yes, yesss.... she thought, sucking up every last wonderful morsel of Kelly's anger. Then there was an awkward bit where LuAnn made a joke about Kelly taking drugs, and then she hastily added "Naw, Kelly's not the type to do drugs." And all of us, every single one of us, were like "Ummm..." and then there was microphone feedback and then crickets and then dinner was over.
Over at Jill's house, her crazy dog was acting crazy. I don't know what reason the dog has to be so high-strung. I mean, he only lives in the Jill Zarin house. What's nerve-jangling about that? Well anyway, the dog was sick so a vet and her nurse and for some reason a kid and another of Jill's friends came over, just in time for the dog to start pooping everywhere. That dog was really pooping everywhere. And in Jill's beautiful redesigned 1997 MTV Top 20 Videos set! Disaster. Embarrassment and disaster. So there was a scene on last night's Real Housewives in which Jill Zarin's house was full of shit. And that's all we'll say about that.
A party. Who doesn't like a party? Who doesn't like a party for eligible bachelors, at which Kelly Bensimon is the featured guest? Everyone likes that kind of party! So let's go to that kind of party. After all this family time, all of these quiet whispered moments, all this shit, it was time to open this episode up. To throw all the girls in a bowl and shake them around like a Kelly's Kooking recipe. And here was the party. Kelly was on the cover of a non-existent magazine called Gotham Magazine, which was hosting the soiree. So this was Kelly's big shindig, her turf, her model environs. She was worried about the girls showing up because what if they embarrassed her?? KELLY. Have you no faith? How on Earth could those women EVER embarrass you? How could they EVER sully the good name of Gotham Magazine?? This is surely not remotely possible. Tut tut. There there. Don't worry.
And, actually, the girls did OK. They really didn't create much of a stir. Basically what happened was that Ramona and Kelly chatted while having their photograph taken by paparazzi hired by the evil Bravo corporation. Ramona was being oddly nice to Kelly. Y'know, in her scary, herky-jerk way. Ramona decided to make a funny, so while they were taking pictures, she did a lot of fake strangling and hitting of Kelly and made wild faces at the camera. Because, yes, that's what one does at step-and-repeat. You do a little skit about things that the photographers don't understand. "Wait, why is that bird-lady strangling that peanut-lady?" "Hold up, is Dolph Lundgren's drunken sister hitting that Indian man for a reason?" "Let me get something straight, do aardvarks eat earwigs?" These are questions the paparazzi had. And can you blame them?
Another thing that happened at the party is that everyone was dressed like a hooch-magooch. Lawd in heaven, nobody was wearing any clothes. Bethenny gamely pointed this out, referring even to her own barely boob-covering mini-dress. Kelly was wearing Collins from Rent's knit cap as a dress. Jill was in her costume from when she was an extra on Tron Legacy. Ramona was completely naked, but blurred out around the private areas. Not by the Bravo people. That's just what she looks like, always. Sonja was wearing a fashionable but revealing skinsuit. Alex had on a flapper's outfits from a 1920s pornography film. And Simon was wearing hotpants and a pink Red Sox baby tee. Girls, behave!! You ladies is nasty, and I like it! Oh, Lunz was there too, but she was just in her usual Daisy Dukes and Butt's Nut Hut, Carson City NV T-shirt, so nothing remarkable there. But yeah, the girls were looking skimpy, so it was a perfect time for serious discussion.
Bethenny told everyone she was engaged. Well, everyone but Jill and Crackers. They had gotten up and left the sitting area when Bethenny showed up. But everyone else heard. Ramona was the first to find out and rather than let Bethenny have her moment telling the other girls, she just shrieked it out and took control of the news. Yay Ramona! So everyone now knew, except for Jill and Cracks. Kelly ran up to them and told them and Jill looked very conflicted. She wanted to congratulate Bethenny, but she also had this beautiful grudge to hold onto. This wonderful, life-giving grudge. What to do! Well, eventually her hand was forced. Bethenny was leaving and Jill knew she couldn't look like an asshole and not say anything, so she ran over and tapped her on the shoulder. (I'm sure Simon, who had earlier gone to persuade Jill to be nice, felt responsible for this. But he wasn't. When Simon talks to the other Housewives, I think they just hear faint strains of Donna Summer songs and feel a slight chill. They don't even know he's there.) Bethenny reeled around and said "Oh, hi." Jill said congratulations about five times and then freaked out about the ring. Bethenny stood stone silent as Jill prattled on, embarrassingly. Finally Jill got the hint and bid Jason and Bethenny goodnight. Bethenny told us that she was done, done forever, she and Jill were over completely. Jill told us that she wants to work on the friendship. Ah cruel timing! It's rarely just right, is it?
So off everyone shimmied in their tiny garments, back to their little burrows and hovels and pits, their poop-filled lairs where they are planning their next negotiation.
Sonja turns the wheel of a rack more and more, barely aware of the anguished moans coming from the table, nearly oblivious to the rip and tear of bone. "Oops, too far," she says as she feels a spurt of blood on her face. "Now we can't play the sexy game!" She pauses for a moment, considers. "Well, I guess maybe we can. Let me get the beekeeping outfit." She tromps upstairs, opens the heavy wooden door, leaving her newest conquest bleeding and dying on the table. Oh why did I ever cast her, Andy Cohen thinks. What was I thinking?
Alex and Simon sit in their boudoir, discussing each other's wardrobes. Should Alex have gone with the burlap again? Are Simon's parasol days over, or still in full swing? (Full swing, obviously.) Once they are tired of that game, Simon leans back on the bed and Alex snuggles up next to him and they lie there for a long while, listening to each other's breathing. Eventually Alex closes her eyes and says softly to Simon, "I'm very comfortable, you know." Because he is already asleep, dreaming of fields of suede and leather, Simon doesn't respond. But Alex is glad to have said it. She is glad that it's true.
Kelly goes home to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Afterward, as she stands outside watching her house burn down, she wonders if maybe she should have paid more attention in home ec. If maybe being a spunky kid wasn't enough. Maybe it really is time to be a grownup. To put on glasses. To wear shawls. To wear pants to magazine parties. To drink wine or tea or spirits. "M'am, you can't drink that here," a policeman says to Kelly, pointing at her paper-wrapped forty. "Aw come on," she says. "That's my house burning down. Did you know that you're not supposed to fry jelly?" The policeman shakes his head and says "Oh, I don't know anything about cooking." "That makes two of us, I guess," Kelly sighs. She offers the bottle to the policeman, a young guy, barely out of his teens. "You want?" He almost reaches for the bottle, hesitates, and then shakes his head. "Nah, I'd better not." Kelly nods her head. "Fair enough, fair enough. I probably shouldn't either." She puts the bottle down on the curb and walks over to her daughters, little faces streaked with soot and tears. "Aw, I'm sorry girls. Hey, what say I take you guys to Denny's?" The littlest girl starts scribbling something down on a piece of paper. Kelly waits, hoping it's something good. She waits and waits and waits.
Bethenny stands in the window of her apartment, looking out at the city. It all looks different now, all of a sudden. Jason comes up behind her, hugs her tight. He puts his hand on her stomach and says "When do you think we'll feel her kick?" Bethenny closes her eyes, leans her head back on his chest. "When she's ready," she says. "When she's ready." Somewhere not too far off, Jill sits alone on her couch. She sniffs the air. Can she still smell poop? Is all the shit gone? She can't tell if she's going crazy or if there really is something lingering, if she didn't get every last bit. She sniffs the air again. She needs a second opinion. She reaches for the phone, picks it up, puts it to her ear, listens to the mournful song of the dial tone. She thinks about who to call. She can't think of anyone, she realizes. "Shit," she says, out loud. "Shit."
And LuAnn wanders the Upper East Side, peering into windows, seeing happy families in happy mansions. She thinks about years and time, how everything is disappearing, every second of every day. Suddenly she remembers something. "That's right!" she says to herself. She hails a cab, gives the driver an address, downtown. When she gets out she is standing in front of an old fire escape-scarred building on the Lower East Side. She walks up to it, presses number 3 on the buzzer. A croaky voice answers. "Huhlo?" LuAn is nervous. She takes a breath. "Johnny? Is this Johnny Apples?" There's a pause. Someone is deciding something. Finally, the voice comes back. "Who wants to know?" LuAnn laughs. "Johnny, it's Crackers. It's Lunny Tunes." She hears a shuffle, a cough, someone has dropped something. "Christ on a cookie, LuAnn? Is that you?" "Yeah baby, it's me. Can I come up? It's been... twenty years, I guess." "Hell, more than that," Johnny scratches. "Sure, sure come on up. Place is a dump, but I know you don't mind." LuAnn laughs again. "You're right. I don't mind a dump one bit."
The buzzer sounds and LuAnn pushes her way in and heads up the stairs, the bzzzzzzzt sound ringing out behind her, onto the street, as if to say to the entire city, to all of us, "Welcome, welcome. Please, come on in."