Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 4, Episode 2 of Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey."
Forgive Jacqueline's daughter, for she has sinned -- and now she's being sent to a city full of her kind. It may have taken countless years (and three seasons on Bravo!), but Ashley's self-destruction timer finally went off, and the explosion rocked her mom into reality. Now, she's heading to live with her aunt and uncle in Vegas.
Ashley contains her sobs when Caroline's son (and Ashley's cousin) Albie comes to bring her to the airport. Jacqueline's glee is so intense that her face actually registers emotion, which is impressive considering she's got enough Botox in her to stun a small animal. The scene is totally what Normal Rockwell would paint ... if he had a complete nervous breakdown. Albie sums Ashley up pretty well. "Ashley thinks she's Ke$ha. She thinks that a limo is going to pull up and shopping bags are going to fly everywhere and she's going to jump in and there's going to be ... men and that's it, that's how life is supposed to be." So far, she's got a dude driving her and a rolly-bag to a flight -- so Ke$ha better watch her bedazzled back.
Meanwhile, Caroline's more well-adjusted daughter, Lauren, is having some trouble of her own. Once she ruled out thyroid issues and a "tumor in her stomach," she realized she was pretty much just fat. But honestly, some fluctuation in the pants department makes sense considering her career is in shambles. Lauren is ready to be a "Skinny Italian," so she and her mom head to nutritionist Dr. Nicholas Perricone. It's all really hard for mom Caroline, who feels bad that the member of her "thick as thieves" family who wants to go into beauty is just, well, thick. Dr. P introduces Lauren to the new meal that will help her loose 35-40 pounds: A jar of urine-colored liquid deliciousness. (He calls it "pasteurized egg whites.") She can also have her urine in a chocolate flavor, plus a nosh of mixed berries. "That's fine, that's a lot!" Caroline says encouragingly. Lauren could exercise or just eat healthier, but near-starvation on a crash diet feels safe and easy, too.
Speaking of healthy choices, we get another glimpse at the restaurant Teresa's husband Joe owned. Note the use of past tense there. Why'd the dough fail to rise? Joe explains that "the first three days I got bombarded. Couldn't keep up. If you don't get the lunches out on time, I ain't comin' back. Plus, I couldn't be there all the time, I didn't have a license. So, I decided to get rid of it." Luckily, Teresa doesn't think her husband getting arrested/having his license suspended/running a business into the ground could be classified as a failure. She files that under "life lesson" in the teeny-tiny learning department of her mind.
Luckily, Joe has a big plan. He's going to tear down the gas station across the street, put the nice person working there out of business and and create a lovely building for senior citizens. He doesn't explain what will happen to the seniors once they enter, but if they survive the lingering stench of gas fumes, I bet there will be Bingo!
Since this episode is establishing who's flush and who's bust, we head on over to see if that's a wad of money in Joe Gorga's pocket or if he's just happy to see us. Melissa and Joe put on quite a show at his office, explaining that someday, the whole building will go to their son Joey, while their other two children will inherit a property too. Unfortch, Melissa doesn't get any buildings. The only thing she gets is "THIS!" her horn dog husband explains, pointing downward. So maybe he's giving her ... the rug? Gosh, I wish he'd be a little more sexually explicit sometimes.
Meanwhile, Ashley misses her flight and gets stuck on standby. Jacqueline's not surprised at the screw-up, but she refuses to let that ruin her dinner with the Gorgas, Manzos and Giudices. Everyone is in good spirits -- even Lauren, who seems to be subbing wine for her urine jug. Then, good ol' A$hlee walks in. Looks like she's getting a bit more time in the loving fake bosoms of her momma after all! They keep their family problems private by not going into the other room to discuss things and berating each other in front of their horrified guests. Ashley's step-father explains that he'll personally escort her to the airport the next day, and all she has to do is wake up -- which, for someone who has admitted to drinking NyQuil "with a straw," may be a daunting task.
Speaking of mind-bogglingly dumb things, Teresa and Joe are about to arrive. As they approach, the other families make a "No Provoking Anyone" pact. Yeah. 'Cause every dinner with the Giudice's doesn't come with a side of verbal assault. Once they're inside, Teresa's about to speak ... but Lauren's boyfriend Vito enters and everyone has to scream his name. Teresa tries again -- but Kathy needs to talk about the meatballs. Teresa won't let a bunch of balls silence her, no matter how nicely they're seasoned. She gets right into it. "It's a family cookbook, and I didn't write it to offend anyone, so anyone who took offense to it, I apologize. It wasn't malicious." She's mostly met with uncomfortable silence until Melissa, who must have been rehearsing this for days, says, "We'll take one for the team ... and you can make a little extra cash." Somehow, no heads get torn off and dipped in marinara sauce. The women practice their poker faces upstairs while the men play cards in the basement ... but after the hands are dealt, the fists fly.
Apparently, men will always be boys. Some comment Joe Giudice made about height sparked a brawl with the Kathy's husband Rich (the Lebanese Jeff Goldblum), and judging from Joe's black eye and bloody nose, he lost. Oddly enough, the mess wasn't aired. Now Joe has to watch Teresa have all the success ... with one peeper. Since Teresa brings in the bacon, Joe has to cook it. Luckily, he has help from 6-year-old Milania. "You're not a cooker, you're a hooker," she screams as he tends to the evening meal. Aw, someone's learning her rhymes!
But don't worry, Joe is a very doting father. When his 2-year-old daughter Audriana is bleeding, he is sure to carefully pour himself a full glass of wine before checking it out. Dehydration is no laughing matter! With the children off maiming each other in another room, the Manzo boys and Jacqueline's husband come by to get down on Joe's grub. He explains that he's over the punch, but he can't shake his legal battles. Turns out, getting your license suspended after a DWI and then getting caught fraudulently obtaining another license can't be fixed with a frozen bag of peas. He may not be able to drive, but he sure as hell can still drink ... and as he gets tipsy, he rails on his brother-in-law. "I believe in karma -- and that comes around. I've been through the worst of the worst, and I managed to survive. Let's see if he could survive." Oprah, give this spiritual man an OWN show already!
While Joe nurses his wounds, Kathy hangs with her not-beaten-up family. Kathy's son, Joey, is definitely the coolest kid on the entire show. In his mini-suit with his tie all undone and a devil-may-care 'tude, he's like a baby Ryan Gosling. When his mom discovers that a lady sent him naked photos via their family email, he never gawks with Wile E. Coyote eyes like his dad. In fact, he plays it cool and doesn't even try to look. He's like, "Hey girl, it's the thought that counts." Kathy throws a fit that, oddly enough, ends with her showing him the pics. "Recognize her butt-ex?" dad asks. (Joey doesn't.) In fact, his only real comment is the universal hand sign for "boobies." And, oddly enough ... he makes it look classy.
So far, there's been a whole lot more fighting than loving in this episode. Luckily, Melissa feels a lot of feelings and she'd like very much for you to know about them. Melissa wants to thank her husband Joe for her "dream-come-true life," but she cannot fully express herself in spoken word: She MUST sing. Yes, she made a ballad for her man. (I seriously just Googled "slang names for a sex addict," but got nothing good.) The tune's called "How Many Times ... Dear Joe." Aha! That's what she was doing in the basement! And all this time Joe probably hoped she was building an S&M dungeon. After a romantic meal, she plays the song for her adoring lovah -- and in a world where "Tardy for the Party" exists, it's actually not so bad. Since autotune and inadequacy are known aphrodisiacs, the lovebirds retire to their room to see "How Many Times ..." they can do somethin' else.
Our hour of heartwarming family programming comes to an end with Ashlee and her step-dad heading to the airport yet again. A Xanax dulls her nerves and she's flying the veerrrrrry friendly skies. If only they made a pill to fix her mom's fears that Ashley will sink "deeper and deeper into depression and never do anything with her life." Jacqueline pulls out the baby book and sobs. Meanwhile, family videos of a teeny, not-yet-demented-or-blonde Ashley dance onscreen. If only everyone was still that innocent.
"The Real Housewives of New Jersey" airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo.