Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 5, Episode 13 of Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," titled "Horse Whisperer to a Scream"
After a restful evening without kids, Jacqueline and Chris have a skinny breakfast of OJ, coffee, and gulps of air. As they sip, Jacqueline brings up Teresa's strange 'karma' comment from the night before. Chris reminds her to be wary -- after all, Teresa has yet to say she's sorry, and she could really use an Imodium for her case of the mouth runs. Speaking of shitting one's pants, Jacqueline nearly soils hers when the karma chameleon herself sneaks up and jumps out at them. "Ready to go?!" Teresa shrieks from her terrifying perch behind them. Jacqueline screams and laughs, delighted by the calm-shattering move. Chris just shakes his head. His shirt says "defy expectations" ... and so far, Teresa hasn't come close to meeting his.
Next, the group is off to their "horse healing." I'm picturing a pony dressed up in a saucy Dr. Quinn Medicine Stallion outfit, but the session is a lot less sexy. Though Joe Gorga thinks he's hung like one, this group has no experience with horses ... and the only animals the ladies have ridden lately are their husbands.
Turns out, though, that this isn't at all about mounting the creatures -- it's about getting one to trust you/allow you to clean its hooves. "He responds to one thing: authenticity. When you're being less than authentic, he can pick that up," equine therapist Wyatt Web says. (If you missed the show, picture a mix of Kenny Rogers and Santa Claus post-lap band surgery and you've got Wyatt.) With that, Chris Laurita stands up and gingerly approaches the horse's powerful hindquarters. The light touch works, and the horse submits to his pedicure.
Everyone is awed by Chris ... except Rich. He's the kinda guy who looks a gift horse in the mouth and then offers it a cannoli. "This guy is a genius," he says sarcastically. "He charges people to come here and clean his horses." Wyatt's not having any of it, and he slams a zinger right back at Rich. "This guy creates jokes so he don't have to pay attention to how he feels."
Quick, someone get Rich to a hospital, stat! He's got 5th degree BAZINGAs! Rich gets embarrassed and finally shuts up. Looks like Mr. Wyatt is the Ass Whisperer.
A very nervous Rosie stands next, and she quickly tells Wyatt that she's afraid the horse won't work with her. "Would that say that you're not good enough?" he asks, skipping 10 years on the couch and getting right to the point. Rosie wells up and says that "most of the time I don't feel like I'm good enough. Most of my life." She explains in her interview that she's very alone, and fears she's "not worthy" of a relationship. It's a poignant and painful admission, and it seems she's been bursting to put words to those feelings for quite some time.
Back in Arizona, Wyatt tells Rosie that now's the time to acknowledge that she always has been good enough. He says he's confident that the horse will react to her open, clear heart ... and he does. Everyone cheers, and Rosie stands up and treats us to a proud smile. "It looks good on you," Wyatt says kindly. Can someone give this guy a spin-off already?!
Now it's Melissa's turn, and she's not having as much luck with the horse ... or Wyatt. "That's that whore-on-a-stroll walk" Wyatt says as she saunters up to the horse in her Daisy Dukes. I was going to say prostitute-a-prancing (that's actually what you get on the lesser known and rarely sung about 13th day of Christmas).
I assume he's about to say that her attitude and swagger is a front for some much tougher feelings, but instead he asks if she ever "gets resentful if people don't appreciate how much effort [she] puts in to being nice to them." He informs her that there's a difference between "being nice and being manipulative," and the look she gives him is the human equivalent of a swift hoof to the head. As Wyatt continues, it's obvious that he's got a Team Teresa t-shirt on under that vest.
Melissa calls up her husband for help, who in turn calls up Teresa. Teresa fumbles, then runs away. Melissa follows suit, much to Caroline's dismay. "They didn't open up. They didn't get what the exercise was supposed to be: challenging yourself in front of other people," she says.
As Rich stands for his turn, Joe Giudice walks away, cell phone glued to his ear. "Whataya doing?" he coos in his juiciest voice. It's like the vineyards all over again, and Teresa jumps up to follow him -- uh, not 'cause she doesn't, like, trust him or anything, just 'cause maybe he'd get lost 10 feet away from them. They are in the desert, after all. "We're over here playing with horses," he giggles into his iPhone. "Aw God, here comes ..." and then, just when producers probably started to salivate and picture a ratings spike, he says "...here comes mommy!" and hands the phone to Teresa. Either Joe's piece on the side is seriously underage, or it really is Milania calling to check in.
Joe puts Milania on speaker phone to prove his innocence, but now I've caught ol' Wyatt Fever and can't help but read Teresa's body language. There's something uneasy about her stance, like a dog slowly relaxing after tensing up in preparation for a fight.
As poor, fragile Jacqueline stands, she immediately dissolves into tears. Of everyone in the crowd, it's Teresa who urges her on and then jumps up to hug her when she's successfully taken her turn. It's a sweet reminder of what their relationship used to be ... and what it can evolve into, if they both let their guards down.
Next, it's the moment Bravo's been shoving down our throats since last week: Joe Giudice's big breakthrough. He hesitates, then the horse rebuffs him, much like the American justice system. Wyatt asks him what he's scared of, and Joe replies "I've just got lawyers involved and stuff like that." Remember: at this point in filming, Joe's facing 10 years for obtaining a false driver's license. The 39-count indictment and possible 50-year sentence isn't even on their radar. He did this to himself ... but still, it's sort of hard not to feel bad for the poor slob. Reality is about to hit him like a ton of horse sh**.
For someone who has refused to acknowledge his situation at all, those few words are enough to stun everyone in the cast. It's a big step, and Wyatt doesn't push it. "You acknowledge your fear, and it stops having power over you" he says simply. Then, Joe gets the horse to hold his hand. Now if only he could try that with the government's lawyers ...
Then, just when you think things can't get more intense/Wyatt can't possibly see into another soul, Caroline and Al step into the ring. Wyatt takes one look into Al's deep, troubled eyes and asks if he was emotionally abused. Al hesitates, then says yes. It's actually spooky how quickly this cowboy healer is able to find the source of a grown man's most private pain. Caroline explains that Al had a "strict, demanding" father who went to extremes when parenting, but leaves it at that. A single tear rolls down Al's face, then he and Caroline easily gain the horse's trust. I guess even Mr. Ed saw that terrifying moment when Caroline screamed "WE'RE THICK AS THIEVES." He's definitely not messing with that bad mama jama.
Though most people walked away from the therapy feeling some sort of raw emotion, Teresa got nothing since she refused to take even one brick out of the wall she's built around herself. "For people who have insecurities or issues, that was good for them," she says by way of explanation.
Unfortunately for us, she doesn't keep her naked body as heavily guarded as her feelings.
Since Teresa loves herself a jacuzzi-borne UTI/yeast infection combo, she trots out to their bacteria love tub to see what she can pick up. She's clad in an ultra-sparkly g-string bikini, and My Little Ponies collectively weep as she parades around in the skin of their beloved Sunset Shimmer. She was a good pony, albeit a tad gaudy.
"I got so much therapy that I don't think I'll need therapy for the rest of my life," Joe says as he tosses back a glass of wine. Teresa laughs and laughs because she loves everything he says when it's not "my cu*t wife." He starts to mumble about the horses and how they knew he was afraid, and Teresa praises him for being so open. "It's always there. You get up thinking about it," he says seriously. "It's not like I'm a f***ing criminal ... Never killed nobody, never f***ing did anything to hurt anybody, so I don't belong there or f***ing want to go there."
I'm not sure if it's the wine or Teresa's pornokini that loosened him up, but I enjoy this new, chatty Joe. Sure, he's still 100 percent unevolved -- but now he seems like a cro mag who might enjoy an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" in private. McConvict, if you will.
"I don't want him to be scared of anything. If he's scared of something, it makes me scared of something. We're going to get through this together," Teresa says in her interview. Her mouth says she's sure, but her eyes seem to search the camera, as if the reassurance she needs might be somewhere behind the lens.
Later, Teresa and Joe join the gang for some wine and drums by the fire. A Navajo man implores them to make "one heartbeat" on their personal drums, but most of them look like they'd prefer to have a heart attack.
Turns out the wine is as open as everyone's souls, and soon it flows freely. Joe Giudice is now on the floor like a horse, and Joe Gorga is on top of him like the tiny jockey he was destined to be.
Teresa and Jacqueline take this homoerotic moment to slip outside and sit by the fire for a little burning ceremony. No, they're not discussing how to rid Teresa of the itching sensation she left the jacuzzi with: they're writing issues on pieces of paper and saying goodbye to them forever. Jacqueline hesitates, then decides to bring the show full circle and mention the comment again. Whether karma's going to get their kids doesn't really matter to this writer anymore ... 'cause I'm pretty sure it's going to bore me to death first.
"Real Housewives of New Jersey" airs on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.