There's a brand new bitch in town ... and her name's Hurricane Irene. Actually, she's pretty impressive: She's not even in Franklin Lakes yet and she's already causing more drama than all the "Housewives" put together. "When they say a hurricane's coming," Teresa explains to viewers, "mostly what they mean is a lot of rain and windy. Right? I don't know." It's always sad when you can actually see her brain waving a tiny white flag.
As lightning flashes and thunder grumbles, Melissa and Teresa are busy packing for their upcoming Napa trip. They're leaving the kids behind, which is probably a great idea, considering they may kill each other. I'm no therapist, but I think it might scar young ones to watch a blood bath; at the very least, it would stain some of their darling little outfits. As they fold up tiny bikinis and throw in stilettos, it becomes obvious that they missed the camping memo/have no idea how cold Northern California can get.
Jacqueline's having a tough time, too. "What is the art-interary?" she asks her husband Chris while holding up some heinously ugly gold platform heels. "Will I be needing these?" Chris replies with some very painful words: "Bring three outfits that you can wear out, and the rest is casual." Her face deflates like she forgot to get her monthly Botox injections. That's like telling a singer to only belt out three notes! Like asking a hungry person to take three bites! Like being totally rational with an unbalanced, unfashionable creature!
Teresa gives her fake luggage a break from packing to focus on her emotional baggage instead. She tells Joe that she's still really worried about the dynamic with Jacqueline. "It was like a friendship divorce," she reminds him. "I hope everything goes good." Joe assuages her fears, reminding her that he'll be her Suzie Playpal if things go crazy bad. "OK!" she shrieks happily before jumping in his arms with as much grace as a hefty ballerina who actually ate the black swan.
Over at Chris, Albie and Greg's apartment, Albie has decided that since he's known his lady friend Lindsey for more than 15 seconds, it's time for her to move in with him. It's just until she can straighten out her housing situation, he explains. "I can't stay here -- it's a boy apartment!" she says in a very convincing voice that really means, "Omgomgomgomgomgomg! Of course I'll stay here! Let's play house and wear matching footie pajamas and talk all night about our feelings!" Albie's pretty psyched. "This is the first time I've had this sensation before," he says with a big smile. Let's hope he's gotten aforementioned sensation checked out by a doctor, amiright?
The show flashes to a clip of Matt Lauer and NJ governor Chris Christie working themselves into a frenzy over this faux-slut Irene. As you'll recall, it was basically the biggest tease of a hurricane: It talked a big game, told us it was going to rock our world, then barely did a thing.
Still, hindsight is 20/20, and Chrissy decided to shut down all the airports. That means the housewives need to drive five hours to Pittsburgh instead of taking a nice direct flight. It will end up taking them 21 hours to get to California. Caroline cuts to the chase when describing the snafu: "Misery." The unexpected delays are so mind-boggling that they actually bring the traveling circus together. "When we get there," a tired, newly-inflated Jacqueline says, "we are going to be group hugging. I am going to pull out their chair. We are going to love each other so much!" "I just hope it's not the calm before the storm," Kathy says.
Somehow, they all manage to board flight no. 1 to Houston on time. Then comes flight no. 2 to San Francisco. Though everyone's totally delirious, they're in shockingly good spirits for a group that's been traveling all day in cramped quarters. "I think the early pioneers probably got there quicker than we did," Kathy remarks.
Once aboard the bus that will take them to their RV, Caroline takes a minute to assess the completely inappropriate camping outfits everyone is wearing. "Look at Teresa's shoes," she cries, pointing to the blue fringe high-heeled abominations to nature. "At least they're Aztec-y," Teresa replies. "We're going to a Native American place, no? We're out in the West, right?" Sigh. You can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can't take the utterly crushing stupidity out of the girl.
Instead of commenting, everyone decides to focus on more intellectual pursuits: Figuring out how cows have sexy cow time. They pull up some sort of horrifying video on YouTube and shriek as they watch the magic happen. It's a real bonding moment for everyone involved, though there's probably a cow somewhere out there feeling a little Paris Hilton-y. Don't worry, lady cow. It'll do wonders for your career, too.
After they've tired of "Hardcore Cow," everyone remembers that they're on a vacation and asks Chris where exactly they're going. He explains that they're about to pick up the RVs and buy supplies, then head to Half Moon Bay. Caroline shrieks "WHAT!?" like she had no clue that there would be camping on their camping trip. Because there's not enough room in the RVs, the kids may have to sleep on the beach. You can imagine how well that goes over.
They hit up Camping World, and it's like "letting wild animals go free," Jacqueline explains. (It's kinda like the Sephora of outdoor stuff, except without all the little applicators.) They grab boxes and boxes of crap they will definitely never use, and stick out like sore, glittery thumbs the whole time. The camera flashes to the cash register, and it kaching-kachings upwards of $4,000. "Maybe we should have checked with each other to see what each other got first? I think maybe we overbought," Jacqueline observes as she watches overflowing carts go by.
The only thing Caroline cares about is her contraband: The box of sausage, provolone and mozzarella that Lauren's boyfriend Vito brought. (Nope, not going to make a joke about this. Nothing amusing/predictable about a big guy bringing a box of food across the country.) It must be hidden from the rest of the gang, so Caroline very subtly brings it into her RV by shrieking and making a spectacle of herself and her cheese wheels. Joe Giudice is hip to their secret, but he gets hush money in the form of a meat-filled casing.
Just as they're finally about to disembark, Teresa -- who we've always known was full of shit -- announces that she's actually full of shit. "My stomach's killing me," she groans from the teeny-tiny bathroom. Chris tries to get in touch with the Gorga/Giudice crew via walkie talkie, but they're not responding. "I didn't want to poop in the RV," Teresa moans. Finally, Joe Gorga answers the call, informing Chris that, "Uh, Teresa's uh, having a s--- attack." As Joe Gorga pulls out of the parking lot, he runs over the grass and instills fear in the hearts of all drivers on the Pacific Coast Highway.
A note about the PCH if you've never driven it: It is Satan's highway. Sure the view is stunning, but it's incredibly tiny, full of twists and turns and oh -- did I mention that if you veer about two inches in the wrong direction you'll plunge to your death off a cliff? Definitely not for the faint of heart. You're certainly not a loser if, say, while trying to maneuver it with your friends a few months ago, you ended up gagging violently behind tourists snapping pics in the scenic "kodak moment" roadside stops. Nope, I have zero idea what that would be like.
Greg's a hot mess behind the wheel, inspiring Kathy to break out the rosary beads and question the choices she's made in her life. "I'm like Sandra Bullock in 'Speed,'" he says with glee.
When they pull up to Half Moon Bay, Teresa's jaw drops below her fake boobs. She was expecting a "posh" beach with five-star amenities, but they're essentially in a parking lot. "That's not camping. That's homeless," Albie says. "I'd rather have the hurricane."
Caroline, as she does, sums everything up perfectly: "Crazy just rolled in. Coming out like a pack of wild animals because we've been caged so long. Nobody's dressed appropriately, nobody knows how to do anything. We are Italian. Camping for us is dry sausage and provolone!"
As the men who build houses for a living try and fail to assemble tents, Teresa and Melissa decide to meet their neighbors. They approach the group of people who actually are prepared for camping and find out that the cool thing to do at night is to drink moonshine and look generally unattractive. Teresa decides to tell everyone that she hates this location and wishes she was somewhere far, far away. That goes over well. Something tells me these neighbors won't be sending postcards when they leave. Another thing tells me they've got non-ironic membership cards to Camping World.
Teresa and Kathy's husband Rich agree that they are not pleased with this spot, and Kathy's overjoyed. "You're getting off to a good start," she squeals. The special moment reminds Rich of happier times years ago, before tiny cracks in their relationship deepened and tore open like a wound.
Now that Teresa's on the right track with Rich, she decides it's time to clear the air with Kathy. The topic is, of course, Kathy's suggestion that Teresa used her mom's cookie recipes in her book. "I don't remember saying that," Kathy muses as the show flashes back to the exact moment when she said it. "I'm glad you're talking about it and you didn't let it eat up at you," Kathy tells her. With that problem solved, Kathy delves into the issues Teresa's having with Jacqueline. "We're good people. I'm sure God is watching over us," Teresa explains. Poor God. He must still be wondering what went wrong with that one.
Over in Kathy and Richie's boom boom room on wheels, poor Greg and Lauren's boyfriend Vito are being subjected to some Discovery Channel-esque mating rituals. Shhh. Listen carefully as the sex-crazed male subtly tells the others in his herd to back off: "Even though you guys are welcome guests here, you're screwing up my game." Watch as he marks his territory and simultaneously makes everyone dry heave by announcing that his female is a "screamer." Note that the female puffs up his ego by stating that "once a day isn't even enough sometimes!"
Unfortunately, the only thing hot about Melissa and Teresa's RV is the temperature: Someone set the thermostat to 101 degrees, and the only reason anyone's taking their pants off is to avoid melting into a puddle of self-tanner and sweat. Of course the culprit was Mr. Joe Giudice. Numbers are confusing little suckers, so my guess is he blacked out somewhere after 60 and decided to crank the air up to a number that seemed more friendly and/or reminded him of a very complex movie. (You've probably seen it ... lots of dalmatians.)
The heat has definitely gone to their heads, and Melissa jumps in bed with Teresa and Joe Giudice. "Damn, you wearing a bra?" she marvels as she fondles Teresa's allegedly rock-hard implants. "Yours are hard, too," Teresa says politely. Melissa's really invested in fondling Teresa, and for someone who claims she's "not close" to her sister-in-law, this is pretty freakin' close.
Never one to be outdone in the "uncomfortable sexual advances" arena, Melissa's husband Joe flashes the other trailer. "He's very proud of Tarzan, which is completely understandable," Melissa notes. Then, things take a totally nasty turn and Bravo! has to break out the censorship. It's a very family-friendly morning in a Woody Allen/Soon-Yi way.
Breaking news: Even Caroline is enjoying herself in her own special, scowling bulldog way. She gets a kick out of the less-intelligent humans around her, and appreciates how everyone's helping each other out. Still, keeping the peace doesn't mean she's open to making up with Teresa.
Since they're baking faster than sprinkle cookies in their RV, Teresa asks Melissa if she'd like to go take a walk on the beach. "I guess ..." Melissa squeaks hesitantly from beneath a blanket. Shock of shocks, mopey Melissa wishes she was in a bikini instead of striped old man PJs. Teresa doesn't really mind tramping around in her jim-jams 'cause they are silky blue leopard. I gotta hand it to her -- girlfriend manages to look trashy even during her REM cycle. Still, all Melissa wants is some semblance of a happy family, so she accepts the invite.
As they survey the gorgeous scene, Teresa is struck by the beauty of it all. She realizes that life is fleeting, and that her problems are as small as a grain of sand on the beach. Ohh hahaha just kidding it's time to talk more about how cousin Kathy is a lying, two-faced baking whore who should burn in the Easy-Bake oven of hell.
She tells Melissa that Kathy -- gasp! -- thinks that her mother's recipes are in the dessert section of Teresa's cook book. By confiding in Melissa, she's probably hoping for an ally... but that's not how this cookie crumbles. "She says that your mom called her [Kathy] up and asked her for the recipe," Melissa says innocently. "And then her mom gave it to your mom and you put it in the book." Teresa's about as flabbergasted as someone who never stops talking long enough to be speechless can be. As per usual, Teresa has a really biting, witty retort: "NO! She didn't tell me that last NIGHT."
I'm not totally sure what Melissa's motive was there. Teresa's olive branch may have been greased with self-serving salve, but it was definitely extended. In that moment, it seems like she wanted a shoulder to bitch on, but Melissa definitely didn't give it to her. Instead of listening and silently disagreeing -- which would have been about as easy as, oh, listening and silently disagreeing -- she goes out of her way to add fuel to the fire, throwing Kathy right into the flames. Melissa's desire to prove that being friendly doesn't mean she's automatically on Teresa's side was greater than her allegiance to Kathy ... and that speaks volumes about her, IMO. (Mom: That means "in my opinion.") Either way, it's obvious that Cookiegate isn't going to blow over anytime soon.
Melissa takes the opportunity to throw grammar to the wind and throw her two cents in. "Me and you had a tiff. Then, you and Kathy had a problem. You had a little thing with Caroline, you had a little thing with Jacqueline. You need to sit back for a minute and say, 'What am I doing wrong? Why am I having an issue with everyone.'"
Teresa handles the gentle criticism like any red-blooded psycho: Loudly. She launches into a tirade, accusing Melissa of having latent issues with her. Since Melissa doesn't raise her voice in return, Teresa backs down, breaking out her favorite "I don't hold grudges" speech. She methodically recounts all the issues she's had with every woman, placing blame on everyone but herself. Still, she expresses a desire to fix what's broken and Melissa considers it a breakthrough conversation.
Melissa and Teresa have successfully had a real "serious" talk without nasty words or flying fists. Yay for being adults! Yay for AMERICA! As they walk back toward their shared RV, all bundled up in snuggly blankets and warm thoughts, it seems there may be some hope for that completely demented family after all.
... Let's just hope nobody claims their mother invented s'mores at the campfire.