The first words of this episode are, interestingly enough, from the lost "Jersey" book of the Bible: "And then Lauren said unto Kathy, 'You are a saint!' And there was much agreement and laughter from the very tan apostles." As you'll recall from last week's episode, Kathy was blatantly left out of Teresa's brilliant toast, but she didn't make a big deal of it -- and for that, she's applauded. Before things can go sour, Joe Gorga attempts to turn the tides by suggesting they all jump in the hot tub. Before you can say, "I bet you're just saying that so you can take your pants off," Joe takes his pants off.
Just when you thought it was safe to look at the TV again, Joe Giudice drops trou too, causing eyes across the country to explode. I will need to seriously repress that memory for as long as I live. Always happy to float by their men, Teresa and Melissa hop in too. Someone shouts for Kathy to join ... but she's not down to mix bodily fluids just yet. "I don't know," she says all snarky-like. "I don't want to ruin the family love here. Obviously there ain't no family love if I wasn't in the toast." Though she would like to think that her admission was unintentional, she knows her cousin far too well. Though Teresa doesn't seem capable of premeditated ... anything, she's got "Mean Girl" blood coursing through her veins.
In her defense, Teresa says the toast wasn't "about Kathy and Richie. It was about me and my brother working things out, it was Caroline's birthday, and Jacqueline and Chris put the trip together. What did Kathy and Rich do? Nothing!" While it's true, it's also quite petty. This isn't the Oscars, for goodness sake. There won't be a musical "get the hell off stage" warning. Just throw everyone a friggin' bone and please, try to break a leg and your jaw on the way out.
Still, Kathy's not mad enough to avoid the tiny STD pond. She and her hubby splash down, and he remarks that it's "like old times." Kathy seconds that, but notes that she doesn't want to have any unresolved issues. That's everyone's cue to leave them alone to simmer in their issues. As the makeup runs down her face, Kathy's bulging eyeballs confront Teresa about her issues with the group -- and specifically with Caroline. Problem is, they're speaking loudly enough for everyone to hear them. Ahhhh, wine! Nature's delicious way of ensuring that nobody has secrets.
From her fully-clothed perch on dry land, Caroline takes it all in like she's watching a TV show and hoping the leading lady is killed in a finale that does not turn out to be a dream sequence. Since she's no longer invested, Teresa's inner-turmoil just makes her smirk. I'm not even sure why Kathy, with all that she knows about Caroline, is trying to talk her into a reconciliation. "I love her like a sister," Teresa says. Then she brings up the "D" word: Caroline's estranged sister. "You gonna go in there?" Caroline's son asks her. "No," Caroline replies with her hand over her mouth. "I'll throw her off the roof if I go in there." She very readily admits that she'd like to give Teresa a little hot tub "baptism." Something tells me she might hold Teresa's holier-than-thou head under for a liiiittle too long. You call it assault, I call it "ensuring true cleanliness!"
Try as she might, Kathy's attempt to get through Teresa's "fabulicious haze" doesn't seem to be working. Although Teresa claims she wants to get back on track with Caroline and co., it seems she has officially gone over to the dark and glittery side. She's all talk and no action -- and finally, she puts an end to the circuitous conversation by going to her room for what will be the first of many, many times tonight. After having to say all those words and think all those thoughts, she probably needs a quick lie-down to recharge. In a world of super tiny computers, girlfriend's still oiling up her mental typewriter. (Get it? She's dumb.)
"What was the outcome, it was friendly?" Jacqueline asks a very water-logged Kathy. "I don't want anybody feeling left out, you know me," she says. Caroline thanks Kathy for playing mediator, but explains that her attempts are for naught. She does not need "time" to heal: She's fully stitched, and her heart is closed off to Teresa. "I look at her and I see ugly. I see an ugly human being. I see ugly." (Oh, you saw that hideous swimsuit too, Car? Totes on the same page.)
When asked where Teresa disappeared to, Caroline says she probably went to "put a new face on. What face should I wear today?" she says mockingly. Looks like Caroline had an extra side of bitchy with her meal, huh? Nothing's nearer and dearer to my cold, dead heart than a good jab at a less-fortunate looking person's appearance.
Teresa chooses this moment to re-emerge from her cocoon of crazy with her extra-large robe and even bigger glass of wine. Obviously she knows she'll need to go drunkenly into this good night, as a poet once said one time.
"Hiii" she says weakly. "We couldn't help but overhear," Jacqueline admits. Teresa explained in her off-camera interview that she knew her words carried, but realized she "had nothing to hide." In person, she asks Caroline if she feels differently toward her. Sigh. She really should have just stayed in her room. "I can't even look at you" is Caroline's very frank response.
"I would love for us to be friends again," a very bedraggled Teresa admits. Though her makeup is freshly spatula'd on, she's having a drowned rat hair moment. "I'll have a conversation with somebody that tells the truth, and I'll have a conversation with somebody that admits to what they've done," Caroline says. Teresa explains that she has been honest, and Caroline calls that an "insult." Teresa really can't win here; Caroline's got a retort for everything. She obviously decided that she was done, and she's visibly exasperated by this last-ditch effort at friendship resurrection. Just let it die, Teresa. Let it die.
"You guys mean a lot to us," Teresa continues, grasping at straws. "I love your children, I love your husband." The mention of family seems to flip a switch from "mean" to "satanic" in Caroline. "Tell me what you really think about me," she spits. "You don't love me, you don't even like me. You don't respect me. You say I'm cold." It's almost hard not to feel bad for Teresa in this moment. The only thing bigger than her fake boobs is her very real sense of pride -- and she's throwing it out the window as she practically grovels at Caroline's feet. Though it's easy to cast Teresa as the villain, we must try to remember that she wasn't always this bad. Reality TV and money-lust turned her into something evil -- but underneath, she's just a lost girl who wants her friends back. Most monsters are made, not born.
Next, Caroline brings up the endless tabloid drama. When Teresa denies feeding the press nasty quotes, Caroline licks her lips, flicks her golden-y mane ... and pounces. "You are a D-I-S-G-R-A-C-E," she says with vehemence, slowly letting every hateful letter drip off her tongue. Teresa's shocked into submission for a moment, toying with her hair and searching the room frantically for an ally. Since Jacqueline's got her eyes closed and her head down feigning sleep, Teresa's alone on the Manzo battlefield. Teresa actually takes this sudden bout of narcolepsy as a positive sign. "Maybe she's learned her lesson about being in the middle."
Over in the male corner, Joe Giudice tells it like it is: They get paid to do articles, but only from In Touch. Chris Laurita asks Joe why In Touch ran a "bullshit" story about Teresa having a baby boy if the mag is, in fact, on their side. He pulls up the cover on his phone as undeniable proof. "They came to us, so what?!" Joe shouts. "They come up with the ideas, they do what they do to sell magazines. I can't help it if my wife sells more magazines than any star out there." He says that anyone else would take the opportunity, and Chris laughs in his face. Apparently a rag offered Jacqueline $50,000 for a story about Teresa, but she politely declined. Bummer, 'cause that could've bought her enough uppers to stay awake for this conversation.
Back in the bitching circle, Caroline's airing everything she's been wanting to say since forever: the cookbook, Melissa, how Teresa "poisoned her mother's mind against Melissa and Kathy." Now, a million insults later, Teresa's finally ready to fight ... so Caroline goes in for the kill. "Hanging out with your family members was the biggest blessing because all the things that didn't make sense suddenly made sense," she says calmly. "I want to be left behind. I'm not interested in having a relationship with you, it's that simple." Now, Kathy's realizing her attempt to bring Teresa and Caroline together may have made a mistake. A little late on that now, Kath. Maybe stick to cooking desserts with sweetly sexual names.
Chris Laurita, to his credit, has taken an awful lot of shiraz this week without making his disgust known, but the night's wine has loosened his lips. "I just want people to respect me and love me as much as I do them," he says to Joe Giudice. "You told some bottling guy I was shady." Seems like silly he-said, he-said, but those five letters could ruin a potentially lucrative partnership. Luckily, Joe Giudice has a very profound response that helps move the conversation in a more constructive direction: "Whatever the f****** thing is, whatever it is, whatever." Joe Gorga, for the first time in this series, actually sums things up incredibly well: "Joe can't take ownership of anything. It's no wonder people are getting sick of him." But then, because they are boys and boys don't make sense, they all kiss and make up. Like, quite literally, 'cause Joe Gorga's there and you know he's not going to miss a chance for some man love.
A minute later, someone decides to bring up a topic we so rarely hear about: the cook book. Good thing too, 'cause life feels so meaningless until these precious moments when we are all reminded that yes, anyone with a pulse can be published. America! Anyway, Albie and Chris leap to their mom's defense, and a drunk Joe Giudice starts shouting. Then, all hell breaks loose. Now, everyone's tangled up in this drama, and Caroline's worried that her husband will snap at any minute. There's a reason you run for cover during the calm before the storm, you know. Even Lauren -- wearing a " world, peace, love" sweat shirt -- gleefully joins Teresa Bash 2012. More like "world, war, hate," huh, Laur? That was a pretty bad joke, sorry. But see how I like, took the words on her shirt and switched them there?
Suddenly, angels wake sweet Jacqueline softly from her very deep, totally real "slumber" so that she can point out that there's "healthy purging and unhealthy purging" going on around her.
Faster than you can say "violence is sometimes the answer," Teresa's looming over Kathy, barely holding a massive glass of wine that, like her sanity, she's dangerously close to losing. Clad in her massive white robe, she looks like Big Foot's very angry sister who had access to a tanning salon during her years of wintry seclusion. It's hard to take yeti-Teresa seriously as she shouts "I'm telling the truth!" roughly 287 times. Then, since she doesn't seem to believe that Kathy's listening, she actually grabs her chin and twists her face. "Really?" Kathy says, aghast in her interview. "You're gonna get burned, Tre. You're not the only one from Patterson." Oooooh nothing like a reference to New Jersey's third most populous city to prove that you mean business! But in real life, her "How to Handle a Crazy Person 101" classes have paid off. Instead of stooping to her unhinged cousin's level, she speaks softly and attempts to diffuse the situation. As Gandhi once said: "Be the non-psychotic change you wish to see in Napa." Smart guy, and so nice and slim.
Everyone watches the punchin' cousins all wide-eyed with worry. The second an actual connection is made, an unspoken code is broken -- and though Teresa can fling some wicked verbal barbs, the physical ones take it to a whole different level.
As Kathy makes her shock known, Teresa goes on the offensive. Without a hint of an apology she blurts, "I'll keep my hands to myself, Kath." Then she reminds us that she doesn't "know how to lie," juuust in case we were wondering to ourselves: "Hey, selves. Does Teresa know how to lie? I feel like she probably does, but I'm hoping she will speak to that specifically as many times as possible tonight." Kathy does the only thing she can: She grabs her phone and looks up all Teresa's awful quotes. Her own words are her undoing.
Teresa says that all her quotes are jokes that Caroline and Kathy just "don't get," and that she's often just reiterating things Kathy's husband said. She blames Richie for causing fights with her and her husband, and basically stops making any modicum of sense. Even I can't follow this mess anymore, and I rewound it three times because I love you. "I'm arguing with a sociopath," Caroline says bluntly in her interview.
Finally, after some prodding from the other men, Joe goes to rescue his special princess from the clutches of the Much Smarter Monsters. (A tribe rarely discussed, but very brutal.) "My love, listen to me," he says sweetly. "Flight's changed, we're leaving a little early, I got business to take care of tomorrow." Teresa's all fake smiles and sweet-n-low packets, fist pumping her approval. "It's been nice, but I miss my girls!" she says in a faux-happy squeak. "I feel like throwing this glass, I miss my girls," she says, because a very typical reaction to separation is the desire to smash dinnerware. She dashes to her room like a post-shooting Bambi on a high dose of antidepressants.
For the first time all night, Melissa actually speaks. "Why did you two start talking?" she says to Kathy. "Don't talk!"
And then ... she's baaaaaacccccckkk. Teresa storms out of her room, choking back tears as she tells Caroline that she "never ever wrote one bad thing" about her. I'll get the person and I'll prove it to you. I never did anything." As she walks away again, Caroline mutters, "It's over. It's over." Who is this "person" Teresa's going to get? Is he/she hiding in the closet? I hope so, because that would be the first truly interesting twist of the evening.
Caroline apologizes to everyone for participating in the evening's insanity, and reiterates the path of lies and hurt that brought her to the end of her rope. "The past year was an education to me," she tells Melissa, more than hinting at all the awful things Teresa's said about her sister-in-law. Though she won't go there in person, she definitely will in her interview. "I have heard 'gold digger, whore, family wrecker, she wants to be me, she was a stripper.' I cannot believe the lengths that this person would go to hurt, and I have the luxury of walking away."
Teresa, safely ensconced in her room, has a few more choice words for Caroline. "She thinks 'cause she's 50 she knows everything," she says bitterly to her husband. Since she's not as creative as Caroline, this is probably her best insult. It's about one step below a "yo momma" joke.
Back outside, Joe Gorga ushers a totally drained Melissa back to their room. He tells her that he also switched their flights because, at the end of the day, Teresa's his sister and he's going to "make sure she gets home safe." When the hell did they make this change? Was it at the table during the rumble, or did all the men anticipate this meltdown? Either way, it's pretty impressive -- and it's a real show of loyalty. Even Teresa seems shocked when Melissa tells her. "It just reminded me of how we used to be," she says. "You never go against family."
Now Teresa's hotel room is getting pretty crowded. Kathy comes in to settle the score, and Teresa sort of apologizes/denies the face-grab-seen-'round-the-world. She also admits she's well aware that Caroline's completely gon to her. It's the first time she's said it out loud, and she seems taken aback by the harsh reality. But then again, she always looks kind of dazed. Could be 'cause her mascara weighs as much as Lauren Manzo. (Read: A lot.) (Sorry.)
"This is a shame, Tre, 'cause I think you're good, I think Caroline's a good person, I think Jacqueline's a good person ..." Melissa attempts. "She wants to hold a grudge, let her hold a grudge," Teresa says as she furiously packs her plastic leopard luggage like she's mad at it. They're leaving the second she smashes it closed. I think I heard it whimper.
Next thing we know, a strangled sob bursts from Caroline's dark room. After a night of stone-cold nastiness, she seems to have finally broken. Perhaps it's just a ploy to make viewers think that this evening took an emotional toll on her. Maybe it's proof that the split with Teresa isn't as cut-and-dry as it seems. Whatever the motive -- because I do think there was one -- it's an unsettling moment. Caroline used to be a delightfully spontaneous mix of emotion, sarcasm and warmth. Now, she is capable of turning it on and off like a faucet ... and that water's loaded with lead.
It really is starting to feel like all the women are vying for the "Most Hurt 'Housewife'" title ... but judging from tonight's emotional blood bath, it may be an award that they'll just have to split.