Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 5, Episode 9 of Bravo's "Real Housewives of New Jersey," titled "On Thin Guid-Ice."
We start this week by reliving the moment when Teresa and Joe showed us that, when it comes to sobbing, we've been doing it all wrong. If you're not straight up unloading a lifetime of snotty issues into your sibling's hair, you are NOT feeling real emotion. "You broke my heart because I do love you, and I feel that you need to put your dukes down and open up and change your ways," Joe says once he's composed himself. "I don't want this to be just us," Teresa squeaks like Alvin, Simon and Theodore's long-lost sister -- you know, the one who accidentally got impregnated by a chipmunk from the other side of the tracks and had to leave home. "I love Melissa. I want it to be all of us."
Meanwhile, Melissa's getting all huffy and impatient, like she has somewhere really important to go. Because I'm newly engaged, Facebook serves me 300 marriage-y ads a day (in case I forget, I guess). Recently, it told me that Mrs. Gorga would be hosting a free wedding expo at the Meadowlands in Secaucus, New Jersey. There is a photo of her drinking a milkshake when you go to the page to not buy tickets, because it is $0.00. Melis, let's call a spade a spade: You have nowhere important to go. Anyway, she's busy recounting Teresa's reign of terror when Dr. "My Vagina Is Italian" comes to bring her to the fourth level of hell.
Upstairs, Teresa's reminding Joe that, contrary to like, everything we've ever seen on this show, she's always been loving to Melissa. "When I talk to her, I say, 'I need to talk to you as a sister,'" Teresa says with big puppy dog-who-needs-waterproof-mascara eyes. In her interview, however, she sings a slightly different tune: "I gave her my heart from Day 1. After they got married, she rejected me."
When Melissa sits down, she doesn't hold anything back (except maybe some gas -- there could really be no other reason for her eternally-pained face, could there?). In fact, nobody does ... and the session goes so long and is so involved that producers turn it into a memory montage. They go through every rumor and every lie, and when someone makes or refutes a claim, we see a clip. Things start to get interesting when Dr. V calls Teresa a "dumb ass" for endlessly getting involved with nasties like Jan and Kim D., and when Joe forces Teresa to admit that she has done evil things.
Melissa's plan is this: Move forward and let the past remain there. "I'm willing to meet you half-way," she says when she can finally bring herself to meet Teresa's vacuous gaze. With that, Teresa sees a great opportunity for an Oprah moment, so she stands up and forces Melissa into a hug. Post-embrace, she goes for the ratings gusto and even makes herself cry a little bit, whimpering, "I love you. I'm serious," while squeezing Melissa's hand. Then Dr. V makes them hug again, probably because she's paid by the embrace, not the hour.
Then, since the last piece of this demented puzzle is probably off boning a staff member, they decide to find/bring Joe Giudice into the mix. Joe Giudice says that Joe Gorga was the aggressor, and often starts trouble because he's "insecure." Instead of allowing Joe Giudice to deflect, Dr. V bluntly asks him if he thinks his wife can't defend herself. She uses that patented "If I talk softly enough, you may not be able to tell that I'm judging you" voice that I've come to love. It's interesting how everything she says is like a therapy-flavored candy bar: sympathetic on the outside, critical at its center. Then, shockingly, a bunch of man-hugging ensues. Hot damn, Dr. V is gonna buy herself the Chanel of vajazzles after this!
Outside in nature, Rich "the Lebanese Jeff Goldblum" Wakile has his own ideas about why Dr. V has been so effective thus far. Well, actually he has two ideas: her right boob and her left. Plus, he reminds us that the part of her face that holds her eyes, nose, and mouth is very attractive, too. "My mother doesn't hug me! Can I get a hug in your bosom?" he cracks. Then, speak of the sexy devil, she's suddenly out front with them. As she hops in her car, Kathy fumes. She had hoped to work out HER issues with Teresa, but now there will be no mediator ... or at least not one with a PhD in snuggles and feelings.
It is totally nuts that she's leaving just as the Gorgas and Giudices are having a small breakthrough, but it makes perfect reality TV sense: If Dr. V actually fixed things, there would be no show next week. And if there was no show, there would be no recap, so ... good riddance! I'm basically 0 to 100 percent sure this family that enjoys a good verbal and physical assault in the afternoon will be totes fine after a single session. Freud, now might be the time to watch whatever else they play on Sunday nights. I think there's like, news on another channel, but the outfits are definitely not as fun and I don't think that stuff on CNN is as real as "Housewives."
When they all reconvene at the table, Melissa and Teresa are shiny, happy people. Then, Kathy and Teresa hash their differences out in 30 seconds. "Within hours, everything went from complete bedlam to like, kumbaya," Caroline says. "Part of me wishes Jacqueline was here, 'cause there must be something magical about Dr. V." Oh it's not magic, Caroline -- it's called Botox and an actual education.
While the gals cook a meal together (let's hope there's a poison tester on the premises), the men plus Rosie go ice fishing. Though Rich isn't in the kitchen, he's the one who stirs the pot. He asks the Joes who won the fight, and they're immediately tormenting each other all over again. If I was there, I'd have reminded Rich that he's A) really packed on the pounds, and B) quite literally on thin ice. This might not be the time or weight to start another brawl. Then he attempts to change the subject by talking about Rosie's pubic hair (you really can't make this stuff up), and it works quite well. Suddenly, they're all laughing and wondering how the gals are doing back at the mansion.
Thanks to the magical friendship power of vodka, the ladies are doing just fine. Did you ever think you'd see this day? Melissa in particular is feeling noooo pain, but I'm not convinced that everything is OK yet. Everyone knows that vodka has no loyalties -- one minute, it's making you feel all warm and loving, and the next, it's telling you that scratching someone's eyes out is a very fabulicious idea. Or perhaps it's telling you to tell Kathy that although she's quiet, she is probably a "whore. Whore. WHORE!" Kathy enjoys that about as much as Rich seems to enjoy being married to her. Ahem. (That's "not a lot" on both counts.)
Joe Giudice notes that since he thought Jacqueline and Chris were going to come up, he brought some wine they all bottled together. Teresa's actually the first to admit that she and Joe miss their old pals, but she's certainly not going to say that anywhere outside her interview. Caroline fills them in on Jacqueline's struggles with her son, and everyone grows somber. Her life is nothing they envy. "Maybe you should drop that bottle of wine over there yourself," Rich says. "You could iron things out in a heartbeat."
After a commercial, however, we learn that Jacqueline is not missing that bottle of ex-friendship flavored hooch. Since she's out to dinner without her kids, she decides to treat herself to a crate of wine ... and something in her crazy eyes hints at a bit more. Jacqueline's got an enormous amount on her plate, but it's beginning to seem obvious that she's making room for a lil' something else too. Then again, it's hard to tell where the good ol' fashioned stress + booze cocktail ends, and where mainlining Paxil begins. And since nothing complements an Italian meal and a glass of anxiety pinot grigo like discussing masturbation, Chris treats us to some information about his "first time."
Then, as if on cue, the waiter comes over with a very big, long ... pepper mill. I sure hope they enjoyed their dinner, 'cause I'm not going to be able to see pasta without getting nauseous. "Joe Gorga told me the first time he got laid was when he was nine," Chris says. Oh, look. Now I'm off all food forever. This is like the ultimate wedding diet. (Let's just make this all about me.)
Back at Loyalty Manor, Rosie forces her sloshed counterparts to play that trust game where you fall backwards into someone's arms. Had she realized that Rich was going to use it as an excuse to grab her boobs, she probably would have picked something less tactile and molest-y, like Taboo. "We're all so friggin' drunk -- it was like nothing ever happened. It felt like old times," he said by way of explanation. Next, they decide that tiny Melissa can catch Joe Giudice. Predictably, they both go down harder than Teresa's fake rack.
When Teresa asks Caroline to catch her, Caroline makes a deal: "I will do this now," she says with a grin, "if one day I get to see you and Jacqueline do it." That (no pun intended) catches Teresa way off guard, and immediately she's reduced to tears. "You wanna heal? You wanna fix? Then fix EVERYTHING," Caroline says in her interview. Hashtag agree. With that, Caroline falls back into Teresa's arms and the deal is sealed.
Meanwhile at dinner in Jersey, Chris is feeling out whether Jacqueline would reunite with Teresa. The answer is very firmly "never," but Caroline calls her bluff in her interview. She says Jacqueline doesn't miss the hurt, but definitely aches for the good times. "It's more like a lifestyle change and a lifestyle choice," Jacqueline says to her husband, and the conversation is over.
Teresa, on the other hand, is having a far more, shall we say, damp reaction to her memories of Jacqueline. She starts to sob, breaking out her chipmunk voice to remind us how much she has been hurt. Juicy Joe decides to help by launching into the most mangled version of every affirmation he has ever heard. And I quote: "You gotta step over that rock and move on to the next rock. Buildings'a gotta get destroyed to get knocked down. Friendship is the same thing." Then, when that doesn't work, he reminds her that her brother just tried to kill him and they made nice. "GET OVER IT!" Then, he starts to cry too ... potentially because Teresa has suggested another special bath, and he's just not sure he can handle seeing any of her hairlines up close again.
The speed at which these women are moving to fix things could break your neck ... or at least dislodge your extensions. Is any of this genuine, and how will they feel when their drunken promises fade into awkward hangovers? To get a little emo and quote Bright Eyes: "What is so simple in the moonlight by the morning never is." I'm pretty sure that's about a super dirty one-night stand, but since there's nothing pure about these bitches and they never call me on Monday a.m., I think it works.
"Real Housewives of New Jersey" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.