Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 5, Episode 9 of Bravo's "Real Housewives of New Jersey," titled "Children of the Scorned."
... And just like a pesky (but reliable!) communicable disease, Teresa and Jacqueline are back. But this time, it's Jacqueline's turn to voice her pain. "You have no idea what I go through with my son on a daily basis," she sobs. The men are still downstairs smoking, but with such a big foot in his mouth, Joe Giudice's really gotta stuff that cigar in. "I know two people with autism. They're kinda like, a little off," he says helpfully. Upstairs, Nick's reality has unlocked the pieces of Teresa and Jacqueline's hearts that were sealed off during their fight. Maybe reflecting on a tough situation that's out of their control made them realize what they were powerful enough to change. Or perhaps it's not that cerebral. At the end of the day, these women were friends for over 10 years. That bond may be bent worse than Kathy's pre-op nose, but it's not completely broken.
Speaking of things that are broken, Jacqueline's husband Chris takes a meeting with the Manzo dudes to talk about their illustrious business ventures. Since Blk. is doing so well with the five people who yearn for a nice glass of fulvic-enhanced all-natural mineral water, the boys have finally moved the business out of their grandma's old house. "I used to s*** my pants there," Chris Manzo says fondly of his old digs. Now he can s*** his pants in the comfort of a real office ... and rehydrate quickly with a mix of electrolytes and alkaline pH that resembles the plague in a bottle.
Just when you think the "undesirable things to look at" train had made its final stop, we take a quick detour over to WOB Lingerie to watch Jacqueline and Kathy pick out undergarments. More like WOBBLY Lingerie, am I right? They have every bra you could ever want, but the only boobs the women seem to want to discuss are Teresa and Joe. Jacqueline fills Kathy in on their makeup drinks, then drops the real A-cup bomb: She has decided to get some work done. (A tummy tuck and a neck lift from a doctor in Beverly Hills, to be exact.) Kathy thinks it's a great idea because Jacqueline "needs a break" ... and really, what's more relaxing than having someone hack into your body and suck a bunch of stuff out while you're across the country, recuperating alone?
Meanwhile, over at Teresa's house, Joe Gorga is eager to bring his goddaughter on a date because it's the first time he's ever been taller than a female. "It's really sad that I don't know who she is," he admits. Though Gia tries to play it casual, it's adorably obvious that she picked out her clothes with care and spent extra time on her hair and makeup. Milania, on the other hand, is hanging off the banister shooting balls into the chandelier. Hey, creationists: Need proof that we evolved from monkeys? It's on a small screen near you every Sunday at 8 P.M.
Since everything in Jersey was named so that I could easily make a stripper joke, Joe Gorga and Gia go to Pole Position raceway, where I assume your go-kart has a C-section scar and complicated feelings about men. After they zip around, Joe happily says awkward and borderline illegal things like, "How did you like looking at my ass?" Though Gia was hopefully taught to run from older men who say things like that, she's all smiles -- but there's something guarded just below the surface. A quick spin around a track can't undo a year-and-a-half of damage and silence. When Joe tries to laughingly insist that Gia's "attitude" is a side-effect of being a maturing teen, she rolls her eyes.
"When I was little-little, it was different," she says. "You used to come over everyday." Then, she explains that his fight with her mom distanced the entire family. She may have a leather studded jacket on, but it's the only tough thing about her right now. It's a shame they don't sell any armor for emotions. Joe tells her that there are two sides to every story, but Gia counters with the only thing she can truly trust: what she saw. We flash back to the terrible christening, when tiny Gia is literally tearing her mom away from her uncle and his hateful words. "It affected me, because kids said stuff at school, like, 'Your uncle is a maniac.' I broke down in tears because I don't know what to do."
Joe is the first to admit he's embarrassed, and he pledges to control himself. "I want you to love me. I love you," he says simply. It's nice that they're working on their relationship, but I fear the damage has been done. She'll definitely be working this (among other things) out for years to come in therapy.
A few days later, Teresa's getting her girls together for their big Zumba trip for charity. Zumba is a dance/workout class where you burn fat while simultaneously mortifying yourself. Since these women buy their workout gear from a sausage casing factory, I'm sure we'll all feel some sort of unpleasant burn. The whole cast (minus Caroline) gathers at the Giudice house and gingerly says their hellos.
Once on the bus, Jacqueline and Teresa sit across from each other so that if a fight breaks out, they've each got a window to smash the other person into. "The other night," Teresa says calmly, "Jacqueline called me a 'sociopath.' Can you define that word?" Just like God and Steve Jobs intended, she turns to Google and reads aloud: "A person who lacks a sense of moral responsibility, often antisocial and lacks social conscious." Related Words include: Kim D., Milania Giudice.
Though Teresa only understood "a" and "person," she knows the other words are too big to be positive. Still, in the spirit of being Gandhi-licious (Definition: One who is anti-violence, but still faaaabulous!) she lets it go.
You can cut the tension with a knife, so Joe Giudice decides to slice it up like a nice bruschetta. "Melissa, can you do the pole like, once?" he says, gesturing to the pole that's inexplicably in their luxury bus. Melissa's not biting, but my girl Milania throws herself up there with ease while the adults point and laugh. Hey, at least one member of the Giudice family may be gainfully employed someday!
Once inside, they meet members from the Nephcure Foundation. Teresa met a young man struggling with a rare kidney disease a few years back, and she's really honoring her goal to stick by him until he finds a cure. The cynic in me thinks this must be a PR stunt to raise her standing in the community, but who knows. Like I've said before: Teresa is just not smart enough to be all that calculating. Besides, who cares if they raise a ton of dough at the end of the day?
There must be some healing property of dance (or perhaps the pre-party shots were really strong) because families that were once at war are shakin' it along side each other. Even Teresa and Jacqueline are embracing on the floor, and it's not because they wrestled each other there!
In the bus on the way home, the wine and Joe's verbal diarrhea flows freely. He holds up a glass and proclaims, "Here's to the sociopaths, the idiots, the scum bags, the butchie boys, to the horsey faces and to Josefine!" Everyone cheers and continues to pretend that words can never hurt.
Later, the gang (minus the Giudices) meets Caroline at what I think is the Brownstone to see fabulous friend Greg off, as he's moving to San Francisco to take a job. "It's funny how time changes and life brings you gifts," Caroline says before sobbing into her napkin. I find it interesting that she's wearing a half-black, half-white outfit, because Caroline really is the poster child for dueling personalities. On the one hand, she can be tough, dark and scary; on the other, she's all light and kindness -- the mom who loves her son's best friend as if he were here own. It is this dichotomy that makes her real. "I don't want you to go, but you have to grab the brass ring," she says. More like brass balls, everyone in the audience (and probably Greg) thinks.
Caroline gives him a gift -- a gorgeous silver frame. In it, there's a photo Greg took when he first moved in with her boys. It's a splash of graffiti that reads, "Take care of each other."
In the spirit of taking care of oneself, the attention turns to Jacqueline. She announces her surgery to the whole table, and doesn't get much support from Caroline. "Remember when we rushed her to the hospital after her boob job 'cause one was too big 'cause she did too much?" She bites her lip and does a double thumbs up. She won't be dissuaded.
What is it that the kids say? Oh yeah, I think it's, YOLO: You Only Lipo Once!
Just like that, Jacqueline's in Beverly Hills. Her daughter (the artist formerly spelled as Ashley) and her buddy Jill meet her at the surgery center, and both women look like they've had an awful lot done as well. Or, perhaps Ashlee just left half her nose, 20 lbs and her natural teeth back in Vegas. Those baggage fees really force one to pack light.
We could all use some more time to try and figure out what happened to her lips, but Dr. McDecent Looking walks in. He brings them into a private room and we get a look at what he's about to work with. Jacqueline's stomach isn't looking so hot and the tiny rose tattoo doesn't scream "class," but it's not THAT bad. Her neck honestly looks fine too, and it's obvious that a lot of this is in her head. She wants her "sexy back" and I support that fully -- God knows I adore a little plastic surg and would love to squeeze in a second nose job between episodes. Still, for a person with an unpredictable home life, this feels like a pretty blatant attempt to get total control over a situation. She isn't seeing fast results at home ... so she's seeking a payoff she can count on here.
At Jacquline's house in Jersey, her husband Chris is slowly getting overwhelmed. He's juggling the kids and work, and CJ isn't feeling so hot. Perhaps it's because he's drinking Blk. and eating a plate of spaghetti and something called a potato clock? Sweet Caroline comes to the rescue (remember, Chris is her brother) and diagnoses him with strep and a need to talk to mom.
Back in Beverly Hills, Jacqueline exclaims that if she's going to be "sawed in half like a magic trick," she is going to drink and eat -- even though her doc expressly said not to. Jacqueline's parents and daughter eschew the booze and burritos, but she indulges while everyone looks very worried. "It's like [Ashlee's] being the responsible one, and I'm on spring break!" Jacqueline says. Everyone admits that the surgery scares them, and Jacqueline's dad is quick to call the whole thing "crazy." Though she cracks up, he's not laughing. "You are sick, you know that?"
Yes, it's just one measly shot and a taco salad, but it's what the meal represents that's upsetting: She's obsessed with changing her body, but has no regard for her overall well-being. Is she flouting rules meant to keep her safe because, in her heart of hearts, she just doesn't care what happens anymore? If anything needs to be cut out of poor Jacqueline, it's not excess skin: It's the darkness and pain that has taken over her mind and clouded her vision.
While Jacqueline's on the operating table the next day, Ashlee confides in her grandparents. She says she cried, worrying about "the call" that could come if something went wrong. I am currently crying and gagging myself because the doctor just showed us whole chunks of flesh he took off Jacqueline. Bye bye, tattoo! We hardly knew ye.
Though the operation took longer than expected, it went well. The doc brings her family in to see her, and she's looking ... well, she looks like what would happen if Honey Boo Boo's mom had a passionate night of love with ET. Her face is all wrapped up and swollen, and it looks like it's hovering a few miles above her neck. Strangely, she's got full makeup and nail polish on, which is normally a no-no during elective surgery. I guess the rules are different in Beverly Hills. Apparently, you wouldn't even THINK of letting the surgeon who just tore hunks of bubbling fat out of you see your real eyelashes and bare, sad fingernails.
Ashlee holds the phone up so Jacqueline can speak to her husband. "I look like a turtle slash Q-tip," Jacqueline says happily, before falling asleep mid-call. Here's hoping she sleeps well, 'cause when she wakes up, she is going to be in a world of hurt. Plus, she'll have to face the most painful side-effect of her tummy tuck: the realization that it might not fix everything.
"Real Housewives of New Jersey" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.