Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 8, Episode 14 of Bravo's "Real Housewives of Orange County," titled "The Cold War."
How was your holiday weekend? As the scent of BBQ fades from your preferred patriotic casualwear and our national four-day hangover subsides, let's check in with another symbol of America's proud progress -- the dysfunctional ladies of the O.C.!
Lydia is getting her makeup done by an in-house makeup artist. She proudly proclaims that she's a dual citizen -- half Canadian! -- and, as such, is taking "the girls" on a ski trip to Whistler, B.C.
"It's a little upsetting that Americans don't know anything outside of America, but there's a little country to the north ... called 'Canada'," Lydia says, educating the viewership on this little-known geographical fact.
Alexis stops by and gifts Lydia with a Swarovski-studded bible. In one simple gesture, these ladies' metabolic materialism and cheery mega-church zealotry collide, and I'm surprised the bible doesn't actually sparkle right through the screen with its gospel of everlasting life, ever-filled glasses of sauv blanc, and ever-replenishing NARS bronzer.
Cut to Heather and Tamra in a boutique that brings to mind a faded gift shop in a Santa Fe airport. They're lazily shopping around in preparation for their formidable trip up north.
"There's more people in Southern California than in Canada -- because it's cold as hell there," Tamra asserts.
"I want to support Lydia. She's Canadian," Heather says, in her righteous Dubrowi-ian tone.
Tamra divulges that Lauri has been trotting Vicki's three-way gossip all around town. Tamra then interviews, with her signature crude efficiency, "Vicki can barely say the word 'vagina,' she's not going to go down on one."
Meanwhile, Gretchen packs and frets about the cold. How inhumanely, blindingly, marrow-chillingly cold it will be those few miles past the Washington State border.
There's a montage of each girl packing various inappropriate items: Vicki tries on a backless beaded dress that belongs in a mid-'90s cabaret show, Alexis dons gloves that emphasize her wedding ring/robotic fidelity, Gretchen debuts a kicky white Moncler knockoff ski suit, to Slade's creepy delight.
Our pot-stirring obligatory cast member Lauri is also excited about the trip because she grew up "in the snow" and gleefully predicts the girls will all be at a loss in this unfamiliar terrain.
Sadly, Heather only has a few hours in Whistler before hustling back to the set of "Malibu Country," where she's recently scored a role. She makes a deft little "Clockwork Orange" analogy, relating that she'll need toothpicks to keep her eyes open on this whirlwind jaunt.
Upon arrival in Vancouver, Vicki desecrates "O, Canada" with her signature "Woo Hoo" and the ladies load into a VIP party bus with champagne glasses aloft. Everyone tries to sing "O, Canada" again, and fails.
Lydia alludes to her hot, outdoorsy Canadian uncle, Greg, who might stop by for a cocktail that night. A little intrigue, eh?
Heather announces that she has to leave the next day due to her filming schedule. There's a tense moment as Gretchen says she was also offered a role on the same show, but turned it down because she was busy that day, dress shopping with Tamra. Heather calls BS on this, and Gretchen waffles, saying "I was available, then I wasn't."
"Heather is going on a technicality," Gretchen interviews.
"Is that the Reba show?" Alexis interjects. "I got a call for that, too!"
Apparently "Malibu Country" went straight to the A-list for its supporting cast. (Note: ABC cancelled "Malibu Country" this March).
No matter, the women check into the Four Seasons. There's a fun "canoe" (not a canoe) in the lobby. So "Canadian!" everyone exclaims.
At mandatory cocktail hour, Lydia's Uncle Greg shows up and he's quite a strapping gent! Lydia is justifiably anxious to expose him to this coven of cackling Housewives. He nods politely and braces himself with a cocktail as the girls file in.
"Uncle Greg is a cutie," Heather says. Everyone agrees, loudly, well within earshot.
Meanwhile, Lauri is being extra chummy with Vicki, and Tamra is miffed on Vicki's behalf. Lauri simply can't spread Vicki-sexy-times scandal amongst the group but be Miss Convivial BFF to her face.
The ladies grill Uncle Greg. "So, you know a lot about Canada," Gretchen says. "You know what to do here. I want to get to know the culture." It is truly as though this group has entered a remote Mongolian province in the eighteenth century, not the British Columbia Four Seasons.
There's a thwarted attempt to make a Vicki and Uncle Greg love connection. "He's totally built. Hockey player," Vicki stereotypes.
"I don't want Vicki to be my aunt," Lydia admits. "I have enough crazy in my family."
But alas, Uncle Greg is taken, as he politely admits that he has a girlfriend. And then we're treated to the most awkward five-second pause in the history of reality television.
Thankfully, we cut to the next day: hitting the slopes! The girls are all geared up to ski, each a different puffy Crayola color in a pack of pure insanity.
"We're out of our comfort," Lydia says, happily neglecting nouns.
"Everything's perfect," Vicki says.
"Not everything is perfect," Tamra mutters. She knows the truth must come out about Vicki's New Orleans Three-Way. Actually, that is a good name for a novelty cocktail, one I might mix up shortly after submitting this post. Recipe to come next week!
"A threesome?" Alexis interviews, and holds her fingers in her ears and does the "I can't hear you" circus music singing. Ha, ok.
The ladies all board a tram up the mountain, yet the tram-car is heavy with the weight of Vicki's alleged indiscretions.
"You'd think with all these years with these women, I'd learn not to tell a secret," Lauri interviews. Not if you want screen time!
The girls all haphazardly ski. Tamra worries that her "tits are going to fall off from frostbite." When you think about it, silicon probably does have a swifter freezing point than regular flesh, so maybe she has a point.
Finally, Tamra and Vicki have their long-awaited heart to heart. Tamra tells Vicki that Lauri told Gretchen "Personal, sexual things." Tamra then deflects by telling Vicki to go straight to Gretchen to get the real scoop.
[I have to say there is something rather disorienting and also refreshing about seeing these women yell at each other without plunging necklines, flat-ironed hair, platform pumps, and triple-glossed lips. Somehow, the sight of them screaming at each other in terrible, outdated ski outfits in this foreign Canadian landscape makes the drama more raw, and more believable. I've been skiing in Canada, and I don't doubt my sister and I threw similar tantrums when my dad insisted on one last black diamond run at 5 pm as the cruel wind whipped down the north face, so a part of me appreciates the nature's-cruelty edge of this episode -- even though it looks as though it's spring in Whistler and totally manageable.]
But! Back to Vicki. Gretchen side-skies over and quickly ascertains that Tamra has been playing both sides of the fence, befriending them both and sharing confidences indiscriminately, the way women tend to do. Vicki admits that she and Don both had multiple infidelity issues "on both sides," which is why they were separated twice.
Finally, Gretchen is vindicated. After all this time of being branded as a gold-digger and a floozy for jaunting off to Bass Lake as her wealthy fiancé languished in a hospital bed, Vicki is revealed as a fellow cheater!
Despite this détente, Gretchen and Vicki scream at each other for a few minutes longer. Poor Lydia obliviously snowboards down, wondering aloud, "Where are my friends?"
Now all the girls are in a line. Vicki is ready to confront Lauri about her nefarious rumormongering.
"Not cool, Lauri," Vicki says, a menacing look building behind her ski goggles. "I have never been with multiple partners."
"In New Orleans, when I walked in, with you and a girl and a man in a bed?" Lauri counters.
Vicki deflects, saying she had her clothes on and they were "watching a movie."
"What about the bongo player?" Lauri says, and my head explodes. Readers, did I hear that correctly? Bongo player?
"I've never been with multiple partners in my life," Vicki yells at Lauri. "You're disgusting!"
"You're a cheater," Lauri says.
"You're not a classy lady," Vicki says, which is the lowest blow in this crowd, where the very idea of "class" is as preciously guarded as a Swarovski-crusted bible. You just don't mess with it.
Tamra predicts that Gretchen and Lauri should get on a plane because Vicki could "Kick their ass down to Florida". Geographically this is a bit confusing, but Vicki is incensed enough that I buy that theoretical itinerary.
"WE WERE THERE FULLY CLOTHED WATCHING A MOVIE," Vicki yells, as frozen maple leaves shudder and fall from every tree. "I'M SO MAD!"
The echo sound design in this shot is pretty good, as even my reluctant-viewer husband had to admit. And we're left on the mountain as night closes in, tensions rise, and après-ski conversations loom ominously in the near future.
Next week, tongues are stuck to ice! Lauri relates more scandalous tales! Heather takes a call from a posh vehicle! Let's keep it going America/Canada!
"Real Housewives of Orange County" airs Mondays, 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.