Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 5, Episode 16 of Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," titled "Hair We Go Again"
We open with Melissa and Joe in the bathroom, which is a fitting setting for all the sh-- they're talking. They've got a really bad taste in their mouths -- and this time, it's actually not from the self-tanner they ingest. Penny may have dropped the bomb at the bar, but Melissa and Joe are now 100 percent convinced that Teresa built it. "As young as 5 years old, Teresa always had to be right. We laughed ... but now, I just can't take it anymore," Joe spits.
Across town, Teresa and Jacqueline's newly resurrected friendship is in need of some classless new duds -- so of course they head on over to Kim D.'s boutique, Posche. Is it just me, or does Kim D. look like how dog food smells? She's so excited to have customers that she rockets out of her seat and then has to check that all her limbs followed suit. For a 109-year-old who was recently awoken from a cryogenic state, she's got moves.
Kim D. informs the gals that she's opening up Who Needs Spell Check When You're This Fab? Part II inside a salon, and she'd like the women to come. Oh, but there's a catch: since Penny is a hair stylist, she'll definitely be there. Teresa explains her conflict of interest and pretends to be outraged for a few seconds before accepting the invitation. "I'm going to be calm as a cucumber," she says. In vegetable aisles everywhere, cucumbers very casually think "It's cool. We're cool," and then continue to feel like themselves.
Meanwhile, Melissa and Joe are the opposite of cool in Orlando, Florida. They've made it to Johnny Wright's compound, where the only thing bigger than his ego is his collection of awards. He explains that every band he's launched has been embraced by XL106.7. The radio station that does a huge annual show for 150,000 people, and if Melissa can impress them by singing live at the station, she'll get a spot in the concert. "I've gotten this far without professional training, so I feel like getting the training is only going to make things better," Melissa says in her interview. If by "gotten this far" she means "was able to board a plane and fly to another state," then sure ... she's technically "gotten" somewhere. Looks like SOMEONE has been reading the dictionary! If she can survive this 24-hour vocal boot camp, then she'll finally have time to look up another important word: "delusional."
Over at the Wakile residence, nobody seems confused about why Kathy has gotten a reverse-Michael Jackson makeover, because nobody really looks at or hears Kathy. Besides, wondering why she's 50 shades of bronzer isn't as much fun as going outside to see the brand new car that Rich has gotten for his son's birthday. It's all decked out with balloons and a gigantic inflatable champagne bottle, which is odd because Joe is only turning 17. "I just extended your penis by two inches instantly!" Rich says with a laugh, because it's funny to say the word "penis." Also, it's a boring ol' white Jeep, Rich -- that totally buys him one inch, max.
Moments later, we see someone who looks like he must have a REALLY huge wiener. It's a strange, potentially royal pimp dressed entirely in purple. There's even a medley of violet feathers in his hat. He's alone until his friend Victoria Gotti walks in and looks at her like "who do I gotta whack to get you to take that thing off?" When he takes his headgear off, I realize that the child of Deuce Bigalow the Male Gigolo and the gay Teletubbie is actually Teresa. Turns out Teresa and Victoria "hit it off" on "Celebrity Apprentice," and they've stayed so close that they're getting together for the first time ever to film this scene for another reality show. Victoria asks about Joe's legal issues, but Teresa nervously shuts her down. She doesn't try to sugarcoat the situation, and it's the first time we've seen a crack in her "We're Fine! We're strong!" campaign. Victoria urges her to keep her kids in the loop so that they don't learn about their family's issues secondhand, and reminds her that she took vows "for better or for worse." Teresa nods vigorously, saying she'll "stand by [her] man till the end" ... or at least until she can sell the jail her new line of Fabulicious 'Behind (Fruit) Bars' and crisp 'Cellery' salads. Hey, if you're a Skinny Italian you can sneak past the guards a lot easier!
In Orlando, Melissa's in a prison of her own. Vocal Coach Mark is forcing Melissa to put her money where her mouth is ... and let's just say she's going broke. As Mark cues the music, Melissa does a 'tsk-tsk-tsk' noise that she thinks means 'testing' but really just sounds like she's reprimanding the mic. The mic knows what's next, and it considers some sort of suicide mission, but her grip is too strong. She has a grasp like a wizard bodybuilder after years of keeping a firm hold on her husband's balls.
The mic tries to scream, but nobody can hear. How cruel to spend one's life amplifying the voices of others without any recourse for speech yourself! Is feeling bad for inanimate objects some weird side-effect of this show? What's next ... getting attached to Melissa's implants? But I digress. "My wife's voice has come a long way, but I'm the first to tell you she's not perfect," Joe says as Melissa's mouth commits atrocities that should be tried at an international criminal court. "But, to me, that voice is an angel from God."
Seems like the G-man spent a little less time on that angel, Joe.
As her vocal genocide finally comes to an end (I guess there's someone up there in Heaven), Joe applauds loudly. Unfortunately, Melissa's not impressed, and her coach looks like he's calculating how much his family will care if he just ends his life here and now.
Speaking of potentially disastrous ventures, it's time to see how the Manzo boys' new restaurant, Little Town NJ, is doing. It's opening night, and they're sweating worse than a whore seeing Teresa in church. They don't have enough ingredients for the raw bar, there's only one waiter passing appetizers and there's not enough food. Then, mama Manzo walks in and proclaims the food "not Brownstone," AKA "not good." Then, their toughest critic walks in: their dad. He's surprisingly positive, but doesn't blow Blk. up their asses and reminds them that this is going to be hard. Still, he gets a tear in his eye when his boys make their speech ... or maybe he just really, really hated the spices in the beefsteak.
Back in Florida, it's Melissa's turn to get grilled. She's at the XL 106.7 morning show headquarters, and it's time to perform for four judges and a live audience. Johnny Wright reminds her that this is the station that launched Britney Spears, the Jonas Brothers and a million other artists who all have youth and debatable talent on their side. In an effort to look "pop," she's stuffed herself into a unicorn carcass and sprayed on some jeans.
She explains that her new single "Never Let Me Go" is about how women need a man by their side or they will die, because women are co-dependent and actually die if they cannot physically lean on a strong set of XY chromosomes. "Stay by my side, don't leave me -- it's still upbeat!," she says.
Now, we flip between Melissa very obviously lip-synching the intro and the women in Jersey listening to her live. "Let's go, let me see you dance!" is quite possibly the only part of the song that she actually "sings" ... oh, wait. She just attempted the high note, and let's just say it was a very gory hit-and-run. At home, everyone's faces drop and Rich can't help but crack up. At the showcase, one random (and potentially drunk) man is doing a very aggressive running man, and a pregnant woman is holding her hands over her stomach to earmuff her baby. Though she's managed to terrify those in studio and in utero, the judges decide that she's good enough to be in their show.
Though Melissa's still flying high form her success at the radio station, she's grounded the second she gets back to Jersey. It's the night of Kim D.'s Posche II: Still Spelled Wrong party, and pretty much anything could happen (except a sale). "If Teresa built this army, she better help me disarm them," Melissa says stoically in her interview after someone tells her to memorize that line.
As Teresa and Joe drive there, Teresa pretends to be stunned by all the rumors, and equally stung by all the trash talk. "Whose Penny anyway? I don't know Penny from a hole in the wall," she says as she quietly erases Penny's text messages and has her matching "I LOVE 1 CENT" tattoo lasered off her butt.
Because looking at Kim D.'s clothing gives you an instant UTI, the cranberry juice is flowing inside the party. With all those bejeweled crosses around, I fear she is moments away from turning into a pile of dust. Perhaps the layer of stucco she has painted onto her face buys her a little extra time in the mortal world.
The ladies kiss-kiss, fake-fake all around and bide their time. Finally, Penny enters -- alone. "I guess her husband's home hiding behind a computer," Rich snorts. It seems she hasn't yet found the perfect child laborers to apply her extensions, 'cause she looks worse than Britney Spears going as Miley Cyrus for Halloween.
Though she's nervous, Jacqueline bites her lip and propels herself forward. It's a bit difficult to distinguish Penny from the yellowing brick wall behind her, but Jacqueline follows her nose; "skanky" is quite a distinct odor. "Ayyyyy Jacqueline! How are you?," transvestite Fonz slurs. "Your husband's going around saying that my son doesn't have autism and that I'm using him for attention," Jacqueline spits. Penny tries to remember the "human emotion" classes she took with the robots back on her planet, and decides to try using her "shocked" face. "That's a lie!," she says, even though she looks exactly like the sort of animal who eats her own young.
She denies any wrongdoing, and then drops her favorite line: "There is a person that's talking so much garbage ..." she says with a lilt in her voice. "So someone's telling you to say stuff about me?" Jacqueline clarifies. "I was asked," Penny replies innocently.
Jacqueline's completely baffled. Whether Penny was fed a lie or not, she still chose to make it public. Even if Teresa's using Penny as her personal post-rhinoplasty Pinocchio (less nose, still a puppet), Penny consented at one point. The motive is what I still don't get: Is Penny desperate for attention, super bored, or just a lot more evil than she looks? Either way, judging from the fear on Teresa's face, Penny's the one pulling the strings now.
"I love autistic children. I taught autism," Penny says very seriously to Jacqueline. Since this is the most ridiculous statement in the history of this show, Jacqueline has no comeback. There's just no reasoning with stupid, and I'm glad that she realizes that this woman is not worth her time. At this point, I almost feel bad for Penny: She's just in over her head with these women and their two-syllable words. Penny's too painfully stupid to know when to keep her mouth shut, which is a hazard for whoever is behind all of this (cough, Teresa) ... but she's just so mentally handicapped that nobody believes a word she says anyway.
Since Jacqueline isn't making any headway, Melissa grabs Penny and Teresa and brings them to a "less crowded place" that's also still within view of everyone at the party. Melissa cuts to the chase and asks how Penny knew that she didn't visit her father-in-law in the hospital. "Who told you that?" she says. Penny, the human version of a Golden Retriever who feels loyalty only to the person standing right in front of it at that very moment, extends her finger and says "she did." She's pointing to Teresa.
Teresa immediately starts to shriek and really throws her whole body into it. If Deborah Levin was in that room, she'd click her tongue and say "me thinks thou doth protest too much!" I used to hate when she said that, mostly because she always had my number. (Hey mom!) Tantrums of this proportion are reserved solely for guilty people, because innocent ones know that they've got the truth on their side.
As Teresa and Penny trade uninspired barbs, the other "Housewives" look on. Even her new buddy Jacqueline makes no bones about believing that Teresa is behind all of this. However, she notes that she doesn't think Teresa meant for it to go this far.
"Last year, when this whole Posche thing happened you knew your sister-in-law was going to be set up," Penny says. (She is referring to the Posche fashion show last year, at which Mr. Clean accused Melissa of dancing nakey for him.) "You knew what was going to go down. You wanted to destroy her."
With that, the music swells, everyone covers their mouths like they're starring in a bad soap opera. Looks like this hot mess is "to be continued."
Which, oddly enough, is what God said while he was making Penny ... though as you can see, he never did get a chance to finish things up.
I can't believe it, but next week is the finale! Think Teresa is about to go down, or is there more to this insane story? Comment below or tweet me at @sydneyraylevin]