Two miles past crazy lies a borough called Franklin Lakes. In that borough, Caroline Manzo is not happy. And when Caroline Manzo is not happy, nobody is happy. This episode of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" begins with Caroline's explanation of why she was randomly lurking in the shadows of Jacqueline's yard during the epic Teresa/Jacqueline Friendship War last week. (As you'll recall, there were no survivors.) "I was bringing over swimsuits ... and I walk into just a pile of bullshit," she explains. Girlfriend, watch where you're stepping or those Aldo sandals won't last the summer! She then reminds us that she is "done" with Teresa. This is an important update, because it's not like she spends every waking moment reminding us that she is "done" with Teresa.
Out back, the rest of her family plus Jacqueline's husband Chris and fabulous roomie Greg are discussing the big brawl. Apparently, delicate flower Jacqueline cried all night and still cannot rouse herself from bed. Chris likens Jacqueline's meltdown to the way she dealt with her first husband: "What did she do? She threw all his shit on the front lawn that day. That was it, it was over. That's exactly what she's doing now. She just put all of Teresa's shit on the front lawn." Chris admits that he's hurt, too, and he's worried that they'll be lapping up a lot more whining than wine if the Giudices go on the upcoming Napa trip. They decide to make it an open invite and mandate that the ladies clear everything up before they venture out. Oh yeah sure, 'cause burying the hatchet would really make good TV, right? Get ready for a bottle of red, a bottle of white ... and probably a bottle to Teresa's head.
Over at Jacqueline's house, it's sob central. She explains that after last night's drama, she had a complete breakdown. She's also hysterical in her interview, probably because she finally realized that she has been conducting interviews in a one-shoulder sparkly purple number purchased from Baby Prostitute Gap. (Hey, toddlers gotta make money too!) Or maybe it's because she realizes that last night's quarrel was more than just a fight -- it was an actual breakup. And like any girl feeling kinda bad about dumping a loser, she's trying to rationalize the situation. "It's not like I'm going to say I regret being her friend. I had a lot of fun times with her too, but who wants to have an enemy? If neither of you are getting what you need out of the friendship, it's pretty much over."
Meanwhile, in one of those, "Hey, less intelligent creatures can feel pain, too" moments, Teresa describes her own breakdown. "After I left Jacqueline's house, I went to Dina's house." (Future Drama Alert: Dina is Caroline's currently estranged sister.) Teresa tells Juicy Joe how everything exploded, and how her contact with Danielle (aka "Beverly Ann" aka "Bonkers McInsane Pants") was dredged up. Juicy Joe knows a good way for Teresa to deal with Jacqueline: "Tell her to shuddddup! Be quiet, you hypocrite."
He then tells Teresa to find a new friend. "You've got me. Move on," he says. Though having him as a friend sounds like a fate worse than death, it is a sweet gesture. For all his seemingly endless faults, he's very protective of his wife, and anyone who's ever lost their temper knows that anger is often just a louder form of sadness. Teresa reminds her new buddy that they've got Melissa's song release party the next day, and submitting to an aural assault is the only way Teresa can begin to repair that relationship. She explains that since she can't trust her old friends, she must ensure that her family unit stays as tight as Juicy Joe's fiiiiine rear.
At Kathy's house, everything is literally coming up roses as she gardens the day away. But as she's happily pruning -- which I would like you all to consider as an allegory for the limitation of friendship -- she's interrupted by a thorn in her side. Well, actually, it's in her pocket. Her phone rings and it's Teresa asking if they can maybe grab a bite to eat so that they can be BFFAEAEAE again and have a sleepover and wear a face mask and talk all night about super hunky Rick in science class who looks good in whatever he wears. Kathy thinks it's all a bit weird, but she accepts the invite. "Are there any ulterior motives?" she queries. "I don't know."
At lunch, Teresa orders cawfee and french toast, while Kathy has a veggie wrap. It's very symbolic: Teresa has been battered and now she's laying her emotions face-up on a plate, waiting for Kathy to pour the sweet, sweet syrup of love and redemption everywhere. Meanwhile, Kathy is still feeling closed off, like a bunch of vegetables being suffocated by a carbohydrate. Actually that's total BS and I really just wanted to see how far I could potentially bring this edible metaphor. I'll take a check, Freud.
Anyhoo, at the table, the camera zooms in on a rose. Trying to make some weird "Bachelorette" reference, sneaky cameraman? It is sort of like Teresa's on a totally warped date, hoping that old flame Kathy will want to see her again. "We were like sisters. You know how much I loved you," Teresa starts in. "That love for me hasn't changed ever," Kathy replies.
Apparently that's enough validation for Teresa, and she launches into her fight with Jacqueline/Caroline instead of digging deeper into the broken relationship sipping water right in front of her. Good ol' veggie wrap Kathy's got her number, though. She explains her light bulb moment in an interview: "Ah, ding ding ding, this is why she's called," she realizes. "She needs someone to be on her side." Still, Kathy's extremely fair. She's hopeful that Teresa's "all by myself" moment is the jolt of pain that will straighten her priorities. Then, Kathy whips out old school photos she like, totally randomly had in her bag along with teeny-tiny bloomers that Teresa gave Victoria after she was born. They are both ravenous after that Olympic heart-strings pulling, so they chow down, Lauren Manzo-style. (It's OK, I know that when I get to hell Satan will have a copy of these recaps with sentences like that one highlighted.)
The only thing heavier than Teresa and Kathy's talk is Melissa's makeup. She's getting all dolled up because she has to call Ryan Seacrest -- and when you're as famous as him, you actually have the magic ability to see through a phone. (You get it along with your SAG card.) He's about to debut the remix of "On Display," the song Melissa and auto-tune have been toiling over in the basement. It's a very complex ditty, with lyrics like: "On display/on display/ on display/ each and every day/every day/every day." But in a moment of clarity, Melissa says she knows Ryan doesn't really like her song ... but it's fine 'cause all that matters is what the world thinks. Then, with his kids on his lap, Joe decides to chime in. "You know why she sings so well?" he asks with a sexual predator glimmer in his eye. Ryan doesn't ask why. "It's all the practice in the bedroom," Joe exclaims. "Pretty soon she's going to be doing opera!" Ryan starts to dry heave and has to hang up as quickly as possible so that he can push to a commercial break before hurling everywhere. (I mean, I assume.)
At Teresa's house, she and Juicy Joe are having a special moment with nature. He cannot find the koi that once lived in their pond. Teresa looks at a bird that is very obviously a heron and proclaims that a "stork" probably ate 'em. But you can't really fault Teresa for being confused about what a stork looks like: The one that brought her children was red with horns and a tail, shrieking, "They're you're problem now!" It was a beautiful scene.
They sit down and Teresa cautiously mentions that she's still considering therapy. Joe expresses his feelings ("I'm embarrassed for you"), but Teresa explains that this is her last resort, and she'll do anything to mend fences -- even if it means going against her husband. Joe then gives us a window into his hatred of couches. "I was 11, the school tried to send me to therapy. And all these coo-coo birds were running around, and my mother was like, 'Oh my god!' I was getting in trouble, but I wasn't made for that school." Teresa pats him on the back and reminds him that therapy may have been a mistake for him, but it could be just the ticket for her and her brother. She's careful to always remind us that she's doing it for her bro, not because she actually needs it. "Don't you want us to all be a family?" she pleads. Finally, he gives them his blessing, and the koi and heron dance together in beautiful harmony. Since Melissa's sham-of-a-song party is that night, it's the perfect opportunity for Teresa and her brother to hash things out in what I'm sure will be a very quiet, loving and peaceful manner.
Melissa's all a-Twitter as she drives to the party, but Twitter's not all about her. People are calling her a "fame whore" and hating on her tunes. Though she tries to block it out, it's obviously hurtful. Seriously, who just sits on the internet writing nasty things about people they feel they're above? (Like, besides me, I mean.) In her own car, Teresa and Juicy Joe are reading the 160 character criticism, too -- but they're both more worried about their own issues. Joe gets a text from Jacqueline's husband, Chris, that says, "Just want you to know I'm upset about what happened." This does not bode well.
The party is crazy garish and cheesy, like Atlantic City trying on a discount version of Vegas' heels. Melissa has obviously dressed the theme: She's totally "On Display." Let's just say this party won't rack up any interior decorating awards. Get it? I'm trying to very subtly hint that she has gigantic knockers and her D-cups runneth over. While she works the corner ... I mean the crowd, the other gals hate on Teresa. If looks could kill, Teresa would have burst into flames the second she entered, going down in a blaze of burnt hair extensions and melted acrylic. Jacqueline glares at her with angry drunk eyes and then wonders why Teresa doesn't come over to be verbally water-boarded.
Jacqueline feels that it's "sad that we're ... not even going to acknowledge each other." Girlfriend, get yourself together. There's no "Ending a Friendship" instruction guide, but I'm pretty sure that when you banish someone from your life, that includes party banter. Cold-as-ice Caroline, however, isn't phased about the proximity to her adversary. "I'm not nervous. I don't plan on speaking to her. Kill me now." Uhm, if you'd rather die than speak to someone, it does seem like you care an awful lot. Just saying, Caro.
Now that the alcohol's flowing, Teresa's tongue has been loosened. She asks her brother if they can chat out back. She says she definitely wants to go to therapy, and Joe tries to contain his joy. "You see how much I love you? I'm so weak with you," he says.
Meanwhile, Jacqueline's hurt that Teresa doesn't seem to want to talk to her about their issues, and it's all she can focus on. It's very unattractive and needy and makes me rethink how I often deal with exes. Some people call it "stalking," but I consider it "freestyle caring."
As Jacqueline gets more hammy pants (Hammy Pants, adj: very sloppy drunk), she gets more vocal. After bitching to her pals, she bitches to her husband, but her complaints are drowned out by the bumpin' remix. Still, she can barely bring herself to dance -- and the next thing we know, she's sloshed her way over to interrupt a convo and bombard Teresa. Jacqueline tells her she's been crying for days, and Teresa says she feels like her "brain is about to come out of her head." I think that means she's sad, too. Jacqueline apologizes, and says the fight wasn't "supposed to be an ambush; it was supposed to be an awakening." At this point, they're not yelling, but their hand movements start to get all Michael J. Foxy and you know screaming is around the corner. "I'm really hurt and disappointed," Teresa stutters. Jacqueline starts in with the world's worst retort: "So am I." She says it six times for effect. I counted because we're all in this terrible show together and I love you.
As the fight escalates, Teresa tells us off-camera that she should have just "punched [the bitch] in her face." I'm now rooting for a table-flipping moment but alas, it never comes. Production probably nailed them down to avoid a lawsuit anyway. Back at the party, they're talking at each other and throwing every possible barb in their arsenal; while at the bar, their husbands talk calmly and don't try to beat each other up so I sort of stop listening. News of the fight has snaked its way through the crowd and it ultimately gets to Melissa. It's unfortunate that her song -- awful as it is -- has to be drowned out by the screeching of two lunatics. Finally, she walks over to diffuse things. "We don't know who each other is anymore," Jacqueline sighs. Somewhere in the world, an English teacher drops dead. Teresa uses the mess as a segue to hash out issues with her sister-in-law and tells Jacqueline to beat it. With an epic gulp of her beverage, Jacqueline trounces away. "I see you for exactly what you are," Jacqueline growls. (Actually, she's probably seeing double thanks to that last glass.) For someone who got exactly what she claimed to want -- a life without Teresa -- she isn't too happy. And for a quote-unquote "Vegas girl," she got her bluff called pretty hard.
While Jacqueline drinks herself into oblivion, Teresa continues to hammer away at Melissa. She's all wigged out about Melissa's communication with Danielle, but it's a pretty mind-bogglingly bad time for a chat that's a few years in the making. Melissa admits to everything, including the fact that she "hated" Teresa during her second pregnancy. After they unload all that knockoff Gucci baggage, they apologize and discuss moving forward. There's even a double high-five, which is like, the biggest symbol of atonement in the universe. It's the most civilized fight ever in the history of "Housewives."
In the spirit of making up, my girl Rosie even kisses Joe Giudice. "Can't you believe how much the tables have turned?" Teresa smirks. "I never imagined me getting along with Melissa and Kathy, but fighting with Jacqueline and Caroline." Poor Jacqueline whimpers, "I lost a best friend tonight. F--- it" into her vodka and tears. She goes home and, presumably, listens to a lot of Death Cab for Cutie.
"Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends" is how the saying goes ... but I'm still not quite sure what Teresa's drinking.
"The Real Housewives of New Jersey" airs at 10 p.m. ET on Sundays on Bravo.