Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 5, Episode 2 of Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," titled "A Manzo of her Word."
Open: A beautiful scene in Teresa's kitchen. "Milania," Gia says lovingly, "when the oil splashes on you, I'm going to laugh so hard!" As the children eat each other alive, Teresa looks as dismayed as someone with empty eyes and a bag of hair for brains possibly could. "When I was growing up and we were sitting at the dinner table, we were not able to get off the table until we were all done eating." This certainly begs the question of why Teresa ate on top of the table. In my family, rabid animals remain on the floor.
Next, the girls make cards for their grandfather, who is about to get a pacemaker installed. Teresa tries to explain the surgery in kid-friendly terms, but Milania, harbinger of death, is on to her. "HE'LL DIE!" she shouts, obviously unaware of death's permanence.
Over at Melissa's, Joe casually throws a mini-football at his son's face, then instructs him not to cry under any circumstance. I'm not a parent, but I think we can all agree that it's really important to stifle your kid's emotions as early as possible. Crying, much like being educated or sounding intelligent, is not tolerated in the Gorga home, young man!
Before Joe can do any more psychological damage, Jerry, the real estate agent, comes over to talk about selling their home. Turns out the sale that seemed like an empty threat wrapped in ugly crying at last year's reunion was very real -- but at $3.8 million, potential buyers aren't coming in droves. "I literally go to church and I pray that my house is going to sell," Melissa says. Poor girl. I thought everyone knew God only DVRs the OC "Housewives"? (Little known fact: After resting on the seventh day, he also created bottle blondes).
This week, Caroline and Albert are hanging at their country home (a.k.a. suburban Jersey) instead of the apartment in Hoboken. There's "no rhyme or reason" to why they sleep where ... except that they obviously go to Hoboken when they want to get away from their daughter. She's much thinner now, but being able to see your shoes does not equal putting them on and walking into an adult life where you live alone.
Since Caroline pre-plans her texts like they're actual life events, she tells her husband that she's about to message Teresa. "I was not going to get involved in this fight again, but it breaks my heart because I'm one of 11 and I've been there. From the bottom of my heart, I really want this family to mend," she says. Any more lies and she'll need to call in the same surgeon who did Jaqueline's nose.
While Caroline plots how to drive Teresa crazy, Kathy hops in the car with her son for a driving lesson. His dad (a.k.a. "the Lebanese Jeff Goldblum"), imparts wisdom that driver's ed instructors leave out, mostly for fear of being sued. Dad explains that it's important to drive a stick because when you shift into fourth, you come close to your female passenger's thigh. See, the thing young kids don't realize is that once you get your first restraining order, the rest are no sweat. Plus, driving within 50-feet of schools and playgrounds is wildly overrated.
"Oh, what's that adorable and interesting gal Jacqueline up to?" said nobody ever. She's over at Parenting magazine, obviously not speaking about her daughter Ashlee, whose biggest accomplishment in life was legally switching the "y" at the end of her name to a second "e." Girl, how'd you manage to buy a vowel when you're not employed?
All jokes aside, Jacqueline's actually discussing something very serious: adjusting to life with an autistic son. She explains that the little boy who would talk and say "I love you" lost that ability, breaking her heart in the process. "He was a miracle baby, because she had five miscarriages before that," her husband explains. Even when the doctor told her to terminate the pregnancy because he had no heartbeat, Jacqueline fought to bring her little one into the world. That battle will continue -- and luckily, Nicholas has two incredibly strong leaders by his side, ready to wage war.
By now, Teresa's father has been discharged from the hospital ... and Teresa smuggled some drugs out to revive Kim D. from the cryogenic compartment she sleeps in between seasons. In a rare moment of kindness, I will say she looks damn good for 678 years old. As they walk to their cars, Teresa gets the aforementioned text from Caroline asking to hang out. "I'm not a grudge holder. I prefer to forgive and forget," Teresa's boobs say during her interview. (Much like Miley Cyrus' 2010 hit, those tatters can't be tamed .)
Speaking of large things that get in the way, let's get back to Caroline. She's just flopped down on her daughter Lauren's bed for her morning spackle. If going au natural is some weird ploy to make her feel more "real" and "accessible" to the audience, it's not working. We've already seen all of Caroline's faces ... now they just look a lot worse for wear.
"I've got lunch with Teresa," she says as Lauren draws a circle around her eyes in black. I always thought she liked her mother, but this application proves otherwise. Perhaps the lunch has a "Come Looking Like Suri Cruise Is Your Makeup Artist" theme?
Though Teresa thinks she's got an apology coming her way, she's noticeably nervous. She's definitely wearing a helmet under her weave, and her makeup is so thick that insults may actually get stuck in it. Since she feels the root of all her issues with Caroline is Melissa, she tells Juicy Joe this completely insane and disgusting story (she says it's an old Italian proverb) about Melissa being a vampire who had her period and put the blood in some wine so her husband went in a "trance." It makes no sense at all, and now I'm going to have to switch to white for the duration of this recap and my life.
Back at Melissa's house, she's taking a quick break from bottling her new line of Menstration Malbec (it's got some floral notes, a hint of PMS breakout and an aromatic crying jag) to try and sell her house. A high-end realtor brings someone
desperate for camera time in, but she's not impressed in the slightest. As she points out fake ceramic and a bathroom that has no running water, it looks like they'll get that asking price when Bravo makes a show about piggy housewives who can fly (when they're not busy flipping troughs).
The epic Caroline and Teresa meet up is at the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn and Tavern, which sounds like a joint venture between Santa and Heidi Fleiss. They are in a private room, so there will be no dry cleaning bills if brunch becomes a bloodbath. They titter about their unintentional matching (both in electric blue tops), but that's where the frivolity ends.
When Teresa finds out that her brother Joe (sort of) orchestrated this, she's not happy. "Wow, he's really scrapping the bottom of the barrel," she scoffs. "Come on, he needs to be a man!" She's stunned that Caroline -- someone who is still estranged from her own sister -- is trying to assert herself as a healer. Teresa is normally so dumb that I am stunned when she manages to stand and breath at the same time, but she's right on the money tonight. If her brother wants to fix things, adding a third party isn't the way to do it.
As Teresa speaks, Caroline dusts off her infamous head tilt. The HT is often followed by other signature gestures, such as "wild arms" and "terrifying low voice of death." As Teresa stumbles through her side of the story, Caroline rocks out all her moves, throwing in "crazy fingers" and "face circle, face circle" for good measure. As things heat up and she's doing all four at the same time, I'm honestly a little worried/excited that the next step may be a full-on seizure.
The gist of the chat is this: Teresa maintains that she never meant to hurt anyone, and that everyone else needs to apologize to her. She's fixating on Jacqueline, obsessing about how she "backstabbed" her. Caroline reminds Teresa that she is Satan's evil mistress, and that she's blaming all the wrong people.
Since Teresa's itching to drag everyone through the mud, Caroline makes it an exercise. "Why don't you start with the least of all the evils?" she says, egging her on. Teresa starts to trash Kathy, but then thinks better of it. This table ain't Vegas, and what at the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn and Tavern sure won't stay there. Caroline realizes she's not making any headway, so she breaks out the big guns. "Your father is old! You don't want that man to die and not see his kids together." It's a bit harsh, but the truth hurts ... and it actually silences Teresa.
Meanwhile, the allegedly evil Jacqueline is sweetly setting up apps and drinks for a poker night. The poor thing could really use a fun night -- she hasn't laughed in so long that I can't even make fun of how Botox keeps her from truly laughing. The whole cast (minus Caroline) is there, and the men + Rosie quickly head downstairs to play cards and talk about boobs ... and the big surprise Jacqueline's husband has for her. Chris has been secretly working with a therapist to try and get their son to say "I love you" again, and he's hoping Nicholas will say it tonight, while surrounded by a ton of people he barely knows. Hey, you know that old saying: If a special, personal milestone doesn't happen in front of the entire world, did it really happen?
When Jacqueline and Nicholas come downstairs, the little guy totally steals the show. He says those three special words with gusto, reducing everyone to tears. "That's what it's all about," Rosie says. "Doing things for each other."
But because it's also about ratings, Teresa and Caroline are still going at it -- and it seems the wait staff has totally forgotten about them! What do two, full-grown ladies selling their souls for a paycheck need to do to get a friggin' caesar salad in this Ho-Ho hovel? Finally, perhaps spurned on by hunger, Teresa has a breakthrough. "I'll meet half way," she says. "Tell my brother ... that if he wants to make peace, [I'll] accept him with open arms."
With that, the women air-kiss goodbye. Teresa high-tails it outta there while an emotionally exhausted Caroline sits back down for one last sip of her iced tea. That went pretty well, so hell has definitely frozen over ... which is a real bummer for the Devil, 'cause you know he's executive producing this hot mess.
"Real Housewives of New Jersey" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.