Last week, when Alex delivered Bethenny's message to Jill, a fellow cast member joked that they should not "shoot the messenger." That would never have happened. Swift, straightforward assault is out of place on Real Housewives, where the Restalyne-filled council prefers to mete out punishment via a slower, more torturous route: sharp, stinging darts shot in cocktail-party conversation that not only pierce the soul but leave behind a poison that bleeds into the bloodstream of the victim and by extension, the viewer, leaving us all, as Alex (the subject of this week's attacks) would put it, "done."
But not dead. Our souls may be bleeding, our heart may be rotting, and our ideas about feminine beauty may be forever altered from exposure to the poison that is this show. Still, we will soldier on and declare a titular "winner" of this week's episode. Because, to again quote Alex, sometimes you get to the point of no return.When it comes to delivering poison darts, LuAnn is a master archer. "I just thought that was heartless," she told Alex, a moment later turning on her heel and snapping: "Sorry, I have some guests." But her jabs were full of contradictions. "Why did you have to deliver the message?" she asks Alex. "Who made you God?" Before Alex can observe, of course, that this makes no sense, LuAnn is on to the next mixed message. "I think to take sides is not the thing to do." What? That’s like if Azrael the cat said to Smurfette one day, "God, you’re so confrontational." LuAnn was just a mess of contradictions in this episode, for which she loses, because when it comes to the episode where she releases her single, we're never going to know whether she takes it seriously or not. Already she's got us going. "I'm not Madonna, but I might be the female Barry White." So is she in on the joke or not!?
Even as Bethenny cries in front of the cameras about her dad, she manages to put her giant engagement ring right in front of the camera lens. It may not have been on purpose, but it was a good metaphor for this whole plotline. If this is a deeply serious personal family issue, why is she inviting reality cameras along? Sure, she seemed genuinely upset, but catfighting with a brassy fabric-store owner for the camera's benefit is one thing. Crying about your dying dad is quite another. Still, kudos to Bethenny for skipping town right after dropping the Alex bomb and letting the other girls deal with all the ricocheting drama on their own.
It almost seemed symbolic when Alex, who has been looking much better lately, gave away that awful Roberto Cavalli dress from the first season that made her vagina look like the sun was coming out of it. Throughout the episode, hives aside, she looked sort of lovely and poised — except, of course, for that pink chain-mail top she was wearing in the last bit. Even though we feel like we are on Alex's side, her behavior was so all over the place — sometimes respectful and wise, sometimes emotional and reckless — that we can't give her the win.
When Ramona cried about Bethenny's father, a part of us wondered if it wasn't about the fact that she's bothered that attention was being directed away from her upcoming recommitment ceremony to Mario, about which she has become a total bridezilla. But there's always a possibility that it was a real reaction, and if so, we're touched — by the fact that she cried, and by her ability to totally float above her daughter's biting criticism on a gentle cloud of Pinot Grigio and Lithium. Still, at the end of the day, Ramona is way too impressed with having made it through sixteen years of marriage. Yes, something like 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. But that means 50 percent don’t.
Kelly served two purposes in this episode: one, to make faces, turn away, or even literally flee when other ladies are fighting against one another. (Seriously, look in the background of scenes where people are fighting — you probably didn't even realize she was present, but there she is, running away!) And two, for delivering some pretty amazing lines, like when she asked Sonja's dog if it went to the hair salon, or when at the Eldridge she said, "Accessories defines New Yorkers, and really, Americans," like she expected actual applause. But other than that, she was a nonentity in this episode.
Sonja has not been with this crowd long enough to be poisoned by their drama. She's still all sweetness and light, and tried to connect with the other Housewives by sharing her life experiences. "Antidepressants made me stupider," she told LuAnn and the others at the ashram or whatever spa basement they ended up in. Did we mention she's also self-aware? But while she keeps performing well, we're worried that the vague boredom she displays toward drama (sure, she says "Drama will happen, and who wants to have a boring party anyhow?" but she only means other people's drama) will hurt her on this show in the long run. If you are able to prattle on meaninglessly with Kelly while Alex and Jill try desperately to make a scene, you don't have the right instincts for Bravo. Still, for now, Sonja gets a win.
Oh, Jill Zarin. Clearly, having detected that this season is not going her way, Jill makes feints in the direction of conciliation and even guilt. She's even adopted LuAnn's shamanistic jewelry, probably in an effort to protect herself from evil spirits and inevitable blog backlash. But backlash she's still going to get! Here we go with our now-weekly list of Reasons Why Jill Zarin Is a Disgusting Person:
She plays the ignoring game: Alex correctly notes that Jill will position herself near Alex to make the fact that they’re not speaking all the more apparent. Little does she know this will be completely lost on Sonja and Kelly, who are ignoring her even more powerfully than she is ignoring Alex.
She’s sorry too late: "I'm so sorry for so many things that have happened over the past two months," she says at LuAnn's party, having realized far too late that this plotline has turned her into the show’s Maleficent.
She suddenly finds compassion when she had none: "I'm worried about her health! I’m worried about the baby! I want to go over there!” she says. Kelly, at this point, having successfully avoided drama so far this evening, is trapped in her shiny glare and is clearly too terrified to move.
She can’t have a fight without notes: The fact that she keeps admitting over and over, “I wasn’t ready” to fight with Bethenny, I didn’t have my notes” leads us to believe that she doesn’t understand how spectacularly childish this seems.
She misdirects anger: "I hate Alex, I'll never forgive her for this," she moans. Why? Alex didn't say anything that Jill hadn't already said to Bethenny herself. Who said, "We are done" first? But then, maybe we're confused about the meaning of the word "done." Done like Kelly's breasts? Or done like LuAnn's dignity after next episode's date and song release?
She starts on negative thoughts before she even knows how to finish them: “Because the legs are dark it doesn’t give the illusion that it’s too short,” she says of Kelly’s minidress, which, frankly, is a lot longer than most of the things she wears.
She fights with phoniness: What was that smile she kept giving to Alex at the Eldridge? That was terrifying! Maybe it has something to do with the voodoo.
She’s not a sharer: When all the other women are talking about their insecurities in the spa, Jill clams up. This is partially because she’s still married and has no "I'm so alone" stories — but also partially because she feeds on other people’s weaknesses, and it’s not nice to talk when you have food in your mouth.
She is constantly looking for something: Kelly is telling actually a pretty funny story about how instead of bringing Sonja flowers she brought her a fourteen-day juice cleanse (which is like giving someone a scale for a present), and all Jill can focus on is stopping Kelly from using the word “like” too much.
She can’t let anybody get away with anything: When Sonja says she was a model, Jill says, “But I thought you were five-foot-six!”
She goes right for the meanest comment she can think of: “Seventeen years is not a milestone,” she says, rightly picking up on the weirdness of Ramona’s obsession with renewing her vows. But then she adds, “Being married to her every day is a milestone, to be honest.”
She can’t miss any drama: When Sonja makes the weird comment to Ramona, “I’m flattered that you trust me after all these years,” Jill immediately brightens up and says, “I want to hear more stories!”
She can’t let anything not be about her: Moments after Ramona announces that Bethenny’s dad died, Jill is yelling about why nobody called her.
She has very obvious buttons and flies off the handle when they are pushed: When Alex tells her she talks too much and she needs to listen, Jill immediately flies off the handle.
She can’t listen to criticism: She literally cannot listen. She can’t stop talking when Alex starts listing her faults, even though she readily admits that that’s “what she does” to other people: criticizes them.
Jennifer Gilbert: For immediately sticking up for Kelly’s short dress when Jill goes after it. And for having a fabulous apartment.
Kimberly Towers: For not even blinking at the fact that Ramona wants to wear white after sixteen years of marriage and one child.
Avery: For being Ramona’s “worst critic in the world.” And for having cute wallpaper! But seriously, girl is a little harsh on her mom, calling her “ridiculous” for wanting to renew her vows. Which suggests that (a) she is in that phase of being a teenager, or (b) she watches the television program The Real Housewives of New York City.
The cameraman who ducked on- and off-camera in Sonja’ house, not once, not twice, but three times: We think that’s the first time we’ve ever seen that happen on this show.
The woman standing behind Sonja when she says, “Okay, tell me about the pooch”: Jill and Kelly sweetly say, “What pooch?” But that woman clearly sees it, and has an opinion.
Susan Shin: For being caught on-camera in the background.
Jason: Does he not work?
The Eldridge: Never have so many starving moms been in that place before at once.
Court: LuAnn’s date has perv eyes. And perv hair. And perv collar. And perv mouth. Jennifer says it best: “Whoever LuAnn is dating, he’s got bad hair and he’s gay.”
Julian Niccolini: Don’t go on this show, dude.