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The Real Housewives of New Jersey Recap: Watch This Year’s Throwdown

When we last left the ladies, Teresa was just settling into a stately wingback chair in the lobby of the North Jersey Country Club. From this perch she would proceed to crazy-bait Danielle in as dignified a manner as possible, Masterpiece Theater style. Obviously, Teresa receives a handsome cash bonus every time she sets Danielle off, and we can’t blame her for trying to keep the money flowing in the right direction. We know she needs it. Everybody knows she needs it. Ross Douthat of the New York Times knows she needs it. He even wrote about it on Sunday, in his column. He blamed the federal government.

In any event, after a two-week break, the stage was all set for what promised to be an even crazier reprise of the great table flip of 2009. At first, at least, the ladies didn’t disappoint. They gave it their batshit all. A quick recap of Teresa’s passive-aggressive taunt last week and Danielle’s Sopranos-inspired, much-promoted interjection led us to the moment where Teresa references her lowly but tough Paterson roots and subsequent rise to McMansion-dwelling glory. “I live in a $5 million dollar home, bitch.” (Douthat pegs it as closer to $1.5 million, but whatever.) Danielle sneers, “Yeah, which is in foreclosure.”

These are moments we’ll cherish forever, or at least until the end of this otherwise unfathomably boring episode. Witness Danielle in vinyl thigh-high stiletto heels, breaking into a gazelle gallop as Teresa bounces behind her like a rabid hedgehog. (What compels her? What mysterious longings lurk deep beneath that furry shrug? We may never know.) More: Danielle’s heels snapping off. Danielle crouching in the bushes, whimpering and blubbering in a passable imitation of fear. Kim G. trying to calm her down by shaking her and screaming “calm down!” in her face. And Ashley on the sidelines, watching intently, her two dim synapses furiously rubbing together, trying to hatch a plan. Here's what she comes up with, after considerable deliberation: walk up to Danielle and yank a fistful of hair out of her head. (Watch it all below.)

There is much excitement, and yet, as an innocent bystander who narrowly avoids death by housewife-trampling gasps, “This is fucking bullshit.” New Jersey must be sick of the public scenes, not to mention the strain on state resources. Danielle calls the cops and demands that Ashley be arrested for pulling her hair. When the cops arrive and ask her if she’s injured, she says, “I am emotionally really a wreck right now!” Inside, the beleaguered officers try to get a statement from Teresa, who tells them they should get a statement from Danielle, because “she’s the one that’s the drama queen, she’s the one that’s a coke whore, not me.”

The weepy, helpless victim role doesn't suit Danielle, we don't think. But when she cries, “I want to go home” over and over again and her voice breaks on the word “home” every time, that's a nice touch. That's craft.

But what, by the end of the episode, have we learned?

1. Teresa is a lady. Because she says so. A lady who can’t stop screaming “bitch!” at the top of her lungs.

2. If you buy a house as an “investment,” it can’t go into foreclosure. So sayeth Jacqueline.

3. Mental patients aren’t medicated, mental institutions are medicated. Right before they assault Danielle.

4. A great way to get back into law school after getting kicked out: threaten the school with legal action. Your parents will be proud. At least Albie’s will. "You're showing them what kind of lawyer you're going to be." The frivolous, entitled, asshole kind.

5. When telling your husband about your self-indulgent little psychotic episode, which will no doubt only add to your already considerable legal and financial troubles, it’s best to emulate your small, manipulative daughter. That way, nobody can mistake you for a responsible adult and you can keep acting stupid.

6. Which reminds us: Mixing stupid and crazy is a lot like mixing bleach and ammonia. Next thing you know, you’ve whipped yourself up a batch of chemical weapons in the bathroom without meaning to or even realizing it. Maybe because by then you are unconscious.

7. An “energist” is a spiritual personal trainer who can level off your energies over the phone while you play solitaire.

8. A rosary may be worn (a) as a necklace and (b) by a man, only under certain very special circumstances, such as attempting to channel the spirit of mid-eighties Madonna, or manfully laying down the law with your bratty teen, who is hell-bent on the "death by psycho" of your entire family.

Oh, and Ashley getting lectured? We smell a spinoff.

Photo: Bravo