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The Real Housewives of New Jersey Recap: Reunited to Yell Some More

Throughout the course of this season, Danielle Staub has exhibited symptoms of an alarming number of psychological issues. She seems debilitating-ly paranoid and uncomfortably ashamed of herself at points, as when she weaves a strange web of half-truths in what often seems like a sad sort of fame-mongering. However, just because Danielle is paranoid doesn't mean people aren't really out to get her! It was Dina Manzo, after all, who brought Danielle to a trashy pan-Asian restaurant only to say she's crazy. And was it not Theresa Giudice who accosted Danielle at a charity event and accused her of being a bitch? ("Is bitch better, bitch?" we quote.) It was Caroline Manzo, even, who lured Danielle to an eerie back-room for an alleged meal only to call her a clown! Meanwhile, Danielle is outnumbered in size and sanity (Caroline's and Dina's, at least). So who are the villains here, really?

Is it a vaguely depressed single mother lusting after fame, making herself a victim through a chilling self-fulfilling prophecy? Or her cleavage-heavy co-stars, pointing their fingers at her for largely not articulated reasons that seem to have more to do with Staub's alleged promiscuity and nuttiness, with which these woman [sic?] clearly resent having to share the screen. Why are they unable to ignore this very clearly unhinged 47-year-old when she makes a few kooky comments in a reality TV confessional booth? Well, last night, in the warm, classy enclave of the Atlantic City Borgata, everyone took shots at Danielle, even though it's actually been a whole year since most of the women interacted with her. (They really couldn't let anything go?) Some non-Danielle stuff happened at the reunion too, we think, but we were kind of zoning out for those parts. So here are the official testimonies in the, uh, unprecedented case of Danielle Staub Versus The World:

Teresa: In a show-stopping floral number, the Skinny Italian made the best case for Danielle Staub's being an actual witch. Not because we could understand a word Theresa was saying when the synapses in her brain seemed literally to fizzle at the sight of Danielle. No, she made the best case against Danielle because she managed to stay surprisingly calm, maybe even sympathetic, when Andy Cohen listed off the amount of debt the Giuduces were in, purchase by purchase, in an almost poetic way. Teresa said she "loved [her] husband" even more because he hid their rising debts from her, politely disagreeing when Andy Cohen made the repeated, if thinly-veiled, accusation that Teresa's house was soon to be foreclosed upon and that she was a grifter-in-denial. However! When Danielle merely cast her vacant, brown eyes upon Theresa and asked if she'd visited her nephew recently, the woman went apoplectic. To get to Danielle, Teresa pushed Andy Cohen out of the way like a woman lifting up a Jeep to rescue her kids out from under it.

The official minutes from the testimony read something like, "You straddled somebody in front of your kids. You're a pig. Look at yourself. You're disgusting. And desperate. I hate her. Bitch, I don't talk about you. I'm just doing it right now because we're on a frickin' TV show, you skanky whore. She's - piece - garbage - she - dare - how - she - motherfucking - slut - garbaelaskdglasjgsagsagsagasgasg," until the exorcism Theresa was undergoing ended and she woke up dazed and confused in Andy Cohen's arms. Teresa's seizure-like rage was so sudden and scary that we actually wondered if Danielle was, in fact, a witch who had been chanting some silent spell under her breath, like MaryAnn from True Blood. Other than that ... no. There's not much to say about Theresa other than that.

Caroline: Caroline almost "gets it," but Danielle manages to unnerve her too, in the end. The radiant, twenty-five pounds-lighter matriarch rocked a one-shoulder blue dress and told her co-stars not to make a big scene, but they did not listen. Caroline said some pretty awesome stuff, like, "I never insulted [Danielle] for being a stripper. I don't think there's anything wrong with being a stripper, or a prostitute. You wanna strip, strip." (We would roll the tapes from last season where Caroline definitely did at least imply that there was something wrong with Staub's stripping, but we're willing to set that aside and believe she's since become less judgmental, and good for her!) And after Theresa went bonkers, Caroline said, "She wanted it, you gave it to her. You're not this person. If you were this person, you wouldn't be my friend." Caroline was right, also, to point out that Danielle always evades her actual questions.

But ultimately even Caroline can't just laugh along with us. She insisted on patronizing Danielle by drawing-out and enunciating her sentences while pointing her finger: "Do. Not. Talk. About. My. Sister." A throwback to last week's, "You. Will. Not. Hurt. Me." Enough with that! She's not a child getting spanked. And then Manzo ultimately went the whole, "I've got a real nuclear family, you don't" route once again, if more subtly now: "Throw mud," she said. "But I have a man that's loved me for 26 years." Subtext: You're alone in this world ... skank.

Jacqueline Laurita: Jacquie, rocking a Vegas showgirl-like red frock, really came out swinging last night, muttering about Danielle's use of "armed guards" when it wasn't even relevant to the question, within the first minute of this reunion. (And doesn't her relationship with Danielle almost eerily mimic her relationship with Ashley? First giving them too much of a leash, and then left with all this displaced anger?) She accused Danielle of having sex with someone in front of her own kids. Then this was mitigated to straddling someone in front of her kids. Then she said "someone sent [her]" Danielle's sex tape. Ha! Please! And she "only watched the preview," but she knew all about the angles and narrative of the tape? We thinks she may have gotten out some of her, uh, frustrations about Danielle, while watching it. Metaphorically speaking?

So then, ridiculously, she got angry at Danielle for not having called her after she gave birth, even though she has made this enormous point about how much she hates Danielle. (And it was actually intentionally awesome when Danielle was like, Jesus, lady, "Congrats!" You happy now? Woo-hoo. The huge Manzo-Laurita clan, growing ever-bigger.) Then Jacquie struck a low blow about Danielle's kids: "Do you know they cry at school everyday? They're in the nurse's office all the time crying," apparently because Danielle is so embarrassing. This is actually semi-plausible and sad, but couldn't it have waited until after the show? So Laurita's case was weak. All over the place, mean-spirited, and silly. Next!

Andy Cohen: Subtly, perhaps, the adorable host sneaked in some of the harshest digs in the sketchy form of "user questions" from Bravo.com, or something. "You do flaunt your sexuality in the media a lot," he said to Danielle, like that was just a fact. And: "Are you swimming in the lady pond?" he demanded to know, of Danielle's seemingly lesbian, seemingly fake relationship. Then there was the faux-concern he conveyed when talking about Danielle's sex tapes and her unconvincing denial that she had a hand in their release, saying, "Your legal fees must be astronomical!" Or the question, "How do you explain your sex tapes to your kids?" which was actually just very dark. Of course, Cohen managed to diffuse the scary Theresa-Danielle spat by remaining calm and charming, and he's the only one besides the viewers who seems to find some of this funny. (It seemed like he actually was about to laugh after Theresa pushed him.) So he was still a positive presence, and he indicted everyone, not just Danielle.

Danielle: Like most totally paranoid people, Danielle is ultimately her own worst enemy. The only time she seemed to be telling the whole truth or directly answering a question was when she said she wasn't sleeping with Danny, which is actually incredibly disappointing, because they would be an adorable couple and ripe for a spin-off. Instead of coherently explaining herself and boldly telling these woman to stop judging her, Danielle retreated to her bizarre backstage mafia and chanted, "Amazing things. Amazing things. New beginning. Amazing things," apropos of nothing. Still, she managed to sit through this and survive. Danielle, contra mundum! We'd be part of her mafia any day.

Photo: Andrei Jackamets/Bravo