So, how does this stuff work, really? Because, somehow, we’re not buying that the sneaky cultural references and appropriated story lines in tonight’s episode just sprung unaided from the smooth, unlined minds of our heroines. The Marie Antoinette–as-shepherdess theme at Teresa’s daughter’s christening, with Marie soi-même manning the sushi station? It was all so decadent and yet archly referential; it felt too highbrow to have originated inside that famously low brow. All that was missing were some little rental lambs to run around dropping Swarovski crystal–encrusted pellets all over the marble floors. All we’re saying, Andy Cohen, is that we smell a rat, or whatever story editors who majored in French history and minored in cinema studies smell like. That bit about Christine’s friend hearing about Danielle’s search for her birth mom from the eyebrow waxer apparently also charged with the deforestation of Teresa? It was so very Jungle Red!
Meanwhile, Little Audriana is being burdened with more than just lots and lots of extra vowels and excess lace and feathers and a jewel-encrusted Chanel pacifier that looks like it hurts. She may just be the little shove the Giudices need to finally fall into ruin. Joe certainly seems to think so. As Teresa yet again sets fire to piles of cash (and here, again, we have to believe someone is behind this, telling her she has to waste money to make money, which, in her case, might very well be true), Joe sits around stress-eating, sweating, swallowing audibly, and otherwise trying to keep his sphincter screwed shut.
It used to be semi-fun, watching Teresa pretend to be the wife of a hedge-fund manager when it turns out that her husband is in fact hard at work at the pizzeria all day, but now it just hurts.
Also painful? Watching Danielle escort her daughter to her first gynecologist’s appointment on national television and then grill her about her sex life. Obviously, the kid’s been coached in not acknowledging the existence of the camera, etc., but every once in a while she shoots it a look that is a subtle but unmistakable plea for help. As for the good doctor — has he not heard of television? Then again, New Jersey is more rural than most people realize.
On the bright side, it put Danielle in a philosophical mood: “I believe the only really safe way to have sex is abstinence.” And: “Don’t have sex. It’s so gross, now that I think about it.”
Both very persuasive points, and yet Christine is clearly mortified. Chris Manzo and his friend Johnny, son of Kim G., are also mortified when mom interrupts their pool game to beg Chris to set up a lunch date for her with Caroline, who refuses to like her. Christine and Jillian are mortified yet again when Danielle flips out upon hearing about the loose-lipped waxer. Danny is mortified that Danielle won’t take out a hit already.
But all of it pales compared to the pain suffered by Joe in small but inexorable increments as the show hurtles ever closer to his doom — an incipient avalanche of pain. Let’s recount some of the special, excruciating moments:
• Teresa ordering an ice sculpture in the shape of a crucifix as Joe audibly gulps nearby.
• Teresa saying, “As long as his little girl’s happy, that’s all that matters,” and it being entirely unclear if she means Audriana or herself.
• Teresa applying “lotion, lotion!” to a man to whom skin has just become something to jump out of.
• Dina explaining that she's the baby’s “spiritual and religious guide,” as she rolls up to the house in her Mercedes with a sparkly crucifix the size of a hood ornament hanging from her neck. Later, she presents the baby with her “first” pair of Gucci shoes. Joe turns away, presumably from the spectacle of watching his baby get her first free taste of fashion crack.
• Joe snapping at Teresa: “No more parties for you!” and, passing a discount retail outlet on the way to the (coronation/wedding/quinceañera) christening, saying, “$5 Shoe Factory! You should go shopping there, Tre.”
• Whereupon we learn that Teresa has lost her checkbook privileges, but not her total imperviousness to even the most obvious of hints.
• The party is extravagant. The crucifix ice sculpture, huge. Jesus would be proud. But Joe takes off early. He doesn’t want to see the bill.
We’re on shaky emotional ground here, frankly unsure of whether we can handle any more humanity when Danielle confesses to Kim G. that she’s initiated a search for her birth mother because: “I just want to smell her. I want to smell my mom.”
Kim G.’s response: “Oh boy.” And then, “I love you.” And then, “She's a motherfucker!” But that’s not until later, after a little more shuttling between the two sides she’s been playing against each other all season. After she found out that Danielle e-mailed someone and “told them not to be friends” with Kim G. anymore. After Danielle asked her to meet her for lunch and confronted her, and Kim G. finally unleashed her fury and told Danielle how she really felt.
We’re still completely confused about Kim G. But, oh, here's one thing we may have learned: Apparently Danielle’s surgery was a flop because, according to Kim G., at least, her boobs are apparently OOOOOHHH! Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?