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The Real Housewives of New Jersey Recap: And It Ends With a Group Hug

The Real Housewives of New Jersey ended last night, and each housewife individually lost her mind, was pushed into the abyss of on-air lunacy, and even into one another’s arms, perhaps for good. Whereas last week Danielle was put on the defensive by her co-stars, the reunion ultimately brought out the strange in all of them, and we could no longer make sense of this tangled web of finger-pointing and sobbing. But who made the least sense? Let's analyze each woman's performance to see which one should be institutionalized.

Oh, to hell with the charade: Obviously it’s Danielle! We love the lady, but last night’s display of nuttiness was just too much. In any case, she deserves a fair trial, even if it's a fait d'accompli.

Caroline: Caroline is not only not crazy, she’s actually starting to seem really intelligent. If we knew how to make make a GIF, we would definitely make one of Caroline rolling her eyes. But rolling 'em way back into her skull was perhaps the only appropriate reaction, besides laughter, to what was going on last night. Considering the circumstances, Caroline was dignified in a way, quietly resenting all the embarrassing fighting without adding to it. When she did enter the ring, she asked articulate, straightforward questions, and made her positions clear. On Danielle saying she never sent Ashley Laurita a Facebook message, even though she did: “That’s bullshit.” On Danielle saying she didn’t tweet in agreement to a death wish that the Internet can prove she clearly did: “Oh, they must have hacked into all your accounts.” Cue eye roll. On social networking having the most embarrassing day of its life: No comment.

Manzo was the lone holdout when all the girls suddenly started hugging. After the Most Ridiculous Makeup in the World, Andy Cohen was ready to end on a “positive” note, even though he could barely contain his laughter watching that bizarre and dubious hugging session. When he asked Caroline for comment, she said: “It’s the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever seen in my life,” basically articulating our thoughts. Manzo should arguably have just held it in, since she only set off another round of fighting. But we think she came away the hero. And in case you were wondering, just yesterday Caroline tweeted: “Couldn’t sit there and listen to the nonsense ... guess what ... I was right !!! liar still tweeting and facebooking about all of us.” Well, naturally.

Teresa: Teresa’s explosive temper softened last night, evolving into something more giggly and childlike. She lost her Hulk-like roars and, oddly, her voice started cracking and squeaking. After Kim G. attacked her with a tongue that moved so quickly we lost track of our notes, Teresa said, “I just gotta laugh at you, Kim G.,” a sentiment we’re in agreement on. When confronted with her daughter's “Jews have curls comment,” which Teresa instantly corrected even at the time, she explained that not all Jews have curls, and Andy Cohen didn’t seem to sense any anti-Semitism.

But then, seeming to forget everything that had just happened, Teresa told Danielle, “I’m not tryin’ to take you down. I never wanted to take you down. That’s not what I’m tryin’-a do. You attacked me, I attacked you back.” It’s the same routine she gave Andy when he basically accused her of starting the “Don’t call me honey” fight at a New Jersey country club: Deny, deny, deny, just like Danielle. Teresa continues to lay all the blame on Danielle, for absolutely everything and anything. Even though it remains unclear who the real instigator is here, Teresa is at least partly to blame, but she is just too awesomely thick to be able to see any nuance in her own arguments, or any nuance at all, really. She literally attacked Danielle mere hours before saying she’s not trying to attack Danielle and never was, but it matters not, because Teresa sees what Teresa’s talking about, and it’s kind of cute.

“Am I trying to hurt you in a bad way? No,” Teresa claimed at the end of the reunion, prompting The Most Ridiculous Hug in the World. Ultimately, Teresa will leave the Borgata and go home to one juicy Joe Giudice, with whom she shares an enviably blind love. She will ignore Joe’s strange parenting and remain oddly unfazed by her own bankruptcy, and she will be very, very happy. She is endearingly simple but not the craziest crazy in the room.

Jacqueline: Jacqueline was fairly convincing in explaining why her daughter Ashley has to sort out her own problems, claiming she’s tried “so many different parenting techniques,” like being a strict parent and taking away the car. “Ashley will learn by her own choices,” she said. But Jacqueline, for better or worse, was the one who suddenly caved and got all teary and apologetic. “I felt very jaded by you,” she explained to Danielle, inarticulately. She admitted that Danielle has hurt her, which is her first problem, because who would take Danielle seriously enough to get hurt by her? Then she said she embellished details about things Danielle did or did not do, and admitted she was out to get her! The dissolution of their sisterhood drove her to such extremes, she turned into Monster Jacquie, she explained, and she just can’t bear it anymore! She hated who she became, and she “just wants this to end.” Okay, fine, obviously, we understand: Who would want to stand by this behavior? And, sure, maybe she did think her and Danielle had a real friendship and she’s just too impressionable to let it go or ignore Danielle. Fine. However, when she apologized, she ultimately gave Danielle a platform for the craziest monologue in Housewives history. So kudos on coming clean, but Jacquie reiterated what we knew all along: She’s not insane, she’s just not the brightest bulb.

Kim G.: “Hello, Kim,” Danielle said with a sneer, when that crazy, crazy lady burst onto the stage in a bright blue number. Even Andy couldn’t hold back his disgust, commenting, “Square, fake tits?” with his sassy, “Really, Kim?” face. After being proven to be a two-faced lunatic, Kim G. claimed, “I’m a good person, I really am.” She attacked Teresa, but her strange, seemingly narcotic-fueled rant just made Teresa giggle. Like she did throughout the season, Kim G. retracted statements she’d made only seconds before, apologizing often, and then getting angry again, generally refusing to take any firm stances. Andy wouldn’t even justify her by giving her more than a few minutes on the stage. One of the only seemingly true things Danielle said last night was that Kim G. used her as a way to get on-camera. She is nuts but in a flimsy, transparent way that Danielle really outshines. We don’t think Kim will be making it into the official cast next season. Good-bye, Kim.

Danielle: In the case of Danielle Staub versus The World, we’re actually not even sure who won, but Danielle inevitably proved herself to be the most insane woman on the stage. Her excuses stopped making sense: “The woman” displayed tweets Danielle said she never tweeted; Danielle sent messages she said she never sent; she pressed charges she said she dropped; she hung out in places she said she didn’t. Then she started apologizing for some of her actions, even things she said she didn’t do. On the death-wish tweet, she denied and denied, and then said, “But if I did tweet it, then I’m sorry.“

Still, Danielle’s many wonderful Danielleisms will be missed next season. On being ganged up on, she shouted, “One at a time ... round ‘em up!” actually swinging a fake lasso and getting out of her seat in a beautiful display of strength. On why she backs down in a fight, she claimed years of abuse causes one to enter the fetal position when attacked, though she added it won’t happen again. But once those women apologized, Danielle was all too ready to run to them, probably both because she saw an opportunity for attention, and also because she did feel hurt by their rejections. Or, as she put it, in a sexy whisper, during a twenty-minute-long hug with Jacqueline: “I’m sorry. No more, okay? No more. You have my word. I’m moving on and I’m happy, Jacqueline. I’m in a happy place. I’m sorry for what I did to you, but you will always be a part of my heart. I love you and I don’t care who else believes it. I love you.” And with that, she stabbed herself with the poison sword, preferring death to a life without her star-crossed lover, Jacqueline Laurita.

Emotional as that scene was, call us distrustful, but we didn’t quite buy it. When asked why she interpreted Ashley Laurita texting “goodbye” as an actual death wish, Danielle explained: “Sometimes goodbye ... can be a very permanent ending.” So, sure, Danielle was reportedly fired from season three, but this woman got a taste of the fame she long craved and all the attention she always felt she deserved. She will not say her permanent good-bye until she has made her mark on this world. She wins the crazy game, but we look forward to seeing her again very soon, because in her case, good-bye always seems to be a, uh, less permanent ending.

Photo: Andrei Jackamets/Bravo