The episode opens on a shot of Kathy’s red sports car parked in her driveway; this is foreshadowing, because you’re supposed to be saying to yourself, “Bleccccch, what a piece of shit! That old jalopy?” Meanwhile, inside the house, Lebanese Jon Lovitz is eating a bowl of soup like a 90-year-old, giving the broth an extra chew after every swallow as he listens to Kathy saint herself. By publicly shaming Teresa’s mothering instincts, she acted as a friend, as a sister. But it turns out that Lebanese Jon Lovitz is totally eating this stuff up (along with his chewy soup), because he goes out and buys his wife a brand-new Mercedes to match the whites of her eyes. It's a push present, for pushing Teresa over the edge at the Posche fashion show. The new car’s got the big, stupid red bow on it, and that’s how I know that we’ll be reading about him filing for bankruptcy sometime within the year.
Over to the Gorgas, who might as well have a big, stupid red bow on top of their mansion. Joe’s story line this week is basically the same one you’ve seen on every sitcom where the dad can’t get laid because the mom’s tired, except imagine that dad has the intensity and menace of Julia Roberts’s ex-husband in Sleeping With the Enemy. When Joe walks into the house, Melissa tries to kiss him and he tosses her aside, nodding repeatedly to himself as if there’s a voice in his head whispering, “Five days, five days, five days, five days, five days.” Because it turns out that that’s how long it’s been since Joe released his “poison,” which is what he calls his ejaculate. Ladies, if that’s turning you on, just hold tight until I get to his zit analogy, which will really send you over the moon.
As Melissa and Joe argue over whether it’s been four or five days since he got his pastry bag up in her cannoli, their baby son Gino sees that they’re distracted and excitedly takes this opportunity to throw his embarrassing plaid pageboy cap to the floor. Little daughter Antonia is confused, assuming that her dad is mad because he hasn’t watched TV in five days — this is the kind of stuff you get worked up over when you’re in kindergarten — but you know what the kid does get right? “Daddy is crazy,” she says. From the mouths of babes. It’s cuter than what’s coming from the mouth of Joe, who’s panting accusations at his wife like a Lifetime movie date rapist. See, Melissa came home all beautiful in her purple dress from the fashion show! And everybody knows you don’t wear purple unless you want action.
Well, Jacqueline sure knows that, and that’s why she goes to “psychic adviser” Tia Belle, who gets a lot of action from the spirits and the universe by hanging purple curtains, having purple nails, wearing a gigantic purple gemstone ring that would have been right at home at the base of Liberace’s penis, and, of course, by using purple-backed tarot cards. The psychic adviser tells Jacqueline that there will be “a lot of tears” and “emotional weakness” from her daughter Ashley, and I think, Okay, so Tia’s been watching the show. But Jacqueline seems to get worried when the psychic warns that Ashley has “daggers” coming at her from all over, when obviously that’s just a reference to Lizzie Grubman’s clavicles.
Later, Jacqueline sits down and talks with her dad about how she thinks Ashley’s fatherless childhood messed her up. But the thing is, it didn’t mess her up enough — i.e., put her on the pole — because being on the pole would actually require some kind of “work ethnic.” At the very least, stripping would necessitate learning how to be on time, even if just to the beat of the music, and a basic level of money management. Even though Grandpa knows his granddaughter has no sense of personal responsibility, he still advises Jacqueline to “support [Ashley] as much as you can,” which is even worse advice than telling Teresa she should go give her brother another congratulations.
Speaking of Teresa, this week she’s at a Manhattan studio overseeing the photographs for her new cookbook. The food stylist looks so filthy, his greasy mane hanging down over his three-day stubble, that I’m pretty sure if you take a magnifying glass to your copy of Skinny Italian, you’ll be able to spot one of his hairs in the meatballs. I mean, even Mario Batali does a ponytail. As Teresa mispronounces “ingrediences” and the well-known spice “cummin” [brother Joe pops his head up and barks, “It’s been five days since I’ve been cummin! Five days!”], the women from her publisher give her patronizing looks and giggle behind her back. It’s a good thing she doesn’t seem to notice because if she had, that table they were sitting at would have been up in their faces. Joe calls during the shoot to tell Teresa that he saw her brother Joe at the gym, and I have to assume that gym is the code word for mob meeting. (I’m kidding, mob! Not disrespectin' no one!)
If Joe Gorga did go to the gym, it did nothing to ease his boiling testosterone levels. Because as Melissa tries to give her sweet, innocent children a bath, Joe’s asking her if he’s going to get a bath later, and now he’s gone from Lifetime rapist to guy in a Skinemax movie who’s there to repair your, wink, plumbing, wink wink. But hold up, then he’s riiiiight back in his Lifetime mode because we find out that he considers his daughter Antonia “a blocker,” which is his gentler way of saying “cock blocker.” A lightbulb goes on and I’m seeing a future line of “Daddy’s Little Cock Block” onesies. In his interview, Joe brags that he’s a very sexual man just as “our father was a very sexual man,” because who isn’t proud about how many times a week their dad boned their mom?
Before you judge Joe too harshly, you’re going to have to understand the pain he’s been in from not having sex every day like he used to. He describes his penis as like a zit that has become so pressurized that if you were to pop it, pus would go shooting across the room. Which is almost as romantic as the hills of Florence themselves. “That’s poison in your body!” he reiterates, and boy is that going to be some birds and bees and whiteheads talk that he gives to a teenage Gino.
The person with a real set of balls in this episode is Caroline Manzo, who’s rebounding from her boys moving out with an intensified authority. First she leaves Chris and Albie behind in their apartment with a stripper pole and a tiny dog that dresses like Avril Lavigne. Then she holds court as Kathy comes to the house with autumnal flowers in a picnic basket, falling all over herself to receive Caroline’s pardon. But Caroline is the godfather. She puts Kathy on a couch with so many throw pillows that you can see Kathy clenching her ass to stay on it. And she stares at this insincere woman, impassive, until finally intoning a clean and simple, “To be honest, I don’t care.” There will be no more excuses! Everybody has been rotten, she says, and now they must atone.
Next thing you know, Caroline has slicked back her hair like the boss that she is because it’s time to lay down the law on Teresa. They’re shopping at a New York showroom, Kim D. hanging on Teresa like a dead fox, and Caroline doesn’t have any more time for the shenanigans. Make it right with your brother, she says. Write him a letter, she says, and Teresa’s gaze goes distant as she wonders if she can get her cookbook ghostwriter to do it for her: “Dear Joe, it’s terrible that we have let petty resentments come between us, but here is a delicious marinara that will enliven any bowl of pasta.”
That writer must have been busy on Snooki’s second book because Teresa ends up composing the letter herself with the help of Jacqueline. Hours go by and there are sheets of paper everywhere, all over Jacqueline’s library table, and it’s just like watching what must happen in the White House when Obama is drafting a speech, except not. Jacqueline keeps trying to steer Teresa toward an epistolary path of reconciliation, but Teresa literally can’t focus for the duration of a sentence without interrupting with a tangent. Even the King Cavalier spaniel dozing on the chair behind them is like, “That bitch has no attention span!”
Finally the letter is finished, and Jacqueline drives Teresa over to the Gorga manor to hand deliver it. She knocks, but there’s no answer, so she leaves the envelope in the fine scrollwork on the door. I figure Joe’s in the east wing with Melissa, exploding like a zit, but the two of them are actually on a nice, leisurely jog. Once back inside, Melissa reads the letter to Joe as if he can’t read, and well we haven’t seen proof that he can. A few sentences in and already his head is doing that shaking thing, the voice inside him whispering, “Giudice, Giudice, Giudice.” He says that he won’t speak to Teresa again unless she goes back to being the old Teresa Gorga he once knew: that young, sweet girl with a hairline that’s almost an eyebrow. Shockingly, Melissa starts talking peace and tells her husband that he needs to make up with his sister, but next week’s preview shows a Thanksgiving spent apart.
What will it take to get these two crazy kids back together? Probably a horse tranquilizer for Joe. That’s my best guess, and I bet Kim G. has some.