Just sit tight — we’ll get to Joe Giudice’s vibrating cock ring soon enough. First we have to watch as Teresa and Melissa go through another round of saline tit-for-tit at Jacqueline’s U.N. roundtable. It’s the same old war over who holds family dearer, and Melissa’s big punch is that Teresa acted like an asshole when Melissa used the same photographer for Antonia’s Christmas card photos that Teresa once used for Gia. Unfortunately, we don’t get to hear the debate over which baby looked sexier, because Teresa and Melissa decide to try to leave the past behind them. They hug, Teresa’s faux-motorcycle jacket crinkling against Melissa’s faux-fur shrug, but still, Melissa tells the camera in a confessional that a little voice inside her is saying not to trust Teresa. And hey, maybe that other voice is the one that knows the words to “Amazing Grace”? Teresa’s obviously been listening to a ton of Swedish pop chanteuse Robyn like everybody else on the planet, because she just keeps repeating the chorus to the hit “Show Me Love” until Jacqueline finally wanders in with cookies. Everything seems like it’s going to be okay, assuming you don’t factor in that all the isolated shit-talking to producers is going to air on television.
Then it’s off to the Catskills, a vacation for us all. The Giudices have invited Caroline and her boys, Jacqueline and Christopher, and a bunch of other dudes to Joe’s family cabin for a weekend of drunken shooting. Jacqueline’s worried about the two-bathroom situation and the taxidermied animal heads staring at her from the walls, but pretty soon she’s completely wasted, even though Joe’s wine apparently evokes “rotten eggs” and “an old dog’s fart,” both of which I can definitely picture inscribed on a calligraphic bottle label. Teresa — hiding an unwitnessed head injury with a wide, horizontal knit headband — is super wasted, too. While her husband’s father is sitting at the table, serving pasta from a vat, she offers that maybe she’s going to “lick Joe’s ass tonight.” And hey, the show’s favorite lovebirds are just getting started. Next we learn that Joe calls Teresa to bed by cooing, “Come here, you dirty slut” and that maybe she’s about as good at blow jobs as she is at mastering the plural of “ingredient.” He averts a fight over her oral sex skills by starting to knead pizza dough, and Teresa moans about how turned on she gets watching Joe’s muscles pop in time to the roller. Jacqueline is bleary-eyed in a plaid hunter’s cap, making a pizza that folds like a taco, and Joe’s random male relatives are playfully swinging around semiautomatic guns. And I acknowledge that this entire paragraph sounds completely made up, when really, it’s the most straightforward recapping that I’ve done all season.
The next morning is when the show turns into a commercial for Joe’s vibrating cock ring. Teresa even shows it to the camera, demonstrating its impressive stretch, and then we watch as the couple grinds in bed to the accompaniment of a loud electronic buzzing. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if the shot cut to Joe’s dad sitting over on a chair in the corner like Barbara Hershey in Black Swan, except wide awake. The Giudices reminisce over the first time they had sex, which was in that very bed, and then Joe is kind enough to do a reenactment for those of us at home who were incorrectly picturing something other than doggy style. Wearing only the bottoms of his white thermal underwear, he pantomimes mounting exotic pink leopard Teresa, and it basically looks as if they’re lazily blocking a love scene from Game of Thrones.
Oh, but the day only gets sexier from there. The guys go “ski shooting” (sic, Teresa) off the cabin deck, and Teresa tries a round herself, wearing furry Uggs like a cavewoman huntress … a cavewoman huntress who figured out how to be tacky before tackiness came into existence upon the Earth. Even Caroline’s buzzkill arrival can’t get the group down. She’s like Debbie Downer, telling her boys not to walk across frozen rivers, not to play with guns, not to go riding on the quads because she had a friend in high school who got decapitated on one. Boooooooooooo, Caroline, booooooo. Albie deserves to shoot watermelons after the hard couple of years he’s had not going to law school. And if she even thinks for a second it isn’t incredibly stressful for Christopher to mentally work out the logistics of his topless car wash, then she’s sorely mistaken. Still, both the Manzo boys are shown up by a glowing Joe Giudice, who turns out to be an excellent shot. He happily yells, “I’m fucking John Wayne,” and I’m positive that if he could literally manage that, then it would be doggy style too.
Dinner that night is a whole pig and a whole lamb that really freak Caroline out, and I have to think she went home with a new appreciation for Vito’s clean deli slices. For dessert, all the wasted guys take to the quads for a drunken romp through the dark woods, with Jacqueline and Teresa accompanying them. Jacqueline gets on her husband’s lap, facing him as he drives, which seems pretty safe, and Teresa thanks Joe for her ride by promising to give him “a ride later” (hold tight, Teresa — that cock ring really vibrates). Even as the group ventures out to the B&B Lounge for some drinking and dancing, you can see how excited Joe is about the forthcoming lovemaking because his nipples are nearly poking through his mustard turtleneck. Caroline has finally realized that the weekend is going to be very long unless she gets shitfaced, so she gives in and throws back a few Lemon Drops. The locals in the bar are staring at the Real Housewives gang with eyes crossed deeper than Andy Cohen’s, and this would be the perfect opportunity for Joe to win them all over with his amazing middle splits. But it falls to Teresa to make friends, so she hosts an impromptu Dating Game for Caroline’s friend Dolores, who I hope took her old guy suitor back to the cabin for a wild night — it’s easy enough to atone when you’ve got the Giudices’s personal church right at the end of the cabin’s driveway. The gang stops by on their last morning in the Catskills, and Caroline and Jacqueline can’t stop from cracking up because for whatever reason, they think St. Michael isn’t the protector of drunks with guns. Hopefully Teresa’s prayer is for a turnaround in the “bad economy,” which is her personal euphemism for “insane debt from excessive hideous purchases.”
All the way back in Franklin Lakes, it’s time for little Antonia’s public ballroom dancing debut. Melissa commits the mistake of wearing a red dress that night, and she almost doesn’t make it out the front door because Joe is running her into the wall, breathing heavily and demanding, “What, are you teasing me? Do you know what red does to me?” That dress is two seconds away from getting Monica Lewinsky’d, but somehow Melissa manages her own dance away from Joe and gets him into the car. Once they’re at the Fred Astaire studio, they meet up with Kathy and the Lebanese Jon Lovitz. (I guess I’m obligated to recap their story line this week for those Kathy completists out there, but it’s just so hard to care about her; even Teresa states earlier in the episode that she can’t manage it. So, in short: Kathy wants to turn her leisure baking into a dessert catering company, but LJL suddenly turns into the cupcake mob boss and pressures her into opening up a restaurant. She makes like Ashlee Simpson and wears a fedora as they go to look at spaces that she doesn’t feel are classy enough for her European tastes. The end.)
The Christmas ballroom performance begins, and honestly, there’s a little something for everyone. Do you love men waving feather fans as they struggle to lift a heavyset, middle-aged woman in a toga-gown? Antonia’s dancing school has got it. Do you feel ripped off if a show doesn’t include old ladies in flapper outfits and dancers doing a black-and-white interpretation of the spinning buffs at a car wash? Check and check. Will you go home disappointed if you don’t get to see a grown man earnestly spin around with a 5-year-old girl, and then skip off the stage holding her hand? Well, here you go! By every standard, the show is a tremendous success. Out on the dance floor, Joe’s mom tries to out-buzzkill Caroline by scolding Joe for drinking wine without eating, but his cheeks are as gleefully rosy as that dress he’s going to badger off Melissa later. He laughs because he’s just “dip your mom until she almost falls on the floor” drunk, not “put children in danger at your baby’s Christening” drunk. Nobody puts Gorga in a corner tonight.