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The Real Housewives of New Jersey: The Offending Card Is Revealed!

In honor of this being the Thanksgiving episode, it’s only appropriate that I recap via a progression of the things that I’m thankful for:

1. That Joe Gorga didn’t have sex with the roast he fondles in the grocery store.
As Melissa’s shopping for turkeys, Joe gets a hold of a roast and excitedly asks the butcher, “This is the butt, yeah? Let me see.” Immediately his eyes are twinkling brighter than Teresa’s Thanksgiving outfit (just hold on, I’ll give thanks for that, too), and of course he’s off and spanking that roast, announcing to the other shoppers that Joe Gorga is “an ass man.” Gino just hopes his Gymboree friends don’t recognize him beneath his purple-plaid headwear, which veers from his usual newsboy style into patrol cap territory.

2. That Joe and Teresa decided to spare the life of the very sad-looking girl turkey they met at Goffle Road Poultry.
After getting lost, despite having a GPS, Teresa and Joe arrive at the live turkey farm, which Tre asserts is more a “European thing.” Because Thanksgiving is huuuuuuge business in Europe. They go and take a look at the birds, who are busily squawking, and from what I learned about bird calls in Jonathan Franzen’s recent essay, I’m able to translate (roughly) that they’re saying, “You guys probably shouldn’t be hosting a lavish holiday in your insanely gaudy mansion since Us Weekly says you’re completely broke. Try Pizza Hut this year.” Teresa doesn’t pay attention, as she’s too distracted by the odor of the farm. You’ve got to figure it smells a lot like Albie and Chris’s new apartment, minus the Drakkar Noir.

When the farmer holds up a somewhat pitiful girl turkey, promising that she’ll clean up fine, Joe remarks that she “looks scared to death.” His eyes fill with empathy. And even though I wouldn’t be all that shocked if you told me that Joe’s watched a man die without batting a juicy eyelash, his heart definitely breaks for the turkey. He’s like me when I watch Game of Thrones: rip apart the humans, whatever, but go after the direwolves and I’m sobbing. A troubled Joe decides to go for an already dead turkey, which he pays for with a suspicious wad of cash.

3. The look of disgust that Victoria threw her dad, the Lebanese Jon Lovitz, when he was licking a spatula in the kitchen.
Self-explanatory.

4. That we found out even Albert thinks Lauren’s future marriage to Vito is funny.
Walking into Vito’s family’s “Little Italy” deli, Albert tells Lauren that she’s going to have to “let [her] mustache grow in” if she wants to blend in with Vito’s world. And honestly, it’s not that bad of an idea when you consider that a mustache might balance out the eyeliner.

5. That Christopher and Albie Manzo ripped their asshole cousin Ashley a new asshole.
When Ashley comes to the bachelor pad, thinking that she’ll get some sympathy for having to commute into the city every morning, Christopher and Albie do their mom proud by tough-loving Ashley until she cries. Their roommate Greg just rolls his eyes and pets his dog. From having watched a lot of Dog Whisperer, I’m able to translate (roughly) that the look in the dog’s eyes means, “What, do you think bones just grow on trees, honey?”

It seems as if Ashley’s cousins have shamed her straight, because later she goes home and clears the kitchen, cleans her room, and takes the King Cavalier for a walk. However, what’s really motivating her to get her act together is that she “just want[s] to be Carrie Bradshaw.” And I’m all for it because I think Kim D. would make an amazing busted Samantha.

6. That we found out the Lebanese Jon Lovitz attended Thanksgiving equipped with his own S&M mask and cat o’ nine tails.
What’s Thanksgiving without a ton of tequila shots and a mechanical bull atop a bounce house? Well, Joe Gorga doesn’t have an interest in finding out! He rents the mechanical bull for the front yard because he wants people to say, “That Joey Gorga, he’s crazy!” but he could have saved the money for another mink apron because the Christening party had him covered. Once I tell you that Melissa, in leopard print, rides the bull with Joe, you already know what he does with his hips even if you haven’t watched the episode.

What’s more intriguing is that Lebanese Jon Lovitz pulls a leather or pleather sex mask out of nowhere when it’s his turn to ride, and he nimbly pulls the mask onto his head, his pupils gleaming from within the eye holes. Then, in a later shot, he’s miraculously acquired a multi-tailed whipping device. He looks so happy — happier than we’ve ever seen him before. Happier than Jeff Goldblum looked in The Fly when he thought his teleporter machine worked, if Jeff Goldblum had been Lebanese.

7. Teresa’s Thanksgiving outfit.
The top is fully sequined, but it gets even more exciting in the back because it’s held together by nothing more than a black elastic bra band. Teresa’s so shiny, she makes her house’s bronzed “Wings of Icarus” door handles look as if they’ve been coated with putty. She makes that knife Melania dangerously stabs the cheese with look like a scrap of old tin.

8. The wonderful details the Bravo camera people captured at each Thanksgiving table.
I guess the Europeans do love Thanksgiving, because over at the Gorgas, it’s turkey time in Versailles. After Melissa says Grace, we get one of her incredible “Thank you, Jeeeeeesus!” shout-outs, and a deliberate shot of Kathy’s sister, who looks sour from having to miss out on an intimate show the Indigo Girls are playing that night in Paramus, ifyouknowwhatI’msayin. Dinner conversation naturally turns to the epic war that has been raging between Joe and Teresa, and Melissa helpfully explains that her husband “doesn’t like to show it, but he’s one of the most emotional men in the world.” Uh, you don’t say, Meliss. You don’t say.

Across town at the Giudices’, Melania (thankfully without knife) smacks her sister and reaches deep into her diaphragm to growl/scream that she’s not going to apologize for it, family holiday be damned. Kid’s gotta toughen up if she wants to make it in the world! Meanwhile, eldest sister Gia’s trying to start shit at the table, announcing to Caroline that she’s been hearing rumblings Vito proposed to Lauren, but Lauren said no. Vito looks so profoundly uncomfortable during this exchange that you can see him wishing he could make like a shaved slice of ham and slide onto the floor. Ashley gets a text from a friend and bails early, just like Carrie Bradshaw would do.

9. THAT WE FINALLY LEARN ABOUT “THE CARD” AND “THE COOKIES”!!
So this is what we’ve all been waiting for, the two Holy Grails of the Gorga-Giudice meltdown. Because after dinner, Teresa actually brings out “The Card” — the artifact itself — so that she can show her friends the writing that fired the first cannon shot in this immortal battle.

The front of the card bears what appears to be a photograph or a photorealistic illustration of a still-life scene. A glass jar sits upon a white tablecloth with a few flower stems resting against its lip. The scene glows with a diffuse, hazy sunlight. Or else the image is just faded — hard to tell. But are you ready for what the card says on the inside? What gut-stabbing message is scrawled in blood within?

“God bless you guys in your redone home!”

Teresa looks up after reading, her face contorted with the relived horror of this most insidious communiqué. “That’s a person with no class right there,” rumbles Joe Giudice from the end of the table. And Teresa, shaking off the card’s hellish influence, asks of the others present, “Who writes ‘redone’?!” And that’s when we find out that “redone” was the word that launched a thousand resentments. “Redone.”

I really wish I could explain for you why that word is such a colossal slap in the face. I really do. But this is where my education fails me, and all I can put together is that maybe Melissa Gorga was supposed to go with, “God bless you guys in your new shitshow of a home!”

Here’s what I do know. I know that I only have to look at Melissa’s childlike handwriting to understand instantaneously that she is not a wordsmith, and that it is very likely that “redone” just happened to be the quickest construction-related descriptor she could grab from her head.

And then there were the sprinkle cookies. Ohhhh, those sprinkle cookies were made of gunpowder. As was previously mentioned this season, Melissa brought over the cookies last Christmas, and Teresa flagrantly tossed them into the trash after they went uneaten. (Hilariously, Jacqueline has brought over sprinkle cookies for Thanksgiving, and her lower lip quivers during this story. Caroline just stares at Teresa in disgusted astonishment.) But it turns out that Teresa’s tossing wasn’t all that innocent because she was getting back at Melissa for the Card That Said Redone. She was vindictively rejecting “a pregnant woman’s cookies!” Now that we know that Melissa was with child when she brought over the cookies, I think we can all revise our opinions to reflect that this is maybe the dumbest fight that has ever gone down on any of the Real Housewives in any of the cities, including Atlanta, which has had some intensely dumb fights.

10. That at the end of the episode Joe finally decided he is going to call Teresa.
The decision comes after Melissa gives Joe an ultimatum that he needs to talk to his sister or else Melissa is gonna do it. Also, we get a bonus gift because as Melissa interviews about the importance of family, the producers insert an old photograph in which a young Mel has a raging case of Jheri curl.

And lastly …

11. That a new episode awaits next week.

Photo: Bravo