It’s that episode of the season when the real housewives take off to a beautiful vacation destination and then manage to turn it into a psychological hellhole. But before they depart, they’ve got to pack enough bikinis to cover the teats of 40 pigs. Joe Gorga is hoping he’s going to get to play football on the beach because then he’ll have a solid excuse for “tackling” Greg, but he’s also made so excited by the sight of Melissa’s bathing suits that he decides to smell the crotch of one as his son Joey watches. Nothing weird here — I’m sure you have a similar memory of your father trying to inhale your mom’s bikini bottom before your family headed out to the water park.
Over at Teresa’s, she’s packing a whole bunch of sequined bikinis, so a big congratulations goes out to the violet minks of the world who have dodged a bullet for the week. She’s determined to look the best on the trip, which means that she’s snapped up every Frederick’s of Hollywood swimwear bargain-bin suit that strippers passed over for being “too on-the-nose.” Milania’s being left in the care of her nona, laying the ground for a sequel to Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.
Caroline warns Lauren not to wear her engagement ring in the ocean because sharks like shiny things (I’d worry about Teresa in her sparkle bikinis, except the sharks are far more likely to confuse her for a floating piece of leather). Jacqueline’s having too much body anxiety to wear her snakeskin-patterned monokini, and we learn that Ashley couldn’t even be bothered to go get her passport photo taken so she’s not coming on the trip. You see, a free trip to a tropical paradise wasn’t enough motivation for her to take that Jeep down to the nearest post office and stand for a picture. Just stand there and be photographed. She’s like the Linda Evangelista of Franklin Lakes, except instead of not getting out bed for less than $10,000 a day, she just won’t get out of bed, period. Then there’s the fun over at Kathy’s driveway, where Mr. Dickface is basically announcing to his teenage son Joseph that he’s going to fuck his mom every night while on vacation. Yeah, thanks for the info, Dad; be sure to send a daily postcard with a play-by-play on positions. Maybe we can Skype one night, too.
And wheeeeeee, we’re off to Punta Cana! Christopher Manzo thinks it looks like Jurassic Park because, you know, there’s vegetation. There are so many animal-print suitcases going around on the luggage conveyor belt that it’s like watching bloated leopards chase each other in circles. Teresa’s lost her bag with her costume jewelry (someone somewhere is confusedly unpacking a duffle full of cubic zirconia belly chains), but everyone’s determined to have a good time, so she’s attempting to let it go, calming herself with the knowledge that she’ll make up for the missing glitz with an inch-thick layer of tanning oil. Nothing can rain on her parade! Not even Juicy’s urine, which he rains upon the roadside bushes during the group’s Escalade caravan to the hotel. The other fellows join him for a “pee pee,” and it looks like things are going to be all right, their streams weaving and crisscrossing in harmony.
The group is staying at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and I just want to say: Way to get away from it all, you guys. Nothing like going to the Dominican Republic to re-create the experience of a Jersey with bluer water. Caroline says, “Oh wow, it’s so pretty” and yes, yes, the disco balls in the ceiling are very striking, as are the roulette tables. The housewives and their families will be splitting up into three villas, and I bet Albert Manzo wishes he’d sprung for a fourth when Joe Giudice begins complaining that sex is off because Teresa’s on her period, and Teresa shrieks, “So what!” (In this moment, my heart goes out to the staff responsible for changing the bedding.) Over in Christopher, Albie, and Lauren’s villa, Greg has shown up just in time to approve of their private concierge’s name; he was hoping for a Jesus, but Jorge will do.
Next comes my very favorite part of the episode, which is a montage of Teresa modeling swimsuits for the Manzos and Lauritas as they sit dumbfounded at the breakfast table. Caroline’s face during this parade is deserving of its own Outstanding Reality Program Emmy, a combination of horror, disgust, exhaustion, nausea, and “get this bitch out of my face.” First Teresa comes out in a gold lamé miniskirt and gold sparkle-tie top, which she peels off to reveal a gold lamé bikini. Albie just nods somberly, like, “I see the trouble: your breasts have hardened into gilded coconuts,” and Lauren’s also got her period, so she’s got zero patience for this shit. But before anyone can stop her, Teresa comes back out in a turquoise sequined number, which she calls her “mermaid” bikini because if Prince Eric saw her in it, he would say, “No thanks” and toss her right back into the ocean to go live out her life as a mermaid. And then Tre’s suddenly in a monokini and sheer skirt, twirling around as Caroline covers her eyes, everybody else getting super well-acquainted with her bikini wax. You think to yourself she has to be done, but then she reemerges in a purple thing with sparkle lace cover-up that doesn’t really cover anything up. By this point, she’s made Caroline so ill that she’s decided to stay behind while everybody else goes out in the boat.
And after all that, Teresa infuriatingly goes back to the first gold number, spurring my boyfriend to mutter, “What a psycho.”
Greg has correctly intuited that Teresa is being so mental about her swimsuits because Melissa’s are “going to be awesome and [Teresa] knows it.” If your definition of awesome is a white monokini with a shoelaced front, then Melissa’s upstaged the old girl again! She dances in the aforementioned swimwear while Joe Gorga and Mr. Dickface get back massages on the balcony, and here’s hoping that the masseuse gave Gorga one of those face cradles for his dick because apparently “Tarzan is up and excited.” Then there’s charming Mr. Dickface, who announces that his masseuse is cutting wind on him, which I guess is the luxury vacation version of blaming it on the dog.
Once everybody gets down to the dock, they have to wait for Teresa and Melissa to have a pose-off in front of the ocean like we’re suddenly watching America’s Next Top Beachskank. On the boat, Jacqueline’s in a one-piece and what looks like a black maxi skirt, making a production about her body, and Lauren Manzo has withdrawn against the back of the prow in a cover-up. If I were there I would say to them, “Girls, take a look over there — you see Juicy Joe? You see how he has his shirt off even though he’s got the body of Wart from Super Mario Brothers? There’s no reason in the world why you should be feeling bad about yourselves right now.” As if to prove my point, the producers give us a nice tight shot on Albie’s huge shoulder scar from a potentially cancerous birthmark that got removed in childhood.
Maybe when most people are on a boat on a turquoise sea, they just like to kick back and relax, but that’s impossible for Melissa and Teresa when the title of “hottest couple on earth” is at stake. They launch straight into the competition with a dance-off, grinding their asses against their husbands’ junk. And as it becomes clear that the rest of the group has already crowned the Gorgas, Teresa’s mouth starts hanging open in that blank, frustrated way we’ve seen from her time and time again. She defensively interviews that she’s “feeling super sexy” and that there’s “no competition,” but her bravado rings false, and her forehead and gold bikini both begin to shine with desperation. The Manzo boys set up a drinking game with a robot bug in order to diffuse the tension, but Teresa’s already on edge and immediately pounces when someone jokes that maybe Joe’s penis isn’t the most penisy penis in the history of penises! It’s super penislike, Teresa brays, and then the guys are doing jumps and flips into what is clearly very shallow water in order to stop hearing about the hypercock properties of Juicy’s cock. The only cock that Gorga is interested in is his own, and all he knows is that he wants it pressed back against Greg’s neck, and pronto. He’s been waiting to get it back there since that night of the club, and so he comes up with the ruse of leading a splashy “chicken fight,” and just like that, he’s returned atop his boy’s shoulders. Welcome home, buddy.
The boat docks at an island for dinner, and it seems like everybody’s the happy kind of drunk instead of the Christening kind of drunk. I mean, Teresa even says that Mr. Dickface isn’t “irentating” her. Gorga has made his way into the ladies’ changing room to try to pester Melissa into having sex with him because the water play with Greg has him ready to go, and I guess he wears her down because Lauren, Greg, and Albie claim to see Tarzan swinging when they look in the building’s porthole.
But darkening clouds are amassing in the sky as the dusk approaches, and the party has made an ominous circle of chairs on the sand and you know circles are trouble because the CW has a new show full of trouble called The Secret Circle. The subject of restauranting comes up, which is never auspicious, and Juicy is already pissing off Albert with his hubris about what it takes to run one’s own place. Joe thinks he’s just going to throw some of Teresa’s cookbook recipes on a plate and shazam, they’ll have their own Olive Garden, but Albert and Mr. Dickface both know that Joe’s a total flake who’s talking out of his ass.
And then Kathy takes her chair, and we’re thrust through the smoky, whirling winds of time when she makes a comment about how she backed off doing a restaurant because she wants to focus on her kids, creating a loop in space that sends Teresa mind-traveling right back to the Posche fashion show. Wearing a hat that looks like someone did the “this is your brain on drugs” egg bit over her head, Teresa immediately launches into the Audriana-gate issues, and before you can even say “punta princesses,” the two are in a full-blown fight over whether or not Kathy has repeatedly insulted Teresa’s parenting abilities. Weirdly, we learn that Greg is a Kathy coach, as he’s in her corner telling her she’s “a lady” and not to “let anybody tell you different,” but it’s Giudice who decides to play referee by shouting, “Ayight, shut up! That’s it! Shut up!” in between sucks on his cigar. Teresa thinks she hears Kathy calling her a bitch and that golden ensemble bikini is suddenly taking on a gladiatorial luster as she prepares to go to war, but Kathy’s all, “What?” and Teresa realizes that maybe the best move here is a change of outfit. Why argue with Kathy when she can just slay her with jealousy using some sequined monstrosity?
So as Tre pads off in the sand toward the changing room, we finally get to see one of the big moments teased in this season’s promotional materials when Kathy does the “Cuckoo! Cuckoo!” move, her finger spinning next to her temple and her eyes their own impressive special effect. I reflect upon lucky, lucky Caroline, who although she may be sick, is tucked away in her hotel bed in a quiet, empty room. The rest of the group is out there on the island doing their rendition of Lord of the Flies, but she is blissfully alone, the gentle crash of the waves her only companion. Those gentle waves offering her better and more intelligent conversation, she’s now beginning to realize, than has ever come from her friends.