I’m just going to come out and say it: The “boat ride from hell” was a little bit of a letdown. We’ve all been waiting for this episode for the better part of six months and we were as excited as a first-time grandmother at a gender-reveal party. It was obviously going to be a bit of an anticlimax, just because I was imagining that the boat was going to catch on fire while also sinking and all of the women would be bobbing in the ocean waiting for the Coast Guard to pick them up, like they were in a version of Titanic where everyone was wearing white lace bikinis. Sadly, that did not happen.
In fact, the camera crew had to stop filming “for the safety of everyone involved” a title card told us on the screen during the episode. Everyone involved? What about us? I am not safe. I needed that footage. I know that filming the Real Housewives isn’t like going out into the middle of a tornado, but the least they could do was leave a GoPro on around their necks so that we could see something. I feel like there has been a breakdown in the social contract and I don’t know if I’m ever going to get over it. But Carole said that boat was rougher than being in a war-torn Middle Eastern country, so it must have been pretty bad.
That said, this is already an instantly iconic episode, and it’s not because of the boat ride, but because of everything else. Minus the boat ride this would have been a malaria-medicine nightmare of an episode that we would be talking about forever. The boat ride is just what gives it an extra oomph that pushes it over the edge, like the smell of someone else’s food that finally drives you into the powder room to spew out the final remains of last night’s paella.
Speaking of which, can you even believe that after all of that boat ride hell, everyone is stuck with diarrhea? If anything, this is an episode where Luann literally shit the bed and Sonja (or someone else) left a “poop smear” on the glass tile floor of their luxury villa. I have done all sorts of vile shit in my day, but never, not even once, have I seen a poop smear on the ground. How does a human even make that? Did someone drop a nugget and then drag it across the ground with an espadrille?
Anyway, the fights reignite almost immediately from where they left off last episode. Everyone approaches the breakfast table gingerly, like there is a venom-spewing toad that lives underneath the table and they could set it off at any moment. Carole and Bethenny are definitely feeling the heat from their burns last night, but the ones everyone is really concerned about are Luann and Dorinda. Before Dorinda even sits down, Luann is talking about the trauma of being called “the Countess,” as if it’s not a fake title that she’s been propagating for the better part of a decade. She says that the ladies can just call her “Lu” and as Dorinda approaches, she says Dorinda can call her Lu too.
At this point, I’m not entirely sure that Dorinda has sobered up yet from dinner the night before, because like a hyena gnawing the last bit of meat off a bone, she is back at it again with a startling ferocity. “After I stood by you with that asshole and everything we’ve been through,” she says (or something like that, I couldn’t get the exact sentiments down I was so blinded by her rage). Like a boomerang of vitriol, Dorinda then leaves the table as quickly as she joined, deciding to instead take her coffee in her room.
This also leads to another splinter fight between Carole and Bethenny, where Bethenny tries to tell Dorinda that Luann wasn’t lecturing her the night before and sticks up for her friend. Dorinda yells at her not to get involved and Carole tells her to do the same thing. It seems like Carole is likening this to Bethenny yelling at Tinsley the night before for trying to get involved in their discussion. Yes, it may be a bit hypocritical, but pointing it out in this atmosphere of conflict isn’t going to do anything except make someone want to hurl an empanada. I mean, when Ramona H. Singer is at the table telling these shrieking eels to calm down you know things have gotten entirely out of hand.
Carole gets Luann and Dorinda to apologize for the first time, but it doesn’t seem to hold. If anything is like a ship on the rocky seas, it is these two, whose fight seems to go up and down, up and down at disastrous intervals. This first time, Luann explained that she wasn’t trying to judge Dorinda, she was just giving her a friendly heads-up. But Dorinda wants Luann to answer for her part in the argument, and balks when Luann brings up just how mean Dorinda was the night before. Even if you think that when Luann told Dorinda, “You’re turning” was a jab, it was like shooting a BB pellet. Dorinda responded by emptying her entire clip into Luann’s head, firing a missile launcher at her, and then urinating on her ashes. If there is fault to be claimed here it is almost entirely Dorinda’s.
When they finally reach the private island, Dorinda is quiet and withdrawn and Bethenny goes to talk to her about the fight. Dorinda starts crying and says, “I want to be someone’s safe place.” She can be that, but only when she’s sober. That’s what Luann, and everyone else for that matter, seems to be saying to her. The fact that it came from the one sober person in the troupe is what gave Dorinda fuel for this particular argument. Dorinda apologizes to Luann for real this time and everything seems hunky dory. (Imagine if Dory from Finding Dory was on steroids and got hunky? That kind of turns me on.)
The fight that won’t seem to resolve itself is this Bethenny and Carole tiff. How is it that the fight seems to be that each woman thinks that the other just doesn’t like her anymore? How have we gotten to this bizarre stalemate that seems to negate any relationship that they had in the first place? I don’t understand it. It’s like firing all of your emotions into a black hole and they come back to you in little bits of stardust from a Kate Bush lyric.
Carole says that it’s just that neither of them has any time anymore. I don’t know if I totally believe that. It does seem that Bethenny is really hurting and I feel bad for her. What I feel worse about is when she is launching into a monologue about Carole to the other women around the table and Carole comes back while she’s carrying on. How can she not know she’s there? How could no one have stopped her? How could she not have been anything but horrendously embarrassed when Carole finally said, “Bethenny, I’m right here.”
Everyone is in such a foul mood they think about canceling the trip to the island, but then they all decide it will be a good idea to sail on a nice boat and have some time in a luxury villa. The day on the island seems like a lot of fun. There was Ramona seizing in paroxysms of fear and laughter when Luann put a dead crab on her in a hammock. There was Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Colombian Coconut Water Morgans flashing everyone in her white bikini which still had the tags on it so that she could sell it at the consignment store the moment she got back on dry land. (I’m sure she could fetch a mint for the pee-stained bikini bottoms she wore on the Boat Ride From Hell.)
Suddenly, right in the middle of rehearsals for #CountessAndFriends featuring a Caburlesque by Sonja T. Morgan, they’re told they have to evacuate the island because the sea is getting too choppy. We even hear a producer tell Luann she has to leave her cell phone and get on the boat. You know it’s bad when this show acknowledges that it has producers and cameramen.
Things seem bad on the boat from the start, with the waves slapping into it and sending everyone skittering across the back deck like an open bag of Skittles on a roller-coaster seat. Tinsley is arguing that it’s not that bad, but I think that her brain has been damaged by too much rosé, too many tight braids, or a little bit of both. Then Carole is puking into the Tupperware bucket that held the ice and champagne, with the bottle of champagne still in it. I will say that Bethenny, like a good friend, held her hair the entire time, no matter what state their relationship was in.
This thing is chaos. It’s a disaster like we have never seen before. Dorinda is looking for the life vests and says the boat is taking on water. An unexplained siren is going off. Everyone smells smoke because the boat’s anchor is stuck and they’re trying to haul it up and burning out the motor. Apparently the captain had to come out and cut off the anchor with a machete to keep the boat from capsizing with our favorite reality stars right there on it.
This is what we wanted. This is what we’ve always wanted. We’ve been watching these women for a decade, throwing them into this maelstrom of fame, volatility, and uncertain relationships to watch the disasters before our very eyes. We’ve seen them all collapse under the weight of being on the show, and their spouses leave them or — even worse — leave this world to escape it. This is the apocalypse that we hath wrought and it is glorious and it is still not enough. There is a toll, a human toll, and this is a reminder, as the briny water seeks to erase them right off the deck of this luxury liner, that this won’t end well. It never could.
But eventually the sun must break and the tide must quell. Everything returns to normal as the seagulls squawk and the banners fly once again over the yachts in the Cartagena harbor. They all survived, and just barely. And somewhere, on the top of some turret on the top of some fort on the top of some mountain, a redhead collapses her spyglass as all of the women walk back onto dry land and she, just like us, just like all of us, is a little bit upset that utter destruction did not happen this day.