Does LeeAnne have a bright, shiny, and attempted-murder-via-sandpaper-free future as a motivational speaker? She certainly hopes so. With Kameron and D’Andra on hand for support, she’s lending her rhetorical services to the Essential Energy Fall Reception, which sounds like 1) a pyramid scheme, 2) a cover for a coterie of vampires recruiting victims, or 3) a pyramid scheme run by vampires. In reality, it is a networking event for professional, presumably non-undead women.
LeeAnne delivers a well-received, moving speech about overcoming obstacles. Then, before you can say “anger management” three times fast, she’s talking shit about Cary again. I am pleasantly surprised when D’Andra shuts this gossip down immediately. “I’m at my moment right now,” she tells LeeAnne, a sentence that sounds like it should be inscribed in sequins on a babydoll tee. RHOD did D’Andra a disservice by introducing her through scenes with her high-powered mother — she has much more of a spine than we were initially led to believe. And not just a spine, but a solution, or so she thinks: She’ll host an afternoon tea slash “group therapy session,” hereafter referred to as an “Honest Tea,” to clear the air among the women. May God have mercy on all our souls. (Also, I would like to state for the record that D’Andra’s makeup is very “minority owner of Fangtasia” and I am here for it.)
Mark cooks a decidedly grownup dinner for Cary and their guests, Kameron and Court. Cary and Mark’s daughter Zuri, a small child, whines throughout the meal, as small children are wont do. Mark, a grown man, whines that Zuri is whining. I’ll leave it up to you to guess which of these whiners is more grating. Actually, no, I won’t. It’s Mark. Beyond failing to support his wife in her search of a better work-life balance (with increased emphasis on “life”), it seems like he doesn’t enjoy the company of their child very much at all. Between Travis buying a new house without Stephanie’s permission and just about everything Bryan has ever said or done, it’s like the men of RHOD are actively competing to see who can be the worst husband.
Except for one man, that is! LeeAnne and her beloved boyfriend Rick enjoy a date night at the State Fair of Texas, which is extremely lit, both literally and figuratively. Former carny kid LeeAnne demonstrates her uncanny ringer abilities at every midway game, amassing a herd of the kind of comically huge stuffed-animal prizes I thought nobody ever wins. (Free idea, Bravo: I would love to watch a summertime special in which LeeAnne explains how I can clean up at the water gun race, ring toss, and so on.) But it’s Rick who has a surprise in store. Over at the balloon dart game, one of his projectiles pops a balloon that was hiding a little gold box. Inside is LeeAnne’s long-awaited engagement ring. She couldn’t be more thrilled. Then again, LeeAnne makes a point of removing her new engagement ring before the Honest Tea, on the grounds that she doesn’t want anyone to ask her when the wedding will be. (That seems … weird! It’s not like you’re pregnant; you don’t have to keep it quiet for a few months.)
The gals arrive at D’Andra’s house dolled up in furs, hats, and fascinators. Unsurprisingly, far more booze is served than tea. Before the questions and answers can officially begin, Brandi attempts to make nice with Kameron in the wake of Giftgate by offering her a sparkling pink gift bag (and a bottle of Jack Daniels) of her own. Rather than accepting graciously, Kameron suggests this is further rudeness on Brandi’s part, given that Cary and D’Andra — both of whom are seated nearby — did not receive gifts. Is this a trick? Has Brandi died and entered the purgatory that is a never-ending vicious cycle of gifting faux pas? Kameron soon brings up yet again that Brandi called herself a “mean girl,” and her sparring partner — who has apologized at least twice by now — can abide this no longer. “I was joking, bitch,” Brandi snaps. Kameron’s mouth contorts into a most unladylike stank face. “We’re not close friends, so I don’t really care,” Kameron says. Brandi storms out, and then back into the room where she and Kameron tentatively makeup. Let’s see how long that lasts.
D’Andra, armed with a bell and a bedazzled gavel (whether these two serve distinct functions, or any function at all, is never explained), serves as mistress of ceremonies. “If you have something to say, now is the hour to say it,” she instructs her friends. She passes out blank cards and tells the ladies to write questions for each other, all of which will be stuffed anonymously in a teapot. As everyone gets rapidly drunk, they rehash a lightning round of past dramas. A sampling: LeeAnne isn’t allowed inside Brandi’s house. Mark is gay. One of LeeAnne’s friends was mean to Brandi at (where else?) a charity dog wash. LeeAnne underwent facial plastic surgery at the hands of a mere “vagina doctor.” When registered nurse Cary disputes which of this OB-GYN’s board certifications are legitimate, LeeAnne calls her a “condescending cunt.” The B-word was one thing, but the C-word? D’Andra rings her bell with a righteous fury. That is not American Teen Princess language! Cary threatens to leave. “Bye, Felicia,” says LeeAnne, delivering the phrase with the same level of un-self-conscious breezy coolness as when a Good Morning America tweet called Kermit the Frog #tealizard.
At one point, a chyron reads “TWO HOURS LATER,” and I am exhausted on everyone’s behalf. When confronted about her two-faced Stephanie Halloween costume, worn to Stephanie’s own Halloween party, it’s LeeAnne’s turn to cry. “My own mother didn’t want me,” she says, launching automatically into her sob story of an autobiography, which the other women can now more or less recite from memory. D’Andra again distinguishes herself as this episode’s unexpected MVP, telling LeeAnne, “Your bullshit meter is off the chart right now.”
Fortunately, a refreshingly dumb question (thanks, Kameron!) finds its way out of the teapot and cools things down at just the right moment: “What’s your favorite vacation spot?” This card inspires Cary to suggest they all take a vacation to Mexico together — perhaps the single flimsiest justification for a girls’ trip in Real Housewives history, which is really saying something.