Well, ladies and homosexuals, it’s the moment that we’ve been waiting for all season: the meeting of Vicki and Tamra. It isn’t so much the meeting of the minds as it is a meeting of the tempers. A meeting of the ids, maybe. It is a meeting at a coffee shop named Patch, like these two are going to patch it up. Instead, a group of girls with bad dye jobs and H&M credit cards stare at Vicki and Tamra as they get into a shouting match that lasts about as long as my first sexual encounter behind the gym in high school. That lasted precisely 25 seconds. This is shorter.
So Vicki shows up in the most unlikely garment ever assembled by tiny Bangladeshi hands. It is a bright-red kind of tank top but it has one sleeve and a ruffle that winds around both the arm and the body of the garment. It sort of looks like an ice dancer’s costume if she was sucked into the rotor blades of a Zamboni. Vicki is going into this meeting with the wrong mindset. She expects that Tamra wants to stop being mean to her. Oh, Vicki. She is the least self-realized person that I have ever seen on reality television, and I have recently become addicted to 90 Day Fiancé, so that’s saying something.
Tamra isn’t any better prepared to sit down. She says, “I’m hoping that Vicki is going to apologize to me.” Yeah, right. That’s like showing up at Charlie Sheen’s house and being like, “I hope that we’re going to have a very sober night where we talk about our feelings.” Please. Neither of those things is ever, ever going to happen. Vicki apologizing would be like a penguin growing legs or Melania Trump opening her eyes all the way. They’re just not creatures built for that kind of thing.
They sit down and immediately Vicki says, “I want you to start being kind to me.” See, as always, this is about Vicki. She doesn’t even know what Tamra’s problem is. She doesn’t know that Tamra is still mad not only about Vicki spreading rumors that her husband is gay, but also, really, about having a part in faking Brooks’s cancer that she’s never really addressed. Vicki doesn’t see that Tamra is hurt, too, and she can only coddle her own wounds like these shirtless guys hold puppies.
Tamra tells Vicki that she is kind to her and Vicki retorts with, “In your mind you’re kind to me.” Vicki can’t even acknowledge Tamra’s kindness. Vicki doesn’t realize that a cease-fire requires compromise on both sides. If she wants to “get along” and “be adults” like she’s always claiming, she’s going to have to start, you know, being an adult rather than a howler monkey covered in mascara and sadness. Tamra asks Vicki what she’s done to hurt her, but Vicki doesn’t even have anything concrete, just some vague notion that Tamra is “bullying” her and getting all of the girls to team up against her. What Vicki doesn’t realize is that Tamra doesn’t have to do that — Vicki has alienated everyone all by herself.
Tamra finally brings up the rumors about her husband, Eddie, that Vicki was spreading. If Eddie was gay, she asks, why would he be married to her? Vicki had the perfect opportunity to say, “You know, Tamra. I know he’s not gay. I think you have a great marriage, and I’m sorry for spreading those rumors.” Instead, she says, “Maybe he’s using you.” Yup, that is exactly what you tell a person who you are trying to reconcile with after you slandered her spouse all around town. Yup, that is exactly what Tamra wants.
Finally, as if a switch goes off, Tamra realizes that she doesn’t want to be there and Vicki doesn’t deserve to be her friend. Now, I don’t think that Tamra is a very good person and she’s done all sorts of reprehensible things during her tenure on the show, including the way she treated Gretchen Rossi and that Christian one with the big tits. No, not that one. The other one. The one with the trampoline park. Alexis Bellino. That’s her name. But Tamra really does nothing wrong in this situation when she gets up and walks out. She is tired of fighting. After a decade of them breaking up and making up, she’s realized that she isn’t going to do it again.
Vicki gets in her car and calls her boyfriend, Steve, who tells her that Tamra is just trying to win. Now, I usually love crooked-cop Steve, but he is totally wrong in this assessment. Vicki is the one who is trying to win. She’s gotten this far in her life without making concessions for anyone — including her children — and she isn’t about to start now. She isn’t going to do what it takes to make Tamra or any of these women forgive her and she isn’t interested in mending any relationship. She needs to be right. She needs her narrative as a blameless victim to be fulfilled once again.
We see this play out again at the anniversary dinner for Diko and Peggy, a ghost that haunts a magic baklava. Everyone is choosing their tables and Tamra, sitting with Shannon and Meghan, calls over for Kelly to sit with them. Kelly chooses that table over Vicki’s, leaving Vicki alone with Lydia and Doug, a generic Ken doll set you buy in a Canadian gas station. Tamra isn’t doing this to bully Vicki. She’s doing it because she thinks Kelly is fun and Kelly chooses to sit there because who doesn’t want to sit at a table of women getting along rather than sitting next to Vicki and pouring the balm of compliments on her diseased nerves? Vicki sees herself as a victim, but this is a problem of her own making and only she can unmake it. Or maybe Andy Cohen could just fire her. That seems to be the only path left.
I’m afraid that Peggy and Diko are going to get fired, too, even as this episode humanizes them a little bit more. What about those old pictures with Diko looking like the mustache-judge emoji and Peggy with hair so big that it could have won Best Hay Bale at the Wyoming State Fair? But Diko is making the same mistakes that so many Real Housewives’ husbands make on their first season. He has a problem with Shannon’s husband, David, but instead of asking Peggy to say something to Shannon or taking it up with David himself, he pulls Shannon aside and tries to smooth it over. Oh man, this is not the way it is done. Diko wasn’t cast on the show and he should stop acting like it. Fade into the background, keep buying her tacky gifts, and then get out of there. I mean, Eddie, who once sloshed around a tub naked, doesn’t even bother to show up to half of this shit anymore.
Diko brings up David grilling him about Peggy’s cancer because he wants to “clear the air” and “not make it a thing.” Um, has he not learned the lesson that Erika Jayne taught us? “The more you talk about shit, the worse it gets.” That is such a truism that it should be taught in Real Housewives 101 along with the “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings” non-apology and greeting every woman on the cast with “You look great” every time they meet each other.
But, yeah, this episode is the nadir of a really bad season. It’s just a bunch of non-entities with unrelatable problems sitting around on the patio of a strip-mall Mediterranean restaurant trying to figure out how to work a hookah. As the smoke filters out into the night, dispersing its atoms among the oxygen, smog, and starlight, it reaches out like a billion little fingers from a million little hands, branching and branching until it is imperceptible. Striving to be somewhere better, striving to connect, somehow to the natural world. Longing to be anywhere and everywhere all at once — as long as it’s not here.