What are the holidays for if not spending time with family? And what better way to relish the company of your loved ones than by sharing the possibility that your dad had a secret daughter you never knew about?
Melissa passes along Concetta the Catholic Medium’s newsflash from beyond the grave to her sisters. All three women agree that they’d need the go-ahead from Mom (actually, I’m pretty sure all three call her Mommy, which is the kind of thing you just, you know, notice) before they try to track down the possible flesh-and-blood product of her late husband’s infidelity. Fair! If and when that time should come, I hope RHONJ will finagle some sweet sponcon dollars from 23andMe. Home DNA ancestry tests are the best way to find out if you’ve got a surprise family member you never knew about, and/or if one of your family members is, surprise, the Golden State Killer.
I would like to state for the record now that if Melissa and Teresa make up by the end of the season and they try to pull some, What if my third “sister” was right beside me all along? garbage, I will go get a weave just so that I can pay Ashlee Holmes (name your price, girl) to rip it off me outside the North Jersey Country Club.
Which brings us to Danielle. Margaret invites her over, if only because she brought Marge Sr. a smoothie during her face-lift recovery. “Why should she suffer because you’re a bitch?” Danielle asks, presumably rhetorically. To review, Margaret committed the grave offense of attending an event thrown by Dolores, to which Danielle responded as any of us would, by screaming about how Marge cheated on her first husband. But Danielle is willing to move past all this—how charitable of her!—if Margaret promises never to take Dolores’s side over hers. I enjoy watching Margaret’s face as she reconsiders this alliance in real time.
Giacinto has had cataract surgery. As I am sure was medically prescribed by his doctors, Joe comes over to Teresa’s house to drink exactly one shot with their dad before heading back to work. Honestly, to me, this seems like a step in the right direction (creative scheduling solutions!) toward Joe making more time for his father, but it does not pass muster with Teresa. And so the siblings adjourn to the garage to yell at each other.
Joe doesn’t understand why she came for Melissa, and by proxy, for him, in Oklahoma, nor why Dolores would bring up their deathiversary vacation. As he suggests that his sister “shove it up [her] fucking ass,” he smacks a nearby punching bag on his way out. Left alone, Teresa kicks said punching bag. Maybe everyone should argue in close proximity to boxing equipment; it seems healthy. What is less healthy is Teresa’s characteristically idiotic takeaway from this encounter: It’s Melissa’s fault that Joe blew up at her.
Jennifer has invited the women and their children over to her enormous, tacky hotel of a home in an attempt to earn back some of the goodwill she lit on fire with her misbehavior in Oklahoma. With the help of her mother and a housekeeper who, knowing Jennifer, will probably have to submit to a polygraph and a cavity search before she’s allowed to go home tonight, she’s preparing a Turkish feast. There’s even balloon sculptures, a cotton candy machine, and a bouncy house (set up in the indoor basketball court, duh) to ensure that all 15 kids in attendance are whipped up into sugar madness, or at least that somebody pukes.
Among the highlights of the house tour are Jennifer’s approximately eight million chandeliers (which she traveled to China to obtain, because she’s “practical”), her silver fainting couch, the pool, multiple “thrones,” the purely decorative grand piano that literally no one knows or will ever learn how to play, extremely tall and extremely tufted white dining chairs with gold accents that I recognize from Tony Montana’s new collection for HomeGoods, a hallway built specifically so that she wouldn’t have to look at her staff any more than is absolutely necessary, a home theater, and of course, the famous Paramus sunset, because fuck you, people of Oklahoma.
Jennifer even has an intercom system to communicate with her five kids, which seems wise, given that we’ve witnessed how she negotiates her continued safety from their wrath via tactical offerings of Hello Dreamhouses and various plastic weaponry.
Over a delicious-looking dinner (or is it lunch, or is it 4 a.m.? I feel like I’ve spent 12 hours in this house), Teresa—boosted by her favorite hype-woman, MC Catania—comes at Melissa. “Is your husband mad at me?” Dolores asks.
“What did you say to him?” Teresa demands, “Why would you get him all amped up?
“If you were just telling him, I don’t know why he’s so upset then!” adds Dolores.
There is nothing Melissa could have done short of personally lobotomizing her husband, or at the very least giving him the Manchurian Candidate brainwashing treatment, that could satisfy these women. I feel like I’m about to have an aneurysm on her behalf. But then there is a ray of hope.
The Eileen Davidson Accord has officially expired. Following the esteemed Brian Moylan’s elegant, surgical evisceration of Jennifer last week, it’s time for us to talk about Jackie.
But first, Jackie has something to say herself. She unexpectedly perks up mid-Melissa bashing to—what?!—firmly and clearly express that she doesn’t appreciate the way her friend is being ganged up on. “Melissa, you are entitled to talk to your husband when you’re upset and that’s the bottom line,” she says.
Everyone stares at Jackie like she has four heads. Is someone really trying to inject sanity into these proceedings? Did a normal human being somehow manage to climb inside her TV, and is now as confused as you are as to how and why she ended up there? It is deeply cathartic.
“Cut it out. This is my family,” Teresa responds. With family like this, who needs reality-TV co-stars?
“I give you credit,” Jackie tells Melissa, “Because I would’ve gotten up and stormed away from the fucking table.” And as for whether any person can be expected to “control” their spouse’s emotions, Jackie asks Teresa, “I’m sorry, all due respect, but you really feel like your husband would be in jail right now if you could control what he did?”
Stunned silence. Teresa, of course, is beyond offended, but there is no time to flip a table before Milania storms into the room, holding her phone: “I need to go,” she demands, and suddenly I am desperate to binge-watch whatever Muppet Babies version of RHONJ that is her life.
Lucky for us, Jackie will live to fight another episode. We’ll see if she survives till the reunion.