What’s weird about this episode is that it is essentially divided into half. The first part is a delightful, fun confection of the women having trashy good times, and the second half is like pooping on the floor while reaching for your dress. It’s like hiding in the dryer during a game of hide-and-seek and someone turning it on and you emerge not only dead but with your hair absolutely ruined for the funeral. This episode is kind of like an Oreo after you separate it. The first half is an actual Oreo and the second half is an invitation to dinner with the Depp-Heards that you absolutely can’t say no to.
The episode starts off with the pure delight of Dorinda, always an early bird, discovering two sexy personal trainers on their patio ready to work out with the women. After she greets them, one says to the other in Spanish, “This is going to be a lot of energy.” Oh yes, this is going to be a lot of energy. This is going to be the energy of an H-bomb landing on the Acme TNT factory. “A lot of energy” is the best euphemism I’ve ever heard for the manic conflamma that the Housewives deliver on any given occasion.
The responses Dorinda gets as she tries to rouse the women from their tequila-addled slumbers are just as priceless. Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Oopsies Adult Diapers Morgans is snoring like a cartoon cat about to its tail caught in a mousetrap. Leah literally says, “Grumble, grumble” and rolls over and goes back to sleep. Luann takes one look outside and sees the guys doing lunges to limber up. “Oh, lunges in the sun. No. It is too hot for lunges in the sun,” she says. So Dorinda goes out alone and decides that she is going to teach them her old aerobics class because there are more of them than there are of her. This ends up with Dorinda schooling these guys on exercise rather than the other way around.
Next we see Countess Crackerjacks and Leah walking down the beach where they encounter two sexy middle-aged men walking toward them. “Oh, here we go,” Luann says.
“Wait, they might be a couple,” Leah says.
“No, those are not gay shorts,” Luann replies. And she is right. Both guys are wearing board shorts that kiss the upper ridges of their knees. They would be identical Quicksilver monstrosities except for the variegation on the black and grey stripes are different. If you tried to squeeze a gay man into a pair of these, he would have an allergic reaction, break out in hives, and clutch around for a vodka soda to sip while one of his friends screams, “Drink your juice, Shelby.” Even that would not be enough. You would have to stab him with an Epi-pen and inside that Epi-pen would be a Charlie brand maroon Speedo that plays a Robyn dance remix when it gets wet.
Lu and Leah approach the guys and they each say hi, but Luann isn’t letting an opportunity go to waste. “Where are you headed?” she asks as they have already passed her but are now forced to turn around. This is a pro at work. This is advanced-level cruising and I am so pleased to see a straight woman employ it. They tell them they’re staying at a resort nearby. They all assess that the others are single and Luann says, “You should come see the house. It’s amazing.”
Slow clap for Luann everyone. This is exactly how it is done. If you can take them to a second location that D is yours for the… uh… plucking? Something that rhymes with plucking? Every Monday at Fire Island my housemates and I would have a pool party and invite everyone we knew on the island (and could rustle up on Grindr). Eventually I’d start flirting with some boy and say, “Want a tour of the house?” I’d show them around, saving my room for last. Once in the dark, air-conditioned room, with the party splashing around outside, I would close the door and the deal was sealed — with consent, of course. It never failed. Not even once. Luann didn’t just learn about swimwear habits from gay men, she learned it all.
They get the guys back to the house and Leah thinks she should warn them. “These men should enter at their own risk because inside there are horny, insatiable women,” she says. She’s not wrong. This is the closest to MILF Island that we’re ever going to get on reality TV. We learn their names are Philip and Pascal and they’re from Montreal. The women invite them to join them at dinner later, which they do.
But first we need a brief interlude where Dorinda’s room smells like farts and she has to run into the bathroom multiple times with Aviva Drescher’s Revenge, which is what it’s called when you get diarrhea on a cast trip. The funny thing, other than Sonja not caring about Dorinda’s poops and asking to borrow her hairspray, is that the ladies are actually quite happy that Dorinda can’t make it.
What ensues is a nice, easy dinner featuring Philip and Pascal. They dance at the table. They order bottles of tequila with sparklers attached. Pascal tells Ramona he thought they were the same age and he’s 44. Immediately after, Ramona approaches a field producer and says, “Mark that down. That is going in the show or I will not show up at the reunion. Also, here is some True Renewal by Ramona skin cream for your mother.” Leah makes out with Philip, who is a certifiable babe even though he has that unfortunate Montreal accent that makes him sound like a duck gargling a razorblade milkshake. It is so wonderful.
Why is this dinner so wonderful? Because Dorinda isn’t there. Luann says in a confessional, “Diarrhea has a way of showing up when you need it the most.” Of all the false things that a Real Housewife has ever uttered, this is by far the falsest. Diarrhea has never, not even once, showed up at the right time. It’s always burbling, just below the surface, when you are the furthest you can possible be from the toilet or in some inscrutable social situation or trotting down Eighth Avenue where there isn’t a Starbucks in sight and the McDonald’s you go into forces you to buy something and get the code on your receipt and then there is a junkie shooting up in the toilet and you just have to sort of squat and clench, squat and clench, as waves of pain and dread rock your body like it’s a Baby Ruth in a tide pool, hoping that he will chase that particular dragon before your particular dragon runs in spurts down your leg. The poor timing is part of the definition of diarrhea. Otherwise it’s just a string of convenient and well-placed turds. Does Luann think the right time for it to show up was in her bed on the cast trip to Colombia?
However, her point is taken. The women needed some time off from Dorinda, who is ruining not only their trip but the entire show. The women go on a bus tour about an hour away when we find out that Ramona, Luann, and Tinsley (RIP) have all dated a former American Idol singer that is unnamed on the show but a quick Google confirms that Tinsley once dated Constantine Maroulis, so I can only guess that is who we’re talking about here. They have a nice expedition in a cave where Luann blatantly flirts with their hunky guide, proving that there is not a single man these women come across that they won’t make uncomfortable comments about. The day is going well, until Dorinda.
Here’s my problem with Dorinda: every one of these blowups is exactly the same and so unnecessary. Every week the women have to endure it and it’s like we’re being held hostage in a semi-abusive relationship. The particulars of this blowup hardly even matter. It follows the same pattern: the women express displeasure about something Dorinda is doing, she turns it against them, then she gets mean and insults them, and when all else fails she gets sarcastic and shakes her head. It’s the same pattern every time. Every time she’s in the wrong but refuses to acknowledge it or acknowledge any evidence to the contrary.
This time it’s about taking a call from her daughter at the lunch table, an offense that she was snide to Sonja about only a few hours before. When Sonja points this out, Dorinda gets indignant about how she is always going to take a call from her daughter. That’s not the point. No one is saying not to take the call. They’re just saying not to have chitchat on speakerphone at the lunch table, taking up all the air in the room. Of course, she has to pick up when her daughter calls, but why not step away from the table? Why not make sure it’s not an emergency and say, “Can I call you back after lunch?” There are a million ways she could have handled this, but making fun of the women and their objections is not the way to do it.
What is slightly more troublesome is that Ramona, Luann, and Sonja try to bring this pattern up to her. They try to show her that she’s being unreasonable and they want her to stop, but she can’t. And this isn’t even when she’s drunk. She was acting this way at breakfast the night after her diarrhea, so she wasn’t even wasted from the night before. We don’t see them drinking before lunch, so this is just how Dorinda acts, and no one likes it. If I have to sit through another reunion where she tries to excuse this behavior and not apologize or try to atone, then I am going straight to Andy Cohen’s Hampton’s Nursery and Discount Popper Emporium and demanding she be fired. I just can’t take it anymore. It’s ruining everyone’s fun.
The only quiet moment the women get that day is when they go to see a Mayan shaman named Julian. He asks the trees, plants, and birds to all protect these women and their irritable bowels. He burns something and sends the smoke and prayers up to the heavens and the leaves rattle, the trees shake, the birds call in unison like a group of women sitting around a breakfast table fighting about whether an invitation to a clothing launch party needs to be sent or not. The smoke goes up into the air, molecule by molecule, sending its message across half a continent, through time, into the future, where finally, sometime in late August a redhead on the Upper East Side catches a whiff of it. She puts down one of her many-colored masks and remembers for a second traveling, outings, cave swimming, and moving freely around the world. She thinks about planning a trip right now, if one could plan anything past that afternoon’s exercise walk and maybe a jaunt to the market. Jill Zarin sighs a sigh as deep as an abandoned well as she remembers all the birds in the forest owe her a favor, and she is ready to collect.