WOW. I mean, WOW. There is a lot to unpack here. From the expectations and stereotypes put on Black women, to the philosophical nature of forgiveness, to Gizelle arriving with her own security guard who sat in the kitchen the whole afternoon, there is just A LOT HAPPENING HERE, and it’s all good. It’s all perfect. Oh my God, I needed this. Did anyone else just neeeeeed this? I was shrieking and screaming at the television as my boyfriend was trying to take a nap. This felt like the best episode of some prestige drama, without feeling like you were simultaneously doing a book report and/or looking into a cave. I get that AMC makes important TV or whatever, but why are the episodes called “chapters,” and why does it look like it was filmed with a scarf over the lens? I can’t see anything, and too many white men are delivering sweeping monologues about “What the hell is happening in bUsInEsS today?!? Aren’t there any real men in the boardroom anymore??!?!” NO. THANK. YOU. This is my prestige TV. This is my Mr. Robot or Westworld or The Young Pope. (Is The Young Pope anyone’s The Young Pope?)
LET’S GET INTO IT!
The first amazing choice this episode makes is that the “previously on” is just a slow montage of all the conflicts between Candiace and Monique, and it’s sooooo long. Bless these editors.
We’re five days after the winery ruckus, and everyone is still reeling. Candiace is at home in her robe having flashbacks of the fight. She’s mostly sad that Monique once called her a sister and now that’s all ruined. There’s trauma there. Meanwhile, Monique is at her house, and HER STORY KEEPS CHANGING.
I mean, we can’t talk about Monique and this whole tête-à-tête with Karen without addressing the elephant in a Fendi cape in the room: Monique’s story is very convenient for her. How could anyone expect her to apologize and atone for what she’s done to Candiace if she doesn’t remember? How can she be responsible for her actions if her body was occupied by some other, more ratchet spirit? How can she feel remorse if she’s not even sure what she did? By not remembering what she did because she entered a ferocious fugue state, she can change her story on a dime when challenged. Anything and nothing is possible, and if nothing happened, is there anything to be sorry for?
Monique asks Karen to set up a meeting at Karen’s house because Karen is a neutral person, which is hilarious because I cannot think of a more specific and emotionally charged person than Karen Huger. Candiace won’t be there, and it’s an opportunity for Monique to share her ever-changing, capricious truth.
The day of the come-together meeting has arrived, and Karen is calling Candiace to give her a heads-up that Monique is being given the opportunity to take control of the narrative. Candiace is on her way to the thing we will cut to during this meeting — I mean, “therapy” — and she’s a little surprised that Karen would extend Monique as much grace as she is. Karen says she’s just a gracious person, and, again, I had to laugh.
Well, it’s time for the ladies to arrive, and Gizelle has arrived with her own security. She has a big-ass dude named “KB” to just sit in the kitchen. I presume that if Monique started to act up, KB would have swooped in and picked Monique up and put her in his pocket and then dunked her in Karen’s pool. Either way, Robyn and I both cackled at the sight of Gizelle sauntering in like Annalise Keating with Frank behind her.
Every single moment of this episode is a treat, releasing just enough serotonin into my brain to let me forget the nights are getting longer and the days are getting shorter.
Ashley has arrived with Baby Dean! Gizelle says, “Dean can’t be a part of this,” like the baby is going to try to start a fight or something. BABY DEAN!!!
There are two camps forming. Gizelle, Robyn, and Wendy are on one side, believing that Monique isn’t really sorry for her actions, and that’s dangerous with a side of anti-Blackness. Karen and Ashley are on the other side, believing that Monique is going to eventually be sorry for her actions and we should embrace that. And, of course, neither of those women are still attached to people who don’t seem willing or capable of changing their behavior to stop hurting them, so that might lead them to be more accepting or forgiving of bad behavior in their other relationships, and maybe that’s not relevant and that’s all I’ll say about that.
Candiace is sitting down with her therapist, and I’m always going to be suspicious of any therapist who is willing to appear on-camera, especially if their office is set up like a T.J.Maxx version of Dr. Melfi’s office from The Sopranos. Candiace’s therapist keeps asking her if she was engaging Monique or if she was doing anything to contribute to this fight …
Meanwhile, Monique arrives at Karen’s house and sits down with her opening statement about what happened at the winery. She wants to explain herself, and there’s no reason to even talk about Candiace, and what everyone saw is not who Monique is — it’s just what she was taught to do by her mother, and what she does when all of her higher intellectual functions are removed. Not her, just her most basic instincts and lessons passed to her by the most important woman in her life.
Gizelle immediately whips out her phone to take notes. You know, when something is about to be complete bullshit so you need documentation. Gizelle is approaching this like a deposition. Monique immediately gets snarky and says, “Go ahead. Be self-righteous or be on a high horse if we want to.” Ma’am. You have a LOT of nerve to respond like that when you were just in a huge fight with another woman.
So here’s the crux of Monique’s “defense” of herself: When pushed to her limit, she immediately blacked out, and the next thing she remembered was a producer pulling her off Candiace. The show decides to show Monique in the car on the way back from the winery detailing exactly what happened in the fight with incredible detail … that might also contradict whatever version of her story she is able to remember.
Robyn starts out by saying, “A few things — you almost had me. That is 100 percent a lie.” ROBYN!! Listen, Robyn doesn’t always bring a lot of plot, but she is AMAZING in this episode. Robyn brings up the blogs, and Monique’s version of what happened doesn’t match up with what they all saw.
Okay, then Wendy’s ass chimes in. Wendy believes that she’s making some point to uphold and support Black women, but really she’s putting a higher standard on Black people, women in particular, and if they can’t meet these very high standards (that are based in respectability, education, and class), then Black people can’t be upset or surprised by the treatment they receive from the world at large. It’s an inherently racist position that isn’t that much different from what you might hear on Fox News. It just happens to be coming from a Nigerian woman so … y’know … it can’t be racist.
Of course, Black women are just people, and people are flawed and fallible. Some of those Black women might get in stupid fights, and some of them might even be people we don’t like or don’t admire. That doesn’t justify or explain or excuse their mistreatment and oppression by society. White people get in stupid fights, and many of them are people we don’t like or admire, but that’s never used as a reason to deny them rights or dignity. It just doesn’t happen, and I will accept no feedback on this point.
Also, WENDY, when you signed up for a Real Housewives show, what did you think you were being brought on to do? Lead symposiums on political engagement? You’re there to fly to the Bahamas or whatever and argue about people’s real estate.
Candiace’s therapist continues to ask her if her delivery did anything to push Monique toward physical violence. Candiace says she’d tried very hard to attempt a different tone with Monique, and we get video evidence of at least three apologies from Candiace to Monique. Candiace says she’ll need time to forgive her, and she has nothing to say to Monique. I related to that.
Back at Karen’s house, Gizelle is getting into it with Monique. Gizelle points at, like, four instances in which Monique has approached violence or threatened someone with violence. I completely forgot about that moment with Robyn and the umbrella. Having the violence be directed at someone other than Candiace really drives the point home. Monique has a violence issue, but this was the first time she got physical with Candiace. Gizelle goes into a whole “I wouldn’t raise my kids” blah blah blah. Not even necessary, but go ahead. Then Monique goes “Good for you” when Gizelle says she’s not raising her kids to be violent. Fuck. Monique. Can you just not? Robyn points out that Monique is being condescending and is refusing to cede any ground in this and Karen is letting her get away with it.
Karen tells everyone to lower their voices, as if that’s the problem here, and Karen says that Monique is admitting fault (she’s not), and she’s willing to work on it (is she?), and Karen will stand by Monique (we’ll see).
Wendy picks up on the fact that Monique is saying she was completely out of control until she was in the stairwell with the producer, so everything she did and said after that, she was in complete control of. Monique agrees, and she doesn’t get that that’s worse. It’s WORSE to say you were in control when you ran around a barn to try to kill a tiny pageant queen. Monique is almost gleeful in saying that she’s not remorseful and you can’t just push her until she breaks. Monique also says that almost a week later, she’s still got adrenaline pumping. Bitch, that’s not good. It’s also not good when “adrenaline” is your explanation for acting completely out of character. If you’re able to sustain this level of fight or flight for DAYS, what are you capable of days after the fight? Why aren’t you trying to get your adrenaline down? Why aren’t you using some of those essential oils you’re peddling on those lazy moms? Lavender! Lavender, bitch!
Monique also holds Ashley’s baby, and her voice cracks and breaks all over the place. I’m not saying she’s faking. I’m saying if she is faking, she’s a bad actress. Monique finally says she needs to put the pride and the ego aside and talk to her pastor. On their way out, Team Skeptical says that Monique isn’t remorseful and she’s trying to subtly put the blame on Candiace at every turn.
Karen hugs Monique as she leaves and says she can look back on this fight years from now and share the lessons she’s learned with younger Black women. Again, okay with the role-model-for-Black-women stuff. But we can tell exactly what lives in Monique’s brain and heart when she says, “… I’ll tell them, ‘Don’t be provoking people.’”
SHE HAS LEARNED NOTHING!!!