This week, the women take another go at an all-cast event with predictably chaotic results, Wendy continues to try to deliver her “new and improved” persona and image to mixed feedback, and Mia opens up in one breath while causing mayhem in the next. Let’s get into it, shall we?
We start the episode by checking in on the Dixon household, which is in a bit of disarray. Poor Robyn is in a serious depressive funk, and as someone who spent the bulk of the last year going to the kitchen, the living room, and back to my bed, I get it; who among us hasn’t spent a good chunk of the last year going through the motions like pandemic zombies? I technically was responsible for just myself and was still barely keeping it together, so I wish Juan would have a little more empathy for his fiancée and her “Zoe Kravitz in Big Little Lies” energy and not dismiss it as always making excuses. Asking for empathy from a cishet man, however, is akin to all of my efforts to stop eating bread: admirable but impractical. That said, he could afford to cut her some grace; after all, she is still trying to keep up with her hat company, whose demographic I assume is “single mothers who don’t want to be scolded by Mo’nique for wearing a bonnet to the carpool pickup.”
Karen finally makes her way over to Candiace’s new place, where they try to mend fences but arrive at yet another impasse. Personally, I respect Karen for not wavering in her position despite Monique leaving the cast. Candiace, who has the emotional maturity of Dora Winifred Read, continues to hold firm to the idea that the only way for them to move forward is if Karen accepts all responsibility for their disconnect. I find this scene interesting for a couple of reasons, the first being that it leans heavily into subtext; at some point, Karen alludes to the distress of being iced out from the group, and what she really means is, “No one would film with me and they tried to mess with my money as retribution.” What’s particularly curious with that is her implication that Robyn and Gizelle worked to ensure that Candiace and Karen didn’t come to terms by consistently interjecting on Candiace’s behalf. While I don’t know if I buy that Gizelle and Robyn were responsible for instigating the situation, I do agree that Candiace would have not been receptive to a conversation at that time. Second, they edit the scene to make it look like it was a drive-by, but Karen clearly had to have been there for a couple of hours, because it was dark by the time she left. Regardless, Candiace’s “walls of forgiveness” are still very much erect with her handkerchief of justice firmly in tow.
Doctor “Four Degrees” Osefo’s having to humble herself to ask Karen — the only cast member so far who seems to have successfully established a revenue-generating product — for business advice was hard to watch. Wendy doesn’t know the first thing about opening a business, from creating a business plan to establishing a target market and a value proposition, and for all the STEM majors (I know Wendy technically studied a social science, but work with me here) who try to act like the “softer” liberal-arts degrees don’t have as much value, watch Wendy struggle to define a plan further than “I want to be the Black Martha Stewart” and rethink that smugness. Karen’s attempt to maintain a straight face at the absurdity Wendy presents her with was admirable, but she does impart some useful advice, particularly about the budget. Considering that Wendy still hasn’t figured out how to make her single candle product stand out from the crowded market just yet, however, I fear that she might get more of a return out of putting $40,000 toward her student loans. I truly hope she didn’t take out a line of credit for this.
Ashley is the vehicle for the next all-cast event, a Pamper Party in which they have a spa day for a woman who can barely lay down comfortably enough to receive massage services. Why do they keep carting this woman around for pregnancy games while she is playing chicken with her birth canal? Give her some screen time in bed rest; everyone will understand. Regardless, Ashley and her distended belly create grounds for Karen and Gizelle to be forced into each other’s presence, passive-aggressive sniping and all.
Let’s have a chat about Season Two Wendy. I am all for an off-screen level up, but Zen Wen is itching to create a moment that she isn’t ready to deliver just yet. Reality TV is at its best when the conflicts are low stakes and petty, but Wendy keeps trying to land zingers that you can just feel that she has practiced over and over in her mirror. You just know that she was convinced that “today I have time; tick-tock” was going to leave the girls shaking in their boots. The problem is that the premise for her coming at Mia this time is that it’s on behalf of Gizelle and Robyn, who at the time were largely unfazed by the rumors of Mia’s disloyalty. Similar to the confrontation on Karen’s behalf at the Love Lunch, Wendy wants credit for fighting for people’s honor when no one asked her to, which only has the effect of making her look crazed — especially when you look at what has played out between Mia and Wendy on social media. By the time Wendy lets “You don’t even go here” spill out of her mouth, I just wanted to give her a gold star for giving it a good college try.
Mia, on her end, continues to be unfazed and dare I say is seemingly amused by Wendy’s behavior. She doesn’t hesitate to resurface the conflicts at hand — I mean, she laughed like Maleficent and called Wendy small-minded after receiving her first barrage of insults from Zen Wen — including offering yet another perplexing story about her life in the strip club. I honestly don’t care if she was a waitress or an alum of Joseline’s Cabaret, but I think she knows that keeping it vague is more interesting. It also just invites the Gizelles of the world to offer their opinions on strip clubs and sex work in general, which I find less interesting.
Next week, Ashley finally crosses the finish line with her pregnancy, but not without a little distress. Until then, take care of yourselves and make yourself a doughnut salad like Mia’s son Joshua.
• #FreeNaia! Chris’s poor daughter is shimmying away from that camera, and I, the viewer, am distressed.
• We get to learn a little bit more about Mia, who is a product of the foster-care system and drug-addicted parents. It looks like we’ll be hearing more about her relationship with her mom as the season goes on, but the show is doing a good job so far of showing her softer side to counter the mess she willingly steps into.
• This week, we met Askale Davis, whom Robyn introduced to Wendy as her “African sister,” despite Ethiopia and Nigeria being three entire countries away from each other. Not much to say about her yet, although I did find it amusing that her rationale for giving a pregnant woman alcohol as a gift was for her to celebrate with after. That’s like offering someone birthday cake three weeks in advance and telling them not to touch it until their actual birthday, but hey, if they like it, I love it.
• Please, for the sake of all that is holy and sacred, let the clitoroplasty jokes go. They’re tired, unfunny, and only make them sound like intense prudes.
• Mama Dorothy’s look of abject disgust at the idea of Chris becoming a “husbandger” (God, I hate that so much) is needed. If the disapproving look of Dorothy at Chris’s midday drinking and lack of independent income isn’t enough to wake Candiace up, she will have to learn the lessons of the Mary J Bliges and Wendy Williams of the world the hard way.
• It should be boring to keep drawing from the well and pointing out Gizelle’s tacky sensibilities, yet Karen stating that she is “not a host, not a dresser, and not great wig wearer” still cut me to the quick.
• Of all the people to comment on Michael’s infidelities and corresponding marital issues, Gizelle should be last in line. Like, it goes: marriage counselor, mom, Uncle Lump … [scrolls down] … a high-school Facebook friend who can only contact Ashley through DMs, then Gizelle.
• Ray struggling with moving furniture in 4K … Calling it elder abuse would be several steps too far, but unless he has a humiliation kink, maybe leave the heavy lifting to someone on the younger side of 70 and spare us all the discomfort of watching him struggle onscreen.
• Bravo keeps playing those same two clips of Wendy on MSNBC and Fox when referring to her broadcast career. Does she not have anything else in her highlight reel?
• If Wendy was mad at Mia before, watching her wax poetically about her man Edie is going to send her through the roof. Zen Wen is probably drawing up notes and cue cards for the reunion as we speak!
• We knew that Karen had her kids back when people still had to go to one-hour photo to develop their film, but they still didn’t have to be shady and show the date on the photo!