Trying to get Teresa Giudice to use reason is like trying to order a caprese salad from a bicycle. When Jackie made her comment about Teresa gaining confidence in jail at the end of the last episode, Teresa stormed off. As we rejoin the action, she’s upset with her brother that he didn’t defend her to Jackie. But what can he say? She did go to jail. (As we say in my household, “But you are in that chair, Blanche.”) Anyway, when Joe Giudice attacked Joe Gorga, she didn’t leap to his defense. Teresa does not see how these are equivalent.
She does this shit all the time. Margaret wanted Teresa to have her back against Danielle, but Teresa would just be like, “I like her; she makes me laugh,” while totally demanding Margaret’s blind devotion. She did it again this season to Joe with Realtor Michelle, Roger Ailes’s dream woman. She came after him and was saying he owed her all this money, and she was basically like, “What? She’s a good realtor!” Only after Joe told her to stick up for him did she do something.
It gets even worse in New Jersey as the dinner party falls apart once Jackie makes her remark. Margaret starts howling at Jennifer that Joe Benigno didn’t say he heard the Evan rumors before, then just as quickly turns her squawk on Jackie when Jackie tells Joe B. she doesn’t want anything to do with him anymore. The whole thing becomes like a Jacuzzi of recrimination, where the jets are spraying in everyone’s faces and no one can relax. You can just see the placid look on Frank’s face curdle as he realizes that an interrupted dinner means he’s never going to get to bust out the box of cannoli he bought for dessert.
Jackie, who is hysterical and in tears and then further humiliated that not one of these women told her she had a snot bubble bursting out of her nose the entire time, goes into the house, where Joe B. and Frank calmly explain to her that the rumors came up at boys’ night but they all had Evan’s back and said he wouldn’t do it. That mollifies Jackie enough for her to say she loves him, and everyone hugs, but no one even offers Jackie a hankie.
Meanwhile, out on the porch, Melissa tries to get Teresa to come in and squash it with Jackie. Teresa, however, is mad that Joe and Melissa didn’t “eat Jackie alive” when she brought up “the jail thing.” This triggers Melissa, who says, “What, like you’re some weak-ass bitch who can’t defend herself?” Teresa agrees that she can defend herself. This is the next flaw in her logic: If Teresa can take on Jackie, then why the hell does she need everyone to stick up for her all the time?
Melissa gets so incensed about this and Teresa’s lack of defending them against the lies that Joe Giudice was spreading about them (basically vague hints that he “knows stuff” about their marriage) that she upends an entire bowl of little cheese cubes, sending them scattering onto decking like a million goldendoodles that just got locked out of their respective kennels. Melissa is not one to let someone else clean up her mess, though. She returns with a dustpan and a brush and is trying to put all the cheese back into its tiny red-wax packaging, but this time it’s her husband who is getting more and more upset.
I would say you could see Joe’s face getting redder, but he has been mysteriously ruddy all season. (Was there a spray-tan accident?) Joe isn’t just mad about this — he’s mad about all of it. He’s mad about years of discord, eons of hurt, a lifetime of not being looked out for. “He ruined everything, and he put you in jail,” Joe says about Teresa’s ex. “My wife is 100 percent right. And I held my tongue … Fuck that piece of shit. He put my mother in the grave, and I’m supposed to like him?” He then bangs on the table with both fists like an ape at the zoo demanding all the bananas.
What is Teresa’s response? “We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about Jackie,” she says. She can’t even see his point. She can’t even realize that he is in pain too — she’s too wrapped up in the half-eaten gyro of her own frustration. Just as quickly as he went up, he comes back down, telling Teresa he doesn’t want to talk about it. They hug and make up, then he makes Teresa and Melissa hug, and the space between them as they embrace sags with their mutual disappointment.
After the fight, everyone agrees on two things: that Teresa was wrong, and that she needed to be the one to end it. Melissa, Jackie, Margaret, and their respective men go back to Melissa’s house (which I think is made with the same material as Scooby-Doo’s sack, because how did she get seven bedrooms in a space that looks so much more modest?). The two teams lick their wounds in their respective corners. Teresa is at Dolores’s and makes the one good point she has ever made, saying that she doesn’t like Jackie because she throws these bombs and then cries about it. She is not wrong. Jackie can deliver the zinger, but she doesn’t have the nerve to stand there and back it up. Thank God she has Melissa on her side, who is willing to get someone to hold her earrings while she scraps.
The next morning, Joe, Dolores, and even Jennifer are telling Teresa that she has to make up with Jackie, because she has completely destroyed this poor little poppet. It’s not because it’s the right thing to do and because Teresa was most likely lying the whole time. No, it’s a mercy killing, because Jackie is too weak to withstand the pressure.
Anyway, the next day at Melissa’s when the gang all arrives, Teresa is wearing some Fendi illusion sunglasses and a macramé bikini. Of course she is wearing the rip-off bikini that was profiled in the New York Times. Even Teresa’s garments aren’t without a rap sheet. She walks up to Jackie and finally gives an apology so weak that it would lose an arm-wrestling contest with a drunken dust mite. “I don’t like how things went down yesterday, and I don’t want to hurt you or your family, so can we just drop everything?” That’s it. No admission of guilt. No saying that her husband didn’t have an affair. Nothing. Just a few stray mumbles tossed at Jackie like they’re nail clippings about to be washed down the drain.
When Jackie’s husband, Evan, a thousand dirty jockstraps stitched together and voted People’s Sexiest Man Alive, arrives, Teresa has to apologize to him too. She wanted Jackie to do it for her, but Jackie says she can do it in front of the both of them. I totally agree with Jackie. If you’re going to go around and talk shit about the man, the least you can do is apologize to his face. She issues another apology that’s even weaker than the last one, but finally it all seems behind them.
With the drama squashed, everyone can go party on the boat and ride the Jet Skis and stare at Joe Gorga’s hairless ham hock of a torso with drool running down their jowls. Oh, wait. That was me. Sorry. We think it’s all settled until they sit down at the table and start squabbling again. The men immediately separate, tired of the drama. Evan is totally right: It’s when they sit down for meals that things all go awry. (Cue the montage of table fighting!) Seriously, there are more duels at RHONJ dinners than have ever happened in a Medieval Times. But thank God for these dinners or else what would we talk about?
This fight is really between Margaret and Jennifer. Margaret accuses Jennifer of keeping the Jackie-Teresa feud going by telling Teresa about what happened at boys’ night. Jen keeps saying that she didn’t bring it up, Teresa did, but Teresa would have nothing to bring up if Jen hadn’t been giving her ammunition.
The fight ends horribly, with both of them saying awful things about each other. Margaret accuses Jennifer of being a sloppy drunk, and Jennifer says that Margaret talked about her “sloppy moments” too, like when she slept with her boss. You could hear the gasp around the table, and it sounded just like sweaty thighs peeling themselves from a plastic lawn chair. Margaret points out that that wasn’t a sloppy moment; that was an older man in a position of power taking advantage of her. Marge says that is why she can’t share vulnerable moments with Jen, because she uses them to attack. Jen says her drunkenness was a vulnerable moment too.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Just pull that Jet Ski over one moment and take a breath. Yes, both of those were vulnerable moments, but they’re totally different. Margaret removed her shell so that the other women could peer in and learn something about her and maybe themselves. Jennifer took off her shell, got wasted and wore it as a hat, and then puked in it on the way back home. Those are two different kinds of vulnerabilities. But then Margaret cedes her moral high ground by saying that Jen is just Bill’s “concubine” and blah, blah, blah. And it starts all over again: the fights, the shouting, the being disappointed in the messages that each of these women have to share. And there, through all of it, is Frank Catania, as stone-faced as the mock-up of Mt. Rushmore Donald Trump had made with his own bust included, staring down at the too-wide decking and wondering if there might be a little bit of cheese left down there somewhere.