We’re back, baby. After three episodes of fun in the sun in the city of Portugal, we have returned to the Queen’s land, aka Mary’s land, famously named after King Charles I’s wife, Queen Henrietta Maria (sorry, I’ve been bingeing The Crown #Diana4ever). God Save the (Seven) Queen(s of Potomac)! In the opening montage, Virginia’s Ashley Darby and Dr. Wendy take care of their newborns while Candiace is cooking in the kitchen with her husband, White Chris. She playfully grabs the space where White Chris’s ass should be, clearly still riding high from sending him that tit pic from dinner in Portugal. You grab your husband’s flat-as-a-pancake butt on national television, Candiace! Keep that spark alive!
While Candiace is playing grab-ass in the kitchen, Karen is playing business lady in her foyer, preparing for the launch of the latest level in her
MLM marketing scheme beauty empire, Wig Shift. Her wig guru/business partner, Steven, stops by with the prototypes and we get a Christianity-tinged flashback of Karen’s wigs Before Steven and After Steven. Now I’m no expert, but there seems to be a clear improvement from the B.S. era to the A.S. era. In Jesus Steven, all things are possible. During the meeting, Karen shows off her shrewd business acumen by vetoing the name “Wendy Williams” for one of her wigs. Smart move, Karen, you don’t need a potential lawsuit from a native New Yorker. While discussing her launch party, “Wig Shift with a Bang” (get it?), Karen reveals that her wig line is the next step in her master plan to build an entire “house of beauty.” If there’s one thing Karen Huger will do it’s start a business, so expect LaDame press-on nails, eyelash extensions, and a vajazzling kit to beautify your perfect tan clitoris to hit stores by Spring of 2021 at the latest.
We then get to the moment we’ve all been waiting for: The Triumphant Return of Monique Samuels. Okay, triumphant may be a bit of an overstatement, but it’s definitely nice to see Monique again after she was sidelined for three full episodes. She wastes absolutely no time sandbagging the other ladies at her lunch with Ashley Darby and baby Dean. Ashley Darby tells Monique she looks beautiful, to which she Monique responds, “That’s because I haven’t seen the other ladies.” Zing! She’s still got it, folks. Can we talk about how Monique and Ashley Darby order their meals at the restaurant? “I’m looking at that whole Branzino,” says Monique while Ashley goes, “Let’s holler at that tuna tartare.” Let’s. Holler. At. That. Tuna. Tartare. BRB getting that tattooed on my lower back. The ladies were right about Monique’s rebranding tour, as not 30 seconds into her meal with Ashley, she is holding and kissing baby Dean. This gives Ashley Darby a moment to share that, shockingly, her and Michael Darby are still having marital problems, which was why she did not attend Monique’s son’s third birthday party. The only housewife who showed up to the event was Karen, who not only attended Chase’s birthday party, but also knocked back a few with Monique. Alexa, please play Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” because that’s precisely where Karen Huger is, on both sides refusing to pick between Candiace and Monique.
At their lunch, Monique brings up the forthcoming wig party, and Ashley Darby somewhat unnecessarily tells Monique that Karen told the girls that Monique wasn’t invited. Monique says that Karen has been asking her to come all weekend, so the producers make Ashley Darby call Karen while they’re at lunch to set the record straight and (hopefully) catch her in a lie. Karen, however, was not born yesterday and will not go down so easily, saying Monique wasn’t coming of her own volition and pleading the fifth as to whether or not she told the other women that Monique was invited. La Grande Dame, always aware when something is afoot, yells, “You tried it. You tried it. Bye,” through the phone at Ashley Darby, to which Mrs. Darby correctly responds “You did it yourself.” We’re left to wonder if Monique and Candiace will run into each other for the first time since The Great Barn Brawl of 2019 at Karen’s Wig Shift party, which would be a fitting location to end this saga.
After a snooze-worthy open house tour with Robyn and Juan, we are cordially invited to attend Gizelle’s daughter Grace’s Super Sweet Fifteen birthday dinner at Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande Cafe. When I hear Gizelle say, “Table for four,” my heart immediately sinks because we all know what that means: Jamal Bryant is not there. Yes, he famously lives eight states away, but you’d think he might be able to make it his daughter’s birthday? Gizelle’s daughters Angel, Adore, and Grace, however, don’t seem to care that he did not make it and seemingly never want to see their father ever again. When Gizelle tells the girls that Jamal is coming for the holidays, their immediate response is “Why?” When Gizelle tells them that Jamal is staying for a full week, Grace repeats the length of time as though it were a jail sentence, saying, “We have no choice.” When Gizelle asks the girls how’d they feel about relocating to Atlanta so they could all be together, the girls say “Never.” It’s… genuinely one of the darker Housewives scenes I can recall in recent history. Gizelle’s daughters do not want to see their father, and that’s that on that. These Little Women want their father character actor Bob Odenkirk to stay at war for as long as humanly possible.
On a lighter note, Karen really wants the viewers to know that she and Ray still bone on the reg. Karen makes this clear by strewing rose petals around her house and saying “love is in the air,” before soaking in a bubble bath waiting for Mr. Bad Dick to come home. “I’m gonna do some stuff to Ray in the bathtub. It will be alright,” Karen says, which sounds more like a threat than a sexual invitation. Karen coyly waits in the tub as Ray comes home and takes a few thousand seconds to walk up the steps, which is his right as a septuagenarian. He lets out a sheepish, “Hey,” before Karen demands he undress and join her in the bathtub, and we even get a peek at Ray’s lil’ tummy before the segment is over. Clearly, Karen wants her buttons to get pushed, but, let’s be honest, the only button that Ray Huger’s gonna be pushing is Life Alert when he slips on all those rose petals trying to get out of that tub. In confessional, Karen says she’s ready to “unplug some holes that have been plugged for awhile,” which after the revelation last week that La Grande Dame hasn’t given Ray-Ray a blowjob in over two years can only mean one thing… they’re getting into butt stuff!
Dr. Wendy is less concerned about filling holes (sorry) and more concerned about filling positions (but not the Ariana Grande type), as she mulls over upsetting her mother by leaving academia behind to become a full time political commentator. Naturally, she decides to broach this conversation with her mother in a pumpkin patch after a family hay ride. On the hayride, Wendy reveals that she could have gone to college to play basketball, but didn’t because her mom didn’t want her to, and there’s more than a hint of resentment there. “Let me tell you why I’m about to get very angry right now,” Wendy’s mother says, after Wendy shares that she wants to leave academia behind and pursue her dream of becoming a
reality TV star political commentator, “You were able to achieve all that through me lining you up on that track.” Damn. While Wendy’s mother calls Dr. Wendy “a spoiled brat,” she’s ultimately able to give Wendy what she wants, which is words of affirmation that she’s proud of Wendy and all her accomplishments (degrees, husband, children, in that order). Wendy tears up, and it’s actually a genuinely positive mother-daughter interaction on the show. Candiace and Dorothy, take notes!
Someone who doesn’t need to take notes on mother-daughter interactions is Gizelle, even though her daughters absolutely remind me of those sad twins from Hulu’s Happiest Season. I feel I’ve been tough (but fair) on Messy Gizzy this season, but I do think she is a great mother and I genuinely want her to be happy! That’s why it genuinely upset me when we got to the family photoshoot and she reveals that Jamal Bryant has once again dropped the ball and will not make it. There are 99 excuses for why he didn’t make it involving delayed flights and missed connections, but at the end of the day it feels like Gizelle and the girls just aren’t a priority for Jamal Bryant, and that is sad and not very funny. When a producer asks her point blank if she’s upset about Jamal not showing up she says, “What makes you feel like I’m not? What do you want me to do, fall on the floor in the fetal position and bawl out crying? That’s just not who I am.” Woof. In a weird way, watching Gizelle soldier on as though nothing is wrong is sadder than her falling to pieces, but she’s got three daughters so she doesn’t have the luxury of collapsing. As such, the photoshoot goes on as planned, sans Jamal, and they get a beautiful shot. Table for four, anyone?
Gizelle’s not the only housewife with a ne’re do well husband, of course. There’s also Mrs. Darby! We touch down on Ashley Darby filleting a full red snapper with its face still attached for dinner. The fish legitimately looks like Michael Darby to me — it has the same pink coloring, beady eyes, tiny pointy teeth, and flakey white skin. Ashley Darby is cooking the Michael-fish because her mother and Uncle Lump are coming over for dinner to have it out with Michael-human about the fact that Michael-human cheated on Ashley Darby. While his wife prepares the meal, Michael Darby picks out a special bottle of 1973 Chenin Blanc for the occasion, just kidding, he grabs two coronas, of course. If that beer company doesn’t run Ashley Darby a check, I swear to god. Ashley’s mom and Uncle Lump arrive, and the four adults gather around the filleted Michael-fish ready to fillet Michael-human. “You know how quickly bad news travels,” Uncle Lump says, before telling Michael that by betraying Ashley he betrayed the whole family. Unsurprisingly, Michael Darby is full of non-apologies, saying “If I hurt Ashley and I hurt you, I apologize.” Umm, my dude, there’s no “if” here. Let’s edit that out and try again. Ashley Darby sits there silently, as Uncle Lump warns Michael-human that he needs to “figure it out” if he doesn’t want to end up like Michael-fish i.e. dead meat.
Finally, we arrive at Karen’s Wig Shift with a Bang party and it’s… of a smaller scale than most of the soirees we’re used to, but the wigs are laid and Karen is ready to get paid. Monique is the first to arrive, showing up 20 minutes early, because she has to leave before the party begins to go to a “charity” event which is code for “my lawyers advised me not to come within 100 feet of Candiace Dillard.” The way that the segment is edited, it really does look like there’s potentially going to be a run-in between Monique and Candiace, but luckily for all parties involved Monique gets in her Uber right before the other housewives arrive. The whole time Karen seems… stressed that Monique showed up even though she invited her, and proceeds to escort Monique out the door with more urgency than a Grindr host after he cums.
Robyn and Ashley arrive two minutes after Monique leaves and for a while it looks like Karen is going to get away with inviting Monique after all. Robyn is unimpressed with the event, stating, “Literally I’m in the back of a strip mall,” which seems like a perfectly reasonable place to have a wig launch party. Where should the party be, the Library of Congress? Candiace arrives soon after, which is notable only in the fact that we have not seen her once this episode because she has no compelling storyline this season outside of her drama with Monique. Messy Gizzy does not come to the event because she has beef with Karen’s wig creative director Steven (yes that Steven) because he is rude to her on social media. This raises the question: when is Bravo finally going to sack up and give us a show that’s all gay villains from the Housewives franchise: Steven, Sheree’s Party Planner, John’s Blizzard and Sessa, Brooks from RHOSLC. This is the content I crave.
Karen shows a video about the history of Wig Shift, which is basically just BTS footage of Karen getting into hair and makeup. It’s not gonna make an AP US textbook anytime soon, but she looks fierce. Wendy, who slithered in at some point, made the rookie mistake of sewing her wig down, so she does not get to try on wigs with Ashley Robyn and Candiace, who each throw on a blonde wig and immediately become the Chicks, to me. Without Gizzy there, Ashley Darby takes on the mantle of messiest housewife, taking Karen to task for not drinking in Portugal, but drinking with Monique and gifting her some antacids for that pesky ulcer of hers. Karen is absolutely lying through her teeth about that ulcer, but is totally right when she says that if someone says they’re not drinking right now, it should be okay, no questions asked. Robin, mid-bite, asks Karen, “Are you afraid of what you might say when you drink?” hitting a nerve and causing Karen to retaliate in an unhinged way. “You should be concerned with what Juan says when he’s drunk,” she says out of the blue and refuses to elaborate, but definitely insinuates something sinister.
The ladies are beginning to turn up the heat on Karen, catching her in her little lies, and she feels the pressure. Ashley reveals that Karen invited Monique to the party to the surprise of the other ladies. Again, Karen makes a fair point that it’s her party and she can invite whoever she pleases, but she’s still caught in a web of lies that she can’t quite get out of. Ultimately, Karen’s wig full of secrets can’t handle the pressure, and she literally leaves her own party before it’s over with all the guests sort of just standing there to avoid the women. “I paid the bill. Fuck you,” Karen says as she saunters out, leaving the women, still wearing wigs, just sort of standing there. Hey, if you’re gonna go down swinging, I guess that’s the way to do it. After Karen leaves, Candiace continues to stir the pot, insinuating that Karen asked her to come early to potentially engender a reunion between Candiace and Monique, which feels… unlikely to me. The women all stand in the parking lot of the strip mall somewhat lost and confused, as Wendy, who had a strong showing at the party, lays it out as clearly as possible for Candiace. “I don’t know what else you need to see,” says Wendy, “if you need Jesus Christ of Nazareth himself come tap you on your lace front, but I’m telling you right now she is not your friend.” Well, I think that settles it.
Somehow, that’s how we ended the penultimate episode of the fifth season of the Real Housewives of Potomac. Next week, we’ve got the season finale of this, one of the best Housewives seasons in recent memory. You can fight me on that, unless you’re Monique Samuels, which in that case please don’t :)