The Real Housewives of Potomac Recap: Hounding for the Bassetts

The Real Housewives of Potomac

Allegation Nation
Season 7 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating 5 stars

The Real Housewives of Potomac

Allegation Nation
Season 7 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating 5 stars
Photo: Bravo

Welcome back, I hope you all have had weeks that were as restful and restorative as whatever Robyn Dixon did to take care of herself between seasons. Shout out to her life coach from last year, because she has now pulled herself off of the couch and gone from high-functioning depression (well … functioning, at least,) to a woman with a whole new pep in her step. It shows in how she engages with the rest of the cast and with her best friend Gizelle, with whom she is a lot less passive with so far. Even her confessional look, extensions and all, is probably the best she’s had in all seven seasons of Potomac’s run to date. Whether Wellbutrin was involved or if it was manifestation exercises, I am happy to see her step up to the plate and get her groove back, because the show is all the better for it.

We start the episode by picking up right back where we left off, with Gizelle confronting Mia over the nuances of her cancer scare. Here’s my question: What was Gizelle going to do if Mia had responded, “Well actually I just got my pathology report back and it turns out the masses in my lungs are, in fact, cancerous?” Do you then just walk back your immediate confrontational allegations of an attention grab? That is the danger of your abrasive delivery — it makes for a good scene on camera, but it’s really poor relationship building, particularly when, as Mia’s longtime friend Jacqueline confirms, she actually is going through an ongoing health scare and repeated pathology examinations.

I am not begrudging the confusion — in real time, people were confused on social media as well — and given Bravo’s history across the Real Housewives franchises of overblown or manipulated health scares (I’m looking at you, Kim Zolciak and Brooks), speculation is natural at this point. But approach is key, and it became obvious that the objective was not curiosity but to chastise Mia in an attempt to expose poor behavior.

Mia is not completely innocent here, however. Her ego and hubris continues to be her Achilles’ heel, as evidenced by her using imperious turns of phrase like “I honestly feel like I’m the chosen one.” I don’t deny that Mia has come up from the trenches and has a hell of a story but, the chosen for what, exactly? Monkey sound voiceovers? It’s a bit hard watching her proudly speak about the depth of her 20-year relationship with Jacqueline, going back to high school, knowing that they are currently on the outs and she recently put out a since-deleted video on Twitter implicating Jacqueline for domestic violence, to the recrimination of castmates Candiace and Wendy. Even her bragging about her opening her 16th chiropractic facility makes me wince. (She has since recently taken to Instagram to publicly disclose family fractures that have led to Gordon’s brother shutting them out of all of the books, pending further action.)

When Karen reaches out to Mia to give her a heads-up about the scene she was walking into, Mia interprets the gesture in the least-generous way. Karen wanted to prepare her for a confrontation, not to cover her own behind. While Mia is great at the game of Housewives and understands the need to roll with the punches, her combination of mean girl antics and delusions makes me wonder how she has been able to maintain long term relationships in real life outside of this being a very exaggerated persona.

After we’re free of the party, following yet another incoherent speech from Karen, the rest of the episode is table-setting. The pieces are craftily being put in place to set up a rivalry that has been already anticipated in the reality blogs, podcasts, and Chris himself on Twitter late night rants: Gizelle versus Candiace and Chris. The Bassetts are at a transition point: both of them have careers that are finally gaining momentum, but they involve a lack of availability while they are starting to consider family planning. Not to point out the obvious, but Candiace currently needs her sister’s help to keep her plant alive and Chris has three other children that they are coparenting with, so how are they going to slow down and add another baby to this very busy mix when they’re struggling to find time for each other? Wish them the best but they’re clearly going to have a few more conversations on the matter.

By this point, Gizelle’s wheels are already in motion. Newly separated Ashley has started wearing less and going out more. One night, she posts an Instagram story while out with her girl at Park at 14th —  the default spot for Black folks in DC in on a Saturday night after a Brunch Day Party at Ozios — and Chris responds to it at 2:42 in the morning, telling her that they should have come to the W. He was merely promoting his venue, but Ashley, having just started to get on speaking terms with Candiace, doesn’t know that yet, and leaves it on read, feeling a bit uneasy and not knowing how to respond. Thankfully, Robyn lets her know that Chris works at the W and it was not a big deal.

To smartly cover her bases — not all wives take outreach from their husbands that they don’t know about the same way — she meets up one-on-one with Candiace to connect and hang out, and mentions that she was surprised by the interaction, but that Robyn cleared the air for her. Candiace uneasily accepts Ashley’s clarification in good faith, but they proceed to have a good night, and she plans to join Ashley’s heels dance class later. Hopefully they continue to remain on this optimistic note.

Unfortunately for Candiace, Robyn had already debriefed about the conversation with Gizelle,  who decides that the real takeaway of the interaction is that Chris is a man who pushes boundaries. Even though Ashley already come to terms with the situation on her own, Gizelle leapfrogs off of that knowledge the same way that her colorist leapfrogged between patches of hair to style her tiger-striped wig in her confessional, which is very much giving “hand blown glass vendor in New Mexico.”

It recalls last season’s reunion, when Gizelle implied that Chris put her in a bad position by being drunk and alone with her in her room venting about Candiace. The narrative is fairly incoherent (and will end up changing later) but I want to call back to last season, when production kept making a point of noting Chris’ drinking, and zooming in on the constant glass in his hand; this has been a slow build since last season that is just paying off for Gizelle now. It is strategic and conniving work to build a narrative of “bad optics” that Candiace clearly did not see coming, and Robyn expresses her skepticism to her friend immediately, but does not come down on her nearly as hard as she does over revealing that Juan Dixon isn’t on the deed to their house over credit issues.

By the time of Ashley’s private dance class — which Karen chooses to abstain from, perhaps to try to blend her mismatched confessional bun — there are a few items still on the docket. Ashley is still smarting from all of the judgment about how she is approaching this separation and divorce. Apparently her TikTok dances are how she is keeping it together, and hey, if an eight count a day keeps the predator away, I am all for it. But seriously, no marriage is the same, and yet Gizelle equating the circumstances of her divorce — having to leave a marriage after being repeatedly disgraced as the first lady of a megachurch with multiple extramarital affairs and an out-of wedlock children that we being covered in nationally circulated media — to Ashley’s situation. Ashley is a sugar baby who was willing to repeatedly put up with all of the public embarrassment, repeatedly, until she no longer wanted to engage in the rules of engagement and settle down for herself. It clearly befuddles Gizelle, who continues to repeat “divorce is nothing that I play with,” viewing marriage through the religious lens of marriage being a covenant before God. Ashley is clearly not viewing it that way. Charisse, out of all of them, had the closest dynamic in her marriage to Ashley, and she sees no problem with the moves Ashley’s making to obtain her own house. They need to let it go and just encourage her to get her lawyer and protect herself. Again, it is all in the delivery of the message.

The class itself is a mess. It is beyond comprehension why a room full of Black women lack so much rhythm, we don’t even see a full panoramic view of the final choreography. Robyn is flopping about like a turtle on its back, Charisse is giving too much cheerleader and not enough sex siren, Gizelle is delivering jazzercise realness, and Wendy is trying to do Afrobeats choreography.

After they wrap, Gizelle takes Candiace aside for a one-on-one to lay out her concerns with Chris’ behavior. Under the violet mood lighting, she presents the case for Chris being a “sneaky link” – stating that there was a situation where “Chris made her completely uncomfortable”  by being alone without her glam. Candiace immediately asks if he did or say anything untoward, and Gizelle says no – but adds the caveat that she doesn’t remember exactly what he said, with the additional layer that her hairstylist, Kal, claims he exchanged goodbyes with him, thus implying that Chris knew Gizelle would be alone with a married man. Candiace, understandably loses it, storming out of the dance studio and demanding the scene to end and to speak with her producer Eric, stating simply: “if it’s going to be maligning my husband, you don’t want me here. Michael Darby is available for that. The ass grabber that likes to actually make people uncomfortable.”

We are only two episodes in and already have two “to be continued” endings. Potomac is going full steam ahead. Until next week.

Cherry Blossoms

• We have yet to hear the Potomac taglines yet. They are really getting straight to setting up the drama this season.

• Respect Ashley for saying that she didn’t want to publicize the separation until she secured the house — a woman who is about saving her coins in her newly single budget. I can understand that!

• Gizelle makes a point of criticizing Karen throwing a spring party at a Mexican restaurant, which I don’t see a problem with if the venue is chic enough. And for what it’s worth, it’s hard to take lessons about style and class from someone who did a soft launch of their podcast, which was criticized for engaging in colorist tropes, in a construction zone.

• We got a brief return appearance from Katie and her new buzz cut — which looks great — and it was a chaotic delight, which is par for the course with her. Gizelle, true to her nature, tried her best to stir the pot by bringing up last season’s storyline, when Ray said that he would pick Katie out of their friend circle. Obviously, that was Ray taking an easy way out at the time by picking a legacy cast member that was not on the show. Luckily, it didn’t escalate too far.

• Is Karen’s relationship with cosmetic work going to be her main storyline with Ray this season? We have been watching her face shapeshift over the years like an Animorphs chapter book, and I say that with all praises due to the medical community. Production is going to have to do better than that for the Grand Dame. Give her candle five wicks or something. Hell, make it a birthday cake.

The Real Housewives of Potomac Recap: Hounding for Bassetts