Just a few days ago, I wrote a rave review for the premiere of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. Never in my life could I have anticipated a Real Housewives premiere coming out of a humble city in middle America, wherein one woman stated that another woman “smelled like hospital” while that woman’s aunt was having her legs amputated, followed up with acting like the idea of not saying the woman smelled like hospital when she so obviously did was almost as wild as the idea of apologizing for it…
It was truly a wild and wonderful ride. But at this time, I feel it’s also important to offer recognition not just to the hot new girl of the Housewives franchise, but also to the franchise’s very special middle child: The Real Housewives of Potomac. Sure, she got off to a slower start, and her sparkle took a little longer to recognize. But RHOP has simply been treating this Housewives race as the marathon that it is. She’s been putting in the work, making the waves, and laying the track in order to one day arrive at a place wherein Ashley could offer her story of being at the business end of Candiace’s butterknife to Monique’s countersuit against Candiace, in order to repay Monique for the time that she was a witness for Ashley’s defense, and couldn’t come up with a single witness to the allegations against Michael pinching bottoms in her basement…
Today is that day, and RHOP is that girl.
But to be clear, Sunday’s episode is mostly about laying the track for a trainwreck, and not much else. In fact, there’s a bit of a dark cloud hanging over the episode, and if that cloud could tell a story like those mythical subliminal messages in The Lion King, that message would be: I’M NOT OVER IT.
Because ain’t nobody in Potomac over nothin’! Karen and Gizelle will be in an ego tug-of-war for the rest of their Andy-Cohen-forsaken lives, and right now, Karen is the one doing the tugging. This episode picks back up with Karen’s iconic response to Gizelle FaceTiming Jamal at the table: “I already know Jamal lives in your phone, Gizelle.”
Once that conversation subsides, Karen brings up absolutely out of nowhere that she saw Gizelle dancing in front of a jewelry store on her Instagram stories, and she just knew she was there to meet Juan. There is only one reason Karen would suddenly have a bee in her bonnet about Robyn and Juan getting engaged, and it’s because she wants to annoy Gizelle. And it works! Gizelle pulls her aside later at an outdoor market to tell her that if Juan was planning on proposing to Robyn, that’s not something they would want to spoil for her. “Thank you for dripping that bit of tea because I now know the ring is coming!” Karen exclaims as she runs away from Gizelle with her new intel.
“I didn’t say that, Karen!” Gizelle calls after her. “And you can swish your little boom-boom all you want!”
But the other grudge being addressed in this episode involves a little less boom-boom, unfortunately. After the women take a toboggan ride back down the mountain that basically amounts to riding a wicker bench down an asphalt street at 30 m.p.h. with only two cute Portuguese tobogganers standing between you and death, they head to dinner where Candiace gets emotional sharing that she thinks she’s ready to start a family.
Wendy passes over a pre-folded napkin for Candiace’s blotting needs, and everyone reacts to her revelation with genuine excitement…
Well, everyone except Ashley, who looks like she swallowed a lemon. She’s having a hard time getting excited for Candiace’s motherhood journey when she remembers how awful Candiace was when Ashley and Michael were trying to conceive, and Candiace was accusing them of fake-crying over their miscarriage. And Robyn and Gizelle are having a hard time with Ashley having a hard time because they recall how awful she was to them before she started her motherhood journey.
It’s almost as if everyone has been awful… to everyone! And those grudges live or die on how you act after the inciting incidents, which for Candiace, is usually saying, “I don’t want to rehash this with you,” which means she doesn’t want to admit anything she’s ever done has been wrong, ever. But there’s something so much bigger coming Ashley and Candiace’s way that this time, it really isn’t worth rehashing. The only thing that simply must be noted from this dinner is the cackle that came out of me when Robyn told Ashley that she’s been equally judgmental toward her as a mother and then this exchange happens:
Ashley: “But Robyn, even when things transpired between us, did I go on social media and bash the s— out of you?”
Robyn: “But Candiace would do that to anybody, that’s a character flaw.”
The way I laughed! Robyn so casually calling Candiace’s habit of calling her co-worker’s concubines on Twitter a “character flaw,” as though it’s simply a trait they have to learn to live with like a friend who’s bad at texting, entirely made up for this otherwise downer of a dinner.
The second biggest laugh of the episode was just a sweet little chuckle when the other women put rubber snakes in Wendy’s bed and then watched from the producer’s monitors as she screamed and ran out of her room. It was also a real palate cleanser for what came at us first thing the next morning: Robyn acting like Karen’s photos from her little hat photoshoot looked any worse than the photos of the other women, to which Gizelle backed her up by saying, “She’s not doing the hat justice.”
SHE??? Isn’t doing??? THAT HATT??? With the knockoff banana leaf print??? Justice?!?!? Robyn, these hats aren’t doing the metaphysical concept of hats justice — Karen has nothing to do with it!
But again, there are bigger fish to fry. Ashley comes down to the pool to join Gizelle and Robyn, where she tells them that part of the reason it seemed like her negative feelings toward Candiace came out of nowhere at dinner is because Candiace has been on her mind. “I need to tell her that Monique asked me to write a statement for her case,” she tells them.
At first, Robyn and Gizelle think Ashley means a statement about the night of the altercation, for which Ashley would be a particularly bad witness given that she was in the bathroom for the entire fight. But for a character witness… well, Ashley’s the perfect choice for Monique’s suit, and on an objective legal level, I applaud the choice. Ashely has known Monique and Candiace the exact same amount of time, and she’s only ever “been a firsthand witness to the aggression … when she tried to throw a knife at me” from one of them. (Hint: that one is Candiace.)
Robyn and Gizelle don’t see it that way. “So, she wants you to assassinate Candiace’s character,” is what Robyn immediately says. And then she follows it up with: “But if you weren’t there to see what happened, how can you choose to pick a side in the matter on who you’re going to write a statement for?” Robyn! That’s exactly why Ashley can do this, and why Monique asked her to. Because she can speak to the way these two people act outside of just this once incident, and her experience has been much more negative with Candiace. And I get how this is Ashley clearly choosing a side by doing this, but I also understand why that side would be Monique’s. Or as Ashley said earlier in a testimonial: “The karma train really does come back around, and it’s about to pull into my station — and I’m gonna be a real bitch.”
Of course, there’s the other reason for helping Monique’s case that Ashely tries to subtly slip in: when Michael was being sued by a production member, one of the claims was that Chris’ brother and father allegedly saw what happened, “and they were like, ‘Nothing happened, we didn’t see anything,’ and they wrote a statement for us,” Ashley says.
I’m not sure why Ashley is so comfortable implying that Monique’s family did her a favor by saying that — but this motivation, Robyn and Gizelle seem to actually understand. Will Candiace? Feels like no, but I’ll see you back here next week to find out!