Carey: Ah! Ah! Ah! They're baaaaaaaack. "We're back," Teresa whispers, hovering outside your bedroom window, 3 stories up, bringing with her a cloud of fog, dragging one long fingernail down the glass pane. "Invite me in," she whispers again, this time louder, almost a yell, her eyes yellow-wide, desperate. Yes! The ladies are back. What episode is this even? I'm not sure. I don't know what year it is anymore. What season, what month?
That's not true. I at least know that it's winter on the Real Housewives of New Jersey. It's always winter -- always the period between late afternoon and dusk, when the world is gasping for one more glimpse of sunlight and the night is dangling the pocket of air like an old dog straining its neck for meat hanging by a string above it.
Eli: I've expressed my concerns with whether any of these people genuinely exist in our universe before. I think it's possible that the producers of this show, while excavating an ancient civilization site, found a crystal that allows the user to see into a parallel universe. They reported their other findings as normal, but smuggled the crystal back to America. Once there, they set it up above New Jersey before focusing a satellite's gaze squarely through it, which allows them to see all that is happening in the New Jersey of this alternate universe. Then they do the talking heads with CGI.
Carey: Anyway, we're back where we left off with Teresa and Jacqueline, still at their reconciliation meet up. Apparently Teresa had said something to the degree of "Jacqueline should spend less time on Twitter and more time focusing on her Autistic son." Not cool, Tre. She even realizes how shameful her statement was and REDACTS it. "I'm saaaaaarry about your son," Teresa says. SARRRRRY JACQUELINE. SAAAARRY. They agree to be civil with each other, and Teresa tells Jacqueline to just "text her" any time J-Dawg has an issue with T. Always the solution! Text! Let's text. Then they go down to the cigar room where men are men and Juicy Joe and Chris puff cigars and they all laugh laugh laugh while still hurling a few "Wellllll maybe don't say _____ about me next time!"'s at each other. Ok, great!
Eli: Jacqueline calls Teresa a sociopath, which, though strong, is closer than other accusations that have been made. Unfortunately, it's not quite as effective because Teresa does not know what it means.
Carey: I just need to mention the greatest line in television history: "Blk water will suffer without you," Chris Laurita says this to his nephews in his office. Blk water is suffering. We are suffering. We are famine.
Eli: My reaction to Blk is always the same as my reaction when I was younger and my mom bought me that "Heinz Green Ketchup" that they made for a while. I know it probably tastes perfectly fine, but it is just wrong. Ketchup isn't green, and green ketchup isn't something I want to put in my mouth. On the same note, when I am looking for cool, refreshing drink of water, anti-lectrolytes and el-tioxidants or not, my brain doesn't immediately go, "WE NEED SOMETHING THE COLOR OF ASPHALT. SWEET REFRESHING TAR IN THE THROAT FOR SOOTHING COOLNESS." I guess an easier way to say this is that it looks gross. It seems that Caroline's sons are going for the risky business maneuver of supplementing one failing business by opening another very low-profit business.
Carey: Gia and Joe Gorga (AKA "Tio Joe") have a DATE. Sorry, that was gross. But, yes, Uncle Joe and his goddaughter have a long overdue bonding sesh at a go-kart complex. Teresa listens in on Gia and her girlfriends doing their makeup in one of the grand bathrooms of the Giudice crypt. Gia chitchats about being excited about hanging out with her uncle, and how it's been so hard with all the dramz between him and her mom. Then she says, "I mean, I was like, in love with him when I was little." Then I screamed into a sink filled with ice cubes. The show's editing definitely tries to ramp up the creepy factor in all this. But what IS authentically creepy is how Teresa's fixation with her brother has obviously been inherited by her daughter. You almost get the sense of competitiveness for Gorgon Joe between Tre and Gi; this silent, weighty resentment. Maybe you don't, though! Maybe I am terrible and ill. I hope I am. I really, do.
Eli: Sadly, I think we are all sick with this particular ailment. There is some very strange familial tension between Gia and Joe and Teresa and Joe. However, Gia's infatuation does take the dubious crown of making Teresa's weird behavior seem 100 times more palatable. After the go-karting, Joe and Gia sit down for a good ol' authentic go-kart track pizza pie, and start to talk. Gia mostly. In one long speech that sounds like she's saying it for the very first time. I almost want to re-watch and check reflections in the glassware for the cue cards. Whether Gia crafted this in her little hollow or this was written for her, it's clear none of this is coming off the dome. But, wherever the source, Gia delivers her lines pretty convincingly, which saddens Tio Joe -- Which I can't stop saying to the tune of G. I. JOEEEEEEEEEEEE -- and makes him realize how fragmented their family has become. Joe has a realization that maybe the decisions they've made -- while surrounded by the cameras that they have decided should follow their families through every single thing they do and broadcast that footage, heavily edited, for the entire country to see and publicly judge -- have not been healthy for their family growth. But you know, that's probably not a big deal.
Carey: The Manzos throw a goodbye party at the Brownstone for Albie and Chris's BFF/former HOBOKEN roommate Greg, who was prominently featured in previous seasons. He'd usually spout these "witty," *sassy* quips about the various dramas unfolding, but generally seemed to be well (maybe even blissfully) aware of the show's absurdity -- which always made him a welcomed breath of fresh air in this cornucopia of self-seriousness. Alas, Greg is moving to San Fran. The whole clan (minus Giudice) gather 'round the table, and they bring out a large wicker chair draped with white fabric and ribbon for Greg to sit in. Because Greg is gaaaaay! Gay gay gay! Caroline cries that wonderful, horrifying Caroline cry and gives him a gift and it's genuinely sweet. Then Chris says, "I bet Greg will get to San Fran, and throw his hat in the air like Mary Tyler Moore and come back home!" Haha!! Mhmm yeah, Chris!! Yeah, girl!!! Mhmmmm! Yeah!!!
Eli: Greg will not be back.
Carey: Jacqueline heads to LA the NEXT day for some R&R and a tummy tuck. To her credit, Jacqueline deserves a nice vacation. The necessity of her surgery is definitely in question. (Why are you doing this?) It does give her a chance to see her semi-estranged daughter Ashlee, who packed her bags and left NJ for Cali last year after her self-destructive behavior became too much for Jac and her hubby. Ashleeeeeeeee. Ashlee is doing great in LA! She blogs now! She blogs for "Buzznet.com." Her name is the first name you see after Googling Buzznet. The tag line in her Buzznet blogger profile is "Be reckless enough to gamble all or nothing to follow your dreams..." Hell yeah!!! I'm going to get this tatted on my face. Jacqueline's parents come, too, and they all go to dinner the night before the surgery and Jacqueline keeps saying, "I want shots." I want a shot, too, Jacqueline. Or at least I should have taken some before witnessing the tummy tuck surgery.
Eli: Also, it should be said that the surgeon had warned Jacqueline not to eat very much and not to drink before surgery. She follows this by eating a giant taco salad and taking shots of tequila. I was curious as to exactly why this was, so I looked it up. You are not supposed to eat for 24 hours before surgery because, while under anesthesia, you have a breathing tube inserted into your lungs, and if your esophagus opens during this, there's a risk of "aspiration pneumonia," which is the medical term for "your lungs will fill with taco salad." Also, alcohol thins your blood and makes it clot less effectively. But you know, if you have to go out, the two ways I'd choose are bleeding out on a creepy plastic surgeon or with a lung full of guac. There's also the other reason she shouldn't be taking tequila shots, which is that she's a goddamn adult. Once you're a mom of 3, you should be drinking Trader Joe's chardonnay and rubbing one out to Tyler Florence like everybody else.
Carey: They show a lot of it. The surgeon is kind of this terrible gross pig and says, while operating, "Wait till she (Jacqueline) sees how much skin I removed." She makes it out of the surg fine, but not before there is a nice, delicious shot of her two bloody slabs of fat removed from her person on the operating table.
Eli: These, of course, will be bartered for goods and services.
Carey: After Ashlee and her parents left the hospital room, Jacqueline fell asleep. A deep, aching sleep. She was happy to be away from New Jersey, and all the struggling and shouting. In her dream, she was standing in the middle of a large cornfield. The light was gold, sugary. And ahead of her, several hundred yards away, was a small girl. Her face was blurred, unrecognizable. She was calling out to Jacqueline, only there was no sound except the low wind ruffling the stalks of corn. Jacqueline shuffled forward, reaching out to the girl, trying to assure her that everything would be okay. The girl started sinking below into the ground, grabbing at roots and loose soil to stop it. Jacqueline then looked next to her, having felt a sudden and alien blast of cold. Danielle Staub was now standing to her right. Jacqueline turned forward again. They both just stared, watching the girl sink farther and quicker into the earth. "What's happening to her?" Jacqueline asked Danielle without looking at her. "She has to put herself into the ground," Danielle said.
Eli: Jacqueline's face started twitching and jerking. She began to rock in her tank. The aide noticed, and grabbed his walkie talkie. "Sir, NJ #6 is fighting. Request assistance." A tall, stern man in a lab coat strode angrily into the lab, wiping away errant Pad Thai sauce from his chin. "I was in the middle of lunch, Jonathan, what is it?" "It's NJ #6, sir... I'm worried she may wake up." The man's face stiffened.
"The sedatives, sir... they allowed her to enter a deep sub-conscious state. The messages are cryptic at best, but if she can decode them..." They both watched as Jacqueline quietly spasmed. The man turned to the aide. "There's not much we can do to stop her, only to prolong it. Populate her dream state with errant leads. Red herrings, if you will. Try to cloud her subconscious with irrelevant information. We can't have her waking up before the conclusion of the season." The aide nodded, and went to work on a console attached to the tank. Electrodes attached to Jacqueline's shaved head glowed, little bubbles escaping. Satisfied, the aide stood back up. He walked down the aisle between the many tanks, each housing the slack body of one of the housewives. Above them, a screen showed statistics and a representation of the husband that had been programmed for them. Complicated algorithms rushed by on smaller screens. He stopped at a tank at the very end of the room. He reaches up, and switches the monitors off. He types a code into the side of the pod, and the saline solution inside drains out. The pod door is heaved open and a towel proffered forth. A shaky, wet hand reaches out and receives the towel. Greg Bennett steps unsteadily out of the pod. The aide smiles at him. "Welcome to San Francisco, Mr. Bennett. We've got a lot to show you."