Film/TV

Recap: The Masque of the Gilded Corpses

by Eli Yudin & Carey O'Donnell
Each Monday, Eli Yudin and Carey O'Donnell, authors of the very, very funny Twitter account @NotTildaSwinton, will be recapping the Real Housewives of New Jersey for us. Below, their next installment.

Carey: Auntie Tre and her brood pull up in a huge black SUV/hearse for a cousin playdate at the inflatable Gorga chateau. We're led to believe that this is apparently a normal occurrence, now that the Giudice/Gorga beef has temporarily cooled. Inside the kids play as Milania nearly defaces Melissa's "home studio" equipment from her stint as a "recording artist." Melissa shows Teresa the cover for her upcoming book on marriage where she appears alone on her grand staircase at home. Teresa feigns an "Oh, that's great," then adds in a nice 'Teresa-subtle' jab of "I usually include my FAMILY in my book covers," indicating the lack of Brudda Joe with Melissa, which actually makes sense. (OH GOD.) I imagined Teresa having an Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction reaction to Melissa's book, pulling over on the side of the road after leaving the Gorga's, imagining Melissa's book in Barnes and Noble, at airport bookstores, and vomiting. Melissa brings up some tabloid where her alleged cheating made the front cover. Teresa SWEARS she had nothin' to do wid it, and when Melissa asks her, "Am I cheater?" Teresa says "NOPE." NOPE NOPE NOPE. Melissa should feel very confident in that.

Eli: Melissa's book cover is the most bookiest of covers of all time. It seems that, despite her unrelenting cries for MORE WIND, she ended up with a book cover that says, above all else, "my house has many stairs." Though, in all truth, it's probably a very effective cover, because Melissa is the biggest thing on it, which is really what the audience for this book needs. Melissa's image is going to sell more books than her fresh and new ideas on keeping a sexy marriage. I haven't read the book yet, but I'm pretty sure it just pretty much tells you to take pole-dancing lessons and blow him, and the rest of the pages are coupons for breast augmentation. I'm sure for many couples that are experiencing marital problems, this book will be the perfect nail in the coffin. I agree that for once, Teresa makes a good point, in that this book looks less about a happy marriage and more about flipping real estate. Marriage, Italian Style! Just wanted you to read the name of the book, out loud.

Carey: We've already faced Kathy's big, floppy, brown Anthropology 101 fedora in one of the previous episodes, but everything I've written, everything I've ever known, has been leading up to KATHY'S HAT PART 2. Kathy's big fat ruby red Beatrix Potter hat! Kathy's hat! Kathy's hat! I want to see her hat room. She must have one. She wears it while grocery shopping with Creepy Rich. Rich, again, is very vocal about his discomfort in Kathy's budding cannoli bizz. Kathy says at one point, "I wanna change the way people look at cannoli."

Eli: Changing the way people look at cannoli is a lofty goal, Kathy! Why not first try to change the way people look at Twinkies, or gummy worms! I'm just saying, you're not Jose Andres, carving a swatch through the world of molecular gastronomy. You're making sugar bombs. Rich also will not shut up about "getting her a job" at this grocery store bakery, a joke that he seems to be convinced MUST work, and it's just that Kathy and the poor, condemned cashier who has to listen to their bickering haven't heard it enough times. To be honest, I'm just happy that at no point in this scene does Rich pretend to fuck or cunnilingate a cannoli. And for that we can all count our blessings.

Carey: Later at their house, Rich complains that he just wants her at home, or at the "test kitchen": that devastating and terrifying warehouse prison Rich rented out for Kathy to "play baker." Kathy never wants to go back to that fluorescent hell. One night, Kathy woke Rich up; "There are ghosts there, Rich," she whispered to him. I'm afraid of the test kitchen, too, Kath. Any day I don't wake up in Kathy's test kitchen is a good day by me. It reminds me of the kitchen in the very nicely furnished basement of my parish church back home. I'd go down during a mass to use the restroom and wander into the empty kitchen; all you could hear was the drone of the air vents bouncing off the metallic surfaces of ovens and stoves and it made me feel sad, and afraid, and older than everything. Stay away from there, Kath. Make your cannolis anywhere else. Keep you and your floppy hats safe.

Eli: One day there will be a launch party for "Kathy's Cannolis" from which Rich is noticeably absent. Everyone asks, but Kathy just responds sharply, "He's gone on business." The cannolis are tasted and are an immediate hit. She can barely bring out new trays with the rapidity to slake the thirst of the hordes. "They're so amazing, Kath!" says Caroline. "I dare say you've changed the way I think about cannolis! There's all the usual flavors, but one, just, this TANG I can't put my finger on! And it's amazing!" No one can identify this mysterious flavor, but what they do know is that they can't stop eating these things! Until Joe Gorga bites into a particularly girthy cannol' and his teeth crunch on something hard. Puzzled, he feels for the foreign object inside the strawberry mascarpone filling, and withdraws the broken arm of a pair of hideous bright red eyeglasses. His eyes widen. "IT'S RICH!" he screams, "THE UNIDENTIFIABLE TANG... IS RICH!" All the attendees start to vomit uncontrollably, except for Rosie, who just shrugs. Kathy is gone. Suddenly, the air starts to bubble, and Rich appears as a ghostly specter. "Joooosseeeppphhhh Gorrrrggggaaaaa..." he moans. "What is it, Rich?" stutters Joe. Rich's ghost points to Melissa, who's polished off quite a few cannoli over the course of the evening. "I'mmmm insiiiddeee youuurrrr wiiifffeee, Joeeeee... haaa ha haaaaaa..." Rich. Creepy even after death.

Carey: The only part I feel compelled to talk about from the dinner party at Aladdin's Restaurant/hookah bar/belly dancing was seeing Rosie's Malboro Reds out on the dinner table. But it WAAAAS interesting to see the ENTIRE clan in the same room at the same time. I'm not sure that's happened all season. They better test it out before they go to do more holistic trust falls and cry cry cry in the upcoming group vacay to Arizona. Will Doctor V make another appearance? Arizona IS closer to L.A. than Lake George! Hope all is well in LA, V! L.A.!

Eli: Also, it's important to note that Rich makes "jokes" to Melissa about the similarities between Joe Gorga's "Tarzan" (dick) and the hookah spout. Cool.

Carey: This meandering, endless episode begins to reach some climax when Melissa, Joe and their lil' cherubs are playing outside in the snow. Melissa gets a call from Tre-Tre, inviting her sister-in-law and brudda to her upcoming launch party for her "Milania" hair product. HAIR PRODUCT. I looked on Milania Hair Care's Twitter. Even amidst Teresa and Joe's current trial and prison time looming, someone is still running the account; tweeting at fans, etc. I imagine some intern, first excited to be on the "ground floor" of a quasi-celebrity's new company but now frustrated, sending out these kinds of sad tweets: "Goodnight! Remember our FREE GIVEAWAY continues tomorrow." Get it while it's hot, folks. Teresa then tells Melissa it MIGHT be a good idea to confront some of the ladies thought to be fueling the cheating rumors about Melissa, including Melissa's former BFF Jan. "We'll confront them togetha," Teresa says, "just like Dr. V says!" Oh, V! Yay V and L.A.! Melissa is like, wait, why are you inviting them to your party? Teresa reminds her they're all "salon" owners and it's STRICTLY professional. You know, Melissa?! Obviously! This is a hair product and salon owners need hair product! As all this is happening, dusk begins to stretch itself over Northern New Jersey; Kim D opens her eyes, still in the small pond in the back of the Gorga's yard. She rises from it, ice forming in her blood hair. She inhales the freeze and it burns her throat. 'It's time,' she thinks.

Eli: I know I can seem like I'm being incredibly negative towards most of the cast members in these recaps, but why stop now? To me, the idea of Teresa selling hair product is about as appealing as Steve Buscemi-brand toothpaste. "Do you ever look at your hair and think to yourself, 'This looks too natural! I want hair with the texture and color of half-cooled tar, and I want it halfway down my forehead!' Well, now you can! With Milania brand hair cement!"

Carey: The launch starts off semi-OK. Melissa and Joe arrive, and Teresa appears at least somewhat happy to see them. Kim D walks in wearing an entirely gold sequin dress with gold eye shadow on. So much so, that at first glance, I thought it looked like she had painted eyeballs on her eyelids. Which would have made more sense to me. They awwwwwwll get to minglin' and drinkin' "Milania cocktails" to celebrate the kickoff of this counterfeit business endeavor when SUDDENLY Jan saunters over, flushed from alcohol, and congratulates Teresa. Melissa and her get into it almost immediately:

"WHY YOU GOTTA BE SAYIN THAT!" Melissa says.

"CAUSE YOU MET UP WHICH'YR EX, I SAW YOU." Jan says.

"MY SISTER-IN-LAWL WAS WID ME THAT NIGHT, RIGHT TRE?" Melissa says.


I Googled Melissa's ex boyfriend, Bryan. His Twitter is @bulldog_nj. His bio is "It Doesnt Matter How many followers you have, Hitler Had Millions Jesus Had Twelve!" Bryan is definitely a history buff. He's apparently "finally getting my side of the story out or should I say "truth" very soon" -- in other words, Star or In Touch is going to feature him in a side blurb and give him $10,000. Teresa says nothing, though. Kim D watches, wide-eyed, panting in excitement, a few feet behind them. 'Be silent,' she thinks, watching Teresa. Teresa hears this in her head. Jan and Melissa go at it a little more, then Jan says, "And the Oscar goes to you, Melissa. Thank you, baby Jesus," and disappears into the crowd.

Eli: Jan gets herself some screentime, Melissa gets to defend herself, Teresa's not in jail yet, everybody's happy! Also, back to Kim D's golden eyeshadow. It is genuinely discomforting, making her look like some sort of half-roasted marshmallow golem. She seems particularly discomforted in this episode, which I think could be a side-effect of her needing to transfer her essence to a new vessel very soon, if she can no longer subsist herself with blood spilled in woman-to-woman combat.

Carey: Then out of NOWHERE comes "Penny." Penny is also a salon owner and one of the women that was spewing the cheating venom at that dinner Teresa attended earlier in the season where Jan also was. Penny's like, "Yeah, I definitely said something (about your cheating), I'm not gonna lie!" to Melissa. Melissa is like, "Who are you?" Seriously, no one seems to know who this 'Penny' is. Teresa takes this opportunity to break her silence of not assisting her sister-in-law as she was berated by these desperate fame mongers, to make this moment about herself and clear her name and asks Penny to tell Melissa if they're friends or not. Penny says they're "acquaintances" and Teresa says, "SEE? I TOLD YOU!" Ohhhhhhh, Teresa. Aren't you just exhausted? You truly can't help yourself. Penny lets Melissa know that Teresa had *NOTHING* to do with the ruuuumas, and Melissa says this very poetic, James Joyce-ian line "Penny was tellin' me something different with her eyes." WITCH!! Teresa repeats to Melissa and Joe, "Wasn't I tellin' you the truth? I had nothin' to do wid it!" and even though Melissa is far from convinced, she is genuinely an empathetic person and knows how hopeless her sister-in-law is. But for her husband, she sighs, "Yes, we believe you, Teresa." Teresa goes running off through the party, practically skipping.

Eli: Penny is also wearing all gold. Everyone seems to be wearing some combination of gold and black, which lends the evening a very strange energy, like that of watching a civilization on the brink of collapse. You expect a fire to break out, and for everyone to be trapped inside, the firefighters breaking open the doors to find the ballroom littered with charred bodies, sparkling gilt affixed to their bones by the heat. "What happened here?" the firefighters will ask, walking through the ash. "I think I've found our ignition point," calls one of the men, pointing to an incinerated table display. "There was a pyramid of pressurized hair sprays on this table. My guess is that there were some candles lit too close, and when the canisters heated up, they ignited. No one in here even had a chance." The rest of the crew gathered round to inspect the flash point, but one rookie wandered over to the nearest wall. "Uh, guys?" he quietly asked. The chief turned to answer him, but before he could speak, his jaw dropped. The rest of the crew looked up to see what had rendered the chief silent. "What in the hell..." murmured one of them. Up on the nearest wall, the char marks betrayed a clear outline. The image, displayed in stark negative, was the silhouette of some sort of huge bird, contorted, seemingly in pain.

Carey: Kim D, turned back to crow, perches atop a tree branch as she watches Jan stumble outside the launch invite in a fake fur, her heels slightly unstable on the icy patio. She sits down on a bench and lights a cigarette.

"You did well," Kim D thinks.

Jan hears this as she breathes in, the orange ember lighting her face. She looks around her, then above, seeing the crow. "Why did you come to me?" Jan asks the crow, softly, with tears in her eyes. "You came to my dreams and now I can't sleep. I'll never sleep."

"Follow me," Kim D thinks. "Follow me now, into the woods. It'll be nice there, and quiet. You can sleep forever there. Don't you want to sleep?"

"Yes." Jan said, her voice breaking.

The crow cawed and took off from the branch. Jan trailed beneath. She took her heels off and ran through the snow, glowing blue in the moon and leading into the woods that looked like a mouth, ready to swallow up the world and everything in it. Jan began to laugh, and cry, and laugh. She felt sad and afraid and absolutely wonderful. The snow began to pierce her feet and legs like blades, but she didn't care. Ahead of her was everything she ever needed.


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