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'Jon & Kate Plus Eight' recap: Crooked houses and a broken home

As the kids start playing house, Jon & Kate decide it’s time for them to stop

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Jon & Kate Plus Eight, Jon Gosselin, ... | After months of media speculation about the state of their marriage, the reality-TV mom and dad announced on the June 22, 2009 episode of their…

Jon & Kate Plus Eight

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season

While the news announced on last night’s Jon & Kate Plus Eight was certainly of no surprise to anyone (reports flooded the Internet late yesterday afternoon that Jon and Kate Gosselin had filed for divorce) it certainly didn’t make the episode any less painful to watch. But unlike the mega-awkward season premiere, this episode didn’t come out with the high drama right away. In fact, the big moment didn’t happen until 40 minutes into the show.

Not that the producers didn’t give us some hints. We had some snippets of Kate telling us that she doesn’t hate Jon and never will, and Jon telling us ”this is the hardest episode ever.” Heavy stuff. Cue promotional tie-in! Yes, rather than tell us the inevitable, J&K fit in time for yet another product placement. Granted there was no Ace of Cakes or American Chopper television tie-in, but the Gosselins told us they ”heard of” a company in Maine that built crooked playhouses for kids. I half expected Ty Pennington to burst out of the woods with a megaphone and a declaration to build the wee Gosselins their dream dream, albeit slightly slanted, houses.

Alas, no Ty, but last night’s episode titled ”Houses & Big Changes” did start with the preparation for said crooked houses. In between Jon clearing space in the woods and Kate molding Play-Doh with the kids, the folks at Kids Crooked Houses got the longest commercial ever. And while I should be very much used to this sort of thing on Jon & Kate as of late, I shuddered a little bit when most of the kids were sporting T-shirts for Kids Crooked Houses, becoming tiny little billboards. And, oh ye God, do we really need to point out the irony of something called a ”crooked house” for this poor clan right now?

But, as per just about everything Jon does, the spot he picked in the woods was not okay with Kate. Her concern was that the houses were too far away, while Jon wanted to have them there to keep them out of the view of the paparazzi. Kate admitted she was ”going out on a limb here and risking World War III” to talk to/argue with Jon over the placement of the houses. I don’t know what I found most jarring here, the fact that Kate was actually afraid to approach Jon with something (rather than bark her usual orders) or the fact that I agreed with her reasoning, which wouldn’t be the only time that would happen in this episode.

While Jon put up a protest to Kate’s suggestion at first (he merrily rode on his tractor stating, yet again, he enjoyed his alone man time), with a little coercing from the KCH guys he caved for the plan for a new locale. Once the houses began to be assembled, Kate decided to have a backyard picnic and we finally got to spend some time with?the kids! You know, those eight cute rug rats the show had initially been about? Stated Kate: ”It doesn’t matter where Jon and I are in our relationship, my kids still matter the most to me. If I have to put on a happy face to have a picnic with them, and put all those issues aside, I do.”

NEXT: Getting houses in order

Jon’s sentiment roughly echoed Kate’s, saying that they have not been communicating for quite a while, ”but we’re there for our kids. We’re doing everything for our kids.” Of course, I don’t doubt for a second that Jon loves his kids, the guy doesn’t even sound like he’s convincing himself at this point. Kate, on the other hand, was perhaps the most candid she’s ever been. Admitting, ”I have become very hardened, very crass, very jaded maybe and I’m sure that that is what people see about me, but that is my survival self saying, ‘I will not lay down and die.” It’s almost as if they were asking us to pick a side, no?

Back in the backyard we got some one-on-one time with Cara and Mady, who both seemed in unusually chipper spirits, though Mady did get in some of her trademark moodiness when she sarcastically thanked the KCH guys for spelling her name right. Cara and Mady got their own houses (a haunted house and an animal hospital, respectively) while Aaden, Collin, and Joel got a pirate ship and Hannah, Alexis, and Leah made John (Cougar?) Mellencamp proud with a little pink house.

While it was hard to take just how much we were being hit over the head with this nearly half-hour long advertisement for KCH, the episode would have been pretty much a bummer without the kids’ all-around joy here. When the houses were finally built, they ran in and out of each other’s houses (though there were rules to be followed and it’s only a matter of time before the boys hang a ”He Man Woman Haters Club” sign over their door) as Kate got knocked in the head by one of the doors (Jon, was inexplicably to blame for said occurrence.) I might have gotten a little resentful, particularly of the boys’ house which had a freakin’ periscope. Sigh. Even Aaden knew how pimp it was when he announced, ”My girlfriends are coming over soon.”

The cuteness continued to prevail when Alexis (toting her beloved stuffed alligator) offered to keep one of the KCH guys safe from ”bears,” and when the sextuplets conducted their own interviews (or ”innaviews” as they are pronounced) from the front of the pirate ship. I realize the couch confessionals from Jon and Kate are more enticing and pulling in the ratings this season, but I would take these moments a million times over. How about you?

Of course, none of it lasts too long as the producers prod Kate about the obvious physical and emotional distance going on in this episode (Kate later admits there was more drama going on off-camera during this day than we saw.) She goes on to tell us, ”Jon has a lot of anger towards me and I would love to discuss it with him and he won’t talk to me.” She continues that she doesn’t know if ”Jon knows what he wants still or where he’s going. I don’t know if he realizes the repercussions of the mistakes of what he’s doing today and what’s that going to do down the line.” While I can certainly get on board with the idea that Jon is a bit of a lost soul, is it really any surprise that he’s unwilling to talk? Or does Kate ever stop and think of the repercussions of her actions? Alas, my television does not hear my cries, and I continue watching.

NEXT: The details

Speaking of crying, a teary Kate told us that their news is no secret (though the word ”divorce” is never once uttered by either party) and they have been dealing with this for a time. Jon (doing the couch interviews apart, which will be par for the course from here on out) admitted that it’s been a tough couple of months for him and he had reservations about shooting this particular episode. But wariness be damned, the man’s got some contractual obligations to tend to! And while he pondered why people care more about what he eats for lunch than soldiers dying in Iraq (debatable), it was somewhat of a relief to finally hear the guy admit, ”I was too passive. I let her rule the roost and let her do whatever she wanted to do?and now I stood up on my own two feet and I’m proud of myself.” Fine, but I still want some sort of answer for those inexcusable earrings.

Kate meanwhile assured us (and maybe herself?) that the show had nothing to do with their impending split and it would have likely happened regardless. Adding to that mood was Jon who said that not only are he and Kate not friends right now, they are simply strangers living together. And it’s here that I have the hardest time believing Kate’s argument that the show had nothing to do with their breakdown. Their fame, especially recently, has changed them both completely. I don’t think I’ve ever had any desire to watch a marriage deteriorate before me on television. Yet here we are, and gang, it feels pretty icky, does it not?

The couch confessionals continued with Kate telling us she gave herself ”half a day” to fall apart and ”sob harder than I’ve ever sobbed in my life,” and both parties told us they don’t have contempt for one another, though Jon’s felt slightly less heartfelt when he stammered, ”I don’t hate Kate, but, ya know?.” And after much back and forth the producers finally asked the question we all knew the answer to, and Jon told us ”Kate and I have decided to separate,” adding, ”It’s just not good for us to be arguing in front of our kids.” Kate, on the other hand, ”is not very fond of the idea, but I know it’s necessary.”

So what are the divorce details? Thus far they have decided the kids will live at their Pennsylvania home fulltime with Kate, while Jon will travel back and forth (from New York City, perhaps?) to see them on ”his days.” Perhaps it was wishful thinking on my part, but I was hoping the announcement within an announcement was going to be that as they put the kibosh on their marriage, they would do the same with their show. It was really, truly depressing to hear Jon admit he hasn’t been on the show as much in order to let the kids to adjust to him not being there all the time and a crestfallen Kate admitting to the world that she’s afraid to raise her children alone.

NEXT: No looking back

And just like they did with the season premiere, they went an extra step to bum us out just a little bit more with footage of the good ol’ days with the Gosselins. It’s hard to not feel a little extra heartbroken — not about the show that it once was (joyous, lighthearted, oddly addictive), but the family that these people once were. Before the commercial break, we were met with an ominous black screen, reading something like an in memoriam, stating, ”On Monday, June 22, 2009, legal proceedings were initiated in Pennsylvania to dissolve the ten-year marriage of Jon and Kate Gosselin.”

As Kate stated, ”the show must go on” and it did, with its original theme for this episode, Mother’s Day. Ouch. The Gosselin matriarch stated that while missing out on the everyday stuff would be hard, she would not miss out on any holidays. While the two talked our ears off during this hour, it was perhaps the most telling that they actually sat next to each other during the Mother’s Day brunch. The last shot was of a clearly exasperated Kate telling us it’s time to ”Turn the page, a new chapter.” But, maybe it’s time to close the book altogether?

What did you think of this very dramatic episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8? Did it have an emotional impact on you or were you put off by it all? Are you happy the show will continue or do you think it was a poor decision on the Gosselins part? I did a lot of talking today, now I want to know what you think!