The theme of last night’s snappy episode was independence. Throw your hands up at me, Kim. Yes, she did just accept a gratis romp in the Bahamas from Big Poppa. Yes, she did have her assistant send him cell phone snaps of a $32,000 gold necklace she covets (“oh my God,” she orgasmed to her own image in the mirror, “you are good-looking”). Yes, the man whose divorce has inexplicably drawn out for three years is back in her life. But she didn’t take him back for the money. It’s just that her daughters want to go to college one day and those satin bustiers and kegs of chardonnay aren’t going to pay for themselves. “I’m independent,” Kim promised us. “I’m a single mom.” Oh Kim, you very well may represent all that is wrong-headed and ridiculous and crass about the times we live in. Now go get in the pool with your cigarette and keep telling yourself this is true love.

If you want a picture of real independence, let me direct your attention to Kandi. This girl has grown on me! I’m with Dwight on this one: The more I spend time with her, the more I fall in love with her. There was something so admirable about the image of her buying her first house at 19 years old and steadily renovating it over the years. She has sense, something that Big Poppa could never buy for Kim. Kandi shone throughout the episode — from her stirring Pocket Book Monologue about a prostitute who was molested as a girl by her stepfather (though admittedly her rehearsal performance was much better) to her smooth handling of the “Tardy for the Party” (whoa-oh, whoa-oh) debacle.

Poor NeNe — this is not how she wanted this season to go down. She rode into the premiere on a tide of good will. She was the quick-witted, sassy break-out Housewife with a book deal. (And props for the attention paid to her co-author Denene, who will be responsible for said pages.) But NeNe’s continued to reveal layers of pettiness that have crumbled that fun image. Last night she further severed our relationship, shouting at Kim and Kandi about her stolen opportunity to sing a verse (whoa-oh, whoa-oh). I agree that it was lousy of Kim to suddenly kick NeNe to the curb once she realized the song might not be a disaster. Alright then NeNe, tell her she’s uncool and then walk away. But then NeNe started in on how the song would only sell with her own name attached and Kim’s a dirty liar and she’ll screw over Kandi too and yammer yammer yammer she hollered and swore. I’m thinking that Kandi is too reasonable a woman to get sucked into any Kim vortex. Her mother on the other hand, who seems to have mysteriously fallen for the wigged one’s dubious charms, might have her heart broken one day.

Somehow Kim disentangled herself from the situation, hobbling away on her accessory crutches, and NeNe turned her mouth on Kandi. Nobody turns their mouth on Kandi! NeNe got in her face, Kandi stayed cool. “I can give a damn,” Kandi shrugged. She told NeNe, enunciating her words very slowly, as if speaking to a child, to bring it on down. Then finally she turned her back on the hot mess before her. Thus was my love for Kandi solidified. A partygoer offered to get her a cool-out drink, but Kandi abstained. I’m thinking that had NeNe similarly resisted an open bar, she might not have behaved so badly.

Elsewhere at the party, a swarthy portrait artist made googly eyes and thickly accented passes at Sheree, but the woman only had eyes for her own giant-sized image. Lisa looked pretty but had nothing to say. During the Pocket Book Monologues, I realized what it is about her that bugs. Lisa talks in real life likes she acts. There is no authenticity to her voice. She is always acting, and rather badly at that. Whether she is in a tub or sharing a drink with NeNe or playing a woman who’s not getting any action (I’m still unsure what her monologue was about), she seems to be trying out a personality rather than being one. I bet she’s at heart a good person, and a smart one. But her public self is a bore.

What did you all think? Can NeNe do anything to restore your good impression of her? Do you find Lisa a cipher? Did Sheree make weird cat love to the artist? Is Kim the grossest person alive? Do you think Kandi is too good for this show?