By Stephan Lee
October 17, 2011 at 02:46 PM EDT
Andrei Jacakmets/Bravo
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Wow, and I thought you couldn’t top last year’s reunion! After a rather repetitive (how many times can we hear, “We’re family”?), Danielle-less season, things got fiery on part 1 of the Real Housewives of New Jersey reunion. Teresa, dressed in electric blue, feuded with every lady on the couches, including her close friend Caroline. Jacqueline opted out of the reunion, owing to some terrible fight with Teresa that happened the night before while filming of season 4. (Even though I was curious about the Jacqueline-Teresa drama, I’m glad we were at least spared a time-wasting segment on Ashley — or should I say “Ashlee”). At this point, season 3 already feels like old news. Sure, Teresa’s Fabulicious book planted some evil seeds in the finale, but clearly the good stuff is happening right now, and no one can really talk about it. All this drama seems a bit higher stakes than usual, because the Jersey housewives have always seemed a bit more authentically linked to each other than the other Housewives — these women are either family or “like family,” further proving reality TV is Kryptonite to any relationship, even ones that appear to be rock-solid.

Even though Teresa and Caroline fought like dogs, Caroline didn’t quite steamroller Teresa like she did Danielle last year. Not that she wasn’t capable of it. Let me just say that I’ve seriously never liked Teresa at all, even when she was being terrorized by Danielle. Her popularity has always confused me. She’s just so “STOOPID,” to put it in her own words. It’s not really a cute airheadedness, either. Hers is the kind of stupidity that makes her belligerent, greedy, defensive, and blind. It was slightly disturbing to see her stammer her way through lies about her behavior this season as Caroline, Melissa, Kathy, and even Andy looked on “quizzically.”

Caroline took Teresa to task over a smaller lie about whether or not she let Gia watch the christening episode, but at one point, maybe out of some lingering loyalty to her former friend, or just plain amazement, she just sat back and let her face do the talking as Teresa explained away her finances. Andy really stayed on top of her about all the bankruptcy mishigas, informing her that a real Picasso, if she happened to have one lying around her house, would go for a whole lot more than $50,000. A hysterically defensive Teresa calling Caroline, of all people, “a liar,” “pathetic,” and “the Exorcist” — did that make sense to anyone? — seemed all kinds of wrong. I loved when Caroline finally had to weigh in at the end of the hour on Teresa’s defensiveness and the fact that she’s not “cool as a whistle.” Even Caroline had to flat-out call her “stupid.”

To say one nice thing about Teresa — she looks better with straight hair.

Melissa, who didn’t come across all that well this season, looked like an angel next to Teresa, no matter what color she was wearing. I have to agree with Melissa and Kathy: Joe Giudice didn’t invent flipping homes, and Teresa didn’t invent writing cookbooks. To be fair, though, while Melissa and Joe Gorga were absolutely to blame for the christening blowup, I suspect Teresa, at her core, is still bitter about the fact that two family members she doesn’t particularly care for are gaining profit and attention from her show. The funniest argument of the night, though, involved Teresa supposedly trying to intimidate Melissa out of doing the show by warning her that people were going to make fun of her forehead. These sisters-in-law are really such opposites: Blue vs. red; too little forehead vs. too much forehead. (Anyone else think “That saved a wench like me” was the line of the season?)

There’s so much more to discuss here. Whose side are you on, Caroline’s or Teresa’s? Did you feel a little bad that the women were ganging up on Tre, or is she getting what she deserves? Does Kathy still look like she’s desperately trying to stay relevant on this show? What do you think is the source of Caroline and Dina’s falling out? Is Danielle’s premonition — that without her as a scapegoat, these women would start tearing into each other — coming true? Discuss below!

Follow Stephan on Twitter.

Read more:

‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ reunion preview: ‘You’re the devil!’

Official from Bravo: No one fired from ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’…yet

‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ star Jacqueline Laurita insults Teresa, says she’s quitting. This time, is the ‘drama’ real?

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