Kenya and Nene break through new boundaries in their Tour of Terror, Kandi and Cynthia shakily address their tormentors and Phaedra whispers the Atlanta Rosary

By Jodi Walker
April 28, 2014 at 09:10 AM EDT
Wilford Harewood/Bravo
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Ah, yes, Andy Cohen, please tell me more about how Bravo doesn’t condone violence of any sort as its executives roll around in the millions that Teresa Giudice built like a bunch of smirky Scrooge McDucks. You’d think constantly having to wrestle bullhorns out of grown women’s hands and say things like, “Head Doctor and Dick Surgeon were trending on Twitter,” might give that Cohen fellow a little more self-awareness about the product he’s promoting here…but it does not. Or maybe he’s just sharing a medicine cabinet with Mama Joyce. Either way, with pretension in his voice and delusion on his note cards, Andy will tell us over and over again that “they” do not condone violence after Porsha’s physical outburst last episode that “they” cannot stop bringing up.

This would be like me telling you I don’t condone you watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta and then writing a bunch of words about it every week, tweeting out my recaps and crossing my fingers that you enjoy them. I’m aware that we’re not exactly unlocking the other 90% of our brains by watching this show, but I would never pretend we’re not dealing with some solid, morally compromising entertainment here. Watching these women is kind of like watching a foreign film that’s way over your head; spending an hour of your weekend watching something that is totally beyond your capacity to understand, but trying to make sense of it anyway is still definitely better than, like, spending an hour of your day gambling and buying commemorative A Mother’s Love plates on the Home Shopping Network.

I understand that, even for the sake of drama, they couldn’t technically keep the Porsha hair-drag for the third installment of the Reunion — Wait, what’s that you say? Maybe the Reunion should just be one episode? HOW VERY DARE YOU. It would have taken Kenya ripping off a mask to reveal she’s been Sheree this whole time to really match up to the events of last week, but Kandi still had to not stand up to her bonkers mom for a final time, and Cynthia and Nene had to talk about the end of their friendship that we didn’t really know was happening at some point. The thing that’s keeping me coming back to the Reunion for the soggy shade saga that was RHOA season 6 though is trying to figure out who’s quitting, who’s getting fired and who’s only coming back to season 7 because Bravo must have a  copy of their sex tape, or pictures of them not voting for Obama or something.

In a tone of voice that sounds like he’s trying not to spook a horse — I would have understood this more if Porsha was still there — Andy informs us that Porsha was not prepared for this Reunion (part one), so we’ll go on without here, merely talking about her actions for the entire episode. I personally wish he had asked more about Nene muzzling Porsha, multiple housewives telling her something along the lines of “we talked about this,” and the immediate calling for house shoes after the attack. But everything mostly revolves around if Kenya brandishing a Happy Meal scepter at Porsha was just as threatening as Porsha’s anger rage blackout.

This discussion mostly serves to prove one thing: two seasons into her RHOA tenure, Kenya is entirely, utterly, irrevocably unlikable. You can appreciate her for storyline purposes, you can maybe even get behind her calling people out every once in a while, but surely you can’t enjoy her. Nene is mean and so much bigger than her britches, she’s about to Hulk right out of them; Cynthia’s backbone is the consistency of oatmeal and she’s still married to Peter; and Phaedra will go on to say some truly awful things in this episode…but I can allow myself to make mental excuses for some of their actions in the name of entertainment in a way that I just can’t for Kenya.

And I’m not the only one: every woman’s eyes are on a permanent lazy-Susan-rotation while Kenya uses her most vulnerable cadence to say how she was just trying to have “a little bit of fun”  with her props before Porsha took her to the ground. Cynthia is the only woman who even mentions that Porsha was in the wrong for physically attacking Kenya. Everyone else says that Kenya is an instigator, and Nene is particularly insistent that Kenya’s use of props and pointed verbal attacks were just as much of a violation as anything else. There’s no reasoning this out because these are not moments normal humans like you and I might experience, so we must simply take them in and hope that they don’t eat us alive from the inside out, like a reality TV Alien.

NEXT: “Paging Dr. Head: We have a a Code CRAZY, I repeat, a Code CRAZY.”

Feeling misunderstood, Kenya begins loosely quoting The Color Purple (perhaps Kandi’s best observation of the season) talking about her childhood in Detroit — “All my life I had to FIGHT!” — and then announces to the group of women who are all refusing to look at her that before last year’s Reunion, Nene called her about “getting Phaedra,” and she doesn’t understand how now she’s all buddy-buddy with her. Andy helpfully rolls the package of Nene and Phaedra tentatively becoming more cordial over the course of this season, leading to a replay of Nene’s gossip that everyone called Phaedra the “Head Doctor” in high school, even though she’s also said she can’t remember going to high school with her in Athens.

Phaedra counters that she was a smarty in high school (not really a prerequisite for oral sex, or lack thereof, but OK) and didn’t hang around with people Nene would have even known, so that “rumor” is unfounded. Nene apologizes (just as, 4,000 miles below us, hell freezes over), saying that she’s already told Phaedra that it was wrong of her to spread something that she heard as an adult and  that was probably untrue. Kenya pushes her instigator spectacles up her nose, sticks her hand in the air and chimes in, “That’s not necessarily true because the Head Doctor comment is in court documents.” WHAT IS HAPPENING? Kenya is relentless and I think any Head Doctor, Dick Surgeon or Penis Physician would conclusively diagnose her as “the worst.” I just wish other women wouldn’t get on her level, like Phaedra repeatedly using Kenya not being able to “get a man” as an insult and especially calling her “barren.” Not OK. Why can’t they just remember that best thing about Kenya is that she does all the work on her own…no one has to do anything extra to make her look bad!

GIRD YOUR LOINS Mama Joyce terrifies me to my core. I would go head-to-head with a shark, have lunch with Sarah Palin, and stay a night in the Amityville Horror house all in one day before I would look Mama Joyce directly in the eyes. That woman should be studied in advance level Psychology courses; she should be cloned to run tests that prevent her natural evolution; and she should probably be given a good talking to and maybe a few months at a “spa.” I think I became somewhat dulled to her particularly jarring form of maternal instincts in the last few episodes where she seemed a combination of sedated and slightly more reasonable, but tonight she was back in full ass-dragging form, and no mountain was high enough, no desert hot enough to keep her off our asses, baby.

After an extended package showcasing all of Mama Joyce’s craziest moments from the last season, the Mama herself joins the cast onstage. She is…in an altered state of mind. When Andy asks her how the public has responded to her behavior on the show, she proves that every parent of any person between the ages of 20 and 40 is exactly the same saying, “the people on Twitter and the people on Facebooks” didn’t react negatively until Kandi said she tried to set Todd up to be caught in pictures with other women. Andy’s all, “So, you think people were cool with the time you tried to kill Carmon with your shoe in that dress shop and, oh yeah, what about that time you threatened Todd’s ass with a Marvin Gaye song?” She keeps screaming that people were “RETWEETING that comment,” because they LOVED it. Twitter just might have ruined Kandi Burruss’ life.

NEXT: If you think I’m touching that welfare comment with a 10-foot pole, you’re crazy…

They get into how much Kandi financially supports her mom, and if the reason Mama Joyce is so protective of her is because she doesn’t want to lose her meal ticket. It’s the same old thing: Mama Joyce says “no” with her mouth and “yes” with every other atom and fiber in her being. She says both that she raised Kandi to be a millionaire so she should take care of her and that Kandi has never taken care of her. She tells Cynthia she owes her an apology for insinuating that Kandi pays her bills, so Cynthia respectfully offers one, and Mama Joyce accepts it like an absolute maniac. The only thing Kandi does to remotely act like an adult woman that can be both respectful of her mother and not let her walk all over her is say she doesn’t appreciate when Mama Joyce acts like she’s doesn’t do anything for her. She says she’ll never stop talking to her mother, but ultimately, she’ll still do what she wants, like marrying Todd in one week. Or is it two?

In the most trying hashing out of events, Cynthia and Nene wade through a fight that we really haven’t seen and has perhaps never taken place. Apparently the two haven’t spoken in weeks: the origins stem from Nene calling Peter a bitch, and even though Cynthia got over it at the time, people being in her ear about it has made her start to question if Nene respects her at all. This is a message to Cynthia: Nene does not respect you. Nene respects herself (sort of) and Ryan Murphy. She can scream that she’s “AN EXCELLENT FRIEND” all she wants and I bet she is…until the moment she decides she doesn’t want to be anymore. Cynthia says Nene gets defensive when she tries to tell her something is bothering her and Nene helpfully offers back, “I feel like if you tell me I’m wrong and I want to feel some kind of way about it, like, I feel like I can.” Sure, alright.

Nene basically refuses to have the conversation with Cynthia on the Reunion show, saying that if Cynthia has a problem with her they can discuss it in private. Two things, Nene: 1. This is a show that you willingly participate in and earn millions of dollars to get in fights on, and then talk about those fights on 27-part Reunion specials; 2. If you insult someone on television, apologizing to them on television is a good move. If Phaedra is willing to pray for their friendship in public (“Fix it, Jesus…”), then you’d think Nene would at least be willing to turn off her stank face for 2-seconds to says she’d like for them to get through this.

In this rare case, I feel for Cynthia. If you look to your left and see Nene with a yellow, lacefront corn muffin affixed to her head, and look to your right and see Peter getting Cash Back with your debit card, things are going to seem pretty bad. But, Cynthia, it might just be time to grow a pair, do a juice cleanse of all the humans in your life, and use your beautiful face and desire to provide the world with as many models and teal eye shadows as possible to do your own thing. Lead your life, girlfriend, and you just might find yourself with your very own storyline next year! Also, maybe give Leon a call.

What did you gather from this smattering of fights between maybe-friends? Is Porsha getting fired? Would you want her back in season 7? Is Kenya fueling storylines, or has she just become unenjoyable? And is Nene about to quit this thing to pursue not reading scripts full time? I mean…Nene is definitely quitting, right?

Next week: Kenya picks up her pleasant conversation with Apollo from last year’s reunion special, Nene’s voice reaches all new levels of baritone, Phaedra stands by her fraudulent husband and, hopefully, Kandi serves up a little truth to her cast mates without threatening to drag anyone “in this bitch.”

NeNe, Kandi, Cynthia, Phaedra, Kenya, and Claudia keep the ATL just peachy.
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