In "Whine Pairings," Tamra introduces the women to Eddie, Slade is a no-show, and Alexis, overwhelmed by Jim's absence, locks herself in the bathroom.
Real Housewives Oc

That poor fish in a vase. It’s that time of year again, Peggy and Micah’s annual dinner party. “Is everything gonna work out okay for you here?” Micah asked celebrity chef Susan Feniger. “You got the right equipment?” Yep, she’s got a skillet bubbling with oil and three packs of Double Stuffs ready to go. Upstairs the makeup artist was getting ready to go to town on Peggy’s face. She’s “practically my sister,” gushed Peg, which mind you doesn’t mean the woman will get invited to sit down and eat at the table. The flowers were beautiful, the chandelier exquisite, Micah’s Breitling watch matched the Bentley out in the driveway. Let’s get this party started.

First Gretchen needed to get her hairs did. Wah, it was Slade’s night to take care of his children so she had to bring her mean gay friend as a date instead. Thanks a lot Slade. “He has some s— he has to get worked out,” she told her stylist. “You know, with his sons and the child support.” S— is the worst. A story had apparently broken the day of the dinner party accusing Smiles of being a deadbeat dad. Though let’s be honest, Gretchen whined, the real issue here is whether “people are going to look down on me because of that.” She explained that back when Slade was pulling money in hand over first his child support payments were x amount of dollars; now that his job was stuffing free gift bags with Gretchen Christine Beaute cosmetics he needed his financial obligation adjusted. Life can be so unfair. “I feel like I’ve been dealt a pretty hard hand,” said Gretchen, which is really not what a grown woman should be saying about a situation that involves a sick child. But it’s just really hard knowing that even if she were to get her “naughties filled with gravy,” she wouldn’t wake up to Slade handing her “big smackerdoodles” of diamond earrings. Eloquently put.

No Tamra. No to those gold shoes. Absolutely not.

The women were finally going to get a good look at Eddie. First he had to make it through Vicki’s bug-eyed appraisal. Tamra did a pretty spot-on impression of the two approaches Vicki could take: Some hysterical, grabbing-and-thrusting-his-hand-in-the-air woo hooing or tight-lipped questions about his work hours. Either way, Donn could be counted on to be generous and warm. I do worry sometimes about Donn’s drinking and yet I too would love to do shots with the man. Vicki strode into the kitchen, said a vague hello, and looked pointedly in the other direction. What? What?! Her persona is so exaggerated she’s like an SNL character come to life. Tamra snickered meanly over news of Slade’s failings as a father, and Eddie, perhaps trying to impress Vicki, suggested they stop at McDonalds on the way to pick him up a job application. Such toxicity doesn’t sit comfortably on him and he should probably leave it to the master.

Cut to stock footage of a white limo driving past a field, the same shot used since the dawn of the Orange County franchise.

NEXT: Alexis is going through a really sad time. And by time, she means the two hours she’s at this party.Like Peggy, I too was surprised by Alexis’ date for the evening. Not that I was offended that we’d be spared an evening with Jim, but that Alexis’ assistant is a nattily dressed gay man who looked, according to an increasingly soused Donn, like Pee Wee Herman. Peggy was not pleased by Jim’s absence, which Alexis blamed on a business trip or a client dinner or something really important that didn’t involve him despising the entire Housewives crew. Maybe he just wanted to stay home and babysit the kids? Ha, good one! Alexis looked increasingly tense, stabbing at her pink phone, willing Jim to send her a text that reminded her that he was her King and she was to have no more than one glass of white for the entire evening. No grinding with Gretchen, no encouraging the gays to dance with one another, allowed.

Is this thing on? While Peggy’s patio and her party of 12 didn’t seem like they demanded a microphone, the hostess had an announcement. Her friend Jessy—also not allowed to sit at the table—had flown in from Philly just for the occasion and the woman was literally the next Sade. Poor Jessy was an unflappably smooth crooner, even as an entwined Eddie and Tamra danced precariously close to her mike. Get a bath tub, you two! It was time to sit down for dinner, which meant the women all took the opportunity to reslather their lips and make audible digs at one another. Gretchen’s date stage-whispered to her that he recognized Eddie as that month’s bargain in an escort catalogue. Donn broke into giggles when Gretchen announced that Slade was with his children. And then Donn, a little bit of a s— stirrer this evening!, whispered that Gretchen looked like the woman from the Munsters. Nobody complimented Peggy on the fact that there was a celebrity in the kitchen which really hurt her feelings.

Alexis had pushed and pulled and patted her extensions for long enough. How was she expected to sit there with Pee Wee at her side and pretend everything was okay. It was all too much, so she stalked to the bathroom and willed her eyes to make liquid. Her assistant Dylan, who couldn’t believe he was stuck at the table by himself with these people, looked increasingly in need of a doubling-up on wine pairings. “I would never let another man escort my wife anywhere,” declared Micah, who ever since his run to the emergency room has been a real jackass, before turning on Dylan. “You look just like Jim, do you play his stunt double in the movies?” Dylan’s face hardened. “I look a couple years younger!” he spat. There are some abuses an assistant will simply not take quietly.

NEXT: Vicki really has to go potty you guys. Alexis remained in the bathroom throughout the appetizer, salad, and meat courses, the camera dramatically panning on her lonely untouched plates of food. Gretchen hopped up now and then to go check on her though she seemed less interested in making the woman feel better than in feeding her lines of invective to shoot at Tamra. And perhaps the woman had it coming. Jesus Tamra, you are in high school and Alexis is in Brooklyn the bathroom! And while you are in high school Alexis is trying to juggle the demands of her kids, her husband, and… and… and… and her spinning instructor. So can you just lay off her please! Back away from the door, you petty witch. Vicki just sat there on a chair, telling anybody who would listen that she had to go potty.

I found myself halfway liking Peggy this episode. She ignored Tamra’s childishness and went and poked her head into the bathroom. She gave Alexis two choices, as if the woman was a toddler. Leave or get it together. “This is really hard!” Alexis snapped back. First she had to attend a fancy dinner party with kick-ass food and wine, then she was put in the position of having to lie, and now her friend can’t even support her? It’s okay, Gretchen is there. And she’ll give Alexis the strength to be stronger. Did you ever know that you’re my hero?

Back at the table everyone had had too much to drink which meant that Vicki was insulting Donn, Donn was driven to calling her a bitch, Tamra was making cracks about a man’s duty to his children, and Dylan was tweeting his misery to the world. Finally Alexis reemerged, and made a grandiose speech to the table. Then she planted it next to Peggy and accused the woman of being a bad friend. Who wants to dance? Alexis wrapped a leg around Gretchen, Gretchen tried to shove the gays together and Vicki realized if she left now she could still put in a good four hours at the office. Poor Donn. And poor Andy Cohen, who had to suffer through a half hour with Alexis instead of heading out into the streets of Manhattan to high-five a firefighter and hug a fellow New Yorker.

Do you all think Jim is lying low because he can’t stand Tamra and Vicki or because the camera adds 10 lbs? Someone assure me that Susan Feniger made enough cash and got enough exposure to make that dinner worth her while? Did Alexis look really good after crying because she in fact had not shed a tear? Who needed a bigger smack upside the head? Tamra for listening at the door or Alexis for pouting in the bathroom?