The Real Housewives of Atlanta recap: 'Let There Be Light and Love'
I would have watched 57 minutes of Kandi singing along to her voice memos, Cynthia licking her lips, and Marlo chomping on #thicc calamari — I guess technically I did just watch 57 minutes of those trying happenings — if it meant getting that one incredible full-circle moment where we saw that, really, Tyrone has been with us all along.
Halfway through Sunday night’s episode, as Sheree and a few of the other women try to figure out why NeNe is being so defensive about whatever mysterious relationship she has with The Dissociated Voice Formerly Known As Tyrone, Sheree explains how she met Tyrone: He was putting together an event in Philadelphia that Sheree, Kim, and NeNe were going to be paid to attend. That’s when the scene flashes back to SIX YEARS AGO, during one of Kim and NeNe’s legendary early-seasons smackdowns. The eyebrows are pencil thin, the wigs are a glistening synthetic, and it seems the very Tyrone we’ve been listening to Sheree talk to on the phone all season is in fact the inspiration for Sheree saying NeNe tried to take money out of her pocket all those years ago.
Perhaps others had already made this connection — I had not. It’s humbling enough that I’ve spend what I just calculated is more than a third of my life watching NeNe and Sheree yell at each other; I really cannot stomach taking up my valuable long-term memory space with them as well. I can barely remember my entire junior year of college, so I’m actually a little relieved that I don’t recall NeNe allegedly telling “Tyrone” that Sheree should make less money than NeNe does, and Sheree getting mad about that and calling up Tyrone during her confrontation with NeNe. Because if I remembered that, I wouldn’t have felt the lighting-like shock that came with hearing NeNe yell in flashback that she didn’t have time to tell Tyrone anything about Sheree’s booking rates: “I was running to the bank, depositing a Trump check — DONALD TRUMP.”
See, six years ago, NeNe was on The Apprentice, Tyrone was on the phone, and Donald Trump was just a game show host. Now, that game show host is our president. And Tyrone? Well, he’s technically still on the phone.
Somehow we are only on day two in Barcelona, though it feels like we’ve been there for a tyrone (a unit of measurement I’ve just invented to represent a six-year period). The group is finally leaving the Airbnb villa, and while I understand it wasn’t up to their standards and am happy for the owners that they get to keep Bravo’s money without having to deal with Marlo twerking at 3 a.m. anymore, these women act like they have been kept in Alcatraz, as opposed to a four-story Spanish villa. The Hotel Arts, though, with its two-story suites and all-white everythang, is much more in the spirit of wish fulfillment that these Housewives shows think they are.
In the car over to the hotel, NeNe explains that Porsha decided to leave Spain, and everyone is pretty cool about it, assuming that Porsha was trying to take herself out of a situation that would be unhealthy for her. So it’s too bad that this is the episode where everyone decides to chill out and have a good time with each other via forced photo shoots and occasional casual fake baptisms.
The women arrive at the hotel late at night, put on full faces of makeup, and then…meet in Cynthia’s room to hang out. Why did they all put on makeup?! They were just on camera without it?? The wonders will never cease. Sheree, the only one who actually arrives in no makeup and a onesie, suddenly finds herself as the entertainment for the evening when everyone decides they should coordinate a photo shoot for her to take sexy pictures to send to Tyrone in prison. Now, I assumed that would mean Sheree would take some lingerie pics, maybe in a silken robe or two. Instead, Marlo dresses her up in pair of leopard-print hose, paired with leopard print shoes, along with a black dress and wide-ass belt. I don’t get it. Dudes aren’t into red-bottoms, Marlo, they’re into…well, bottoms. Sheree is a good sport, but she’s clearly uncomfortable with everyone looking at her and telling her how to pose on the stairs that actual Top Model™ Eva was slaying just moments before. The women then apparently party into the wee morning hours, which we don’t get to see. (Recap continues on page 2)
What we do get to see is that before Sheree ever came over for the thick-calamari-dinner-and-photo-shoot, Kandi innocently asked NeNe if she’s talked to Sheree since their weird moment at the weird “Elephant in the Room” party. NeNe goes AWF. She says she never wants to be asked about this again: “I have been married over 20 years, I am very much in love with my husband, okay. I’ve never been out with Tyrone.” That amazing “who said that” GIF from last season plays over everyone’s faces. Nobody said anything about NeNe and Tyrone dating except NeNe, the queen of protesting too much. She goes on to say, “Don’t ever ask me about Tyrone, because he is not my friend, his is no my cousin, he is not my neighbor,” and in testimonial she continues: “Me and this man ain’t never held hands, we ain’t never kissed, we ain’t never done nothing like that.”
I really could have listened to this for hours — we ain’t never been hot air ballooning, we ain’t never binge-watched The Good Wife on CBS.com, we ain’t never purchased a SodaStream to make our own sodas at a home, we ain’t never lived together — but alas, Sheree comes along and the conversation stops. Luckily, Shamea is there to earn her ticket to Spain with a totally natural “I’m sorry, I gotta ask a question” segue. That’s when Sheree explains that she met Tyrone six years ago when he was putting together an event, and apparently NeNe told him that Sheree should make less money than NeNe does. The resulting fight was what kept them from being friends for four years, and Sheree didn’t even see NeNe again until that Jamaican vacation that she popped up on two years ago, and that’s when the mended fences. Full. Circle. Hunny. I loved it.
The rest of the episode is kind of a toss-up. Everyone keeps talking about being uneasy about the current political climate in Spain, while showing exactly no concern for the country or its citizens, except Eva, who explains that tensions are high because “the citizens are trying to vote for some type of independence, and the government is not having it.” And all I could think was: If Eva hadn’t been added to the cast this season, who would have had to say the phrases “voter suppression” and “disallowing people to vote”? Cynthia? Sheree?
Other than that, it’s mostly sampling jamón and making a lot of Gregg Leakes-related jokes about old meat. Oh, and that thing where Cynthia just decides she’s going to have a spiritual awakening and makes everyone go to the beach in stilettos while saying “love and light” more times than a hippie Sesame Street brought to you by the letter “L.” I was all prepared to fully roll my eyes at Cynthia’s “small spiritual baptism,” because that’s…not a thing, but the general theme of positivity was nice. She has all of the women hold candles on the beach that have a name on the bottom, and whoever’s name they get, they offer a positive message to. The kind words really seemed to mean a lot to all of them, even Shamea, whose words from Eva started off with, “I did not appreciate the shade, I think it’s wack and sad and tired and childish.”
Cynthia even keeps Porsha’s candle in the mix so that she’ll be represented in all the positivity as well, and NeNe wishes her well wherever she is. It’s all lovely and light, indeed, but finally I get the moment I’ve been waiting for: Cynthia wading ankle-deep into the ocean and then deciding to just kind of…splash some water onto her boobs like when you wake up late for work and your hot water is out. Or as Kandi aptly puts it, “This doesn’t seem like a baptism to me — this just seems like a hoe bath.” I hope that your sternum has been fully spiritually rejuvenated, Cynt.