A new psychic-medium is added to the already robust 'Housewives' canon

January 15, 2018 at 01:24 AM EST

From the moment we were treated to a clip of cinematic classic Sharknado 5: Global Swarming wherein Ian Ziering says, “I think we just started World War Shark” to thespian of screen and stage Porsha Williams, who responds in turn by getting smacked with a mid-size flying shark, I knew we were in for a treat of a Real Housewives of Atlanta episode. The one thing I was not prepared for: Mbele.

Psychic mediums have an illustrious history within the Housewives franchise and are even more prolific outside the confines of Bravo, as we’re reminded when Kim hilariously recounts all the different reality TV mediums she’s received readings from, including the Long Island Medium and “Tyler” of Hollywood Medium “fame.” Even though I touted RHOA’s own entry into the psychic-medium hall of fame at the end of last week’s recap, nothing could have prepared me for Mbele. Where Allison DuBois was rude on RHOBH because she was at a dinner party being asked to read futures (or whatever) while swilling martinis out of a flower vase and puffing on an e-cigarette like she was starring in a futuristic Mad Men remake, Mbele is mean…seemingly for sport? Maybe because she has a small amount of the dark lord (Satan or Voldemort, take your pick) inside her? It’s really impossible to say.

But the most confounding part of the Mbele experience was that we’ve seen this exact plotline before. Three years ago, NeNe gathered all of her closest enemies in front of another professional — and actual learned psychologist — and asked him to help them fix their problems, and then when he informed her that she was the root of most of the problems, she became very angry and dramatically left the hotel conference room. Like any true Housewife would, I’d like to quote myself commenting on that spirited time: “The one who smelt it, dealt it, y’all. Always. NeNe smelled the sweet scent of a redemption story line for herself and drama for others, and ended up in a bit of a pickle.”

A zebra cannot change its stripes, and a Housewife cannot change her ways — only her wigs. Once again, NeNe ended up in the pickle of not being able to redirect the group’s focus from herself, but this time she lucked out; NeNe didn’t have to dramatically leave because Mbele did the leaving for her. I never thought I’d says this, but…that psychic was not very professional!

The editors at least know they have to give us a little cushion before delivering us into the cold, frightening hands of Mbele, so we’re treated to vignettes such as “Porsha acts!” and “Kim is back!” My favorite is certainly Porsha running lines for the onstage remake of Two Can Play That Game (sure, why not), where not only do we get to see Porsha attempt to cry on cue, but we also learn that it takes an assistant, a business assistant, a publicist, a sister, and a manager to make Porsha — a host at Dish Nation and aspiring hair salon owner — happen.

Sheree and Cynthia, on the other hand, are more focused on their love lives. Sheree accepts a call from her secret prison boyfriend while her delicate, giant son Kairo is making dinner for her. Secret Prison Boyfriend Tyrone has some good news: He spoke to his lawyer, and they’ve made some traction on “how the government withheld all this evidence to put me in prison.” So, apparently Tyrone was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on wire and security fraud charges under allegedly false pretenses, and Sheree is all about it: “I’m not just going by this man’s words. I’ve seen the documents, I’ve seen it all.” Oh, well if you’ve seen the documents, by all means, marry this man and start writing up contracts for Netflix’s next big true crime docuseries!

Sheree has invited Kim and NeNe to dinner, where Kim arrives with most of her boobs out and a purse made by L.A. Lights. NeNe still hasn’t arrived about an hour into the meal, so Kim and Sheree call her and learn that she’s not coming because NeNe thinks “there’s a lot of damn elephants in the damn room.” (This is where I inform you that this episode is brought to you by the word “elephant” and the color “blond wig with black roots.”) NeNe is reasonably angry that Kim came to her house uninvited, got into a big fight, and broke a bunch of glass; also that Kim’s daughter Brielle apparently came into NeNe’s house (what, is there an open window NeNe doesn’t know about somewhere?) and Snapchatted a small colony of roaches in her bathroom.

Of course, NeNe never mentions any of those reasonable things. Instead, she gets it in her head that to divert the attention away from her ongoing conflict with Porsha, she should focus everyone’s attentions on the group’s other “elephants in the room,” and she should do that with…Mbele the Energy Reader.

Things start out pretty calm in the deserted café, with Mbele asking NeNe to tell her about the group’s issues “loosely.” NeNe tells her, “There is some sisterhood and some non-sisterhood.” Doesn’t get much looser than that! So you can’t even blame NeNe for Mbele’s bizarre reaction to each new woman who enters the room. It is apparently a no-phone zone, which gets everyone off on the wrong foot, but Cynthia hands hers over willingly, noting that Mbele’s energy is “…kinda strong.” Perhaps my favorite moment of editing in a season already ripe for an Emmy nomination is when Kandi enters the room and Mbele insists on hugging her, saying, “I don’t shake,” while we see flashbacks of her shaking NeNe and Cynthia’s hands when she greeted them. (Recap continues on page 2)

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