Phaedra takes her precious children to visit Apollo, and Kenya takes her boyfriend on a cheese date
Listen, I know every episode of The Real Housewives of ATLANTA can’t be in Jamaica, but I’m finding myself missing the constant crackling of jerk chicken on the grill and all those creative ways to pretend mashing a few pieces and mesh and Lycra together makes an outfit. But even if this episode was a little sobering in comparison to all the colorful drama of Jamaica, I guess it was kind of nice to see the women back to work in their hometown again. Of course, for some women “work” means actual occupational labor, and for others it means dipping bread in melted cheese while attempting to keep the reality TV storyline dream alive. It’s all very meta.
But most importantly, tonight’s episode contained the best RHOA feature around: precious Ayden and his brother Dylan. Dylan has always been cute, but he’s also apparently swallowed the same dictionary his brother did recently, and now that he’s talking, he’s just as hilarious. You guys — the boy is not going back to little baby karate, and you can’t make him (unless you want a toddler roundhouse kick to the shins and then probably an apology smooch afterward).
Unfortunately, Ayden and Dylan’s appearance came under complicated and emotional circumstances. Phaedra has not yet taken her sons to see their father Apollo in prison because he has been incarcerated in a Kentucky facility that she deemed inappropriate for children. She tells her attorney Ronne — who I like to think arrives at every home she enters with a menorah, not just during Hanukkah — that “the pipeline to prison is a reality for a lot of African-American children” and she doesn’t want visiting Apollo in prison to make her children “think that it’s normal.” That is…a complicated issue, made even more complicated by the fact that Apollo had already been to prison once when Phaedra married him, but let’s just say that Phaedra does take the boys to see him in his new, more “child appropriate” facility by the end of the episode.
And on the topic of “complicated,” I should probably mention that Phaedra is wearing some piece of crumpled brown satin in her interviews that she seems to have adhered to her body with a series of straps like when Ariel gets legs in The Little Mermaid and has to Make It Work with a boat sail.
In other news, Kandi is still pregnant, and getting pregnant-er by the day, because that’s how biology works and that’s one boring story line even Bravo can’t spice up. But it certainly is nice that Todd and Mama Joyce are getting along so much better now, though every time she touches him, I still watch very closely for any sort of Game of Thrones-style poisoning scenario. (Grand)Mama Joyce accompanies the expecting couple to their seven-month checkup, where Dr. Jackie very appropriately gives pregnancy sex tips in front of all three of them such as, “Hang her over the kitchen sink or whatever.” Kandi says she’s thinking of naming their baby boy “Ace Wells Tucker,” which I present to you without comment.
About the time we see Kim Skyping with her manager on an open-air porch-office that made me absolutely fume with envy, it becomes clear that we’ll mostly be catching up with the ladies one by one tonight, but we do get a little crossover when Cynthia drops by Kim’s regular office (with walls, ugh) to see the editing progress on the commercial. It looks pretty good from the clip that Kim showed, but I took the liberty of watching the whole thing online, and I have to say, while it’s not a disaster by any means, I would say it featured about 100 percent more Bob, and 100 percent less eyewear than I was expecting.
Oh and speaking of editing, boy, do the RHOA editors ever have a field day when they get the opportunity to show Kenya’s scary house in the woods. Tonight’s scene starts with cuts to multiple beautiful Atlanta mansions, then zooms over to Kenya’s unfinished house made of cement (more on that word later) rectangles. The editors’ next move is a title card telling us that she’s five months into the renovation that I believe she said would take three months. She’s brought her junior varsity boyfriend Matt over to the house to meet her Aunt Lori and makes a bunch of jokes about putting him to work on the house and him risking getting fired and him getting promoted for good work, which all seems like pretty risky metaphor territory, all things (and Walter flashback scenes) considered…
NEXT: Editors’ Day Out…
Following a few more shots of dangling wires and exposed beams to the narration of Kenya saying, “Everything is almost done — it’s just the finishings left,” the editors allow Kenya and Matt to leave the house and go on a date that made me gravely sad. I don’t know if it was the unnecessarily large booths at The Melting Pot, the “Filming in Progress” sign on the front desk, or having to watch Kenya dip bread in cheese with her bare hands, but something about watching Matt and Kenya together is very difficult for me. He certainly seems like he likes her or at least isn’t scared of her, but something about his reserved nature and her tendency to giggle maniacally at anything he says makes it all ring very false. Perhaps at home they’re having a philosophical conversations, but here it’s mostly just…cheese and bread.
Laying off the melted cheese is Porsha who is gearing up for a photo shoot for her new lingerie line, Naked Lingerie. She has a meeting with Lauren to get everything straight beforehand since Lauren is starting her maternity leave soon; they call Porsha’s creative director Johnnie, when perhaps the most important exchange in the history of Porsha’s tenure on this show occurs. She is attempting to say that she is flexible about an idea and she says, “It wasn’t in semen…wait — it sounded like I just said semen.” That’s because she did says semen. Porsha and Lauren proceed to go back and forth saying “semen” over and over like the Finding Nemo seagulls until Johnnie, who is on speaker phone, finally figures out that Porsha was trying to say the phrase, “It wasn’t set in stone.” Porsha and Lauren rejoice, but neither one of them ever seems to be able to figure out that the word Porsha was trying to say was “cement.” Johnnie tells them that they “got the brains of a paper cup,” for which I would like to give him a cash prize and maybe offer him my job.
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Porsha’s photo shoot finally rolls around once the semen debacle is all cleared up and I was glad to see that she had models of all sizes, as well as a 48-year old model in the form of Cynthia, which is kind of cheating considering Cynthia looks like she’s 30, but still. (As an aside that has nothing to do with Porsha’s lingerie shoot that appeared to take place in an Airbnb house but maybe ended up being pretty decent: When I looked up Cynthia’s age, I found an unexpected treat in the Google-populated searches of related people’s ages. I’ll let you discover it for yourself, and even though it’s a mistaken link, I take my RHOA giggles where I can get them.)
And as I’ve said before, any time spent with Ayden and Dylan is a win, even if it’s tinged with sadness. Phaedra has decided to take the boys to visit Apollo at his new Fort Dix prison location. They fly into Philadelphia, where I am not at all surprised to see that Ayden pushes his own suitcase through the airport, as the child is so responsible I’m sure that suitcase is just full of 401(k) paperwork and a single Spiderman toboggan. Phaedra isn’t going to tell the boys where they’re going until they’re at the facility because she’s worried about getting their hopes up and then something getting in the way of them being able to go inside. But Ayden has other things to worry about anyway; while playing with Phaedra’s iPad he asks, “Can you please get me one of these? I really need it for work and business.” What kind of business? “Unexpected business.” HE IS FIVE!
Ultimately, following a few dramatic Bravo title cards that can’t help but seem a little bitter about the cameras not being allowed inside the Fort Dix prison facility, Phaedra and the boys are able to visit Apollo and we get to hear a little bit about it while Phaedra and the boys debrief Regina (who is excellently wearing the same hat as their driver) in the car back to the airport. What did Ayden think of Apollo’s mohawk haircut? “[He] did not quite like it.” What did Dylan do during the visitation? Karate, duh. Phaedra simply says the visit was “interesting” in front of the boys, but she uses some coded language to tell Regina that Apollo said he wouldn’t be signing the divorce papers she sent along. “Still the same person, just in a different place,” she says.
And it sounds like we’ll be getting more where this came from in next week’s episode, which is apparently the season finale…followed by what I assume will be a 17-part finale. What kind of drama shall we expect before then? Have you enjoyed this eighth season? Will Kenya have electricity before the reunion? Is it possible to get some sort of Thanksgiving-style kids table in the corner for Ayden, Dylan, and baby Ace? Sound off in the comments!