January 10, 2018 at 10:00 PM EST

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for — or, at least I have: Margaret’s Studio 54-themed party, which has been teased for as long as we’ve know good ol’ Pigtails (she rides in on a fake horse à la Bianca Jagger in the opening credits). It also happens to be the finale, and I have to say, this season has been a slog. Does it not feel like three years ago we were arguing about cake?

We start this last episode with a trip to New Jersey House of Glitz to pick up Margaret’s party dress, a long, white, backless number I hope Vicki Gunvalson takes ownership of next. (Keep your eyes peeled later for Siggy’s son Joshua’s prom date, who’s wearing almost the exact same dress. Age ain’t nothin’ but a number when it comes to sparkly things in the Garden State.)

Over at the Teresa’s, the Giudice kids are putting together a surprise birthday dinner for their mom, thanks to their uncle Joe’s prodding and reminding them that they are ungrateful brats sometimes. (Like most Housewives kids, surprisingly, they actually seem like exceedingly good kids.) Over dinner, Teresa talks about her weekend plans to go visit Juicy Joe (whom I call that only to distinguish between him and her brother, and not because I just remembered that this was his nickname and can’t believe I haven’t been calling him that the whole time). It’ll be the first time she’s seen him in eight months. Teresa blames a busy schedule; big brother Joey knows better, that Teresa is angry at her husband and afraid to express it. Yep! Honestly, I think there’s a STORM of rage inside Teresa, and she’s afraid that once she taps into it, there’ll be no turning back. And I think she’s right. Joe Giudice is in for it.

The Cutest Family in Housewives History, Dolores’, decides to go bowling. “Little Frankie…. Frankie do I look pretty?” Dolores asks her son. “Yes. You always look pretty.” I mean COULD YOU DIE? And can the Catanias please get their own spin-off? They don’t even have to do anything other than sit around telling one another how much they love each other. If there were ever a time we needed a show like that, it’s right now.

Does my recap seem choppy? My recap seems choppy, doesn’t it. I think it’s because this episode is choppy. Every scene is mere preamble to what will surely be a showdown at Margaret’s — and all the season’s loose ends need to be tied up in the next 40 minutes — so we’re speeding through all the bits and bobs to get there (like Margaret’s home renovation, which I’m going to skip over completely if that’s all right with you).

Teresa, Milania, and Audriana are off to see Joe, and the drive to prison is bringing back memories of Teresa’s mom’s death: The last time she did the drive, she had to turn around because her mom went into the hospital. “I wish I could rewind the time,” Audriana says, sort of profoundly for a kid so young. Teresa blames Joe for losing time with her mom, and also for mismanaging their money (and I’m going to throw in for “and for cheating on her,” even though she’s always denied that he’s done this. But he has definitely done this, and I think Teresa knows that). “I just want our daughters to know that he’s really sorry about letting them down. Because that’s what he did, he let us down.” We’ve gotten use to this kind of tough talk from Teresa this season, but it’s worth noting what a reversal this is from Teresa of seasons past, when she and Joe were one united front, and everything was absolutely perfect all the time (even when it plainly wasn’t). Teresa this seasons is strong, and she’s finally come into her own.

Which doesn’t mean she’s having an easy time confronting her husband: “The moment when I saw Joe, I got really choked up and all that courage that I’d built up to ask him, to get an apology, just, like, went away,” she tells us. Melissa and Joe Gorga, for their part, think Teresa’s on the brink of divorcing Joe Giudice. (Honestly, I wish there were more Joes on this show so this could be more confusing. Oh right! Margaret’s husband, Joe. Perfect.) They discuss this while shopping at Jonathan Adler for gifts that Margaret has registered for. Allow me to repeat that: Margaret has registered for birthday gifts. Is this not gross? Buy your own damn gifts! You are not a toddler. A wedding or a shower, fine — you know people are bringing gifts so why not cut to the chase and just tell them what you want. But a birthday? Isn’t it presumptuous to assume that everyone would bring you a gift in the first place? And at Jonathan Adler?!? A very lovely and very not cheap store? At my parties, I’m just happy when one of my friends offers to buy me a shot, but maybe I’m doing birthdays wrong.

Teresa shows up to shop with them, at which point I become incredibly confused: Melissa and Joey ask what her visit with Joe was like and ask whether he apologized: “I was nervous, I got emotional. I said, ‘I lost 11 and a half months with my mom.’ I said, ‘You not only did it to me, you did it to our daughters. Why weren’t you on top of everything, you know?’ I’m like, ‘I didn’t sign up for this.'” Melissa’s reaction is all of our reaction: “Wow, you said all this to him?” Teresa confirms that she not only said it to him, but that she told Joe she wanted an apology and got one. Then they all cried. Huh. Joe Gorga is amazed — and he’s not the only one. Isn’t this a direct contradiction of what Teresa told us earlier? Did I misunderstand what she meant when she said she got choked up? Cameras weren’t allowed in the prison, so we have only her (conflicting) accounts to go on. It’s like old “everything is fine!” Teresa has cropped up, only new Teresa just told us a little while ago that as soon as she saw her incarcerated husband, her courage to confront him flagged. So I’m not actually sure what happened in that prison. (Recap continues on page 2)

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