Let’s take a moment to imagine a world in which time travel exists. A world where, if we could rewind the clock by 10 minutes, and a butterfly somewhere in Japan flapped its wings just a millisecond faster, then maybe—just maybe—Luann could have apologized to Barbara when she very calmly told her that she has felt unsupported by Luann on this trip. And if that butterfly had flapped its wings differently, and if Luann had recognized her friend’s hurt feelings and apologized for her part in them, then maybe—just maybe—the cast of The Real Housewives of New York City could have enjoyed their liquid nitrogen cocktails and the lobster pop-tarts served in a giant toaster, and whatever other rich-people pretend food they ordered in peaceful harmony…
But that is not what happened. [Note from the recapper: My understanding of the butterfly effect is based entirely on the 2004 film starring Ashton Kutcher, and if I’m remembering that viewing experience from 15 years ago correctly, I think lobster pop-tarts played a key role. Do not correct me if I’m wrong.]
Luann could not apologize to Barbara. Because Luann, seemingly now more than ever, is under the impression that she’s never done anything wrong in her life, and the suggestion that she has is the ultimate betrayal. If someone tells Luann that she’s hurt them in some way, she responds that it’s hurtful for them to say that. So when six women are shouting, slurring, and hyperventilating in her general direction about how she’s been hurting them, I can see how she sees that as an attack. But it doesn’t make what they’re attempting to tell her invalid.
And listen, I’m not suggesting that Bethenny running around the dinner table like a kamikaze pilot in a crop top, ruining the smoking-popsicle-drinks of 30 nearby patrons was a great way to handle the situation…
But at some point, we’re gonna have to s–t or get off the pop-tart with Luann, if y’know what I’m saying.
The other women no longer seem to be able to tolerate her narcissism, and she seems unwilling to even pretend to change while still wanting to hold onto that Bravo paycheck that keeps her flush with statement necklaces. Do I want to lose scenes of Luann staring at a small poster of herself on the outside of an auditorium in Miami, weeping over her own success? No. But the idea of her having a friendship with anything other than a mirror or a particularly shiny spoon is starting to feel unsustainable at this point.
And, speaking of unsustainable—Sonja Morgan ramming her body into large glass surfaces. Everyone wakes up the morning after their weird party looking like they got run over by a truck and wearing their sunglasses in bed. Except, of course, Sonja, who never glows brighter than the morning after a night of binge drinking. And yet, Bethenny comes stalking into the room in her fuzzy robe with her sunglasses on to look directly into Sonja’s glowing face because they need to have a conversation. Apparently, the night before, Sonja once again got overly inebriated and slammed her heeled foot into a glass table while “being funny.” The table didn’t break, but it could have.
Keeping a line thinner than Ramona’s negligee between “partying” and “problem” seems to be kind of the RHONY modus operandi when it comes to alcohol, but Bethenny is worried that Sonja is getting out of control. And Sonja appreciates her concern because she knows Bethenny is coming from a place of compassion, so she agrees to go with Luann to an AA meeting even though she thinks Luann is coming from a place of judgment. I don’t think Luann scoffing at Sonja’s sheer top and telling her to go change helps that assessment, particularly when Luann comes back down in a sheer skirt that is somehow more AA-appropriate.
Also before they leave for the AA meeting, Barbara tells the group that she’s been feeling like she’s doing this trip by herself and like she can’t fit in. All the women tell her that’s because she’s been bringing negative energy, and Luann, the friend who brought her into this group and who Barbara has defended endlessly (to the detriment of her developing relationships with the other women) shrugs: “People pick up on energy, energy is everything.” Listen, Barbara clearly cannot hang with this cast and I haven’t gotten a lot out of her this season, but she seems like a genuinely nice person, and when she choked out to Bethenny, “If you guys would rather I go home, I’ll go home,” it broke my heart a little.
Bethenny insists that’s not what they want, but they also need to feel like she wants to be there. And then she offers some words to live by: “Start making relationships, start talking to people, go put a bathing suit on, and get in the f–king game.”
And so that’s what Barbara does, and when the women roll up to a hotel pool for some relaxation, she seems to be much more involved in the happenings. But when Sonja and Luann join them post-AA, things take a turn. Honestly, I don’t entirely know how to describe what happened. In the car on the way over, Sonja expressed that she felt helpless during the meeting because she couldn’t share her story like Luann, and she also couldn’t do anything to help. “When I hear people tell their stories at AA, I can’t let it go. They reside in me, and I play them over and over and it makes me upset,” Sonja says.
I think Sonja would have to go to some more AA meetings to really understand how those stories could benefit her and not just upset her, but it’s also reasonable that her first meeting could have felt a little traumatic. That suddenly becomes very clear when they arrive at the cabana and Sonja starts weeping about how everything is wet and there’s sand everywhere…at the beach.
The other women pick up that something’s wrong and that they should get the food they ordered to-go and do lunch back at the house. Luann, who took Sonja to AA, thinks they should go for a swim in the ocean. “Maybe Luann needs a hearing test,” Dorinda suggests.
So while everyone else goes home and settles down over a nice lunch, Luann goes swimming, and then goes to look at her cabaret poster and ask a stranger to take her photo, saying, “I mean, this is a big moment for me, right?!” This does at least give Barbara an opportunity to bond with the other women over a now shared frustration with Luann’s self-absorption…
But it also gives them the opportunity to get worked up into a real tizzy, and by the time everyone heads out to dinner together, disaster is imminent. After they’ve toasted, Barbara tells Luann plainly that when Luann was in rehab, she put her whole life on hold to help her, but when Barbara was upset today, Luann didn’t even take the time to offer her some encouragement. “I really wanted you to come up to me and just give me a big Lu hug and tell me it was going to be okay,” Barbara says, which I thought was refreshingly vulnerable.
Luann hops out of her seat and tells Barbara she’ll give her a hug right now, to which everyone else screeches, “Let her talk!” Barbara adds that it was Bethenny who was comforting her earlier when it should have been Luann. And Luann agrees with Barb, and apologizes for not being there for her like a good friend would…
JUST KIDDING, Luann says in her testimonial that the other women have brainwashed Barbara, and then tells Barbara that it’s not her fault if it’s in Barbara’s nature to go out of her way to be protective of her friends. Wow!!! Tinsley chimes in that it is kind of her fault, “Because you let Barbara protect you in that way, and then you never stood up for her.” Except…
Tinsley stumbles over her words when she says “stood up for her,” most likely because she’s had a few drinks. And then Luann mocks her for slurring her words, mimicking back, “I never sturdurpfer what now?” Oh my…even Luann must feel the shift in the mood when she does that, because she immediately backtracks, saying she really didn’t understand what Tinsley said. “It just hit me sideways in the back of my head,” Bethenny says with a dangerous slowness in her testimonial. “I just thought, ‘Who the f–k do you think you are?'”
At the table, Bethenny screams, “You are in-suf-fer-a-ble!” Luann starts getting defensive, which includes her classic “everyone wants to tear me down” line, but now she’s directing it at Barbara, which is just really uncalled for. Someone telling you that you hurt their feelings is not them tearing you down. “So what, we build women up so we can tear them down, is that what we do here?” Luann scoffs, and Barbara whispers back, “I would never do that.”
“I have a question, Countess,” Bethenny says from across the table, and this is when things really start to go sideways: “When was the last time you asked me how I am about Dennis?” Luann responds that she probably hasn’t been as attentive to Bethenny’s tragedy as a friend should be, and she’s sorry about that, and she’ll try to do better…
JUST KIDDING, Luann sniffs back, “Well when was the last time you asked me how I am?” Bethenny screams that she asks Luann about herself all the time and that Dennis helped Luann so much with her case before he died, but she never even bothers to check in to see how Bethenny is feeling about losing her boyfriend. “Am I the only one who hasn’t checked in about it,” Luann scoffs, and even Barbara is like, Yeah, dude, we ask the lady how she’s doing from time to time.
“Well I haven’t really spent any time with you,” Luann counters, and even Ramona is like, Yeah, that’s THE POINT, you only care about yourself. So now, Luann goes into full victim mode, saying that she’s being bullied and Bethenny just stone-cold loses her shit. She’s up on her feet—never a good sign—and pacing around the table, at various times right in Luann’s face and at other times screaming across the table in the middle of this restaurant. “DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT I DID YOUR INTERVENTION WHILE MY GUY DIED OF A DRUG OVERDOSE AND YOU HAVEN’T ASKED HOW I AM?”
“Look at you,” Luann sneers from her seat about the scene Bethenny is causing. But no one else is on board with that sentiment—in fact, the whole rest of the table is crying because it’s so clear that Bethenny is in an immense amount of pain, and very little of it has to do with Luann.
Suddenly, Bethenny is gasping out the details of what she did for Luann during the intervention—”I had lawyers come to your house on a Sunday, I spoke to your kids, I sat in your driveway to make sure you didn’t drive your car, you almost crashed a boat and killed your friends, you were running in a field in a negligee, and had to be taken in cop cars, and I made sure they didn’t record it!”—while everyone else begs her to sit down because they’re genuinely afraid she’s going to have a heart attack. “She’s having a full-on panic attack, and it doesn’t have to do with just Lu,” Dorinda says in her testimonial. “She’s got a lot on her plates, and I don’t know how much she’s dealt with the whole thing with Dennis, but she can’t take the frivolity of this bulls–t anymore.”
Bethenny gasps out that she got Luann into rehab for free, and then she left two weeks early, to which Luann responds that she had to leave for work…
“IT WAS CABARET, YOU SICKO!”
Bethenny starts crying about Dennis, repeating, “You didn’t ask me once, you didn’t ask me once,” and finally, though we don’t see it, we hear Luann somewhere in the background saying, “Bethenny, I’m sorry, I’m sorry about Dennis.” Which just goes to show you that all it takes to get Luann to apologize is peeling open a traumatic wound in front of her and having a full-on, hyperventilating meltdown in a public place. Good luck, Babs!
TO BE CONTINUED…