By Jodi Walker
March 28, 2019 at 01:36 AM EDT

If Ramona is the Apologizer and Dorinda is the Denier, then I think that would make Bethenny the Instigator, Barbara the Meddler, Tinsley the Pushover, and Sonja is the One Who Ranks All Of Her Friends On a Scale of F—able to Unf—able. In this episode, at least…

I’ve been referencing the, ahem, bold way that the RHONY women unabashedly show their truest, messiest selves over on the recaps of RHOBH where, this season, those slightly less transparent women have been experiencing a rather messy fourth wall break. But on Wednesday’s RHONY episode, the NYC gals took a page out of the Beverly Hills handbook, offering up double-cheek kisses and outfit compliments over and over to their current nemeses. Because as Bethenny said of Dorinda and Luann’s simmering feud that both of them are so over and yet can’t stop talking about: “One day, they’ll beat the shit out of each other, and I’ll be with my popcorn front and center, but right now—we’re just making it nice.” REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK CITY -- Pictured: Sonja MorganBravo

But even a tame New York episode still has the possibility of ending with one woman asking another woman over to give her contracting advice, and then screaming her out of the apartment before the bubbles have even settled in her champagne.

A particularly interesting feature of this Luann/Dorinda feud going into full passive mode for an episode is that I was suddenly given the room to feel overwhelming empathy for some of the women who I’ve never felt a shred of fondness for. Because who amongst us hasn’t gone on a date with a man who has apparently under the impression that his condescension is equal to charm. And who among us hasn’t sat in horror while our mother and someone we’ve been told we should refer to as “Aunt Sonja” screech at us about how incorrectly we’ve been living our adult lives even though we permanently live in the penthouse of a fancy hotel and can apparently just say to any passing employee in the lobby, “I’ll have my usual,” and suddenly an ice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc is sitting in front of us?

And, honestly, who among us hasn’t complimented a frienemy on their hat even when we know the hat looks dumb because we just don’t have the energy for an awkward moment right now? That’s where the episode opens, with Luann finally traversing across Sonja’s Paper Magazine party to where Bethenny has beckoned her to come speak with Dorinda, and given the way Dorinda has been steaming for the last three episodes, I assumed this might go south fast. But noooo, Dorinda is all, You’re looking great, love the hat, I miss you, we should talk soon.

Luann, however, is in full Countess mode, which is to say, not causing a scene, but also not descending down to the level of actual kindness. But that’s the thing about Dorinda—she really seems like a warm person. Y’know, right up until someone suggests that she’s done anything wrong in her life, ever, and then she’s like the yapping neighborhood dog, trying to jump straight through the chain-link fence and eat your face off.

But before we can get to that portion of the episode, a woman calls out to Sonja at her party, “Sonja, can I come kiss you?” Then that woman comes over, sensually kisses Sonja…sensually kisses Sonja again, after which Sonja tells us she didn’t know the woman, she’d just assumed she was coming to give her a business card. Which given that the woman called out her intentions from a platform across the room like a lesbian Juliet, was perhaps a little naive. But Sonja, poet of our generation, doesn’t mind, singing to Luann: “Money can buy you a-a-ass.”

Indeed, but it can’t buy you class, and it can’t buy you a mother who will treat you like an adult when you’re 43 years old. Dale arrives at Tinsley’s hotel home for drinks with a dog in a turtleneck in one arm, and a giant Louis Vuitton bag on the other, that of course, contains a Christmas stocking she’s needle-pointing for the boyfriend of Tinsley’s sister, Dabney. Tinsley also has a boyfriend and a rich person name, so why can’t she get a stocking made for him? Well, because Dale is off the Scott bandwagon given that he has yet to impregnate her daughter, and also because she is the kind of mom who will wear your ex-husband’s new wife’s shoe line, point it out to you, and then say, “Whaaaat, I happen to love her things!”

Dale truly is a wild one. It’s no wonder Sonja enjoys her, saying that Dale “rubs off good on me—I feel like when I’m around her I learn things and she makes me a better person.” But when Sonja meets them for drinks, it’s Tinsley who tells her the correct way to pronounce her daughter’s recent “cum laude honor,” which Sonja quickly repeats enough time until she screams “cum lord!” in Dale’s face. Dale laughs and laughs, because Sonja isn’t the daughter she needs to get impregnated before no one will take her anymore (Dale’s clear thoughts, not mine!). Sonja chops up Tinsley staying with Scott as her “undervaluing herself,” and even if she’s probably technically right, her and Dale’s non-stop screeching about Tinsley’s love life right in front of Tinsley made me want to slam a bedroom door, scream into a journal, and listen to angsty anthems.

Sonja flittering around her townhouse, screaming at an assistant that the curtains are wet, and descending into the basement full of floral suitcases and Christmas decorations that haven’t been touched in a decade—that feels like home to me. Although, I trust Dorinda when she notes that Sonja has been a lighter, happier person in her new apartment, and the moment she sees Sonja back in the townhouse, “It’s like a paranormal witness feeling … it grabs hold of Sonja’s personality and she’s, like, manic.” Totally true, but what can I say? I love my Grey Gardens girl!

You know what else I love? Seeing Luann, despite all her best efforts, be humbled. She’s going to make it seem like she’s happy to do community service as part of her probation, but the second she realizes she can barely handle ladling garbanzo bean soup into plastic tubs, the snipes start rolling in. I’m just thankful for the Emmy this scene will ultimately win these editors when, after Luann touts that she’s done community service in the past, they splice in a flashback from 2009 to her telling a 10-year-old girl who wants to be a model that she’s in luck because that means she’ll have plenty of time to lose the weight…

I’m shocked, frankly, that Ramona’s awful date didn’t have something similar to say. Ramona has apparently turned to a matchmaker named Rori to set her up on dates, and first on the list is Marc. Our girl rolls up in her finest autumnal macramé and proceeds to be surprisingly charming and patient as Marc mentions twice in the first 10 minutes that he lived in Paris for two years. And y’know, that’s fine—Paris is cool, and maybe he just wanted to impress her! But then he starts telling Ramona about his views on marriage, and how we’re animals who weren’t meant to be monogamous, and that’s all well and boring, except Ramona vocally disagrees, and he just will not shut up about it. He literally says “Can I give you my philosophy on marriage?” and when she says no, he says, “I’m gonna do it anyway.”

But at least those RHONY editors can just stay on stage for their second Emmy in honor of the scene where, in her testimonial, Ramona lists the things she looks for in a man (a man who’s been married, a man who no longer has to work from morning until night, someone who likes to be social, someone with strong morals), spliced with Marc completely contradicting each one verbatim on their date (“I’ve never proposed marriage,” “I work from when I wake up to at night,” “I love total isolation,” “it’s unnatural to be monogamous”). Truly incredible stuff.

Ladies, get you a man who is anything—literally, anything—but a deliberate contrarian.

Finally, it’s time for Dorinda and Luann to sit down together and hash out their differences. Bethenny, a comedian, deems this a “gangster lunch” at some point for some reason, and half the participants decide to dress up in costume…for this lunch to salvage a friendship. Inexplicably, this means that Dorinda temporarily dyes the end of her hair pink and wears a cold-shoulder (???) Adidas sweatshirt. Luann does no such thing, and that should just about tell you the tone that they’ve both come into the lunch with. Dorinda is being conciliatory while Luann is being cold. Dorinda just wants to move forward, but Luann wants Dorinda to cop to the things she’s done in the past, like heckling Luann about Jovani at her cabaret show last season.

“Just own that you heckled the Jovani,” Bethenny encourages. “I didn’t heckle the Jovani,” Dorinda lies. Here have a scene of Dorinda explicitly heckling the Jovani, say the RHONY editors.

Barbara is right when she says that Dorinda is her own worst enemy. Luann is, pretty typically, a judgmental, self-righteous hypocrite. It would be so easy to just admit her side of the wrongdoing, throw out an empty apology, and come out of this looking like the hero…

But the woman literally cannot do that as evidenced by her disastrous final conversation with Barbara. Now, admittedly, there’s no reason Barbara should keep meddling in this situation. Despite mostly going around in circles, Luann and Dorinda both left that lunch agreeing to call it a truce and move on. So it’s definitely unnecessary that when Barbara goes over to Dorinda’s apartment to give her renovation advice because she’s thinking about renting or selling the place, she starts telling Dorinda how Luann was disappointed she didn’t apologize for anything at the lunch.

You can quite literally see Dorinda’s soul leave her body. She’s been maintaining a “be the bigger person” aura all episode, talking about how they don’t have to be friends right now, but if they could just move forward, maybe they could one day…and then all it takes is the suggestion that she should apologize for something to completely undo her carefully constructed wall.

“She’s stuck, the poor girl,” Dorinda says (I’ve come to realize that “poor girl” is one of Dorinda’s rage tells). “I feel sorry for her, she’s gotta get someone to help her with that because I think she’s shadowboxing, she wants to victimize herself and villainize me, and you know what, to tell you the truth Barbara, I don’t even think about it, I mean she’s almost obsessed with it, I’m really worried, maybe she should just talk to someone about it,” Dorinda rattles out with the breath control of an Olympian long-distance swimmer. And she’s right about one thing: Luann does want to victimize herself and villainize Dorinda. But what Dorinda can’t seem to wrap her head around, is that when she starts manically insisting that someone else is obsessed with something she’s clearly obsessed with herself and then suggesting that person needs to “get help,” she’s only villainizing herself.

But once Dorinda’s rage ship has sailed, it has sailed and she is having none of Barbara defending Luann’s perspective and starts telling her she can’t do this, and that Babara needs to be careful because “You can ask the other girls, you’re starting to look like you drank the Kool-Aid.” And Barbara certainly has hitched her wagon to an unsteady horse, but Dorinda doesn’t make the strongest case for herself when she breaks down crying about this thing she allegedly doesn’t ever think about, yelling, “This has gotta end because I will not get sick over this, I won’t,” and kicks Barbara out of her home.

What do you think, did Barbara deserve the dramatic booting? Do you think there’s any way Dorinda’s real estate agent from 20 years ago was maybe actually an…animatronic puppet of some kind? And did anyone laugh as hard as I did (and then wonder if it was bad to laugh that hard) when Ramona compared the hunched over Halloween zombie to Bethenny crying in next week’s preview? Welp, either way—see you then!

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Episode Recaps

Ramona, LuAnn, Sonja, Carole, Heather, Kristen, and Dorinda—and oh, yes, Bethenny—are in a New York state of mind.
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