Real Housewives of Orange County recap: 'We Have a New Puppet Master'
The housewives are still recovering from last week's dinner blowout
We’re only four episodes in, but I’m ready to make an early verdict: I don’t love Peggy. I think she is probably a nice person. Her family seems quite nice. And I think it’s admirable that she is letting cameras into her life as she deals with a very sensitive health issue — maybe her story can help people! But, oh my God, as a Housewife? I’m a little over her already.
It’s not just that she’s so reserved in group settings that she makes Meghan’s boring baby scenes feel like Homeland. It’s that she refuses to play the game, to get involved — she is keeping the rest of the Housewives and their drama at an arm’s distance. And, sure, maybe you would also steer clear of a a feud between a group of friends you’ve only just met in a very contrived, artificial way. But then again, it’s television. Bravo is not the place to try to be Switzerland, Peggy! Have some feelings on the matter! Weigh in! Pick a side!
This week’s episode picks up with the two tribes of warring Housewives recapping their own version of what happened at the not-so-Quiet Woman. Tamra invites Shannon over to debrief, and they seem to have a pretty solid handle on the whole thing. Shannon, avoiding the blame game, admits that she’s not thrilled with her own behavior. Sure, Kelly appeared to be wasted and totally pushed her buttons, but Shannon took the bait, and for that she’s embarrassed and ashamed. Luckily, Shannon seems to shake off the stress of the evening quite quickly, because later in the episode, she has something far more stressful to worry about: teaching her eldest daughter how to drive. “You have to be aware of the people around you because they’re the ones that are going to hit you,” Shannon warns Sophie at one point, which feels like a fairly on-the-nose metaphor if you ask me.
Kelly is — surprise! — far less charitable in her retelling of the story, practically bragging to her husband about the things she said to Shannon while concluding that Shannon owes her an apology. Kelly repeats the “Keep eating!” line like it was funny or something, and at no point does her husband seems fazed by her behavior. You’d think someone would point out to Kelly that if she really doesn’t “want to have conflict with people,” as she says, maybe she shouldn’t go for below-the-belt remarks every single time. But instead, she and her husband start reminiscing about all the times she’s been kicked out of parties, which for most people would be a red flag, not a badge of pride.
Throughout the episode, word of the party makes its way to the other Housewives. First, Vicki gets the lowdown from Lydia, who is throwing a big movie-premiere-themed birthday party — complete with a red carpet and photographers — for her son Stirling. Based on the cardboard cutouts at this party, the kids apparently all watched a very early screening of The Emoji Movie? How long ago was this filmed? Did The Emoji Movie arrange for this conveniently timed promo, even though I don’t think anybody directly referenced the movie itself? (Now think about how many times we heard the Quiet Woman mentioned.)
The real purpose of the party, of course, seems to be getting Vicki and Peggy together. Given the giant rift fracturing the Housewives this season, Vicki seems eager to scoop up an ally, and she hovers over Peggy like she sees an opportunity. After hearing about the Quiet Woman dinner, she offers to teach Peggy how to be tough, warning her that the Housewives will “be your friend, then turn on you.” She also asks about Peggy’s cancer scare and seems quite interested in finding out whether Peggy actually had cancer in her body or whether it was strictly preventative. It’s a weird line of questioning — I don’t know, Vicki, maybe let’s put a few seasons of distance between you and the Brooks debacle before we start asking questions about whether someone really has cancer or not. (Recap continues on page 2)
While we’re on the subject: Like Lydia in her first introduction with Peggy, Vicki too asks about Peggy’s health issues and then acts like Peggy just overshared, telling the camera in her one-on-one interview that she thinks health issues are private matters. Then why ask about it? The totally cynical argument would be that it gives Vicki an opportunity to win over Peggy’s loyalty by offering to run errands for her or on-call for Peggy whenever she needs it. Vicki and new Housewives don’t always get along, as a helpful Bravo supercut reminds us, but it’s funny how quickly that attitude changes when you’re trying to outnumber your enemies! For what it’s worth, Peggy seems genuinely moved by the offer and talks in detail about how when you go through something like what she did — something that maybe your friends don’t know how to talk to you about or handle — friendship, hugs, and human touch go a long way. And when they do finally meet up, they don’t spend the whole time talking about other Housewives — they talk about losing parents and family in a way that feels genuine. Maybe I should give Vicki the benefit of the doubt.
Word of the party makes its way to Meghan via Kelly, who drives out to see her and patch up their friendship. Apparently during the off-season, Meghan heard that Kelly had a boyfriend who was not her husband, but when she asked Kelly about it, Kelly didn’t appreciate the inquiry. So, according to Meghan, Kelly retaliated by texting Meghan and telling her that her husband was having an affair. Hold up — I thought we learned from last season that spreading rumors about other Housewives’ husbands was just a recipe for disaster? Let alone doing it to someone who’s seven months pregnant?! Kelly shrugs it all off, though, telling the camera, “I have a hard time controlling myself.” Um, no duh!
So Kelly fills Meghan in on the Quiet Woman dinner, and once again I’m surprised that no one really takes Kelly to task for the things she said. Does everyone think Kelly making fun of Shannon for her weight is okay? Or when you’re dealing with someone like Kelly, is it just not worth it to start a fight? While they’re discussing what went down, Meghan’s nanny — her cousin, whom Meghan apparently hired willy-nilly because she didn’t know nannies were supposed to have, you know, qualifications or experience — lets Meghan know that her baby is crying and probably hungry. Meghan starts breastfeeding, but how do we know the baby wasn’t crying because she could detect Kelly’s presence? I mean, if Meghan thinks her baby can see ghosts because she just came from “the spirit world,” as she just said last week, surely this baby would know if a vengeful soul has entered her home?
Meghan’s house isn’t the only stop on Kelly’s O.C. tour this week. She also brings the cameras into her vaginal rejuvenation appointment, which mostly seems like a ploy to freak Vicki out. Ostensibly, Vicki came along for moral support and/or a ride home, as one does when your friend is going in for a procedure. But she spends most of the episode squealing in a corner while Kelly gets awfully frank about the inner workings of her body and makes a lot of jokes about how the tools being, uh, inserted into her are the most action she’s gotten in a long time.
Tamra, meanwhile, is having a far less lighthearted week. First, she has a heart-to-heart with her son Ryan, and Ryan’s terrible beard, about his relationship with Simon, Tamra’s ex-husband. She quickly starts crying — but wait, it’s actually for kind of a good reason! She’s crying because she’s happy to hear that even though Ryan and Simon didn’t always get along, Ryan’s grateful for his tough love and knows that Simon was only hard on him because Simon wanted to see him succeed.
There’s a reason Tamra’s been thinking a lot about family, divorce, and strained relationships: She has to go speak at a dinner for Erasing Family, a documentary about estranged family members and “exposing corruption in divorce courts.” It’s a topic that hits close to home for Tamra, as regular viewers already know that Tamra has been somewhat estranged from her daughter Sidney ever since Tamra and Simon divorced. But Tamra, joined by her brother and her dad — her mom, who is divorced from her father, didn’t attend, to Tamra’s dismay — offered the event’s attendees a message of hope. Even though she shunned her father after he divorced her mother, they’ve managed to patch things up. And she’s confident that she and Sidney will also find their way back to a relationship one day, just as she did with her father. There are already promising signs: Tamra reveals in the episode that she and her daughter recently ran into each other unexpectedly and had their first non-courtroom/non-counselor’s office hug in four years.
It’s kind of a heavy way to end the episode, sure, but I’m just glad the episode ended with someone crying happy tears for a change.
The Real Housewives of Orange County