By Jodi Walker
August 17, 2020 at 12:31 AM EDT
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Finally, in episode 3, we’re being properly introduced to the two newest Real Housewives of Potomac castmates. There’s Dr. Wendy, of course, and the introduction to her lovely family and many degrees. And then there are Dr. Wendy’s Eyebrows, which are raised all the way to the ceiling for most of the episode as they take in all the sheer clownery at play. Truly, no Housewives franchise brings the literal LOLs quite like Potomac. And when Karen — slumped down in her testimonial chair, sporting her little electrified Rosemary’s Baby chop, wearing her off-the-shoulder orange number — solemnly said about Monique’s parrot, “T’Choppa ain’t going nowhere,” I choked so hard, I thought I may never recover.

I wasn’t sure about Dr. Wendy when we caught a few glimpses of her in the last two episodes, mostly because her entry into the franchise is through Candiace, who I trust about as much as Gizelle’s kids trust the reverse-Parent-Trap their mom and dad are trying to deploy on the S.S. Shady right now…

But now that I’ve met Wendy, I’m intrigued. It’s not that her home is full of fewer crystals and faux topiaries than the other Potomac Housewives (it’s not). And it’s not that she seems less driven by drama or putting on air than the others (she doesn’t). It’s that when something absurd is happening, Wendy seems completely unable to hide her physical response to that absurdity. It’s like the opposite of a Resting Bitch Face…a Living Whew Face, if you will.

Wendy made a valiant effort to stand up for her friend Candiace a number of times during tonight’s arguments, but her stunned faces, raised eyebrows, and literal jaw-drops were dolled out as liberally to Gizelle demanding that Monique and Charisse hash out their super-secret differences in the middle of a party for an infant, as they were to the casual reveal that her good friend Candiace threw a knife at Ashely last season. Plus, Wendy seems like she’s come to play, and her husband is handsome and silent — the two most important things a Househusband can be.

In addition to getting to know Dr. Wendy and Dr. Wendy’s Eyebrows, we also got another installment of Potomac’s very own Dr. Doolittle on this episode. I’m happy to report that not only is Monique still toting T’Challa the parrot around on her shoulder to torment Karen, but also after a brief scare last week, T’Challa has safely returned to the Samuels household. If only Monique could apply her savant-level potty training skills for parrots and infants to all the messes Gizelle's whipping up for her.

This episode picks right back up in the middle of the dinner for Ashley where Monique and Gizelle apparently thought it would be a good idea to invite Candiace and demand an apology from her, as though there is any proof that would ever go well. As Candiace says, “There is a sordid history in this group of creating mayhem, foolishness, and contention at tables.”

If that’s not a thesis statement for the entire Real Housewives franchise, I do not know what is.

Now that’s not to suggest that I’m on Candiace’s side in all this. I just live in reality (or the reality that’s presented to me on my very favorite reality TV shows) and know that Candiace would never apologize after being told that she needs to apologize. She does, however… need to apologize. As Ashley reminds us while the editors flash Candiace’s many, many tweets on the screen: “She has called me a concubine, a wench, a roach; she has called my husband an overseer while I’m laid up in the hospital, legs wide open, pushing out a human.” But eventually, Ashley seems to accept Candiace’s request to hash out their differences without an audience, which Candiace says she prefers because she knows that doing it in front of the others will just result in “mass hysteria.” And this season, she says, we’re witnessing “a peaceful Candiace…nice to meet you.”

Then Robyn reminds Candiace of the time she threw a knife at Ashley, and Candiace peacefully invites her to “shut the f--- up.” Monique mockingly tells Candiace that they’ll just all shut up and listen to her, which does not go unnoticed by Gizelle, who will tell anyone listening — including the international Bravo audience — that Monique is mad because Candiace buddied up to Charisse, the woman who’s been spreading rumors about Monique having an affair. Of course, Gizelle seems to be the one who told Monique all of those things about Candiace’s betrayal…

But hey, maybe Gizelle did it out of the goodness of her heart and well-documented affection for Monique and all four of her homes.

“So how close are you and Charisse?” Gizelle up and asks Candiace at the table, apropos of nothing. Candiace responds that she’s been “okay” with Charisse for a while, which prompts Monique to tell her that she’s upset that Candiace didn’t give her a heads up that Charisse would be at her party, knowing they have a history. Candiace tries to say that she didn’t know their beef was that deep, which she’ll later switch in her testimonials to saying that she thought their beef was old, “like in the back of the refrigerator with mold on it?” To which I say — does that seem somehow better than fresh beef?

Either way, no one is buying that Candiace doesn’t know how much Monique despises Charisse and for what reason, and y’know what? Candiace actually apologizes for not letting Monique know that Charisse would be at her anniversary party. Karen calls an end to all of this arguing because she is just trying to enjoy her Chilean seabass in peace, and dinner is adjourned.

But then, something weird happens. The editors play the audio of something that was caught on mic but not on camera. It seems like Monique tried to speak to Candiace after dinner, who responds, “Don’t talk to me, we are not friends, back the f--- off of me.” Monique tells her that she “had to,” and Candiace tells her that she didn’t: “You could have come to me at the party and been like, ‘Why did you invite this hoe?’” In her testimonial, Cadiace says that Monique cannot be trusted: “She’s one way in front of the group, and she’s a whole different way when the group is not around.” I don’t know if “the group” is coded language for “the cameras,” but we’re just going to have to wait until the crudité has hit the floor to see who has the most faces between Monique and Candiace.

This is a weekly reminder that I shan’t be talking about Michael unless I absolutely have to, so let’s just say that he’s rude to Ashley in a baby boutique, and he…exists at the Sip-and-See she hosts for little Dean. Oh, and Ashley says this about her post-pregnancy healing: While Michael still appreciates me physically from the outside, he hasn’t been able to enjoy me from the inside.” Which simply has to be the worst possible way to say that. Ashley has plenty to apologize for in the past, but she better not dare feel guilty about anything regarding that man.

In a more palatable scene, we visit Wendy’s house where her little boys are learning the Igbo language from their grandmother who immigrated from Nigeria when Wendy was two years old. I really like that Wendy is sharing her Igbo culture with the Bravo audience so readily, and I’m also interested to see if her being a political commentator will have any effect on the way Potomac (or other franchises) discuss politics, which is usually not at all.

In addition to being a political commentator, Wendy tells us that she has a Bachelor’s degree in political science, a Master of Arts in government, a Master of Science in public policy, and a Ph.D. in community development public affairs. Which certainly makes her the most academically educated Housewife we’ve ever had…right?? I remain concerned for her career as a professor but eager for her contributions to the mess that is RHOP.

And now, in a turn of events I cannot believe, Gizelle and her re-husband Jamal are literally trying to Parent Trap their own daughters. Earlier in the episode — while wearing a v-neck t-shirt that said “grace angel adore” in tiny script cursive, and sitting on camp chairs on the deck — Gizelle told Robyn that’s she’s been shocked her daughters haven’t been more receptive to her dating their father who cheated on her, leading to their divorce when the girls were still tiny. “I thought all kids wanted their parents back together,” she exclaims in her testimonial. “I mean, I saw The Parent Trap!” Gizelle does, however, say that she respects her daughters' feelings, although it seems like she reeeeally wishes they had different feelings.

For Gizelle’s birthday, Jamal has come to town and rented a boat for them to have dinner on…you know, like the scene from The Parent Trap. The girls do not seem excited about this dinner, presumably because, as they’ve previously expressed to Gizelle, they feel like their dad is only trying so hard with them to impress her. So, naturally, when they sit down to dinner, Gizelle casually mentions that she’s seen Jamal twice since her daughters last saw him. Gizelle’s oldest daughter seems to be the most hesitant about letting Jamal back into their family unit, and I imagine that’s because she’s the most cognizant of what her dad did the last time they were a family, and that’s a very difficult place for a teenage child of divorce to be.

I do feel for Gizelle wanting this to work so badly, and being disappointed that it’s not working out the way she thought it would. But I also do not trust this preacher man as far as I can throw him, which in all those pink three-piece suits and razzle-dazzle brooches he’s always wearing…is not going to be very far.

Finally, it’s time for Ashely’s Sip-and-See, which I would normally tease her a little more about, but this seems like a big step in her postpartum journey. Gizelle, Robyn, and Monique all arrive first, and Gizelle and Monique actually have the nerve to congratulate themselves on hosting a successful dinner the other night. You know, the one that ended with Monique and Candiace screaming at each other off-screen. But they are insistent that there was “resolution.”

None of that resolution is evident when Candiace arrives. In fact, as she’s walking through the door, Monique is telling the others how Candiace doesn’t know how to be a genuine friend, and maybe if she feels completely iced out by them, then she’ll see the error of her ways. But when Candiace approaches the circle, everyone is still  all, “Heyyyyy, girl!” Soon, Wendy and Karen arrive, and the whole group convenes on the designated Housewives Couch™.

Finally, there’s a loud, insistent knock on the door…and it’s Charisse. Apparently, Ashley did inform Monique that she would be inviting Charisse to this party so that notorious Potomac etiquette is still in order, but Monique is clearly uncomfortable. But not as uncomfortable as Candiace is about to be...

Ashley sits down and tells Candiace that they were all talking about why the dinner escalated before she arrived: “This is not to attack you or gang up on you, but we want you to know that this is what we’re talking about, that it’s being talked about behind your back.” Well, that always makes someone feel good, and not at all like they want to escalate the situation! I do think that Candiace is a tiny little terror, but I also think these women aim to rile her up as much as possible. Perhaps that’s what leads Wendy to point out that maybe Candiace doesn’t consider everyone in this group her friend, and that’s why she doesn’t want to talk to Ashley in front of everyone. Wendy says she’s loyal to Candiace because that’s just the type of friend she is. Monique snorts: “Tread lightly, that’s what I was doing.”

Suddenly, Candiace and Monique are just talking about the same thing at the exact same time. They’re not talking over each other; they’re not raising their voices; they’re not even speaking to each other. They’re just performing opposite monologues at the exact same time. It is wild. Monique is saying that she’s never made fun of Candiace for living with her mom, or shopping for a $2 million home, or anything else, all she’s done is be loyal to her, but Candiace can’t be accountable for any of her actions. Candiace is saying that Monique is a flip-flopper and she doesn’t understand why, adding, “I don’t know, if you and Gizelle are friends now, maybe you need somebody to fight with.”

Oh boy…Monique, Gizelle, and Robyn all erupt: “Oh, it’s you this year! It’s not Ashley anymore!” And even if it’s true, I did feel bad for Candiace in that moment because everyone was outright laughing at her. Something about the seams of this operation are just a little shady. For example, once Candiace storms out saying she’s not doing this, then Gizelle suddenly turns her sights to a new conflict, telling Charisse that there was a whole lot of talk about her at dinner the other night. Monique tells Gizelle to leave it alone, but she keeps prodding: “You know, you guys used to be buddies, but when you came in, y’all didn’t speak.”

Gizelle is truly shameless in her pot-stirring.

Monique looks at her watch and then utters a line that I will be using every time I exit a room for at least the next year: “Yep, it’s time for my podcast, I gotta go.” And she is out.

And the moment she Monique is gone, wouldn’t you know that Gizelle starts quizzing Charisse on if she has any idea what Monique is so upset with her about. As though she herself doesn’t know why and hasn’t been telling every camera she lays her eyes on every single detail. I agree with Karen: “I want some more food.” And with that…yep, it’s time for my podcast! See you next week!

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