There are two things that make The Real Housewives of Potomac stand out from all the other Housewives franchises: 1. How dynamic each and every one of the interpersonal relationships within the group is, and 2. How transparent the psychological reason for each and every one of those relationship dynamics is.

Only Karen and Gizelle’s Dynasty-esque history could spark the immediate nausea that came with hearing Gizelle mention she planned to check in with Karen about her rumored issues with Ray (followed up with the fleeting thought: “Well, maybe Karen IS the only person Karen could really open up to”). And, of course, anyone who’s watched Ashley deal with every other relationship in her life understands why, even though she’s never been particularly close with Monique, suddenly she’s her greatest defender when Monique really messes up, and everyone is against her, but she swears she’s changing (sound familiar?). And you don’t have to be a therapist (or a life coach, or a talk radio host) to see where Candiace’s need to be chosen by Karen comes from.

All of these dynamics are on delicious display in this episode, but I also must admit that since things got physical — and subsequently, legal — on RHOP, season 5 has taken a much darker direction than we could have anticipated back when Ashely was talking about her torn booty hole and Karen was shooting an entire handle of Fireball in a basement rec room…

Luckily, on Potomac, there’s still time for fun, even when it is tucked in between lawsuits and friendships torn asunder.

For example, when Gizelle enters a jewelry shop, in tonight’s opening scene, acting to all the world (and the sales associate looking for a commission) like she’s picking out a diamond ring, only for Juan to arrive and inform us that this trip is for him to pick out a ring for Robyn. And then Gizelle has the nerve to act like Juan should buy Robyn a $60,000 ring, knowing full well that she is outfitted head-to-toe in capped-sleeve Marshall’s couture, and that this “double for my trouble” rule she’s invoking is about as likely to come to fruition for her and Jamal as an actual commission check is for this poor, patient sales associate.

But the grandest reveal of them all is that while these two are shopping for diamonds, Robyn is back home forcing her 10-year-old son to hold a lopsided iPhone through a ring light so she can film spon for her new leopard print hat company. Truly a chef’s kiss scene for me. Later, Juan asks Robyn’s parents for their-blessing-2.0 when Robyn goes to the restroom at a bowling alley —because the cast of Potomac exclusively has important conversations with their parents during time-sensitive bathroom breaks, apparently. Although now that I’m thinking about it, maybe Robyn never went to the restroom at all, but to the arcade counter to use her tickets to buy that “hiding from the IRS” wig that everyone rags on her for later.

In times of duress, at least we can always count on  Robyn to be there with a hat and wig to unintentionally make us laugh.

Elsewhere, Monique is trying to rally the troops to come to her “Not For Lazy Moms” live podcast show. She says she wants them there less for support, and more to show them how much she’s changed since two weeks ago when she told them she had no remorse for trying to beat Candiace up at the wine barn. From the way that Monique was talking about her growth and soul-searching, I thought maybe there was some sort of time jump that, for the first time ever, the RHOP editors were not taking the opportunity to reveal via a title card. But no — Robyn confirms that it’s been less than two weeks since the wine barn incident.

I have always liked Monique, and I believe that with enough sessions with her sweat-panted pastor, she really could put in the work to figure this all out in a healthy way. But I can also understand how trying to convince her co-workers that she’s grown into a different person over the course of two weeks would just annoy them more. Especially given that she’s blaming her outburst at the wine barn on pushing all of her emotions down in order to seem perfect, and now she’s…expediting the process of actual growth in order to seem perfect.

But the most frustrating part to me is, at this point, Monique has expressed to her pastor that she feels remorse for physically lashing out at Candiace — so I don’t know why she doesn’t just tell the other women that when she calls to invite them to the podcast?!

Aside from that though, I did like that Monique’s personal advisor (and Chris’ godfather), Pearl, listened in on all her calls to the other women, telling her afterward: “Baby girl, we want people to be and think the way we think — but that’s not reality.” It seems like all therapists/life coaches/radio hosts/godfathers should be given access to the speakerphone calls made by these women in order to offer their most sound counsel.

The whole cast (sans Monique, as is the norm these days) does eventually come together for Wendy’s event. She describes Wine with Wendy as “a gathering of Black women who are movers and shakers in the DMV area, getting together to make positive changes in our community.” And I don’t say this often about Housewives events, but…it seemed pretty cool. I liked seeing Wendy in her element, talking about the social and political issues specifically affecting Black women and their families, and I especially liked the message — airing nine days ahead of Nov. 3, ELECTION DAY 2020, Y’ALL — that voting in your federal and local elections is one of the most important avenues to creating the changes you want to see.

Candiace warned Wendy ahead of time that she was going to pull Karen aside at her event because they needed to have a conversation. That conversation is regarding the fact that Karen has been so insistent on staying out of this matter between Candiace and Monique, and tried so hard not to choose one side over the other, that she’s managed to upset both of them (a few scenes earlier, Ashley helpfully informed Monique that Karen told Candiace she would press charges if she were in her shoes). While the other women discuss Karen’s marriage upstairs, Candiace takes Karen downstairs to discuss “the elephant in the room” — and she’s not talking about Robyn’s Spirit Halloween wig.

Candiace says she feels that Karen has been coddling Monique and making excuses for her, and in doing so, she’s chosen Monique’s side. “No,” Karen responds.

“What I need to hear from you is that you understand that what Monique did was wrong,” Candiace says. “It’s confusing to me that, seeing what you saw, you can still be this soft.”

And it’s confusing to me that Karen has told Monique that she thinks what she did was wrong — but she won’t just say that right now to Candiace to end this conversation. Instead, she says: “One of the things I know about you, Candiace, is that you are brilliant. Your mind is just so powerful — but so is your mouth.” Which causes Candiace’s eyeballs to give an Oscar-worthy performance. But Karen isn’t done. She says she’s insulted that Candiace wants her to be against Monique, especially considering that a year ago, it was Candiace she was coddling and protecting. “When I was holding you down, I didn’t always agree with what you had done or said to others,” Karen says. “And I am doing no more for my friend Monique than I did for you!”

It is quite the monologue, and I feel for Karen being stuck in the middle of mothering her two wayward semi-daughters. Unfortunately, she follows it up with a very weird add-on once Wendy joins in on the conversation, exclaiming, “Something is wrong with Monique medically, and I will stand neutral until I hear the medical reports!”

Karen and Wendy start getting into it about the medical definition of rage blackouts, but Candiace stops them before it goes too far, saying she doesn’t want to cause further division in the group. Considering that next week, Karen is going to have to explain to the woman she’s been sticking up for so hard why she also advised Candiace to press charges against her… I don’t think RHOP is going to be able to present a untied front for quite a while. See you back here next week for damage control!

Related stories: