By Jodi Walker
August 31, 2020 at 12:51 AM EDT
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Let’s get this out of the way right from the top: our newest Potomac Housewife Wendy is doing a lot in this episode. Some might even venture to say she is doing, uh…entirely too much.

But when you’re making your debut in a Housewives franchise, too much is almost always better than too little, especially if you’ve got the chops to back it up. We’ll have to wait and see with Dr. Wendy, but I’m inclined to give her a long runway because, 1: I think she’s funny, especially when she’s exasperatedly saying “Kar-EN” in her testimonials, and 2: There’s a steep learning curve to The Real Housewives of Potomac because what you see is rarely what you get. You may think you’re just hanging with Robyn, shooting the s--- over some malt liquor Straw-Ber-Ritas in a park…but really this woman is collecting secret inventory on you, and she’s gonna run and tell it to everyone. You may think you can trust a woman who is permanently wearing joggers and waking up from a nap…but you would be mistaken.

And it seems that Dr. Wendy does not like to be mistaken. I don’t think Wendy’s problem in this episode is that she’s too aggressive, I think it’s that she doesn’t have a read on this situation yet and that is not a position she’s comfortable with. Maybe if Wendy knew more about Ashley’s at-home dynamic, she’d understand that Ashley leaving her baby with her monster-husband is a very different situation than Wendy leaving her baby with her husband, who seems like a doll. Maybe if Wendy had a better read on Robyn and Gizelle's subtly snarky ways, she’d be less inclined to extend her bridges to them while building up her walks to Karen…

Or maybe this is just our first taste of exactly the kind of energy Wendy brings at all times. We can only wait and see.

One other thing to address before we get to the episode — much of which revolves around Monique’s African Gray Parrot, T’Challa — is the heartbreaking death of Chadwick Boseman, who brought so much joy and happiness through his iconic performances, including T’Challa in Black Panther. In her Instagram tribute to him, Viola Davis said, “The power of legacy is that you become immortal." Monique’s bird may be a silly scene-stealer in season 5, but he is named for King T’Challa because of how much joy Black Panther and Chadwick’s performance in it brought to the Samuels family. As I cackled uncontrollably at T’Challa the parrot continuing to torment the cast of RHOP, I was reminded of what Viola Davis said — of how much joy Chadwick brought during his lifetime, and how much more his legacy will continue to provide…

Yes, even through T’Challa the bird, who absolutely owns this episode.

Monique has invited all of the women to her lake house, and when Gizelle and Karen arrive to ride out together, they’re informed that a fourth cast member will also be riding in the car: T’Challa, now complete with subtitles from our RHOP editors, who are not paid enough, no matter how much it is. The editors even deploy slow-mo plus a spotlight to catch T’Challa pooping moments before they all get in the truck. Karen begins gagging and flees the scene; Gizelle says in her testimonial: “T’Chile, no! T’Chile, never again!”

While Karen considers the surprising combination of their carpool, she’s less concerned with T’Challa and more concerned that Moniques’ newfound friendship with Gizelle could have a detrimental influence on her fashion sense. “Thank God Gizelle is a good-looking woman, cause god damn, she can’t dress at all!” Karen cries out in her testimonial. The editors then piece together clips from what appears to be a much longer tirade that I would pay money to hear in its entirety: “I’m ashamed to be seen with her sometimes because I don’t know what she gon’ wear! I got a headache talking about Gizelle’s clothes…do you have an Excedrin? Or a Tylenol?!”

Fashion aside, Monique, Gizelle, and Karen are a surprising trio — oh, but did we have some fun on their ride to the lake, eating off-brand Pringles the whole way! Chris has to physically lift Karen into the truck; there’s a great lingering shot of Gizelle wedged into the backseat with T’Challa like a preschooler in time out; Gizelle tells the others that she has to leave early to go to New York for a literary award ceremony, but she stumbles on her words and tells them she might win “an illiterary award.” Which, naturally, prompts a flashback to Gizelle stumbling her way through reading the description of her own book a few years ago. Oh, we have fun here!

The fun can’t last forever, though. Wendy becomes a point of conversation when it's revealed that Robyn told both Gizelle and Monique what Wendy said at the park last week: that she doesn’t think Karen and Ray still have sex. Which is super none of Wendy’s business, but she’s about to have much bigger fish to try than Karen being annoyed with her.

You see, Wendy and Ashley both have 3-month-old babies, but only Ashley is bringing her baby on this girls' trip. Wendy, only finding this out once she arrives at the lake house, says, “I’m sorry, I have never heard of a girls' trip including a newborn baby.” Personally, I have no problem with Ashley not feeling ready to be away from her infant baby yet — that is a journey every mother travels at a different pace, and I’m glad that she at least still came on the trip as opposed to staying home, even if it does mean the friends she brought to help her with the baby will be sleeping in a twin-sized bunk bed…

What I do have a problem with is the scene we see before Ashley leaves for Monique’s house where Michael comes in while she’s packing to make sure she’s taking the baby with her. Ashley seems unsure about whether she wants to do that, and Michael cuts in saying, “Babe, you are taking the baby because…” leaving space for her to answer. And when she doesn’t, he finishes the prompt for her: “Because you should be taking the baby.” Michael says Ashley hasn’t made him believe that she thinks the baby should be going with her — because she doesn’t, obviously. Michael is the one saying, and I quote: “He needs to be with his mom while he’s this young…three days is a long time, and that’s not good for a baby to be away from their mom for three days.”

If Michael thinks he’s about to tell a woman (and an audience full of people with children) that babies simply can’t be away from their mothers when they’re young, all so that he doesn’t have to take care of his own child and give his wife a damn break…he’s got another thing coming. And that thing is my rageful screams.

So when Ashley arrives with a baby and nanny in tow, the other women have some questions. Well actually, Robyn just asks one question — why Michael isn’t watching Dean — which Ashely responds to by cooing, “I couldn’t be away from hiiiim,” and that’s enough to set Wendy all the way off.

“Come on now,” Wendy says to Ashley, but Robyn reminds Wendy that Ashley is “a new mom.” Robyn means that Wendy just had her third child, whereas Ashley just had her first, but Wendy insists that she is also a new mom. She says she doesn’t understand why a baby was brought to a girls' weekend, to which Ashley responds: “My husband has to go to work!” From there, the conversation gets very heated very fast because they are addressing both children and husbands, two very sensitive spots, particularly on RHOP.

Wendy informs Ashley that her husband also works, but Ashely clarifies that her husband owns his own business, so he couldn’t possibly care for his child for three days.

What’s difficult for me in this argument is that I think Ashley is being treated unfairly…but I also think Ashley is protecting Michael as usual, and I believe with every fiber of my being that Michael deserves to be — what’s the opposite of protected? oh yeah — thrown in the Potomac River.

Wendy says that she pumped around the clock, planned childcare, and sacrificed to be able to come to this weekend and “be present,” so she doesn’t “have sympathy for [Ashley] saying she’s a new mother.” Ashley says that she didn’t ask for Wendy’s sympathy, and she needs to mind her own business and go FaceTime her kids…

Which Wendy does actually try to do after the argument just sort of…disperses. But the cell service is too bad at Monique’s lake house for anyone to communicate with their families back home, so everyone really will have to be present no matter what. And thank goodness, because otherwise, Wendy could have lost an eye, or at the very least, a weave, when T’Challa comes flying at her after she declares she’s there to get to know everyone one a deeper level. Karen says in her testimonial, “Maybe Wendy was talking about T’Choppa’s coochie box too,” which is yet another win for Karen this episode.

Later, Candiace golf-carts over to the guest house to give Gizelle an actual apology for “coming at [her] with a billy club and a machete to knock [her] head off” in response to Gizelle laughing at her a little on a Bravo aftershow. Gizelle accepts said apology, and then everyone heads to dinner, and they even make it on time because “Robyn doesn’t miss meals.”

At dinner, Ashley and Monique tell everyone about a game they’ve come up with called “The Game of Curiosity,” which turns out to just be…asking each other questions. And though this isn’t specified in the Game of Curiosity rulebook, it seems to be understood by everyone involved that the questions have to be absolutely buckwild. After Ashley asks Candiace about majoring in African American Studies in college, Gizelle adds on a secondary question: “So, is that why you got a nose job?”

“A nose job?!” Candiace gasps as the editors flash a photo of Candiace from 2002 onscreen with a fairly different looking nose. Gizelle demurs that she thought this was common knowledge, but Candiace just continues to say, “I got my nose done? When did I get my nose? When would I have gotten my nose done, Gizelle? Did you call me after my surgery?” I guess because, as a true devotee of the Game of Curiosity, Candiace assumes she can only speak in questions.

Then Karen takes over the mic and asks Gizelle: “Since Jamal cheated on you before and had babies with other women, how is it now being back with a man that did that?”

I mean…have these women ever heard of Code Names? Now that’s a game!

Gizelle says some things about forgiveness and trust and moving forward, and then aims the next question at Ashley: “Has ya booty hole healed?” Reader…the booty hole has not healed. So Karen asks her next question to Wendy, which is really less of a question and more Karen informing Wendy that all of the women have told her what Wendy said about her sex life because “Robyn is a tattletale, cute as she may be.” For the sanctity of the game, Karen tops it all off with: “So do you have something to say to me?”

Indeed, Wendy does have something to say to Karen, but it does not end up being about her “coochie box,” as expected. Wendy tells Karen that ever since she came into the group, Karen has been dismissive of her, and she doesn’t understand why. Karen denies being dismissive of Wendy; the editors roll clips of Karen being dismissive of Wendy. At the table, Karen states, “I’ve said it to you, and I’ll say it again in front of everybody — I don’t know you!” (If you’re wondering, it’s the “saying it in front of everybody” that makes it inclusive!) But the biggest beef here is not between Karen and Wendy, it's with the unresolved tension between Ashley and Wendy.

After agreeing with Karen to go to dinner before she talks about her coochie box again, Wendy admits that she is “sometimes a tough nut to crack.” Monique says that she definitely seems tough, like with what happened in the kitchen earlier, and Gizelle chimes in, “which was all caused by you.” Wendy disagrees that it was her fault, but says being a new mom was a sensitive subject. Then this happens:

Ashley: “You were ferocious.”

Wendy: “I was passionate.”

Ashley: “Ferocious.”

Wendy: “I was passionate.”

Something tells me Wendy doesn’t back down easily. Robyn kind of tries to help her out by asking her if getting to the lake house was stressful and Wendy agrees that the frustration and stress of getting there was probably “behind that energy” in the kitchen. So then Robyn tries to extend the prompting a little further — she may be a tattletale, but I also think Robyn genuinely likes Wendy — by saying, “So, do you think it warrants an apology, just for the delivery and the tone, not the content?”

Wendy has a very clear answer to that: “No, I don’t think it warrants an apology.” Multiple people around the table try to talk Wendy into apologizing but she’s not interested, to which Ashley yells, “That’s why you don’t have a lot of female friends!” I have to wonder how Ashley knows that, but she says it a few times, to which Wendy finally responds: “I don’t have a lot of female friends because I don’t deal with fake bitches like you!”

The whole table erupts. It is mayhem over appetizers! Ashley says Wendy’s defensiveness is unwarranted, but Wendy says it’s not defensiveness: “It’s checking yo ass, that’s what it is.” Then this happens:

Wendy: “Checking yo ass!”

Ashley: “Uncheck!”

Wendy: “Check, check!”

Ashley: “Uncheck, uncheck!”

Wendy informs Ashley that in the future she can address her as Dr. Wendy, and then…the episode just ends. I am worried about Wendy not making a lot of allies in this group, but I am much, much, much more interested in the text messages Candiace appears to be receiving next week. See you then!

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