Another trip to the Berkshires, another chance for friends to become enemies as Luann boots Sonja from her cabaret show.

By Jodi Walker
July 09, 2020 at 10:00 PM EDT
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I could have been happy with an entire Real Housewives of New York City episode of Dorinda giving a tour of her Berkshires home while the editors spliced in flashbacks of every single unbelievably chaotic thing that has happened over the years in every single room of Blue Stone Manor. Excluding, of course, the Moroccan room — nothing ever happens in the Moroccan room.

But the kitchen? Why, that's the home of Dorinda's infamous "I DECORATED, I COOKED, I MADE IT NICE." The dining room is where Sonja cried from somewhere deep inside her psyche, "YOU DON'T TOUCH THE MORGAN LETTERS!" And ah yes, the foyer, where Ramona's dog Coco once took the inaugural dump of 2017's Berkshires weekend. We don't even have time on this flashback tour to revisit the living room where Ramona accused Bethenny of sleeping her way to the top (on a waterbed, mind you), or Bethenny informing Luann that she sleeps with EVERYONE… well, that happened in every room of the house, I think. (Except the Moroccan room — never the Moroccan room.)

But every memory in the Berkshires isn't pure nightmare fodder. Dorinda's flashback tour also passes by the grand staircase, newly carpeted with a custom Missoni runner — and the exact spot where Dorinda once thrust her whole head into her own birthday cake for no apparent reason.

No, the thing most notable Berzerkshire moments have in common is simply a soul-deep possession by some kind of dark, powerful entity that takes a Housewife outside her mind and proceeds to use her body as a puppet for chaos. Because truly, only possession could explain most of the thing that have gone down in the Berkshires. And yet, I got to nearly the end of this episode thinking we might just escape this trip — or at least the first night of this trip — without anyone going full Amityville Horror around 3:15 a.m.

I was wrong, of course. I simply did not see Luann's possession coming. And possessed by the spirit of her own season 11 self? That is one poetic haunting, folks!

When the episode kicks off with Dorinda giving her housekeeper Len explicit instructions not to let Ramona treat her like she's hotel room service, it seems like the thrust of the drama will center around the fact that everyone's mad at Ramona. Elyse is mad because Ramona keeps excluding her from events, and Dorinda and Sonja are mad because Ramona dragged them out to Long Island to pose for her party planner's Instagram so she could get a free birthday. Leah and Luann inform Ramona that this is the precise reason Dorinda freaked out at her at the Halloween party, and Ramona responds: "No, I don think so. I think she's just in a lot of pain." And while that may be true…

I think Dorinda can simultaneously be going through some personal crisis that's making her rage-scream a lot and be just regular pissed that Ramona dragged her to Long Island to eat moon pies for a free birthday party. That surface-level anger (instead of whatever pathological situation fueled Dorinda to try to suck Tinsley's soul from her body for merely existing for three seasons straight) is the only thing that can account for Dorinda ultimately being pretty chill to Ramona when she arrives to the Berkshires saying she wants to make peace.

Dorinda is still mad that Ramona asked if she was drunk in a one-on-one conversation — which she sees as being more offensive than standing in front of an entire table of people and toasting to Ramona being a mean, nasty Ol' Schadenfreude — but she seems to be letting it go for now. Or maybe, just maybe, it's because Dorinda is counting on Elyse to tear Ramona up for her. But Elyse is a little too slick (or maybe a little too timid) for that. When Dorinda corners Elyse and asks if she's going to talk to Ramona, saying, "If Ramona did that to me, I'd be heartbroken," Elyse says in her (at-home!) confessional: "Dorinda and Sonja are both instigators. She's hoping I'm going to be as fierce as she is, and she will never miss an opportunity to watch Ramona squirm."

And wow, is that evident when Dorinda gathers everyone round the kitchen island to watch Elyse confront Ramona. Ramona asks Elyse to go to another room so they can talk…

And everyone just follows behind them like drama-thirsty ducklings. Normally this might annoy me, but with Ramona I get it. She doesn't like to talk to people alone so that she can be more vulnerable or honest — she likes to talk to people alone so she doesn't have to be held accountable for past or future actions. Elyse seems to mostly be upset that Ramona has now refused to let her hang out at two different Omar's on two different occasions. Both times Sonja has invited Elyse to come, and when Elyse tries to do so, Ramona informs her that she's just hanging out with these girlfriends tonight. I think Ramona knows she's been an a—hole, but she's happy to do that off-camera and directly to Elyse, whom she doesn't care about. But she doesn't want all the other women to hear what she's done and have a chance to talk trash about her obviously rude behavior on camera.

Elyse wants Ramona to treat her like the friend she used to claim her to be, but when it comes to friendships, Ramona is much more about quantity than quality. She simply cannot stop telling Elyse that she has 50 close girlfriends, as though that should mean anything specific to their own relationship. "You and I have become very close friends," Elyse tries to start the conversation once Ramona has moved them to a third location. "I have a lot of close friends!" Ramona screeches, cutting her off. "I'm gonna have a birthday party, I'll have 50 girlfriends there!"

And while there's so much to say about Ramona's inability to listen, I simply have to note that this woman has been bragging about having 60 close girlfriends who would be coming to her birthday party for weeks at this point. Now suddenly it's 50. So were the RSVPs lower than expected? Or has she just somehow managed to kamikaze 10 friendships in the last few days?

The latter would not be surprising, considering the way she won't listen to a single word Elyse says about how continually excluding her is hurtful. But for some reason Elyse just kind of gives up, which leads Ramona to finally say that Elyse is her close friend and she's sorry she made her feel any differently. But rest assured, she is not sorry, and anyone who has 50 best friends has no best friends at all.

But still, amends are made! And for a brief moment in time, this seems like a really fun weekend in the Berkshires. While Dorinda and Ramona talk about boys by the fire, you can actually hear overlapping chatter in the background like these are six real friends having real conversations with each other all over this house that definitely isn't cursed. They get excited about ordering in Chinese food for dinner, and Leah changes into her pajamas, and they're all lounging on each other and holding hands and telling one another that they're so pretty like happy, normal friends.

But happy, normal friends don't have disputes over paying them what they're worth because happy, normal friends don't have cabaret shows that they don't know are ironic.

Luann hauls Sonja up in front of the group and announces that they'll be doing a cabaret show together soon. Instead of the applause she's expecting, Ramona and Dorinda immediately want to know if Sonja is getting paid for her appearance this time. Luann laughs it off, saying she always pays Sonja, but following up with: "I want to bring Sonja into my show because I love her." That's a red flag. Love ain't money, honey! As Sonja says in her (still shockingly glam) at-home testimonia,: "I have a family to support, and people who depend on me… other than Lu."

Sonja is a little sloshed, and she teases about Luann: "She wants to exploit me!" Luann's eyes go black, and she explodes back, "I don't need you, go f— yourself!" Dorinda rightly asks if Luann is so angry at the mere thought of having to pay Sonja. Luann insists that she does pay her, and Sonja confirms that Luann pays her $250 to be in her show. "YOU PAY HER 200 DOLLARS?!" Ramona cries out, and it's the most relatable she's been all season.

Two things quickly become clear: Luann is drunker than we've seen her in a long time, and she is furious at the suggestion that Sonja brings any monetary value to her cabaret show that she could not bring on her own. But of course Sonja does. Not only is she another Housewife, which is the reason that people come to Luann's shows at all, but she's also a natural entertainer. Just moments ago, when the other women were complimenting her butt, Sonja spouted off, "With assets like these, why do I gotta work, baby?!"

But Sonja do gotta work. And so does Luann. And if Luann thinks anyone is unaware of the fact that her cabaret tickets can sell for much more and in much bigger spaces with Sonja on the marquee, she's got another thing coming. That thing is Dorinda and Ramona telling Luann she needs to pay Sonja what she's worth, and Luann cannot handle it. In her testimonial, she scoffs, "I have major Broadway talent in my shows — the best comedians, the best singers — and I am not going to pay Sonja Morgan more to be in my cabaret show and take off her dress." Okay, but people would pay more to see Sonja Morgan take off her dress…

And that's precisely what makes Luann mad. "I don't need you in my show, I have my own f—ing show," Luann absolutely rages. Sonja, not understanding how this has gotten so tense so quickly, says she knows Lu doesn't need her, but they're so funny together. "You have made me feel that you don't appreciate it, and guess what — I don't want you in the show!" Luann yells, as she storms off muttering iterations of "You're done" and "Don't want you in my show, bitch" over and over. Sonja breaks down into sobs, and it's pretty heartbreaking. We haven't seen Luann act this deranged in a long time, and she flipped in a second. When she sits backs, relaxes, and doesn't talk about her cabaret show, it's easy to forget Luann is about 10 percent water and 90 percent ego.

But when she starts sounding exactly like a certain president defending his ability to successfully walk down a ramp, it's a jarring reminder. Ramona tries to tell Luann that Sonja didn't mean anything bad, and Luann slurs back, "Yes she did! Guess what, I don't need her in my show, I have my own cabaret show, and I do a great job on my own, and I love what I do, I'm very successful, I'm on a national tour, you think I need Sonja Morgan who's going to take her clothes off onstage?"

Yes! Those sound like the words of a person who is secure in their own talent!

Meanwhile, Dorinda has decided she needs to defend Sonja because Sonja is weak, and she's strong, and Luann's strong, and they're all hammered, so this should go well. About the time Dorinda is telling Luann shame on her for picking on a friend who stuck by her in her journey of sobriety, we're hit with the "TO BE CONTINUED" card, and I'll pass it off to Leah for the final line…

"We are officially what you call 'off the rails.'"

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