Dorinda tries one more time to take some accountability for her actions throughout the season, but it's all a little too late.

By Jodi Walker
September 25, 2020 at 12:07 AM EDT
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Bravo editors, count me in for wanting to see a clip package of the weird things the Housewives say and do with absurd frequency each and every season, for each and every Housewife, on each and every franchise. I have no idea how these editing saints (and also monsters) could sit through 20,000 hours of footage and retain these repetitive behaviors, but I thank them for the montage of Real Housewives of New York City's Sonja saying "catch a dick" upward of 1,000 times.

In the same clip package, we were treated to watching Ramona's annual apology tour, Luann rushing people to leave various establishments, Dorinda saying "here's the thing" before every single statement, and Leah smelling things, which absolutely gave me the biggest laugh. As someone who also weirdly smells things a lot, to not only see a montage of Leah doing that (a habit of hers I'm positive the editors only used so that they could end it with the clip of her smelling her armpit and declaring, "I stink"), but also see her discover this weird thing she does in real time… was a great and unexpected joy right off the top of the episode.

And it's a good thing we had that moment of joy in our vaults, because even more than the last two reunion installments, this final episode of season 12 had a dark cloud looming over it — and I don't just mean the smell of old rugs hanging in the air of whatever New Jersey storage unit they filmed this thing in. At this point, we all know that Dorinda won't be returning to the franchise next season, and though we don't know exactly whose decision that was, it's obvious that her bullying and unpredictable anger were the catalyst for the decision. So it would have been nice to see her off on a high note…

But I guess if that had happened, maybe we wouldn't be seeing her off at all. I would say the saddest moment was watching Dorinda have an amazing idea — Bravo should rent Sonja's Grey Gardens townhouse to start filming the next season during this era of social distancing — and then realizing that Dorinda won't be on the next season, but she didn't know it yet.

Of course, the other half of this dark cloud of a finale is that when we're not talking about how angry Dorinda was this season, we're talking about how awful Ramona is all the time — all the while knowing that she will still be on next season. Really, the only silver lining is Sonja consistently sticking up for both of them with her side remarks from the corner, while also acknowledging that they're monsters. But they're her monsters…

They just may not be ours anymore.

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Things kick off with a segment on all the times Ramona was a bad friend this season, while also bragging about her alleged 50 best friends to her actual three best friends. To quote Sonja's epic line from the season: "You're not a socialite, you're social-f—ing-heavy!" Sonja inevitably gets riled up talking about how many of Ramona's 50 best friends were her friend first, which inevitably brings up the very contentious and mysterious topic of Pamela Morgan. Sonja once again exclaims that Pamela did her daughter's baby shower, so Ramona demands to know how many times Sonja has seen Pamela recently, and then — I kid you not — brags that she's seen Pamela "15 times since I got back." Oh, wow, Ramona, I didn't realize that you were in a social pod with Pamela Morgan during this national pandemic.

But Sonja has a much better zinger for Ramona: "Where are these people gonna be when it's you and me, two-for-one martinis at the Burger Heaven, huh?" Sonja's point is that Ramona's superficial friends are just using her, but of course the gag is that Ramona's just using them too. But Ramona acts like all 50 of them are her soulmate, which she explains by continuing to allude to how much she is currently seeing these 50 women during a global pandemic: "I hang out with them for birthday parties, dinner parties, bar mitzvahs — I see them all the time, I'm so blessed!"

And apparently these women are where Ramona got the idea that it would be okay to tell Sonja she needed to lose a few pounds at the spa, making her cry, and as she tells Andy, start self-consciously eating even more. "That's not my fault!" Ramona barks, when it quite literally is. Ramona says that her girlfriends tell her she's looking porky, "and I go, 'Oh s—, you're right!'" as though she's going to make an audience full of women believe that without someone else telling us, we would have no idea what kind of shape our bodies are in, as though that's not what society is asking us to think about 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And then Sonja adds the worst part: It was also after Ramona's comment that she "stopped having sex with my Netflix-and-chill guy!"

Ramona is slime for that. But at the end of it all, when Andy asks the women how they feel about Ramona right now, Sonja's answer is the same as always: "We're family, I love her." I guess it really is BOGO martinis forever for these two — and Ramona would be wise to remember that.

So, with Ramona out of the hot seat (and to her knowledge, never even in the hot seat because everything rolls off of her like an eel), it's time for Dorinda, who things roll off of about as well as a California king covered in glue. Throughout this entire reunion, when Dorinda is asked by Andy if she made any mistakes this season, she seems able to admit to it, but when she's asked to actually own up to the way those mistakes affected her castmates, she just can't get there. When Jake from Minneapolis informs her that she told Sonja early on in the season, "There's nothing carefree about me, I'm not nice to anyone anymore," and then "proceeded to prove it" (extremely sick burn, by the way, Jake from Minneapolis), Dorinda says: "This season, I was more overwhelmed than I've ever been, and I don't think I reached out for help enough."

Which is probably true, but it doesn't negate the fact that in not reaching out for help, she was also lashing out in anger constantly. It is crystal-clear that Dorinda is in pain and has some unresolved things in her past that need to be considered before she can maintain healthy relationships with friends and/or alcohol. And throughout the third installment of this reunion, Dorinda finally cops to that pain in a way that she wouldn't during the season, but she also refers to it in the past tense, as though she's done all the work she needs to do to get past whatever has been driving her anger and resentment toward the other women.

She can get away with this at some points, like when she tells Ramona that she wasn't compassionate to her pain during the season and just made it worse. Because, of course, the moment Dorinda says that Ramona wasn't there for her outside the show, Ramona opens the conveniently located drawer beside her and pulls out a thick stack of printed texts like the sleaze that she is. (For the record, the texts don't seem to prove much, because when Ramona later throws them at Dorinda's feet, screaming dramatically, "I love you, why are you doing this?!" Andy then picks the papers up, and reads through them like the investigative pot-stirrer that he is. His silence about the texts' contents suggest he has no notes.)

It's when Luann finally gets her chance to speak that we see clearly the current state of Dorinda's accountability. Luann says Dorinda hurt her this season by bringing up her arrest and mug shot not once but twice, and then she went on Watch What Happens Live and told Andy that she doesn't regret what she said. Luann asks, "Don't you look at yourself and go, 'Oh my God, I can't believe I said that to Lu?'"

Dorinda finally admits that what she said was wrong, but then she adds on her signature line: "I want to go back to where were when we first met because we had such a great love affair." But Luann isn't taking her up on that offer this time. She tells Dorinda they can't possibly go back to that "if you're harboring these thoughts when you drink, and it comes out." Dorinda says she wants to work on it, and Luann tells her directly that what she can work on is "the fact that you are holding these resentments toward me and I can't change that for you." Dorinda kind of scoffs and looks around the room like she's been doing for the whole reunion, as though she'll find everyone nodding in agreement that of course Dorinda doesn't hold any resentment against Luann, which she then vocally claims there isn't.

The minute Andy asks her why then would she bring up Luann's arrest, she says once again, "Well with the arrest, I find it interesting that Lu wants to lecture to me when it's between Ramona and I, and she steps in and lectures me when we're in such a good place." Which is actually the thing that everyone in the room scoffs at because not only is it factually incorrect, it also shows that she clearly does still hold this resentment against Luann.

To quote Dorinda, "here's the thing" about Dorinda: Her anger and resentment have gotten to such a level that they are blindingly clear to everyone except her. She thinks that if she runs around in circles enough, everyone will just move on, but people can't just move on without some suggestion that the future will be different. The definition of insanity, and all that…

Although, I guess I should revise my previous statement about "everyone" being able to see Dorinda's resentment because even Bravo's sweetheart Leah can stray from the light, committing one of the hardest "they had us in the first half, not gonna lie" moments I've ever seen. When asked by Andy how she feels about Dorinda's behavior during the season, Leah says: "I would kind of rather deal with someone that has anger issues than deal with someone that says horrific things all the time like Ramona."

Which, sure. But then she finishes the thought: "Because I don't think Dorinda hits below the belt."

Sis! You don't think Dorinda telling Tinsley she had a turkey baster she could use to impregnate herself was hitting below the belt? You don't think Dorinda telling Luann, "You drunken fool, you have a mug shot to prove your drunkenness," was hitting below the belt? Even Dorinda corrects her on that one, saying she doesn't care about anything she's said to Ramona but she'll cop to hitting below the belt with Luann. And Dorinda does seem to genuinely want to fix things with Luann, and might even go so far as to examine her own behavior. But during this reunion, the furthest she can get is admitting that she was in pain this season, without taking real accountability for the way she passed that pain along to others.

And I guess that's why we won't be seeing Dorinda on our screens next year. She actually says toward the end of the reunion that, looking back on it, she probably should have taken this season off. So maybe we can leave on a positive note that this time away will be good for Dorinda. Plus, whether Ramona's final claim that "You can try to kill me, Dorinda, I'll still love you" is entirely true, the silver lining of this dark reunion is that Dorinda's castmates clearly do forgive her and want the best for her.

Because that's just the resilient spirit of RHONY, isn't it? Love 'em until it kills ya, then take a season off, and love 'em some more. As always, thanks so much for watching along with me, and I'll leave you with the wise words of Sonja, who spent the back half of this episode just holding a ceramic apple in her lap: "Life goes in a circle, and it can only go back up — you know that."

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