The Real Housewives of New York City recap: Once, twice, three times rescinded
You know that saying? The one about how we all have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé. It's a little toxic because we're not all once-in-a-generation geniuses, but I think we could coin a similar, somewhat more niche version for the Housewives: Every franchise has as many hours in a weekend getaway as RHONY.
Nothing thrills me more than seeing what an episode of The Real Housewives of New York City can pack into a few hours on a group trip. I simply do not know how these broads do it… and then they wake up the next day, slap a bra on, and start all over again. If I drank 10 martinis in a night and then singlehandedly tried to destroy a table setting for eight on Friday night, I still wouldn't be able to go to work by Monday morning, let alone choke down a bloody Mary, storm out of a fancy version of Chico's throwing F-bombs for all of Rhode Island to hear, and then squeeze out an emotional response to accidentally triggering someone else's childhood trauma.
In a world full of chaos, I think Dorinda and Tinsley having a heart-to-heart, while Leah is not three feet away, being wrangled by Ramona and Sonja, kicking at cameras, throwing her boots, and literally being dragged through the lawn to have a conversation she is in no way prepared to deal with… might be a Housewives moment fit for the chaos hall of fame. And listen, I don't want to support destructive behavior…
But just because I don't want to, doesn't mean I won't.
Because can you imagine if this weekend had gone the way that Elyse — boo! hiss! scram! — suggested it should have? As an opportunity for Leah to "get to know the girls on a deeper level" while they all do Newport cosplay in their cardigans and white jeans. Hey, guess what? NO THANK YOU. I can't believe I'm saying this after eight episodes of desperately searching for her off switch, but I'm with Dorinda on this one: "I just want to watch Leah destroy the place." Like a blonde tyrannosaurus in a very fancy turtleneck.
I want Leah to have a long life on RHONY. That means that at some point, she's probably going to have to stop launching glass products into other people's yards at such a frequent clip. But for now, Leah has not only become the major focal point of her very first season on air, but she's also managed to create a lot of unlikely allies, and only one enemy in Ramona, perhaps the least formidable threat in the whole cast. So let's get going on one of the most stressful television hours of my long television life…
The RHONY gang is headed to Newport, R.I., for a girl's trip planned by Ramona. In the fancy van ride to Newport, Ramona tells the others that Dorinda has been on edge lately because the anniversary of her husband's death just passed. Leah, who has known Dorinda about 19 years less than Ramona, informs her that no, Richard's birthday just passed, and the anniversary of his death is that week. Ramona waves it off, and continues: "She's in a very bad place, and she's been bitchy to everybody, and I want to, like, show her that we care for her." I would call this entire exchange Extremely Ramona Energy, which she has been somewhat keeping at bay all season — but tonight it returns with full force.
In the van, as Ramona explains that they'll all have their own rooms at the luxury inn, Leah asks if they're big enough for two people. The others tease that she's planning on sneaking a man in, but Leah has already told them she's been unlucky in that department recently. Last week, Leah told us about a new man she'd been seeing, who she deemed Pita Chip — he, uh, supplies all of New York City with pita chips apparently — but the day before they left for Rhode Island, she kind of blew up on him for not communicating with her. "I said you have been aloof and irreverent with my time," Leah tells the women. "I said if he was a real man he would have called me by now… and then I said maybe he also likes to suck dick."
Leah tells us in her testimonial that even after seven years of therapy, "When I start feeling vulnerable, basically I'm a psycho bitch." So if Leah was feeling vulnerable before the Pita Chip incident, she's certainly feeling even more vulnerable now, which is probably why she up and asks Ramona if she can invite her sister to Newport for the weekend. Ramona looks like Leah has asked her if she can she can spit in every cocktail she drinks for the rest of her life.
"The one thing I'm really good at is I know who works off of who," Ramona says, incorrectly, in her testimonial. "And right now… to bring a new personality into this already turbulent group would not be good energy." It's incredible how wrong that statement winds up being.
Now, I really do not hold it against Ramona for not wanting to add another person to a trip that is already in progress. But I think what goes unspoken is that Leah wants her sister to come on the trip because she's feeling particularly vulnerable right now, but she was contractually obligated to get on a fancy van and drive to a fancy little town. If Leah had stated that more clearly to Ramona, would she have more easily acquiesced and said her sister could come as soon as possible, avoiding the murder of any number of flower arrangements later in the evening?
We'll never know. What happens instead is that Ramona says no on the bus, and then once they arrive at the Castle Inn and gather for cocktails, Leah apologizes to Ramona for springing the idea on her because she knows she's planned this trip carefully, but she really thinks Ramona would love her sister. Ramona says rather sweetly, "Well, if she's anything like you, I'm sure I will," and tells Leah that her sister should come and join them at dinner the next night.
The thing about Leah is that she's extremely charming; you can tell by how quickly each of these women have taken to her that she must be a genuinely enjoyable person. And whether it's innate or purposeful, she also seems to know how to play that to her advantage, frequently deferring to Ramona's desire to both mother her and lord over her. And Leah doesn't mind letting her do those things as long as she gets what she wants out of the deal too.
But Leah doesn't know that Ramona has been the exact same person for at least the 10 years we've been exposed to her. And one of her signature moves is rescinding invitations, which she does to Leah almost seconds later as soon as the other women hear the sister is coming, saying that they'll take a vote tonight instead. So Leah just starts collecting votes right then and there, and it's an even split. Sonja insists that guests can't invite guests, but Dorinda and Tinsley don't see what the big deal is about Leah's sister joining.
Elyse is also a person we're still seeing in every episode, which I think technically means she's not a vampire, but I'd like some confirmation on if cameras work the same way as mirrors do in that scenario.
Ramona keeps repeating the phrase "I don't want her here," saying that she's going with her gut feeling. "When I get people together, it's almost like I'm doing music," she tells Leah. (And Ramona coloring herself as this Gatsby-like entertainer this season is really tickling me because it's just so far off base.) But then Luann pops up in full cool-countess mode and tells Ramona that it's just a bunch of girls hanging out, so "just let in the sister, poor thing." So Ramona once again says, yes, the sister can come! "Thank you, Ramona, I really appreciate it," Leah says for the second time in a matter of minutes.
But, if you can believe it, Ramona still has her hesitations about this decision she's now made twice. While Leah is calling her sister to tell her she should come tomorrow, Ramona is telling Sonja that she felt pressured into saying yes, but still feels like it will throw the dynamic off. So Ramona and Sonja decide that they'll tell Leah for a third time tonight at dinner that her sister can't come. Unfortunately, they don't see reason to alter that plan when Leah shows up to the very marital outdoor clambake already quite intoxicated…
And then she starts asking for more vodka to be added to her drink, which is Ramona's signature cocktail that she's always forcing bartenders to make. Ramona starts fussing at her not to do that and whispering to the others that she's a recovering alcoholic and she needs to take it easy. Leah tells Ramona that she understands "you are my elder, and you are my surrogate mother, but I'm good, don't worry about me." And then she tells the camera that she feels suffocated but she just really wants her sister to come, so she's trying to stay in Ramona's good graces.
The two shots of vodka that Leah successfully gets the bartender to add to her drink seem to make her forget that good-graces idea almost immediately. By the time the women sit down to dinner, Leah is wasted… and no one does wasted like Leah. She doesn't get mean, she doesn't get emotional (at first); she just gets, like, animalistic, and starts physically destroying inanimate objects. Mostly it's a lot of motion, so while Ramona is trying to maintain the sanctity of her midsummer friendship party (or whatever), Leah slithers her way between Ramona and Sonja like a rebellious teenager who just wants attention from her parents.
Indeed, when Sonja won't stop squeezing Leah's boobs, Ramona complains in her testimonial, "I thought Sonja would have my back on this, but what is she doing now — frolicking around, playing with Leah, encouraging her to act this way." Spoken like every disciplinarian parent who wishes they could just be the fun parent.
At this moment, Tinsley decides to sidle up to Dorinda for a talk. As Dorinda tells Tinsley that she's been tough on her because she wants what best for her, and Tinsley responds that she's good, she doesn't need these cautionary tales, and Dorinda finally seems to really hear her say that.
I truly cannot explain the chaos that is ensuing in the background. This is the calmest conversation Dorinda and Tinsley have ever managed to have, and it's all while Sonja is chasing Leah round and round the table. And once Ramona decides that now is the perfect time to tell Leah that her sister actually can't come, Sonja literally pulls Leah through the grass over to Ramona, with Leah screaming, "Sonja, if you try to drag me to the Morgan yacht, I will kill you!"
So Ramona tells Leah that she would like to have her and her sister over for "cocktails and conversation" another time, but she doesn't want her to come this weekend. And Leah completely understands.
Just kidding, Leah screams, "OH HELL NO, BITCH!" and begins tearing apart the flower arrangements. "I did not expect this reaction," Ramona says to the cameras, and I just cannot believe my eyes or ears or the irreparable damage this is surely doing to my television speakers. By this time, everyone is telling Leah she has to calm down, and Leah screams, "Oh, like nobody's ever been out of control in this group, are you kidding me, I am being held to standards that nobody else is!" And you have to admit… the woman still knows how to make a point when completely blackout.
But the cogency doesn't last long. Leah breaks down into sobs, and Ramona leads her away from the table as she wails, "I already told my sister she can coooome, and now you're saying she can't coooome." Ramona pets her face, and just as you think she's about to acquiesce… she once again reiterates: "I don't want her here." Leah storms off saying if her sister can't come then she's leaving, and now Tinsley, Dorinda, and Sonja start sobbing over Leah because they don't want her to leave. But when Ramona returns from the bathroom she's had an epiphany: "Leah, I went to the ladies room and I thought about it, and I have to live out of my box — your sister's welcome, and I'm so sorry."
And you know what they say: An invitation thrice rescinded can also be thrice extended.
Oh no, no one has ever said that because this situation is uniquely bananas. The night ends with sobs, and the next morning Leah is insistent to everyone who asks that she's feeling fine. "I don't remember anything from last night, but I actually woke up feeling like I had released all this energy," she says in her testimonial. "I didn't come on this trip in the best state of mind, but whatever happened last night was therapeutic, and I'm ready to enjoy Rhode Island."
What. A. Statement. She's ready to enjoy Rhode Island!
Unfortunately, it's a statement to which Elyse says: nope. As the women prepare to go shopping, everyone is stunned that Leah seems so fresh, but Elyse isn't going to let her get off that easy. They get into a weird conversation where Elyse is trying to shame Leah for her behavior the night before, so Leah just bites back that she actually wants to be more like that all the time. And Elyse responds, "You want to be like that all the time, really? And you wonder why the guys think you're a crazy chick." Yikes!
In her testimonial, Leah says, "Of course I don't want to be like that all the time, but I saw the way these women were at the orchard — I thought I was allowed to chug 10 martinis and lose my mind." And while I don't respect Leah ruining a dinner and nearly bringing down a whole outdoor tent with her bare hands, I absolutely respect her stone-cold lying to Elyse about being okay with her own behavior just to shut her up.
If only it had worked. In the first shop they go to, Elyse starts rubbing Leah's arms to warm her up like they're besties. Leah is weirded out, and tells Elyse that she was kind of harsh with her earlier, mentioning offhandedly that she would never act that way in front of her daughter."
"But what would you do if you ended up with a mini-me?" Elyse asks in that snake-y voice of hers. Leah says her daughter is nothing like her, so she wouldn't act like that. "What if she does?" Leah asks, continuing to not keep a child's name out of her mouth. Leah says that she would ground her. "Right, but what message would you send her, why would you ground her?" Elyse asks.
WHO EVEN ARE YOU, LADY?! Leah storms out of the store and says in her testimonial, "My daughter's 12 years old, how are you gonna ask me how I would feel if she got wasted? We're not there yet — don't bring my kid up."
Which is exactly correct. The women all join back up for bloody Marys, and things get super-weird as Ramona starts boxing Leah out of the conversation, and talking about how she's owed an apology like Leah can't hear everything she's saying. Sonja suggests that Ramona was triggered by Leah's behavior because she grew up in such a chaotic environment… which causes Leah to start crying, saying that she never meant to trigger something like that for her… which causes Luann to get upset because she thinks Ramona just blacked out and is making all of this up to make Leah feel bad…
And I thought we ended that dinner sobbing about new beginnings??? It seems that those tears were just made a vodka, and if this was an episode for the chaos record books, it looks like next week might be one for hall-of-fame of Housewives quotes.
Ramona, LuAnn, Sonja, Carole, Heather, Kristen, and Dorinda — and oh, yes, Bethenny — are in a New York state of mind.