By Jodi Walker
October 12, 2020 at 05:51 PM EDT
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I’ll shoot you straight: I’ve been recapping The Haunting of Bly Manor all weekend, which means I’ve been leaving the bathroom light on and checking the lock on the basement door twice before bed every night for the last three nights. So, an episode full of puppies and Karen’s Great Aunt Carlene was just what I needed to stop feeling like every painting in my house is about to come to life.

Karen has been invited to participate in the Homecoming parade in her hometown of Surry, Va., and she’s invited Ashley and Gizelle to come with her for the weekend. It is all — top to bottom — charming as hell. Karen has humanized herself so much in the past two seasons, it’s almost jarring to see the flashback to Karen scolding Ashley about earning her position in the Potomac elite, or whatever she used to always be talking about.

Gizelle says that Karen invited her and Ashley on this trip because they’re the people who have “seen through her all these years,” and she wants to show off that “she’s big in this little fish of a town called Surry.” But I think that Karen seems pretty humble about it all and like she’s just enjoying being home. I also think that Gizelle needs to keep Surry’s name out of her mouth because I’m now obsessed with this town and everyone who resides within it.

On the way to Wooden Farms, Karen talks about how her family was actually slaves on the land that they now own and operate, and have passed down for generations. “That’s powerful,” she says, and indeed it was powerful to hear. “When I say my daddy was a farmer, I’m so proud to be his daughter — I’m proud to be a Wooden.”

When we get to the farmstead, we meet some of Karen’s family, including Aunt Carlene, who is hilarious, talking about taking Karen to a Michael Jackson concert when she was younger: “You couldn’t tell her a thing that night, you would’ve thought she was the one onstage.” We also meet her cousin David, who is very cute, and when I see him escorting Ashley across a cornfield in her stilettos, I wonder why she couldn’t have just chosen a nice young man like that. To the actual Homecoming — which is a true small-town parade with people sitting in camp chairs while every convertible in the county drives adorably around the block — Karen wears an amazing powder blue duster pantsuit. I know that doesn’t sound amazing in writing, but trust me, she looks like a stone-cold first lady while chucking fun-sized Snickers at little kids on the sidewalk.

After the parade, Karen takes Gizelle and Ashley to the church she grew up in, and gets emotional thinking about her mom and dad who both recently passed within a year of each other, and had their funerals in that church. Karen says it’s not sadness that’s getting her emotional, just a full heart, and Gizelle says in her testimonial that she feels like she has a better understanding of who is Karen now. But we’ll see about that…

Because I always keep my eye on the Green-Eyed Bandits, and yet, readers of these recaps also know that I can’t help but enjoy Robyn. Generally, the most Robyn does on RHOP is fight off taking a nap just long enough to make it through a dinner scene, but tonight, Robyn is giving it her all (which is to say, about 60 percent). First, she goes over to Candiace’s house, ostensibly to check on her post-fight, but you know she’s really just there to stir that pot, baby! Robyn gets right down to recapping last week’s summit at Karen’s house, saying that Monique has no remorse for dragging Candiace (accurate) and that Karen didn’t express any disappointment in Monique's behavior (inaccurate). Then she casually confirms what The Blogs have been reporting: she owes $90,000 in taxes.

Next, in a move you have to see to believe, Robyn dons a costume complete with a Spirit Halloween wig, allegedly to spice things up with Juan, but it feels a lot more like she’s trying to Carmen Sandiego herself away from the IRS. And y’all, when she sidles up to the bar in this costume, there is a visible price tag on her coat. This is what keeps me in Robyn’s court: the way she’s permanently wearing a leopard print sweatshirt, how she doesn’t even try to be subtle when stirring up drama because she knows she can’t pull it off, and the way she’s constantly reminding herself that it may not be a good idea to buy a house while declaring bankruptcy or being in almost six digits of debt — she’s just a whole vibe.

So now that we’ve gotten all that fun out of the way, let’s move onto the Candiace and Monique of it all. What a sticky situation.

The idea of Candiace pressing charges has now been floated by Karen, chatted about by Gizelle and Robyn, and insisted upon by Candiace’s mom while they look at puppies for adoption, which is the only thing that could make Candiace’s mom more tolerable to me. And I do understand why it would be upsetting for Candiace to hear that Monique doesn’t even feel bad about physically accosting her. But perhaps any legal repercussions could be avoided if Monique really means what she says when she meets with her pastor at the end of the episode and actually does feel remorse…

Now, I will admit that I was skeptical of Pastor Chad when he arrived on the scene and that most of that skepticism came from his choice to wear an ill-fitting sweatsuit to a nationally televised professional counseling appointment. But then Pastor Chad proceeded to spit the truth directly in Monique’s face, so I adjusted my attitude accordingly. At the top of the conversation, Monique rehashes this slightly suspect idea that she blacked out when attacking Candiace, and insists that she’s not a hostile person, “but with Candiace, I started to know her to be a person who manipulates situations, and I started noticing aggressive behavior, combativeness.”

Pastor Chad just straight up tells her that she needs to be honest about the reason she was in a state to attack someone. “You’re used to orchestrating and controlling and dominating,” he tells her. “You’ve been in survival mode since you were a kid, and all of those things perhaps came to bear in that moment.”

Monique breaks down saying that she’s just tired of being criticized and constantly having to prove herself because people nitpick every little thing she does. Pastor Chad tells Monique she needs to ask herself why criticism is such a trigger. “In your own mind, you are nonpareil, you are ideal,” he says. “But around this group of women who aren’t impressed with your own perfection…this causes some disdain.”

Well damn, Chad, we’re out here using words like “nonpareil” and stuff?!  At the dining room table!?

But it seems to get the point across to Monique: the pressure that comes from her own need to be perfect and viewed as perfect is not something she can take out on Candiace, or anyone else. It’s something she has to reconcile within herself. Mouth trembling, Monique says that Candiace didn’t deserve her reaction. She says she wants to apologize to Candiace, so she’s going to sit down and talk with her…

The preview of next week’s episode says otherwise. Everybody lawyer up, and I’ll see you back here next week!

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