Oof, I needed about 20 more minutes of Wendy’s adorable rough-housing sons, about 15 more closeups of her itty bitty daughter wrapped up in golden silk, and at least one more scene of Robyn talking about how her new printed hat business might just save her from financial ruin. Because other than those moments of levity, this episode of The Real Housewives of Potomac was rough.

People love autumn because the leaves turn pretty colors and you can take a long jog without even breaking into a sweat — but subconsciously, I think we all start battening down the emotional hatches for winter about this time too. For the women of Potomac, that means trying to put enough Ace bandages around their marriages to hold them together for a few more months…and also suing each other.

During all of this complicated fallout between Monique and Candiace — made even more complicated by bringing in the United States legal system — it’s never seemed particularly judicious to choose the side of one woman over the other. What seems most pertinent to me is to acknowledge a few contradictory truths about their situation:

  1. Monique physically attacking Candiace was wrong.
  2. Candiace and Monique have both contributed to the dissolution of their friendship.
  3. Monique should be held accountable for her inappropriate actions.
  4. That account does not necessarily need to be 5-12 years in jail.

You’ll notice that Candiace’s “I was left with no choice but to press criminal charges” statement from tonight’s episode was not included in that list of truths…because it simply is not true. If Candiace wants to press criminal charges, then that is her prerogative as someone who was physically assaulted and has the grounds to pursue that route. But let’s just call Candiace’s legal action what it is: she lost that battle against Monique at the wine bar, and this is her way of winning the war.

Of course, even a glance at The Blogs will tell you that the story of this fight changes faster than Gizelle’s Google history the moment she gets a morsel of gossip — so we needn’t dwell on the potential ramifications of Candiace’s assault charges for too long. A much more permanent issue that we could dwell on instead is all of the 70-year-old men on this show acting like spoiled children when they don’t get every single ounce of their wives’ attention…

The episode kicks off with Ashley and Michael arriving at Ashley’s therapist's office to talk about the time that Michael publicly cheated on her the moment she left D.C. for more than five minutes since the birth of their infant baby. Ashely continues to open this conversation about Michael taking another woman back to his hotel with the caveat that they have previously participated in threesomes, as if that creates some sort of precedence for him being allowed to cheat on her. Ashley’s therapist and I agree that those two things are unrelated.

However, Ashley’s therapist is much more open to exploring how Michael’s childhood may have contributed to him stepping out on his wife, while I am more in the camp that something that happened in 1962 isn’t an excuse for Michael being a non-repentant little gremlin. Sure, the wounds from our childhoods are the most deeply-rooted, but Michael chose to get married, and he chose to have a baby with Ashley, so he also chose to get over his s--- and needs to stop being a sourpuss about the fact that his wife now has to devote some of her attention to and actual three-month-old baby, instead of a man who just whines like one.

The other man that is way too old to be pouting this much is, unfortunately, Ray Huger. Now, I have affection for Ray; I loved watching him shuffle those decorative zombies out of a closet for Halloween, calling them by their names like they’re all old pals. But something about Ray’s story that he’s not getting enough attention from Karen anymore because the “fame and fortune has gone to [her] head” just isn’t adding up. First of all, this is hands-down the most humble we have ever seen Karen. We’re 12 episodes into season 5 and she’s only had one Potomac Community College theater major come to her house pretending to be a royal jester for a video invitation to a party she’s throwing to celebrate herself. And that is a marked improvement!

Plus, we’ve heard Karen talk about Ray way more this season than we’ve heard her talk about La’Dame Fragrance, even though the editors keep having to cart out that same promo photo each time she and Ray start discussing her illustrious career as a businesswoman. I have not seen Karen look at a single damn spreadsheet all season long, but I have watched her try to pour about 100 Coffee-Mate creamers into Ray’s morning coffee in order to show him she cares about their marriage. My feeling, unfortunately, is that Ray has checked out, and no amount of Italian Sweet Crème or Toasted Marshmallow Mocha is going to check him back in.

But at least there’s one husband we can still count on to be a sweetheart, and that is Wendy’s husband Eddie, who in his first year as a House Husband mostly just laughs at everything his wife says and hustles around trying to get their littlest son to pull his pants up on camera.

The Osefos are preparing for a traditional Nigerian celebration called ikuputanwa to present their precious three-month-old daughter Kamrynn to their friends and family. Unfortunately, that pulls up some underlying pain for Eddie: his family wasn’t supportive of him marrying Wendy, and he’s had very little contact with them ever since they refused to come to his wedding. Wendy says that both her mother and Eddie’s mother are pillars in the Nigerian community, but at some point “Eddie’s mom became intimidated by my mom and decided she didn’t want her son to marry me.”

Now, that explanation sounds suspiciously one-sided, but Wendy also seems really supportive of her husband reconnecting with his mom, so I don’t necessarily think she’s being petty, perhaps just a little biased. Eddie does ultimately reach out to his mom with an invitation; unfortunately, his family still doesn’t show up to the sip-and-see. But all the Housewives except Monique do show up to Wendy’s party…

Mere moments after finding out via the internet that Candiace has pressed charges against Monique for second-degree assault. So, when Candiace comes dancing up to the table with her mom and Chris in tow, squealing, “Hi pink ladiesss,” like nothing is happening, Gizelle waits until the precise moment that Candiace’s mouth is most full of Nigerian food before she prompts: “So, Candiace, a little earlier today, my phone just started vibrating off the table because I got all these messages.” Candiace replies that she only recently filed the charges against Monique, so she was shocked at how quickly it all came out…

And everyone kind of nods along like this is a normal conversation to be having until Robyn asks, “Is the goal for her to go to jail?” Candiace says that the goal is for the court system to do what the court system does, and earlier in the episode, she told her friend that when the prosecutors asked if she wanted Monique to get jail time, she said she wanted it “to be prosecuted to the fullest extent.”

The other women all sort of laugh in unison, saying that of course they don’t want Monique to go to jail. To which Candiace responds, chillingly: “We don’t?” This is when Ashley starts trying to argue Monique’s side a little bit, saying that the fight started as a yelling match between both of them, but Candiace pops off immediately, asking Ashley if Monique is “paying [her] too.” Ashley laughs that she doesn’t know why she would need to be paid by Monique when she has a rich husband, to which Candiace smirks, “Not for long.”

That’s when Chris gets right in Candiace’s face and hisses at her to “SHUT. UP.” It’s all very dark, including the way everyone just keeps chowing down while they ponder whether their one friend is going to successfully land their other friend in jail. Karen, who says she’s stuck in the middle — but who also told Candiace right after the fight that she would press charges if she were in the same situation — stays miiiighty quiet.

Luckily, there’s a good final distraction for both us and the women: a tiny baby in a giant gele hat, being lifted up and presented to her community while she is stone-cold passed out. Everybody dances around, showering little Kamrynn in cash that Wendy’s little boys then scoop off the floor, and for a few minutes, we can all pretend that everything isn’t about to get very, very complicated.

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