There is almost nothing I love more in the Housewives arsenal than A) the launch of a new Housewives entrepreneurial venture, B) a janky party in a tiny venue featuring nothing but plastic flutes of champagne and a pile of macarons, or C) a before-and-after montage of a Housewife’s former testimonial looks. And reader, this episode of The Real Housewives of Potomac had all of that and a wig doctor. Truly, we have much to be thankful for.

I’ll admit that the episode was a bit of a set-up from the editors, who were clearly leading us to believe that we would get a confrontation between Candiace and Monique at Karen’s “Wig Shift” party, when the reality turned out to be that they narrowly avoided double-booking their wig doctor appointments. But in the end, the sheer goofiness of Karen leaving her own party early while Wendy calls after her, “Karen, this is your event — we still wearing wigs and s---!” was just as good.

Plus, I learned a handy alternative to my own oft-used phrase, “I’m keeping that one in my back pocket.” When a producer asks Karen to clarify exactly what she was implying when she said Robyn should be worrying about what Juan says when he drinks, Karen simply replies: “That’s for the couch.” As in, the reunion couch. In an episode full of perfect one-liners, that had to be my favorite. Runners up include Karen saying that she’s throwing this launch party so the other women can “enjoy the wigs;” Karen calling out, “I paid the bill, f--- you,” as she left said party; and in a special guest appearance by a non-Karen line, Gizelle saying about her own daughter’s birthday that happens every single year: “Grace turning 15 — I didn’t see this coming!”

Now, to balance out all that perfection, how about I rank in descending order the most upsetting lines from one of the most upsetting things I’ve ever seen — Karen luring Ray into a bubble bath:

  1. “I’mma do some things to Ray in this bathtub.”
  2. “This bubble bath is the first of many steps I’m taking to rekindle the passion between Ray and I. I might even unplug a few holes that have been closed for a while.”
  3. And finally, as Ray is rubbing Karen’s feet in the bathtub, talking about how they used to play toesies, Karen purrs one of the most harrowing lines I’ve ever heard on the Housewives franchise: “I want the toesies to mosey on up to my holesies.”

I really am not old enough to be hearing any of this, Karen!!! But now that we’ve all made it through together, on to the rest of the episode, I guess:

As has become custom in season 5 of RHOP, Monique is relegated to having a public lunch with one other cast member. This time she’s meeting up with Ashley and they suddenly discover that even though Karen told the rest of the women that she wasn’t inviting Monique to her Wig Shift party out of respect for Candiace’s comfort, she has actually been hounding Monique to come to the party. Ashley calls Karen on speakerphone right at the lunch table, where Karen says that she “doesn’t remember” saying she wouldn’t invite Monique, cackling that Ashley “tried it” while she hangs up.

I’ve always appreciated Ashley’s willingness to dive headfirst into confrontation, and I’ve always loved Karen’s willingness to deliver a bald-faced lie when confronted, so this middle-school-eque three-way phone call was an all-around delightful interaction for me…

Much less pleasantly awkward is any time Gizelle brings up Jamal in front of her children, who hate the fact that their parents are dating again. I sincerely believe that no child between the ages of 10 and 16 should ever have to be on reality television; the only thing you want to do at that age is crawl out of your own skin, and what you most definitely do not want to do is be pushed by your mother to act like you’re happy about her recoupling with your father when you’ve been very clear with her that you’re not, and you especially don’t want to do that during your birthday dinner. Poor Grace.

The whole reason Gizelle was once again forcing her children to talk about Jamal on television is because she’s letting them know that he’ll be spending the Christmas holiday with them in Potomac, and will be arriving in time to be part of their annual holiday photoshoot for the first time in about a decade…

And wouldn’t you know it? When the photoshoot rolls around, Jamal isn’t there. Gizelle tells her hairstylist/sage-counsel Kal (who is always masterfully walking the line of skeptical but supportive friend) that she’s not happy about it, but she “needs to show the girls that when stuff happens in life, you gotta keep going.” Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel that is not the lesson these girls are going to ultimately take away from Gizelle welcoming Jamal back into her life, and him continuing to not show up.

To cleanse our mother/daughter palate, let’s throw to Wendy, who is finally telling her mother that she wants to quit being a professor and lean fully into her career as a political commentator. To me, both of those jobs seem pretty prestigious, but I am not a Nigerian mother. I most certainly am not decked out in a Gucci hat and a Fendi cape to go pumpkin picking like Wendy’s glamorous mom, so I’ll let her do the talking about her expectations for her daughter. There’s a moment after Wendy makes her confession that it seems like Susan is going to force her to commit to staying a professor forever right there in that pumpkin patch. But once Wendy gets emotional and tells her mom that she just wants her to be proud of her, Susan caves and tells Wendy that she’s a good daughter and a good person, and she is proud of her: “I know whatever you decide to be, you’re going to be very good at.”

It’s very possible this was a “we’ll talk about this once we’re off camera” situation, but it was nice while it lasted. And speaking of nice while it lasted: Uncle Lump Comes to Dinner to Intimidate the Hell Out of Michael.

I love this man! I love that he’s named Lump, and that he hates Michael, and that he smiles when he makes threats. I love Uncle Lump! Michael already knows he’s in for it when Ashley’s mom Sheila and Uncle Lump come to dinner for the first time since Michael cheated, but he simply could not have accounted for Uncle Lump’s masterful first line of attack: “This is great for us to get together and have this dinner because… well, you know how quickly bad news travels.”

With a mouth chock-full of food, Michael mumbles through an apology and says that he understands something like this can never happen again. Sheila tells him that they don’t really need an apology, they just need to be on the same page. Uncle Lump offers up his agreement, and one more perfect line, knowing that Michael will never change and that this is all just a waiting game: “Yeah — figure it out.”

But for us, at least in this episode, the wait is over: LaDame Wigs are officially launching at the hair salon of Karen’s business partner, Steven, a.k.a., The Wig Doctor.

Karen has invited her fellow Housewives to the launch — along with the eight other people that will fit inside Steven’s studio — but Gizelle isn’t attending because she’s not a fan of the Wig Doctor’s malpractice against her on social media. More importantly, Monique has apparently received an invitation to arrive before the party starts, and also leave before the party starts. The editors start the ticker at “30 MINUTES BEFORE EVENT” when Monique arrives, Karen is pushing her out the door with a glass of champagne still in her hand at “3 MINUTES BEFORE EVENT,” and Monique is still texting her driver for a pickup at “2 MINUTES BEFORE EVENT” as Karen fields texts from Candiace that say she’s almost there.

But it all amounts to nothing. That is, until Ashely, Wendy, Robyn, and Candiace arrive, make a few jokes about the size of the hair studio, ooh-and-ahh over some wigs while shading Karen in their testimonials, and then finally, Ashley starts doing what she came here to do: try on a blonde wig.

JUST KIDDING — you know Ashley came to stir that pot!

Ashley’s stirring spoon of choice is a bottle of antacid in a giftbag, as a dig at the fact that Karen said she wasn’t drinking on the Portugal trip because she had an ulcer, but then apparently proceeded to get drunk with Monique at a 1-year-old’s birthday party a few days later.

Karen very correctly points out that if someone is choosing not to drink, then you shouldn’t push them to explain why, and you definitely shouldn’t push them to drink. She says their constant pressure to drink on the Portugal trip felt like a set-up for her to get drunk. Robyn wonders why that would be a set-up, faux-innocently asking Karen, “Are you afraid of what you might say?” To which Karen swivels her head like the girl in The Exorcist, and snaps, “No, I’m not, but you should be concerned about what Juan says when he’s drunk.”

So, to be clear, Karen is not just selling wigs at this party — she’s also snatching them.

Additionally, Karen is flipping her own wig off her shoulder as she turns heel and marches right out of her own party, announcing that she’s headed to dinner with Ray. As the other women call after her, saying she can’t leave her own party, Karen simply calls back, “Buh-bye honey, I paid the bill, f--- you!” And if you’re looking for clarity on what Juan says when he’s drunk, Karen will only tell an equally curious producer: “That’s for the couch…I hope I don’t have to use it.” Chilling.

Left to their own devices, and the wigs they arrived in, the other women combine their loose tidbits of knowledge about what’s going on with Karen’s energy. Ashley told them during the antacid confrontation that Monique had been at the party before they all arrived, and then Candiace tells them something much more interesting: Karen asked her to get to the party early, as well. Of course, Candiace didn’t know Monique would be there, she just accidentally arrived later than Karen told her to. Ashley insists that Monique didn’t know anything about Candiace potentially getting there early, “But Karen made it very clear that Monique should come and tell her own story because everyone else is telling the story for her, so she needs to come and speak her peace."

Wendy gets the final one-liner of the episode that will carry us into the RHOP season 5 finale, telling Candiace that she doesn’t know what else she needs to see from Karen: “Jesus Christ of Nazareth could come down and tap you on your lace-front, but I’m telling you right now — she is not your friend.” Take it to the couches, y’all!

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