So much happened during this hour of The Real Housewives of Potomac. First, Michael admitted to Ashely on camera that he cheated on her while she housed a Caesar salad and pretended that this level of infidelity is covered by some threesome loophole clause in their marriage contract. Then we found out that Monique has spent $200,000 on “start-up costs for Not for Lazy Moms, and that she probably won't be making it back anytime soon given that only 20 non-lazy moms have bought tickets to her live event. And, of course, in the episode’s final moments, Candiace and Monique finally enter into the physical altercation that we’ve been anticipating all season…

And yet, even with all of that going on, the only thing I’m left stunned by in this episode — the thing that’s burned in my brain, that I’ll never forget as long as I live — is Gizelle’s centaur coat.

You’re familiar with a centaur coat, right? You know, it’s that well-known fashion item wherein the front of the coat is a coat… but the back of the coat is just empty space and a belt. If that’s not ringing any bells, you may have also heard it referred to as a half-coat, a front-vest, or maybe even a Winterfell blacksmith’s apron…

Anyway, the centaur coat moment didn’t even happen until after Gizelle had already debuted her non-utility utility-glasses at a furniture store with Robyn, wherein she claimed “I have a great décor style,” and then proceeded to caresses every single shiny item in the place like some kind of HomeGoods magpie. In terms of shocking me into stunned silence, those glasses ranked somewhere above Candiace and Monique’s fight, but somewhere below Michael cheating on Ashley in front of the entire District of Columbia and then getting mad at some poor RHOP producer named James for publicizing his personal life.

At this point, I feel like Gizelle must be trolling us with these fashion choices, but that’s just fine by me — it was nice to have the levity of those non-functional cataract glasses and that half-coat in this episode that was otherwise dealing in some rather dark material.

Early in the episode, we see Ashley and Michael pull up to a restaurant, and I’m really starting to associate their Audi with a feeling of dread because it usually means that Ashley is not with her fellow castmates, and therefore not safe from the beady stare of her husband. Once seated at a dinner table, Ashely orders Brussel sprouts and a Caesar salad, and Michael sniffs, “I can’t eat right now, I don’t know how you can eat.” That’s right — he’s judging Ashley for being hungry under the circumstances of them sitting down to discuss the fact that she recently found out from a published photo that her husband cheated on her and didn’t tell her about it. Michael’s not hungry for appetizers, so he must reeeeally be beating himself up about what he did.

And what did Michael do, you might be asking. Well, it’s kind of hard to gather between this dinner conversation and Ashley’s testimonials, because both of the Darbys are working pretty hard to make it seem like Michael didn’t technically cheat on Ashley, he just made a series of mistakes that looked a lot like cheating on Ashley. After Monique, Robyn, and probably about 1,000 strangers messaged Ashley with the photo of Michael in a hotel room wearing only his ol’ nasty drawers (Robyn later admits that she meant to text the photo link to Charisse, but accidentally sent it to Ashley, which is my worst nightmare, other than running into Michael in a dark alley), Ashely called Michael home for some answers.

Michael told Ashley that he and his colleagues met some women at a strip club, who then went with them to the MGM. One of these women then asked Michael (oh yes, she asked him!) if he wanted to go to a hotel, so they took a cab to a hotel and made out in the cab. But when they went upstairs to the hotel room, Michael was so drunk that he simply went to sleep, and when he woke up (magically in only his underwear) and checked his phone, the woman took a photo of him and gave it to a blog.

Ashley says that she was so angry when Michael told her this story, that she decided they needed to talk about it in a public place where she wasn’t at risk of doing something crazy with the baby in the house. But this is what we always hear from Ashley — that she really tore Michael a new one, but by the time we get to them, her main display of anger is ordering a Pacifico beer instead of a Corona (which to be fair, is a pretty big diss from her). At dinner, Ashley tells Michael that she never thought her husband “of all people” would put her in this situation. To which I say: girl, what?! This man puts you in humiliating situations at least twice per season, and this season he’s reached quota eight episodes in.

The conversation gets kind of confusing from here with Ashely saying things like “I thought we were on the same page,” and Michael saying things like “I should’ve told you,” almost implying that they have an open relationship but never quite getting there. Ashley says they’re “not a traditional couple” because “if there was a girl who liked me and I liked the girl, we would do whatever, so that’s kind of the way we’ve operated in the past.” What she means is that they’ve had threesomes in the past, which is very different than Michael taking another woman back to a hotel without Ashley’s consent. Ashley also tells Michael that she doesn’t even want to have threesomes anymore and he says, “Then you and I won’t do that anymore, but we have to be…”

What Michael is almost certainly about to say when he trails off is that if threesomes are off the table, then they have to start being intimate again. I know this because he’s already said that he “wasn’t considerate” when taking this woman to a hotel because “we lost our intimacy, and I’ve been craving something that I shouldn’t be.”

I despise this man. I despise this man who made his wife take their infant baby on a girls' trip because “a baby shouldn’t be away from his mother” and then publicly stepped out on her the moment she crossed the Maryland state line. “Publicly” is the keyword here because when Ashley tells Michael that if he makes one more mistake it’s over, he suddenly gets all disgruntled, and starts calling out, “Can we cut now? Can someone get me another beer?” He says these two things in rapid succession because I truly believe that to Michael, his marriage and a beer bear the exact same importance.

Once Michale calls Bravo-Bravo à la Denise Richards, we’re treated to a historic RHOP fourth wall break when James the producer comes over and Michael starts railing at him about how they’ve always been honest, and they’ve just shared something that will affect their relationship forever. “Yes it will,” Ashley husks while stuffing the biggest bite of Caesar salad I’ve ever seen into her mouth, and I love her for it, even if she is married to a troll who got turned into a man by a witch.

Michael is trying to blame this situation on anyone but himself, and he’s fussing at James about filming their personal business as though James is the one that flaunted Michael’s personal business all over town with the full knowledge that he is a recognizable figure on a popular reality series. James tells Michael, “Okay, well, we do appreciate you being honest and real about this,” and Michael tells James that this five minutes of honestly has simply exhausted him, so he’s taking his microphone off. Then he waves around his beer bottle to someone off-camera because again: priorities.

Trying to focus on Monique talking about Not for Lazy Moms after experiencing this wild scene between Michael and Ashley is just about impossible, but it is important for setting the stage for why Monique is so mad at Candiace. And for perhaps the first time ever, I’ll say that I don’t think Candiace totally deserves it.

Monique was planning on having Karen and Candiace on her upcoming live podcast recording that 20 people have purchased tickets for. She wanted Karen to talk about being married for a long time, and Candiace to talk about being in the honeymoon phase of her marriage “even though they haven’t gone on a honeymoon.” Even Monique’s husband tells her she’s being shady with that. But after the lake trip, Candiace texted Monique the following message: "Hey! I wanted to give you a heads up early so you’ll have time to fill my position but I won’t be able to attend your podcast."

“She’s so darn unprofessional,” Monique rants to Chris. “Selfish people don’t think about the other end.”

But I wonder how professional Monique was feeling when she yelled at Candiace for no good reason at her lake house. Was she considering that Candiace was about to do her a professional favor and that she might feel less inclined to do so if Monique blew up at her over taking Ashley aside to tell her that her husband was probably cheating on her at that very moment? Did Monique…apologize to Candiace for overreacting in professional anticipation of still needing to work with her in a few weeks? I usually enjoy Monique and have often had a hard time with Candiace, but more and more it seems like these two just cannot be friends, and Monique is working herself into a tizzy trying to be on the morally superior side of this friendship’s dissolution.

The final nail in the coffin of said dissolution happens at the winery where Gizelle is hosting a get-together to celebrate…herself, naturally.

Gizelle won the literary award she was nominated for, and she has put on her finest half-of-a-coat and Gucci beanie (which she of course looked drop-dead-gorgeous in, because these are the fashions of a woman who knows she can never actually look bad) to taste some celebratory wine. The other women also wear their finest autumnal wraps and jackets to drink wine in a quaint barn that is also open to other wine-drinking patrons. And at first, that’s fine…Ashley is very calm when she tells all the other women that the texts Candiace received were true, and her husband did in fact meet a stripper while she was taking care of their infant son in the middle of the woods, and then “took the bait,” and brought her back to a hotel room with him.

But don’t worry — he was so drunk that he just went to sleep, but that mean ol’ stripper still had the nerve to take a picture of him in the morning!

All of the women have questions, but Dr. Wendy has the winning testimonial comment: “Have you seen Michael? Who’s cuddling with that?” Wendy’s performance in this episode, though small, is invaluable not only for this comment, but also for the stunned faces she makes as tensions build during the wine tasting. (And also for continuing to let us watch her sturdy little son and his love of roughhousing, not to mention her husband who actually seems to listen when she talks.) I should say though that the best comment, non-Michael edition is Karen talking about Gizelle’s boring wine party: “I wish she had Skyped me — I could’ve saved the gas!”

Ultimately, I think the women know that telling Ashley her husband is clearly lying isn’t going to do anything — because they know that Ashley knows he’s lying too. In the end, they just let it go with “marriage isn’t easy,” and say that she has to make whatever decision is best for herself and Dean. Ashley thanks them for being mature and supportive, casually drops the idea that she might be pregnant again, and the party is over…

Riiiight up until Candiace drunkenly exclaims that she loves everybody, and Monique says under her breath, “After some wine, she does.”

Then Candiace starts doing that thing where she talks in her pageant voice but she’s actually being very shady, and doing so loudly enough to make sure that Monique hears her. Gizelle asks what’s going on with them since the lake, and Candiace chirps, “Listennnn, we’re where we are — cancellations happen, and then you live with cancellations.” Monique and Candiace both start loudly performing monologues on top of each other, while the camera cuts back and forth rapidly in shaky closeups, as though they had already packed up to go, then realized something was brewing.

Candiace starts clinking a cheese knife against her glass to announce that she loves Monique “even when Monique pretends to be asleep when I’m about to leave her house.” Wendy surreptitiously takes the knife out of Candiace’s hand while Monique says that if Candiace had children she would understand why Monique was so tired at the lake that she fell asleep before everyone left. Candiace starts yelling about mom-shaming and Monique starts yelling about “having a conversation with someone who can’t have a conversation.” Then Candiace is spinning around pretending to be Monique, and suddenly Monique is telling Candiace to get her hand out of her face, and Candiace is taunting, “Grab me, grab me,” and Monique is saying, “Do you want me to?” while she flips Candiaces hair, and then…well, you know what happens next.

The camera cuts to black before we see anything more than a lunging hand, and hear Karen scream into the distance, “Monique, let her gooooo.” And I really don’t blame the editors for putting this thing that we’ve all been waiting for in the very last moments of the episode, because this hour had already given us so much. I’m nervous for next week because I don’t want anyone to do anything that they can’t come back from — but until then we’ll just have to hope for the best. See you next week when the crudité hits the floor!

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