By Jodi Walker
September 28, 2020 at 01:06 AM EDT
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I apologize if this recap is arriving a little late, but I’ve been busy commissioning a renaissance portrait of Ashley’s return from the bathroom after missing the entirety of Monique dragging Candiace by her wig across a table full of crudité, accompanied by this helpful title card from The Real Housewives of Potomac editors: ASHLEY RETURNS FROM THE BATHROOM.

Ashley returning from the bathroom — and the resulting renaissance painting it inspired — are perhaps the only good things to come out of this unfortunate situation. But boy, man oh man, Ashley in her little cape, strolling back to the table, stopping dead in her tracks with her mouth agape as she takes in the floor strewn with glass and cherry tomatoes, only to glance up and discover Candiace looking like she’s been run through a vacuum cleaner wig-first…what a mood.

But as for the more unfortunate side of this episode, let’s get this out of the way right off the top: Monique was wrong for physically attacking Candiace. There were other contributing factors in this situation that were also wrong, like Candiace baiting Monique, or Gizelle stirring this pot with 11 herbs and spices since the season began…but Monique escalated it to the point of no return when she dragged Candiace by her scalp across a table made of barrels, and she has to deal with the consequences of that. Candiace may be an annoying little gnat most of the time, but she doesn’t deserve to be physically harmed for being annoying — no one does. (I also don’t think that Monique deserves to carry the weight of disproving a stereotype about Black women that was created by white people solely on her shoulders…but perhaps we’ll save that for next week.)

For now, let’s talk about truly one of the wildest scenes I have ever seen on the Real Housewives franchise, that this episode somehow expects us to move on from and start caring about Gizelle’s off-brand Outback Steakhouse grand opening halfway through. And that ain’t happening. Because this physical altercation between Monique and Candiace has been previewed to us since April when this season was originally supposed to air, but there is no way, even given six months of using my rather active imagination, that I could have ever dreamed up what we actually saw unfold on our screens.

The episode picks back up where last week left off: with a verbal mocking match between Candiace and Monique suddenly turning into Candiace saying, “You gonna drag me? You gonna drag me?” over and over while Monique flips Candaice’s hair across the table and says, “Do you want me to? Do you want me to?” Until finally, Monique decides Candiace must want her to because she keeps asking if she’s gonna…

So Monique does — she literally grabs hold of Candiace’s hair and drags her across the table. It is crazy. But what is much crazier is that for all the women immediately springing into action trying to get Monique to stop…and for all the producers who come streaming in from every corner of that barn like the Toy Story toys suddenly coming alive when Andy leaves the room…Monique will not release her grip from Candiace’s hair, no matter what. For 46 seconds, Monique holds onto Candiace’s hair in a grip so strong that it cannot be stopped by the 20 people surrounding her, physically trying to stop her, and screaming, “Monique, let her go!” over and over again.

Credit: Bravo

Only Monique deciding she’ll let Candiace go is what finally releases her, and then she’s swept away behind a door that leads to a stairwell with James the Producer while Candiace tries to regain her bearings, very much looking like that Barbie that got left at the bottom of the toy box for one too many years.

“What is that, wine on my face?” Monique asks James in the stairwell, as though they just stepped into the powder room to fix her lipstick. Monique is extremely calm following this altercation, and also for the rest of the episode — it’s pretty wild. For the record, there is wine on her face because after Monique grabbed Candiace’s hair, Candiace threw the glass of wine she was holding at Monique. We don’t really see the glass hit her, but something made Monique’s lip bleed, which is actually the only wound that comes from this fight.

Karen goes back to the stairwell door to check on Monique, but James the Producer is holding the door shut. Not to keep Karen out, though — it’s to keep Monique in. Because as calm as she’s acting, she is still raring to go, and when she hears Candiace yelling, “’Cause you’re a ghetto-ass, hood-ass bitch,” she starts trying to push James out of the way so she can get through the door and “beat her ass.”

It seems that James is stronger than he is fast, because the next thing we know, Monique has stopped trying to fight him for the doorknob, and takes off down the stairs to go the long way out of the wine barn and continue her conversation with Candiace’s wig. As soon as Monique hits the grass and sees that Candiace is getting in a car to leave, I kid you not, she takes off sprinting toward the car. “Is that Monique running?” Ashley asks from inside the barn. Yes indeed, it is Monique running, and again, it is one of the wildest sequences in Real Housewives history.

Monique’s Get Out sprint is intercepted by two producers who grab hold of her and only get her to stop by saying that Candiace is already gone. Monique goes inside the barn to get her purse and speaks to Ashley and Karen, who are pretty much the only ones who haven’t already declared that this is all Monique’s fault. Karen says later that she thinks both Monique and Candiace have made mistakes that they need to account for, and Ashley tells Monique, “[Candiace] talks a lot of s---, and then doesn’t know why people get pissed off.” But Monique doesn’t really need reassurances—she seems pretty confident about what she did: in the moment, after the moment, and according to Twitter, still in this moment.

Monique is telling everyone at the wine barn that she’s fine, and she can “fight a little trick that thinks she’s grown, it’s no big deal.” Karen tells her she needs to shut her mouth, get in the car, and go home. I’m honestly shocked at how sagely Karen handles this whole fight situation: not a pearl-clutch in sight, and she’s supportive of both women, knowing that anything less in that particular moment won’t yield any helpful results.

Candiace and Monique both call their husbands (both named Chris) on their drive back to Potomac. Candiace’s Chris tells her he’s sorry this happened as she says that she’s embarrassed and that she’ll “talk s--- all fucking day, but I’m not putting my hands on people.” Monique’s Chris tells her that he’s embarrassed by what he’s hearing, a position that he holds onto the next morning when they discuss it while Monique washes their adorable daughter’s hair, who I hope is not listening too closely to the conversation. Chris is disappointed in how Monique handled the situation, telling her, “Y’all are grown women who can’t even hang out without fighting.” Monique’s thoughts on that: “Whatever.”

Three other storylines also happen during this episode, and we are actually expected to pay attention to them; to be fair — they all end up being pretty interesting. When Ashely and Michael pop up on screen, I couldn’t believe that I had briefly forgotten all about how Michael was exposed all over Instagram as a cheater-cheater-pumpkin-eater in last week’s episode. But Ashley hasn’t forgotten about Michael’s infidelity, and in a move that is utterly impressive, she gets him to swear nothing like that will ever happen again, and then very casually brings up the idea of them getting a post-nuptial agreement: “Something that would be protecting Dean and me in the event that this does happen again.”

That’s right, Ash — ask him how much he means it in cash.

Credit: Bravo

Karen and Ray also continue to struggle in their marriage, though in a less obvious way. All season, Karen has been telling us things aren’t going well with Ray since she started working more, and Ray has certainly seemed checked out. This week, she cooks him a fancy birthday dinner and asks if he might be open to seeing a life coach since he’s not open to going to therapy with her. In her testimonial, Karen says that she figures if she packages it another way, she can still trick him into therapy: “One way or another, we need help, and I’m gonna make sure we get that help.”

One-way-or-another turns out not to be a therapist…nor a life coach…but, of course, a radio host, the second-best therapy alternative.

Karen invites a woman named Angela over who hosts a radio show about rekindling relationships, which I was prepared to make a lot of fun of. But ultimately, Angela has an amazing radio voice that’s nice to listen to, and they actually make a lot of progress. And by progress, I mean that Ray honestly tells Karen that he thinks he’s still in love with her, but he’s not totally sure. It’s very sad and watching Karen take her heels off after Angela leaves, and tell Ray calmly, “I appreciate your honesty, but I don’t have to like it,” and then retire to her closet to cry in private…that was heartbreaking.

Credit: Bravo

Still, both of those couples are doing better than Gizelle, who remains convinced it’s a good idea to rekindle her relationship with her ex-husband who has cheated on her as often as he possibly could during the time they were together. As you’ll recall, her whole pitch for getting back with Jamal was that no one could love her children as well he could, but as you’ll also recall, Gizelle’s children are super uninterested in their parents getting back together, despite the fact that their dad bought them a restaurant to run in a city they don’t live in, and their mom bought them tiny little power suits to wear to said restaurant’s grand opening. But I couldn’t possibly shade the situation any better than this RHOP producer does in the following exchange:

Gizelle: “When you give a kid something that’s going to teach them, that’s way more valuable than some brand-new jeans. I love the fact that Jamal loves to take care of his kids.”

RHOP Producer: “And how many kids does Jamal have?”

The amount of times I could not believe my eyes and ears this episode is unparalleled! Gizelle declines to answer that question in order to protect the privacy of all of Jamal’s other children, and all of those children’s mothers, but the producer is not the only one who has Jamal’s wandering eye on their mind. Gizelle and the girls see her dad while they’re in Atlanta, and when the girls get up to go to the restroom, Gizelle breaks the news to Pops that she is back together with the man who cheated on her during their engagement, causing her dad not to come to their wedding, and then cheated on her again, repeatedly, throughout their marriage, causing them to get a divorce.

Gizelle’s dad tells her he just wants her to be happy, whatever that means…

And then when he sets eyes on Jamal at the restaurant opening, he excuses himself to the bathroom, finds a producer, and tells them to take his mic off because he’s done. “This is not a good move for her,” he tells the producer, perhaps not quite understanding how much time the mic removal process entails. “You know, this guy’s got six, seven baby mamas … as a father, you think twice about this kind of stuff!”

As always, I’m with Gizelle’s dad, and as always, whatever the RHOP producers and editors of RHOP are being paid — it’s not enough. See you back here next week for what promises to be a very tricky episode of RHOP.

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