It’s been two whole weeks since they were last on the air, but The Real Housewives of Orange County are still in San Jose del Cabo. And guess what? The temperatures on the vacation may have been unbearable for the women thus far, but the drama is only just heating up. And in fact, the temperatures are going to get even hotter, too. Because the sensible thing to do when you’re already on a summertime vacation in Mexico is to jump into a sweat lodge. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, now…
Instead, let’s start things off right where we left the ladies two weeks ago, shall we? In the middle of dinner listening to Noella Bergener make every single moment about herself. Gina Kirschenheiter went into this trip agreeing to be the Noella wrangler. So far, it’s been about an hour and she’s already sick of her job responsibilities. Not even a chilled dessert shot can rein the newbie’s chaotic — and perpetually dissatisfied — attitude in. Good luck Gina! This is the job you volunteered for, sister.
Meanwhile, back in Orange County, Terry Dubrow has organized a guys night out at Driftwood Kitchen in Laguna Beach. Probably in the hopes of replicating the patented Househusband magic demonstrated on other franchises. But when you stop and consider the group of husbands and boyfriends, it’s a pretty wildly, uh, disparate group. What do Dr. Dubrow, Shane Simpson, Travis Mullen and John Janssen really have in common? None of these men would likely ever socialize together in any capacity away from the eye of Bravo’s cameras. (It seems a shirtless Ryne Armstrong didn’t get an invite to the party.) But at least bouncing between the two meals gives us insight into the fact that Shannon Beador will never, ever have a threesome…
Naturally, Noella manages to hijack the conversation away from Shannon‘s relationship. First by raving about how she’s ready to be christened “Aunty Psychopants” to Shannon’s girls — whom, for the record, she hasn’t even met yet. And then by, of course, finding something wrong with every single thing Heather Dubrow does. Even harmlessly checking to see how Gina‘s feeling on her way to the bathroom gives Noella made-up ammunition to find fault in Fancy Pants.
However, when she’s trying to force a deep moment with Shannon, Noella doesn’t take kindly to Emily Simpson and Gina‘s drunken antics. In her confessional she refers to them as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, but at the table she simply labels them as “children.” This, of course, prompts the more-than-tipsy and now irritated BFFS to walk away from the table. So by the time Heather and Dr. Jen Armstrong get back from el bañjo, the evening has devolved into a petty tiff with Noella on one side and Gina on the other.
The next morning, the ‘Wives try to hit the reset by dividing into groups. While Heather takes Shannon and Dr. Jen to look at potential lots and properties to inspire her future vacation home, Gina, Emily and Noella head to a sweat lodge for a much-needed healing ceremony. There’s a certain element of mysticism involved in a genuine sweat lodge ceremony. And its cleansing effect impacts all three women deeply. Maybe even more deeply than any of them anticipated. Before they know it, Emily and Noella are both sobbing as tidal waves of emotion come to the surface. And caught between them, Gina’s empathic nature only adds to the heaviness as she takes both her friends’ emotions on.
But then, something so deeply spiritual quickly transforms into something genuinely dangerous. Amid the outpouring of grief and sadness, Noella says she’s starting to feel dizzy. Though cameras aren’t inside the sweat lodge, we can hear her retching as Emily breaks the fourth wall, calling to producers off-camera to get Noella out of the lodge. Like, STAT. The next few moments become frighteningly chaotic as an unconsciously Noella is physically carried to safety by producers. Gina and Emily come running out behind her dripping wet and soaked in sweat. Thankfully, the newbie is revived quickly and no major damage is done. But all three ‘Wives are left stupefied by what they just experienced together during the sweat lodge ceremony.
Also having a bit of a medical issue is Dr. Jen. Turns out traipsing around Cabo all day shopping for real estate has badly exacerbated the chronic pain in her leg. (In case you missed it, in the last episode, the newcomer explained that the pain is the result of a bone tumor, which was carved out and replaced by some sort of…concrete mixture? The procedure sounds both terribly painful and wildly barbaric.) Back at the villa, Dr. Jen tries to exercise her way out of the pain, and calls Ryne for some support. But the conversation turns into a microcosm on the state of the Armstrongs’ marriage. He can’t empathize or offer even a few consoling words. And she’s left feeling unsupported and unappreciated. I’m still waiting for Dr. Jen to give us more, but expect this marital strife to continue into next week.
Meanwhile, Noella, Gina and Emily are down on the beach having a private picnic. Mostly made up of some bubbly in the sand. Somehow, the topic of flying home is broached. And h0nestly, I hadn’t even considered the fact that Noella might not be invited to fly private with the rest of the ladies. But Emily takes the conversation a step further, informing her new friend that Gina had to call in a favor with Heather to even get her invited on the trip in the first place. Rather than see this as a gesture of Gina’s loyalty, Noella translates it into getting a “pity invite.” At this point, simply add it to the list of things she’s mad at Heather about.
Finally, all the ‘Wives come together for what will be their final dinner in Cabo. The table is beautifully set on the beach. There are sombreros for everyone, a tequila tasting and even a piñata. Dinner starts off on a nice note. Shannon gleefully dons her sombrero, Emily relives the story of the sweat lodge and Heather ends up offering Dr. Jen some welcome advice about how to fix the communication issues in her marriage. (Though their roles are reversed, the Armstongs seem to be in an eerily similar spot to where the Dubrows were during their earliest years on the show.)
However, the mood takes a turn once Shannon and her sombrero excuse themselves for the restroom, leaving the buffer between Heather and Noella wide open. Within seconds, the newbie can’t resist putting the pity invite accusation on the table. But when Heather uses the word “pornography” to try to explain why she didn’t feel comfortable inviting Noella due to the gift she gave Max Dubrow, it takes the pair’s bubbling feud to a new level.
Do I think the raunchy gift was an innocent mistake and Noella didn’t know what the cards said? Yes, absolutely. Do I understand the way Noella is choosing to react to the fallout? Not at all. You’d think the obvious thing to do in that situation is to appropriately mortified, apologize profusely and perhaps send a replacement gift for good measure. But no, not Noella! She immediately goes on the defensive, baring her teeth and accusing Heather of disapproving of her because she happens to be a biracial, bisexual liberal.
I’m sorry…what? How did we get here? To the point where Noella is throwing out phrases like “straight fragility”? Does she even know who she’s talking to? In a sea of perpetually blonde Republicans, Heather was perhaps the first East Coast liberal to ever join RHOC. They actually have more in common in terms of their belief systems than most of the other women on the show. And not only that, Heather has been an outspoken and proud ally and advocate for her kids, whom she points out are all across the rainbow when it comes to their identities. So yeah, not the move you think it is, Noella.
Meanwhile, all the other ‘Wives are literally trying to coach Noella through an appropriate apology for the gift. But to no avail. Not even giving her the benefit of the doubt works. (And for the record, Heather‘s absolutely allowed to be offended at the poor choice of gift, even if it was unintentional. And while plenty of people will debate the semantics, it’s possible for pornographic content to be more than just visual.) Instead Noella internalizes what Heather’s saying and takes it to a personal level. It literally takes Heather reads the cards out loud on her phone to shock Noella back to reality. Now she’s mortified. And though the newbie offers a meek, half-hearted apology, she still has to get the last word. Noella may have declared this issue “done,” but something tells me it’s just the start of more bad blood…
TELL US – DID YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT NOELLA AND GINA WERE FIGHTING ABOUT AT THE FIRST DINNER? WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE SWEAT LODGE CEREMONY? WAS EMILY STIRRING THE POT WHEN SHE TOLD NOELLA ABOUT HER INVITE? ARE YOU TEAM HEATHER OR TEAM NOELLA?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]