We’re back from the Big Apple and fully in the OC this week on The Real Housewives of Orange County. But that hardly means the consequences from Heather Dubrow choosing to bring Gina Kirschenheiter along on her trip to New York won’t continue to reverberate through the group in the weeks ahead. Because is it even Housewives if we aren’t watching the women jockey for position within their circle? Watching the social dynamics of these rich women play out on screen is ultimately what keeps us coming back week after week, season after season. Right?
To get re-acclimated to her sunny California life, Heather decides to throw another party. This time, it’s a wrap party to celebrate the completion of filming on her and Terry Dubrow‘s new show 7 Year Stitch. (Conveniently, the one-hour special premiered a couple of weeks ago over on Bravo’s sister network, E!…) This time, the party’s also in the basement of Chateau Dubrow. And Heather has decidedly not invited all the other ladies to the soiree. Because we all know how well that worked out last time. Instead, only Gina and Dr. Jen Armstrong make the guest list for this intimate celebration.
Having been in New York, Heather‘s a bit out of the loop. So she’s shocked when Gina informs her that Dr. Jen‘s been toying with the idea of a trial separation with her husband, Ryne Holliday. The last time she saw the couple was at the rather disastrous dinner party she threw for them. But have things really gotten this much worse so quickly? Apparently not, because Dr. Jen waltzes into the party with Ryne trailing behind. Which is a marked improvement from what this recapper suspects was his complete refusal to film during last week’s episode.
Dr. Jen insists her relationship with Ryne has turned a corner and they’re back on the right track. At the very least, he’s not moving into an Airbnb…yet. And besides, there’s much more pressing gossip to discuss. Like Shannon Beador‘s competition about which group was having more fun while Heather and Gina were in New York. And Noella Bergener trying to passive-aggressively pick a fight with Dr. Jen at the cooking night. The doc didn’t exactly appreciate her fellow newbie’s whispered asides and criticisms about her. To the point that she’s considering disinviting Noella from an upcoming event she’s throwing. Which is an idea Heather, for the record, is all for.
Speaking of Noella, it seems the polarizing rookie still doesn’t have many allies in the cast to film with these days. So this week, she’s left going to dinner with her mom to move her personal storyline along. And let me tell you, joking about being lovers with your mother is certainly an off-putting way to kick off a scene… Noella’s divorce drama with James Bergener continues to get mired in complications. Apparently, his corporate lawyers now want a seat at the table, but Noella just wants the entire ordeal to be wrapped up as quickly as possible. She’s already moving on with her life and gunning to set up her “fresh start” storyline for Season 17. Fun fact: we also learn during the scene that Noella’s actually burned through two marriages in six years. And also that her dad is the late, longtime NBC weatherman Christopher Nance.
In other news, Emily Simpson rounds up her entire family to attend Shane Simpson‘s swearing-in as a lawyer in the state of California. It’s such a happy moment to see Shane finally (finally!) surpass this hurdle that’s been in front of him for so many years. Emily couldn’t be prouder. And honestly? Neither could I. And not only is it an accomplishment of a long-sought-after goal in Shane’s life, there are benefits for Emily too. Namely that she doesn’t have to be quite so career-driven anymore. So she can spend more time doing other things, like volunteering for the California arm of The Innocence Project. We see some of that this week when she meets with Terrill Swift, a prison reform advocate who served 14 years for a crime he didn’t commit before his sentence was overturned thanks to the Center on Wrongful Convictions.
It turns out, Heather‘s not the only one throwing a fancy get-together this week! Dr. Jen‘s hosting a party in her home to unveil the latest technology she’s adding to her medical practice: customized neuro-cardiac-guided TMS. Or in layman’s terms, personalized brain scanning. But first, she has to finalize the guest list, which means making a decision about whether or not to disinvite Noella. Ultimately, the medical aesthetic doctor decides to split the difference with a terse phone call to her frenemy. Dr. Jen explains that the event is both personal as well as professional, and she’d rather Noella not even bother show up if she plans on making snarky comments behind her back or causing any kind of commotion. But Noella promises to be on her best behavior for the night — probably because she doesn’t want to risk missing a group filming event.
Dr. Jen‘s brain scan party begins, and I have to say the theme is definitely a first in RHOC history. As is Heather bringing a bucket of KFC as a gift for the hostess, but that’s a whole other thing. Emily arrives first, and the rest of the women trickle in one by one as she’s getting her brain scanned in another room. Gina‘s brought her ex-husband Matt Kirschenheiter and his Kelly Dodd lookalike of a girlfriend in an effort to research the brain scanning technology for the benefit of their daughter, Sienna, who’s experiencing some sensory delay. But even as well-intentioned as that is, it makes me uncomfortable anytime Matt’s onscreen. I don’t care how copacetic things are now. All I can think about is the domestic violence dispute that sent him to jail and Gina tearfully reading that victim impact statement in court.
On the other hand, the person I’m absolutely thrilled to see in attendance is none other than Jeana Keough! I’ve yammered on and on for weeks about how this season reminds me so much of vintage RHOC. And the OG’s surprise appearance only further proves my point. Just last year, she was narrating the premiere of Season 15. But here she is on our screens again! Also, I have to admit I’ve been waiting for some kind of crossover between OG Jeana and newer model Gina ever since the latter joined the show three years ago. Just for the sake of their names, you know? And the funniest part of it all is that Dr. Jen doesn’t even know Jeana. She just happened to be a plus one of a mutual friend! The OC really is a small world.
The cocktails, mingling (and light gossip from Noella) are interrupted by Dr. Jen‘s presentation on the brain scanning technology. And frankly? As groundbreaking as the treatment is, a 30-minute Powerpoint about traumatic brain injuries and damaged neurons kind of kills the vibe of the party. Even though that’s ostensibly what everyone’s there to celebrate. But in the end, Dr. Jen brings her speech full circle by explaining that expanding her practice to include brain scans is incredibly personal considering her father actually died from a brain injury that was the result of getting hit by a car on his bike. So who knows how this technology could’ve helped him if it had been available in the wake of his accident.
With the heartfelt (and academic) portion of the evening over with, let’s get to some drama. Which means it’s time for Shannon to confront Gina over all the accusations of jealousy that have been flying back and forth between the two. What about, exactly, Shannon doesn’t know, but she’s determined to get to the bottom of all the rumors she’s been hearing. Gina may not be envious of Real for Real Cuisine, but she does cop to thinking Shannon’s jealous of her budding friendship with Heather. Of course, Shannon fires back that Gina’s ego and self-inflated sense of importance need to be taken down a notch or two. Gina thinks the real issue is that Shannon only liked her when she was the struggling underdog of the group. And can’t handle that she’s finally succeeding and in a good place.
But just as the argument starts gaining steam, the screen cuts to black and we’re treated to yet another “To Be Continued…” So it looks like we’ll have to wait until next week to see how this long-simmering fight pans out.
TELL US – ARE YOU SURPRISED DR. JEN RECONCILED WITH RYNE SO QUICKLY? SHOULD SHE HAVE DISINVITED NOELLA TO HER EVENT? WERE YOU HAPPY TO SEE JEANA KEOUGH MAKE AN APPEARANCE? HOW INSPIRING IS EMILY’S WORK WITH THE INNOCENCE PROJECT? ARE YOU TEAM SHANNON OR TEAM GINA?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]