Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 5, Episode 3 of Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," titled "It's My Party and I'll Fight If I Want To."
Since there's not much Teresa can do about the size of her brain, she heads to the gym to work on parts of her that can improve. As she exercises (with a full face of makeup on and every bracelet she's ever received), she tells her buddy Linda about Gia's upcoming 12th birthday. It'll be her first co-ed party, which raises two issues: 1) Teresa "doesn't want Gia talking to boys" and 2) Teresa doesn't seem to know what co-ed means. She notes that she did invite her brother and his family, since her resent Clunch (Caroline lunch) has left her "cautiously optimistic" about the future.
Over at Jacqueline's house, Teresa's brother is also getting a workout. He's helping set up Nicholas' new hyperbaric chamber bed. Jacqueline explains that it's been known to help children on the spectrum. I won't pass judgement here as I'm totally uninformed on the topic, but I would like to note that her defense of the treatment was that "Michael Jackson had one." While I love me some MJ, I'm not sure invoking his name as a supporter of anything kid or health related is necessarily the best move.
Caroline sums the whole situation up perfectly: "The fact that she's willing to try any means of therapy is amazing." On a show in which grown women verbally abuse each other over gossip, Jacqueline's struggle brings us painfully back down to earth. She probably wishes her biggest problem was a fight with her in-laws. Her reality isn't something she can fix with an apology -- and her castmates who have that amazing luxury should thank their lucky stars.
That night, Joe Giudice scrapes together enough money to bring Gia out for ice cream with a sprinkling of guilt. "You should spend more time with your family and less with your friends," he says. Gia quickly explains that it's not fun to hang with her siblings, especially when Milania tells her she has a "hairy grill." I think that translates to "time for an upper lip wax," but for a girl who actually may be part-werewolf on her maternal side, she looks fine to me.
Joe, still struggling with how he ended up in what looks like a woman's denim pullover, has no clue what to say. He chalks it up to puberty, also reminding her that kissing is "disgusting" and is not for anyone under 21. During her interview, Teresa notes that ever since Gia caught them in a scene of post-coital bliss (or whatever two animals are capable of feeling after the act), she's had a lot more questions about the birds and the bees. Way to never let something mortifying go, Teresa! I'm sure that whenever Gia eventually gets that searing memory out of her head, she'll be thrust back into heavy therapy upon watching this episode.
Back at Jacqueline's, Caroline brings up the Clunch for a change. She explains that Teresa still has Kathy issues and continues to think Jacqueline ruined her family, but that she seemed open on the subject of her brother Joe.
Caroline tells Joe almost everything that went down, making Teresa seem like a saint who is very willing to float down from her cloud and apologize. In short: She told a little white (trash) lie for the good of the siblings' relationship.
Over at Kathy's house, another fib is quite literally in motion. Because love means never having to say, "Sorry I killed you" (that "Long Island Medium" can just connect you both on the dead people phone, anyway), Rosie has taken her nephew Joseph out for a perilous drive in his dad's fancy sports car. Note that Joseph was specifically told not to drive it. "Gas it!" Rosie says helpfully, as a line of cars speed by. "You're not gonna get clipped!" she cries encouragingly as cars come right at him.
Back at home, his dad starts to have a fit. "If he's out for a joy ride, I'm going to ring his neck!" With that, Joseph and Rosie pull back into the driveway, and Kathy and Rich have a conniption. Let me rephrase that: Kathy has a conniption, and Rich fakes it until he's out of his wife's sight. With a glimmer in his eye, he playfully grabs his son and they both revel in Kathy's meltdown. Nothing like being able to count on your partner to undermine your authority! "I'm tired of playing bad cop," Kathy says later.
Meanwhile, there's nothing funny about what's going on in Teresa's world now. She got a call saying her dad was back in the hospital with pneumonia, and now she's on her way too. This shakes Teresa to her core, and it doesn't help that her husband's version of "being supportive" is saying "one of these times, he's not going to come out of it." She must face the very awful reality that her father is a sick man -- and that if he passes on, her closest family will be the brother she's not currently speaking to.
At Joe Gorga's house, he's got a very bad case of Man Cold. Man Cold, if you weren't aware, is similar to what women get -- but while women are capable of handling it and also going to work and rearing kids, it very nearly kills men. It renders them incapable of moving and speaking, except when they rise from their death beds to share windows into their world like, "I had some soup and it came right outta my ass." With those germs, he can't get anywhere near his father, so Melissa offers to go to the ICU with Antonia.
Though I'm sure Joe and Melissa are concerned about their dad/father-in-law, they aren't exactly rushing to the car. Instead, they talk about the Clunch (Melissa thinks it's totally weird and wants Caroline to back off) and the invite to Gia's party (Joe doesn't want to be there). "I'm not ready right now for my sister," he explains from beneath a leopard throw.
After the commercial break, we're at the gym with Melissa's perfect body and Kathy's ... body. After they throw their bits all around in a class, they hit up the juice bar, where Melissa gets a refreshing drink and laments about her ill husband and father-in-law. She explains that she has a sore throat that "comes and goes," so she doesn't want to infect anyone at the hospital ... but apparently, everyone at the gym is fair game. Kathy may have married into stupid, but she's no dummy. "You're not sick," she says under her breath.
You can cut the tension with a knife, but luckily, Jacqueline bounces in to completely demolish it. She was supposed to work out with them, but she's developed a lot of "disorders," like a fear of driving on the highway and of exercising in public. It makes one wonder why she ever agreed to meet them in the first place, but if one tries to understand this show, one's head will explode.
Teresa's pal Linda has no such fears, and she's workin' on her fitness harder than Christina Aguilera after someone finally showed her a mirror. "Teresa probably sent her in here," Kathy says -- and sure enough, Teresa's on the phone with her in the next scene. "Jacqueline's fat ass hasn't seen a gym in eight months," Linda says unkindly. She's either completely oblivious to Jacqueline's issues at home, or the steroids are making her aggressive. I know one thing for sure: If your eyeliner looks as good when you leave the gym as when you entered, your skinny ass didn't do a lick of work either, Linda.
At Caroline's house, the only thing being worked out is her neck as she nearly gets whiplash pulling into her driveway. It looks like Teresa is down on all fours sniffing the cement! A closer inspection proves that, while the creature does have a similarly strange hair situation and a vacuous stare, it's actually a pig. Turns out Caroline's sister Fran is pig sitting, and this new friend is named Moo Shu. Fran has offered to keep it in the garage. She says she'll sleep next to its crate, because that's normal. Also, Moo Shu is a better conversationalist than most people in the house.
Because Caroline prefers bacon she doesn't have a relationship with, she decides she'll stay in Hoboken and leave Moo Shu and Fran to their inter-species love.
On Gia's birthday, Teresa brings the girls for snazzy 'dos. At the salon, Gia says that she finally heard from Uncle Joe. He won't be coming because he has pneumonia. While she seems disappointed, she's also ready to drop it, but Teresa's not. "You know he's your Godfather," she says spitefully. It's like she thinks that riling up Gia will give her permission to get angry -- but Gia's not taking the hateful bait. At 12, she's already far more mature than her mother.
Though Joe's not going, Melissa and her kids (begrudgingly) are. Joe gets her a little aggitated, telling Melissa to fight for herself if anyone unsavory, like Kim D., is there. "If someone gives you lip, you give them lip right back," he says angrily, momentarily forgetting how extremely weak he is from his alleged 103 degree fever.
The party is everything a 12-year-old girl could possibly want: music, flashing lights, a cake that looks like a multi-colored vagina that says "Gianna" instead of Gia.
As Melissa drives to the party, Jacqueline calls. Though they're chatting about how awkward the night is going to be and how terrible everything is, Melissa still uses speaker phone, obviously oblivious to the fact that her children can hear and comprehend everything mommy is saying. I don't think her goal is to actively turn little Antonia and Joey against their aunt, but the poisonous things they're hearing are quickly being put away in the filing cabinets of their subconscious minds. Eventually, they won't even know why they dislike Zia Teresa ... they just will.
As Melissa enters the party, so does Kim D., even though she doesn't come bearing children ... and could not, at her age, bear much of anything besides bad news. Though it's Gia's night and there's about a zillion kids running around unsupervised, Teresa takes some precious time to stand in a circle with Kim D. and Linda to bitch about how Melissa waited four days to go to the hospital.
When Kim D. asks about Joe, Melissa launches into her pre-rehearsed speech. He was rushed to the ER two nights ago with a 104 fever (it seems to rise depending upon who she's talking about), his body turned white. Kim D. is concerned for about a minute, but then launches into the whole "Heard you were at the gym. Why were you there? Were you hoping to see Teresa" mishegas.
Stunned, Melissa says she visited her father-in-law the day after he was admitted. Teresa says this is a lie, and Melissa's aghast. "I have three kids! Who cares when I went?" She asks why Teresa's interrogating her, to which Teresa replies, "I'm not interrogizing you." I think that's a hybrid for interrogating and antagonizing, but I don't have Teresa's command of the English language, so I can't speculate.
Now they're yelling at each other and causing a scene while Kim D. downs her wine and sucks her teeth in the background. Melissa can't take it anymore, so she stands up and says she's getting the kids to go. "You're not gonna stay for cake?" Teresa says, completely shocked that the woman she just ripped apart doesn't want to have a bite of that sugary genital region with her.
"There's no need to run home to my brother and make it bigger than it is," Teresa says in her interview. Note how she says "my brother" and not "her husband." Therein lies a massive source of their problems: Teresa still feels like she has ownership over Joe, and she views Melissa as her replacement and mortal enemy. Much like her cake, she wants to have her brother and ... well, actually I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but wouldn't it have been nice if I could make that pun work?
Maybe whoever dug up Kim D. can raise Dr. Freud from the dead. It seems he is very desperately needed in New Jersey.
"Real Housewives of New Jersey" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.