Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 8, Episode 12 of Bravo's "Real Housewives of Orange County," titled "Chicks and Salsa."
Hola, friends! Due to my technical difficulties, last week's recap did not get posted. So, before we launch into this week's debauchery, I will quickly recap my recap of Episode 11 ("Dirty Dancing in Mexico"). Because ... the horror.
Our three wobbly amigos Tamra, Vicki, and Lydia break off from the group to hit up Puerto Vallarta party hole Andele's -- replete with a sombrero-clad, donkey-hugging namesake logo. They dance on the bar, do "boob shots" and generally bomb out. Sequestered in the cast limo, Heather and Gretchen discuss Lauri's allegations of Vicki's cheating ways. Heather is typically nonplussed, but both are livid at being ditched by their boozier counterparts.
Back at the Bachelorette Suite
Tamra accurately self-identifies as a "hot mess" as she, Vicki, and Lydia enter the Bachelorette Suite to apologize, their neon mouse ears undermining this sentiment. Gretchen screams at Tamra and tells a giggling Vicki to "F--- off". The next scene reveals our three renegade ladies rolling around in hysterics on Tamra's bed. When Vicki exits, she leaves a little gift behind. Yes, Vicki has peed on Tamra's bed. It's the Gunvalson version of a housekeeping pillow mint, and it's traumatizing on many, many levels.
Hector the local tour guide dutifully takes the ladies to see various sites, sculptures, and a sad bull fight, as they toast Tamra in phallic fuchsia chalices. The line of demarcation in the limo is very clear: high-fives all around from the previous night's mouse-eared partiers versus peeved, squinting silence from Heather and Gretchen. Everyone whines, snaps, screams at each other, and then starts crying, as Hector nods soberly and, I'd imagine, tries to will himself invisible.
Up At The Villa
Poolside at Villa la Estancia Rivera, everyone raises a margarita, Lydia finally gets her chips and salsa, and Gretchen arrives, looking flawless in a sequined bikini top. She comes bearing gift bags, which Vicki scoffs at, as they likely contain "Gretchen Christine" products. You see, the CEO of "Vicki's Vodka" would never dream of using this show to plug her dubious side projects.
Beach Chair Confessions
Tamra and Gretchen walk down the beach, as Gretchen slut-shames Vicki: "I'm not going to be blamed for the fact that she got caught in Cabo with some other guy, while she was married to Don and seeing Brooks at the same time." In a million seasons, who could have guessed Vicki was a player of this magnitude? Then, in a strange segue, Tamra drops some pretty hardcore backstory about her family involving rape, schizophrenia, abuse, and attempted suicide. This is by far the heaviest conversation ever had on a Puerto Vallarta beach chair, or perhaps on a "Real Housewives" episode to date.
We're back in the OC, as Alexis and her controlling lunk of a husband Jim arrive at a typically understated bôite for dinner. Alexis is wearing a faux chinchilla coat and eye-popping pink dress, and is unfazed that she wasn't invited to the bachelorette fiesta. "You don't need a lot of other stuff in your life if you have a great marriage, because your husband is your first priority," she says, setting feminism back to the Stone Age as Jim Flintstone smugly quaffs his cave wine. Talk of expanding the Bellino family ensues. "Give me that fourth baby," Alexis growls, to which Jim replies, "I'm losing my appetite."
And About Those Mexican Strippers...
Apparently, nothing unites a crowd of contentious premenopausal women like Mexican strippers. But take heed, this is no sleek, toned, expertly choreographed Steven Soderberg-directed affair. Instead, two rubbery males enter in bull fighter capes, strip down to day-glow micro-thongs, rub their "junk" in the women's faces, grind on every available surface, execute a human centipdede of sorts and (ugh, sorry) simulate cunnilingus as Heather sprays Febreeze everywhere.
"I didn't know that Mexican strippers would be crazy," Tamra yells.
And, from these great heights, we arrive on schedule for a safe landing in Coto de Caza for Episode 12, "Chicks and Salsa." Are you ready? I'm not quite sure that I am, but let's move forward, together.
We open on Lydia, rolling down the street in her white Lamborghini, clad in a breezy leopard top, talking to Heather via Bluetooth. They discuss how much they missed their children while in Mexico, but actually, ha ha, not really.
On to business -- Lydia is planning a salsa party because she likes to "party and have fun" and believes that, as the self-appointed "Friend Whisperer," she can bring cast outcast Alexis to the event and unite everyone under the auspices of Latin rhythms and booze. Because that worked so well the last time.
In advance of the salsa party, Heather interviews that she's planning on sitting down with Alexis to have a "mature, hopefully intelligent conversation." Good luck! Undaunted, Heather arrives at yet another manufactured meet-and-greet at a neutral-seeming coffee shop. She orders some "calming chamomile" which I initially hear as "common chamomile." Veblen-esque heh.
Heather and Alexis face off. Each woman's set of cheekbones resembles the icy North Col of Everest. Heather shares that she wants to "elegantly extract" herself from Lydia's salsa party due to the awkwardness between them. Alexis botches an olive branch metaphor. There's some finger-pointing, and finally it all becomes clear: Alexis wants atonement from Heather for her smack talking at last year's "Real Housewives Reunion Special," and Heather just wants to clear the air unapologetically. So they reach a chamomile crossroads.
Next we hop to Gretchen's house, where she talks to her mom about Vicki's "indescrepencies," and shares that her and Slade's current travails have given her a new perspective. And that, no matter what, Slade adores her. Gretchen's mom says that after years of hesitation, she now sees the Slade that Gretchen knows and loves. I have yet to see this Slade but I'll give it up to Gretchen's mom for viewing a silver lining amidst the posturing and hair product.
Exterior shots of Gunvalson Manor. Inside, Vicki's daughter Brianna cuddles her baby Troy, who is wearing a cute but foreshadow-y camo onesie. Indeed, it turns out that Brianna's Marine husband Ryan is going away ... three hours away! To a different combat base. At first I felt skeptical of this military awe-baiting, but as it happens, after his next transfer, he'll be deployed to Afghanistan.
Vicki is, of course, ideally equipped to make a global conflict all about herself, as she tearfully relates that the rest of the country can't possibly comprehend her sacrifice in this moment. Then she tells Ryan to "go get those bad guys" and convincingly cry-interviews goodbye.
"There goes my whole life in a truck," Brianna says, as Ryan drives away. "I want to see him home safe, see his son grow up, see him home with me." My God. Ok. Now I'm crying! Are you happy, Bravo? You win. Bring back the strippers!
As if on cue, we jump cut to Lydia's salsa party. There are heat lamps and crazy-looking succulent plants and stargazer lilies and Lydia's husband Doug is wearing hot pink pants that are perhaps two sizes too snug. There are pineapple mojitos and Frida Kahlo unibrow stick-ons and giant candles and vaguely racially insensitive overtones -- everything these ladies like in a party.
As the fête gets into full swing, our A-list guests arrive: Slade, Gretchen, Lauri, Heather, Terry, Vicki, et al. Slade crassly gives hostess Lydia the nickname "cheeseburger" and whispers to Gretchen that he bets she never eats. Lydia calls Slade out on this, and the "joke," which isn't funny to begin with, becomes progressively less so as Slade tries to rationalize it as a compliment.
As Lydia puts it to Slade in her interview, "Here's five dollars for the douche jar."
Finally Eddie and Tamra arrive, both looking uncharacteristically sexily goth and glowy -- OC reality TV vampires! And then, out of the blue, the dastardly Brooks arrives, bearing a slouchy bouquet of flowers for Vicki. This was clearly set up by the producers despite the obligatory "Terry calls Brooks from the limo" scene, but Vicki seems genuinely shocked.
Everyone gives Brooks the O.C. smoky stink-eye as he dispenses hugs left and right, nodding earnestly in his central-casting Southern Gentleman way. He and Vicki have a heart-to-heart. Brooks assures her with his usual platitudes that she needs to "embrace the happiness every day."
Then, in Shocking Revelations Corner, Tamra and Lauri discuss that Brooks has been "embracing happiness every day" with a friend of Lauri's daughter, a young "porn star and stripper," who, according to Lauri, "gets paid to do some very questionable activities."
Everyone does some hesitant, mildly awkward salsa dancing, everyone except Eddie who works the floor like a boss. "He has the skills to pay the f----ng bills," Tamra interviews. Vicki and Slade dance together. Gretchen and Brooks dance together. Somehow the center holds.
Lydia interviews that she enjoys the "letting loose element of the evening" and they cut to a close-up shot of Eddie, whom I must point out has possibly the largest, ah-hem ... pants protrusion currently available on basic cable.
Lydia then calls Slade out one last time for criticizing her weight and deems Gretchen "Malibu Beach Barbie," a tired metaphor that also seems quite apt. In our final slice from the drama pie, Tamra has invited all the girls to go wedding dress shopping with her, including hot-button cast member Alexis. Gretchen, as you may have gathered (or maybe not, depending on your fluency with insanity) is not cool with this at all. We end, perched indefinitely on this third-time's-the-charm bridal gown cliffhanger.
Lovely readers, next week, in addition to next Monday's episode, we have the 100th Episode Special of "The Real Housewives of Orange County" to look forward to. It is two hours long and promises to be amazing. I hope you will all join me down this primrose path of early morning mimosas, casual dissipation, unnecessary surgery, and glossy lips. Be there!
"The Real Housewives of Orange County" airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.