Bravo
Jodi Walker
April 21, 2015 AT 10:43 PM EDT

I don’t know what’s happening. I did not think this day would come, and I’m not sure if I’m willing to accept it. On a scale of sane to 10, the women of RHOA have been hovering somewhere around an eight (fighting about ass exercise DVDs) on their best days this season, and a 10 (scepter-induced anger rage blackouts) when under high stress. But tonight, with Nene safely tucked away in New York City, and the other women—including Demetria, who is a human that exists—operating under jet lag and the calming effects of whatever laxative teas they’re sucking down, they were operating at a solid five. They only broke anywhere from two to 18 glasses! I don’t know if it’s boring or not, but it is different.

Watching Nene walk out of that counseling session last week was a little bit like smacking myself in the face with a sock full of pennies. It was extremely frustrating, less because of the results, and more because I decided to inflict the pain on myself. Over the course of this season, I’ve come to expect a level of lunacy that has numbed me to the concept that any part of the Real Housewives’ reality is real, and yet I still get annoyed when everyone comes through on their contractual promises to act a complete fool. But tonight, the women employed the most typical of Housewives moves—a group trip with people you can’t stand—and actually managed to produce different results: Kind of being able to stand each other.

With new girl Claudia and her pocket-sized Zen for Dummies at the helm of the Philippines trip, it almost feels like we’re embarking on a new RHOA era (in the eighth season, I know, I know). Phaedra occasionally spoke words without icy steam coming out of her mouth in response to people constantly apologizing to her; Kenya’s laser focus while trying to mend bridges and be considered a good guy, in comparison to the flashback of her trouble-stirring Anguilla temper; Porsha only screaming for everyone to hush-up hushing her one time at dinner… I don’t agree with the harshness of calling Nene a “cancer,” but I do agree that once the ever present fear that she might show up to dinner in full Ronald McDonald hair and makeup is eliminated, there was a certain weight lifted off the staged, scripted, and contractually agreed upon proceedings of tonight.

The first night in the Philippines feels a little bit like maybe the RHOA cast can actually turn their rubber band ball full of disaster plot points around before the season is over. It also feels a lot like none of these women had ever heard of the Philippines before this. They keep using buzz words like “zen” and “hippie retreat,” which, yes, is specifically what they’re doing while they’re in the Philippines, but really makes me wish the producers would put these seven women and their notable asses in a jeepney in downtown Manila at rush hour and see how their Atlanta city girl status holds up then.

Since tonight was such a pivotal episode, but too busy setting up reconciliations from two years’ worth of fighting to actually facilitate any plot developments, let’s use our recap space as strategically as Porsha uses her arrival outfits at international airports: Ranking the least RHOA things that happened tonight from “I’m mad because that whore called me a whore, so I’m going to tell a large group of women that she’s a whore” to “United Nations Peace Summit/I swear, I laughed with them not at them twice”:

Why be so nasty and so rude in Atlanta when you can be so nasty and so rude in New York in two different accents? Nene’s story line is at the top of the list mostly because while everyone else was getting their peacemaking-via-enema on in the Philippines, Nene was getting the kind of reality check that only New York City can really supply. After all her nonsense last week, watching Nene’s disaster of a meeting with the creative director of Cinderella (and her seeming ignorance to just how much of a disaster it was) felt a little like vindication—for us, and Dr. Jeff, wherever he may be. I could almost hear him cackle as the creative director looked on in polite horror while Nene bumbled her lines in a mock-British accent and informed him that, in fact, she “would like to use two accents.”

It looks like the full pressure of Broadway won’t actually overwhelm Nene until next week, so for now, Gregg makes her close her eyes and walks her over to the Cinderella marquee that has “Nene Leakes” written on it in big, bold letters, because, well, that is actually very cool. Say what you will about Nene, she has taken everything she possibly could from this show and run to the best agent Bravo money could buy as fast as her Louboutin shuffle step could take her.

A Room Fit for a Frenemy Only The Real World equals RHOA in the amount of suspense drawn from who will get what room when out on a trip. But tonight, Claudia only goes out of her way to assign one room, the biggest, to Phaedra because she’s been having a hard time lately. And Phaedra is openly touched by the gesture. This was the first moment where I started to get nervous that I had lapsed into an alternate reality while taking my Sunday afternoon nap. (This is still high ranking on typical RHOA behavior due to the fact that I guess we’re to believe that Claudia’s radio host salary is paying for this trip… yeah, OK)

“I don’t drink coffee, but I’m sure my butt sure wouldn’t mind a sip.” –Phaedra

Enough said.

Forgive and Forget, And Once More With Feeling Going into this trip, just about every single person has some beef with someone, including the normally beef-less Kandi.  I commend Kandi and Phaedra for valuing their relationship and talking it out like adults, but did they have to do it during what could have been a perfectly relaxing foot massage? Kandi is annoyed with Phaedra because after she thought they had made up (Kandi really only needs to hear “we’re cool” to move on) she’s still hearing that Phaedra is talking to other people about their relationship. Phaedra tells Kandi that when Nene and Porsha check up on her and ask her if she’s heard from Kandi lately, she just tells them the truth: no. Kandi says that’s the problem, that putting anything out into the group is going to be misconstrued into them having this huge issue. They don’t argue about who’s right and who’s wrong, they just decide they have to engage more and communicate better.

Side Note: Kandi has never taken a yoga class? That woman will go to the greatest of lengths to avoid expending any energy that doesn’t directly result in making money or having sex, and I really appreciate her focus. Her falling asleep in said yoga class also speaks to me on a spiritual level.

NEXT: The ladies sit down to dinner, no one leaves, and only one of them yells…

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