“The Real Housewives of New Jersey” featured a dramatic shift in dynamic this week, as the aftermath of Towaco resident Teresa Giudice’s “battle” with Franklin Lakes residents Caroline Manzo and Jacqueline Laurita played out on camera.
While Manzo asserted her independence from the Giudices on last season’s finale, last week marked the first time Laurita expressed a desire to “distance myself from you and your family.” This week’s episode shows both housewives upset with the way things played out.
“After Teresa left, I just completely broke down,” Laurita said. “I had a complete breakdown.”
In fact, Manzo’s daughter, Lauren, mentioned that Laurita called her hysterically not able to get out of bed.
“When someone crosses her, she feels the ultimate betrayal,” her husband Chris said. “…I’m not sure that Jacqueline will ever forget that Teresa wasn’t a very good friend.”
Teresa also claimed she was in tears about the friendship’s demise, although she did not break down on film.
“After I left Jacqueline’s house, I went to [Jacqueline’s sister-in-law] Dina’s house. I broke down. I was so hurt and Dina was just listening to me. That’s what a friend does,” Giudice said.
In a rare moment of tenderness, Joe Giudice asks his wife how she is feeling and what she is going to do to move forward. It does not last.
“I don’t care,” he said. “I already told you what to do. Just move on.”
He does, however, agree to go to sister-in-law Melissa Gorga’s song launch party the next day. The feud with Caroline and Jacqueline, who she has called “family” in the past, seems to have renewed (or maybe started for the first time) Teresa’s resolve to fix things with her own estranged family.
“Now since I can’t trust Jacqueline and Caroline, it’s really important to me to trust my family,” she said.
To that end, she meets up with cousin Kathy Wakile for lunch. Kathy has been trying to reconcile within herself her anger with Teresa and her ongoing love for her. Last week, she considered reaching out, but she was shocked when Teresa made the first move.
“My heart just wants to go ‘Great! We’re moving along,’" Wakile said, "but there’s always that other side that goes ‘Are there any ulterior motives?’”
She gets her answer when Giudice tells her about the fight with Caroline and Jacqueline.
“She needs someone to be on her side,” Wakile said. “I don’t think that’s fair.”
The major event of the episode is Melissa Gorga’s party to celebrate the radio premiere of her song “On Display.” It is acknowledged that she already had a premiere party for the single last season.
“It was a little bit of a déjà vu feeling,” Caroline’s son, Chris, said. “I think Joe likes to party and put his wife on display a little bit. No pun intended.”
After a pause, the Jersey king of one-liners said “Pun was intended.”
All of the housewives are in one room for the first time since the falling out. Although everyone tried to focus on Melissa’s song, there is definitely tension.
“You know, for two days, I just wanted to be alone, but I’m so happy for Melissa and I want to be there for her and support her,” Jacqueline said, “but it’s Teresa’s family….”
Caroline and Jacqueline recount their side of the fight to a clearly uncomfortable Kathy Wakile.
“The fact that Caroline’s done with Teresa; it’s very hurtful,” Wakile said, “and it’s hurtful even to sit back and be an observer of that, because it shouldn’t be broken over one falling out. We’ll see what happens. I just hope they can talk it out.”
Continuing on her campaign to mend her family, Teresa tells her brother Joe Gorga that she is willing to go to therapy with him, an idea he proposed several episodes before. The conversation seems to be the most normal one they’ve ever had.
“Maybe I’m doing something wrong,” Joe said.
“Or maybe I’m doing something wrong,” Teresa said, but later in her interview adds “I hope the therapist will help my brother realize he is the one with the problem.”
Still, it seems as though they are moving in a positive direction.
“I’m surprised,” Joe said. “I don’t know what’s going on. I really haven’t seen this Teresa before but I’ll take it.”
Later, Caroline tells Joe about the fight, making him, too, question his sister’s motives.
“Teresa’s arguing with Caroline and Jacqueline,” he said. “She called them family. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but if it’s what it takes to get my sister back, I’ll take it.”
Unfortunately, Jacqueline decides she wants to talk to Teresa, who has been ignoring her all night, during this otherwise drama-free party. It does not go well.
Teresa said she is very hurt, and Jacqueline said she is, too. Giudice did not seem to want to acknowledge that Laurita could be upset at all.
“Why are you the one that’s always hurt and no one else is allowed to be hurt?” Laurita said. “And you don’t realize when you hurt other people.”
Teresa claims she was attacked and never did anything to hurt Laurita. Laurita said she was just trying to ask Teresa what was true in her life, because she had been reading so many contradictory things.
“Right there; that’s sad, and that questions our relationship,” Giudice said.
“Don’t try that with me; you’re the master of twisting things,” Laurita said.
“Right there, I should have punched her in the face,” Giudice said. “I’m saying that’s something she deserved. That’s not my style. Obviously, she punched Caroline in the face, so she’d be willing to do it to me.”
On the Season 1 reunion, it was revealed that Jacqueline and Caroline once got physical many years earlier, when Jacqueline was pregnant with CJ.
After Laurita asks Giudice where they stand as friends (“I can’t even give you an answer,” she said), the irrationality of pregnant people is brought up yet again when Melissa comes over to try and calm the two women, who are now screaming. Teresa confronts her about allegedly communicating with former housewife Danielle Staub. When Jacqueline mentions that it happened two years ago, Teresa snaps at her, and Jacqueline walks away.
Laurita rants about how she wants nothing more to do with Teresa.
Melissa and Teresa hash out the Danielle issue.
“You and I were at a really bad place…it was the worst we’ve ever been. I was six months pregnant with Joey, I was really irrational, I was emotional, and I really hated you," Gorga said. "OK, look, Caroline and Jacqueline get mad at each other; they punch each other in the face. I was mad; I talked to one of your enemies.”
Then, in a startling display of normalcy, Melissa apologizes. And even more shockingly, Teresa accepts.
“Even though Melissa did this, she is an important factor with making things better with my brother,” Giudice said. “So I’m going to forgive her.”
They hug, return to their family, including a very drunk Rosie (Kathy’s sister), who encourages everyone to kiss on the lips.
"I want to be optimistic that Teresa joined in on our family lovefest because she wanted to be by her family,” Melissa said. “I don’t want to think that maybe she just had an argument with her girlfriends so now she’s coming this way. I don’t care. We’re still here for you.”
“Can you believe how much the tables have turned?” Teresa said. “I never imagined getting along with Melissa and Kathy and fighting with Jacqueline and Caroline.”
“Why do people have to change? I know I haven’t changed,” she adds, “I know I’m the same person. If anything, more understanding.”
The question remains how the families will both work together on the show and interact personally, as Chris Laurita and Joe Gorga are still friends, and all of the families are planning on going to Napa together.
The show airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Bravo.