Praise Andy Cohen on high that we finally got these women to a day spa because Real Housewives of Potomac isn't the most glamorous Housewives franchise in the best of times —but in the COVID-of-times, things are getting dire. Aesthetics-wise, it's challenging enough that all of their houses look almost exactly the same on the inside, save for Gizelle's, which is differentiated only by its full array of Olan Mills jewel tones. Now, it feels like every single meeting outside of a house is taking place at an Au Bon Pain or a Jamba Juice, but I absolutely draw the line at our women gathering in a borrowed warehouse to do free labor for Robyn's hat business.
By episode's end, however, the scales had been righted with "foot facials," glasses of champagne with tiny berries in them, and Wendy yelling about how incredibly Zen and unbothered she is.
Now, listen, Mia is a lot. She's a lotta look, a lotta voice, a lotta backstory, a lotta personality. I'm sure there are plenty of things one might be wary of or bothered by when first meeting her. But ultimately, we're learning much more about Wendy from her reaction to Mia than we're learning about Mia being a "flip-flopper," as Wendy claims. For example, in this episode, Wendy says that she came at Mia in defense of Gizelle, which Gizelle… didn't ask for Wendy to do. And in last week's episode, Wendy said she was coming at Mia in defense of Karen, which Karen… also did not ask Wendy to do. So, it's almost like — and stay with me here — Wendy just wants to come for Mia, and is looking for any excuse to do so.
And now, Wendy has f---ed around so much that it seems like she's about to find out from Mia. Candiace, Wendy's original friend in the franchise, says she wishes that Wendy didn't feel like she needed to puff her chest up at Mia, which I also wish. But it's not because I'm concerned for the wellbeing of Happy & Ness — it's because I like Wendy, and I don't like to see her looking so very pressed all the time.
So it's a different side of Dr. Wendy to see her actually cop to being insecure about the process of starting her lifestyle brand. At the top of this episode, Wendy finally goes over to Karen's house to seek out her mentorship — the exact thing that Wendy claimed was the reason Karen didn't like her at the season 5 reunion. So, either Wendy openly wants Karen to like her now, or she actually needs some mentorship. Or both, which seems the most likely, considering how timid Wendy is being about her apparent dream to be "Black Martha Stewart."
Personally, I feel like a little more trepidation in Housewives' entrepreneurial ventures would be wise… but if you're gonna go ahead and do your little home essentials line, you gotta do it all the way: you've got to double your investment, you've got to know your market, and you've got to set up six ring lights, sit your elderly husband down beside you, and shill your glue-less wigs on Instagram. At least, that's what Karen tells Wendy when she nervously hands over her candle prototype and asks for Karen's thoughts. Karen thinks it's classy, but I still think Wendy should go with her mom's tagline: "It's a candle."
Meanwhile, Robyn isn't looking for mentorship for her business; she's just looking for straight-up free labor. She invites Wendy to her mom's warehouse to meet new Friend-of-the-Housewives, Askale… but also, to box up some hats and slap on some shipping labels. But given how Juan has been coming down on Robyn for what is pretty clearly some COVID-induced depression that he finds "unattractive," I'm glad Wendy and Askale just lend a hand without too much fuss. We find out that Askale is Ethiopian, itty bitty, and wearing giant Louboutin heels to this hand-me-down warehouse. Seems like a recipe for Housewives' success!
Also a recipe for Housewives success: a complex family history. In this episode, Mia opens up about how she grew up in foster care because her mom was unable to take care of her due to drug addiction. Recently, Mia has been trying to reintroduce her mom to her life, but it's been hard: "All I remember is my mom giving me up, and that's just where we are." Mia tells G that she knows her mom was probably doing the best she could at the time, but now she wants her to "open up the conversation to talk about things that have hurt me, and I think that will be the start of building a bond." I hope that for Mia too…
And I certainly hope it goes better than Candiace's many dealings with her many maternal figures this episode. First, Mama Dorothy tells Candiace what we all know: Chris's career being Candiace's career is… not a good idea. Then, when Candiace invites Karen over to the house for a little tea and resolution, hoping to get an apology for the way Karen hurt her last season… well, let's just say it's mostly tea.
Candiace wants an apology from Karen for choosing to stay neutral in the fight with Monique last year. When they sit down, Karen tells her, "I know you were hurt and mad at the decision I made to be neutral — but I don't regret it, okay, Candiace?" I do applaud Karen's attempt to toe a line even when everyone is begging for her to pick a side. She simply won't do it! And, I think, most importantly, she's willing to deal with the repercussions of it. Candiace wants Karen to apologize so that they can restore their friendship to what it once was, whereas Karen seems fine with their friendship not being what it once was if it means she doesn't have to apologize. They part ways with the understanding that Candiace can be cordial with Karen, but she doesn't trust her… and Karen being absolutely fine with that.
So, now that everyone is cordial, it's time to stir s--- up. Gizelle has planned one final "pamper party" for Ashley before she has her second baby, which I thought was sweet until Askale asks Ashley when she's due, and Ashley replies: "Saturday." As in, Ashely is due so soon that she can simply answer with a weekday rather than a date. This woman needs to be resting. Like, actually resting, not listening to her friends yell through a wall while she gets her feet wrapped in seaweed!
The yelling comes by way of this being the first time the entire cast has gathered this season. Candiace was sick for Wendy's boob party, and Robyn and Gizelle just straight-up skipped Karen's love party. But for their part, Robyn and Gizelle mostly ignore each other. No, the feud of the week belongs to Wendy and Mia, who decide to sit down and chat about their fight from last week, which quickly just turns into a redux of their fight from last week. And by quickly, I mean in approximately three seconds.
Mia's "what are you gonna do about it" in response to Wendy saying her hands were in her face is brought up right away. Candiace notes that Mia's wording "could come off as threatening," which is pretty rich coming from Candiace "you gonna drag me?" Dillard. In fact, a lot of Wendy's tactics with Mia feel reminiscent of Candiace's past altercations: rev someone up long enough that they say or do something wild, and then use that as proof that they were wildin' all along. But what was the reason they were wildin', Wendy?! What was the reason?!
It doesn't matter because this time Mia has come pre-revved and ready to rumble. Wendy tells Mia not to ever "try me like that again," and Mia tells Wendy: "You can't tell me how to act — this is my demeanor, and if you don't like it, you can sit over there."
All episode long, Wendy has been calling herself "Zen Wen" as proof of why she didn't come for Mia at Karen's party, as opposed to her just being stunned by Mia asking her what she was gonna do about it. Now, Wendy tells Mia that she didn't come for her before because she respects other people's houses: "But I have time today… so tick-tock, Mia." What Wendy has time for is, ultimately, a little unclear. Mia says that she was "just being Mia" (just like Miley before her) in reference to sharing her feelings about Gizelle's "good heart," only to change her mind once she found out Gizelle "wished death" upon Ray.
"Your issue is not with me, your issue is with yourself, because every 10 seconds you put your foot in your mouth," Wendy snaps at Mia. Gizelle has been previously informed about Mia's "good heart" retraction by Ashley, so she wants to interject here, but she can't get a single word in. After Mia leaves in a huff to get her spa treatment ("for someone who is all about women's empowerment, Jiminy crickets!"), Gizelle tells Wendy that's she's all for her "going hard in the paint," but she needs to at least let the other person talk.
Wendy does not like hearing that. She points out to Gizelle that Mia said she "doesn't deal with small-minded people" — which is the last thing Mia said before she left the room — and that she disrespected her and put her hands in her face. In her testimonial, Wendy says, "My response to Mia was because I was defending Gizelle, so I guess loyalty isn't a two-sided thing in the book of Gizelle and Robyn." I guess not, Wendy! So that might be an indication that you should just worry about handling your own (candle) business, instead of worrying about handling everyone else's business for them. Candiace tells Wendy that she doesn't want Mia to be able to push her buttons like that, and Wendy assures her that Mia can't press her buttons, and she won't be giving her anything, and she's literally doing so great…
Okay, Zen Wen — sure, yes, definitely! The rest of the party includes Mia telling the others how she used to strip at a place where the strippers wore "long gowns," Askale asking Karen if she really drinks as heavily as Robyn told her she does, and a group prayer for Ashley and the new baby's health. And to absolutely all of that, let the people say amen: Amen.