The Giudices packEach Monday, Eli Yudin and Carey O'Donnell, authors of the very, very funny Twitter account @NotTildaSwinton, will be recapping the Real Housewives of New Jersey for us. Below, their next installment.
Eli: THE CASTLE AWAITS. The retreat that is the talk of the town is finally upon us. The different families all prepare, packing their Louis Vuitton luggage that they apparently bought as a 12-pack at one point. Over in the Giudice war room, Joe plays "monster" with the children, while they all stand around in front of the giant mirror within which they've trapped the real Giudices, while the Japanese obake that have taken their form carry out their devious plan to cause cable-network drama. Jacqueline and Chris choose not to go, their real-world problems of raising an autistic child somehow trumping spending a weekend in an emotional pressure cooker. Chris, as usual, is more over it than anyone's ever been over it since the dawn of time. I keep expecting him to be checking his watch during the confessionals. Caroline and Al are out in the Jersey Highlands somewhere, where we're presented with the bone-chilling "bridge moment" where Al wants to cross a footbridge. THUNDER CRASHES! LIGHTS FLASH! A GATEWAY TO THE OTHERWORLD OPENS! "Please, Caroline, cross the bridge! It's the only way to avoid having our life-force absorbed into the great void, falling to the ground as grotesque husks! Please! " Caroline giggles and shakes her head, rolling around on the ground, playing with a ball she found in the bushes. "FOR MY FATHER, CAROLINE! CROSS FOR MY FATHER!" shrieks Al, tears of blood streaming from his eyes, his flesh beginning to bubble. Caroline eats some grass and then vomits. "WE MUST! IF OUR COLLECTIVE TIMELINE IS TO CONTINUE, WE MUST DRAG OURSELVES ACROSS THE THRESHOLD!" Anyways, they end up walking across, so that's a pretty cool 30 second sequence.
Carey: Meanwhile, Kathy, SISTA ROSIE, Rich, Joe Gorga and Melissuh pile into a party bus complete with stripper poles, which serve as poignant reminders of when Teresa accused her sister-in-law of being a stripper. While their party bus whisks them to the retreat, Teresa and Joe drive up to the Lake George castle separately. When the different parties reach the bottom of the hill the old castle is perched upon, a black, driver-less horse-drawn carriage awaits them with open doors. Without much hesitation, they all pile inside, and are taken to the top of the slope. Under a winter sky that looks a sickly grey and yellow, the group arrives at a magnificent stone castle overlooking the vast lake. A gaunt man in a sweater greets the two groups at the large doors, ushering them into the grand parlor, a mix of dim lighting and heavy rugs and wood floors. Teresa makes the comment, "I hope there aren't no ghosts here," and immediately complains about Jacqueline's no show, saying "Well, if she is so busy, why'd she have time to TWITTER me?! You see what she TWITTERED at me?" Yes, Jacqueline tweeted something about Teresa being a moron, and described it as "spontaneous!", "impulsive!" "Can't fault me now!" she thinks, hastily typing into her phone while cackling. After initial tension, the parties retire to their respective state rooms before lunch, the smell of hot decay coating the thick air.
An uncomfortable dinner
Eli: As each guest walks into his/her room they find that they're not in a room at all, but have passed through a portal and are standing in a dank abandoned graveyard, their own headstone in front of them. "TERESA GIUDICE, 1972-2013 -- SHE TWITTERED." There's also a montage of all the characters complaining about how hot the castle is just to verify, one last time, that they are, in fact, in hell. They gather in the lobby, each clutching two gold coins, and pay their fare to Charon, who then takes them, one by one, across the River of Hades to the dining room. And so the tension begins. They begin to silently eat their dinner, the room silent except for the tinkling of silverware and the squeals of knives cutting against porcelain. Above the table is a chandelier of bleached bone. Slowly, it shakes itself loose, crashing to the table-top. The individual bones start to tremble, and assemble themselves into several skeletons that dance a slow jig, deep undulating moans coming from their nonexistent throats. One skeleton plays another's ribcage like a marimba. When their song is over, they are raised again to the ceiling. The families clap in unison, 21 times exactly. Then Rich tongue-kisses all the furniture in the room.
Team-building exercisesCarey: A knock at the castle gates breaks the silent lunch. Two figures appear at the door, each shrouded in hoods, the taller of the two holding a lantern to see in the black smoke that has enveloped the lake and castle. "That must be the team builders!" Rosie says; "It's the team builders," Melissa says, and Kathy says, and Rich says. Back at the Giudice crypt, Milania is covering an entire dinner table cloth with black crayon. She suddenly looks up and gazes out the window, over the rows and rows of dead aspens, into the swirling greys and golds of the winter sky. "The team builders," she mutters. Teresa opens the door for the new additions to the retreat. One is a gangly red-head with a large bald spot who, by all accounts, is Ron Howard. His name is Steve. With Steve is a short woman who could be anywhere from 11-years-old to 53. Her name is Stephanie. "We've just been in the Middle East!" Steve says, laughing. Ha ha. Yes. I imagine team building in the Middle East isn't the easiest task, Steve! They assemble da crew in the grand ballroom, where they lay out a rope circle on the floor, and have everyone stand around it. The first task, the ICE BREAKER, is where several square pieces of construction paper are laid out in the center of the rope circle; each person has to stand on the circle without touching the carpet, and each round, another piece of paper is taken, forcing them to work together to find balance and shared space on the lessening squares. GENIUS! Everyone thinks it's stupid. Steve and Stephanie laugh nervously. Steve then has Teresa and her bro "HASH IT OUT," asking them to express why dey're so mayd! As they begin bickering, flies start covering the tops of the windows of the ballroom, multiplying by the hundreds each second. The room becomes hotter and hotter as the air vents seal up. The rope circle has opened something -- something buried beneath the stone castle, beneath the bedrock of the frozen lake, traveling up faster and faster through the dirt and tree roots, whispering and laughing, as the voices above grow louder and harsher.
Eli: Watching the team builders arrive at the house reminded me a lot of House of 1000 Corpses. One could even argue that some of the families are approaching Captain Spaulding levels of makeup. All that aside, it's clear that they should never have taken this assignment. As everyone ruins Teresa's plans by not immediately apologizing to her and devoting themselves to her whims and pleasures, the Jersey Volume dial is cranked up to eleven. Steve-Ron Howard looks on with a facial expression that would suggest he is currently drowning, and Stephanie wonders if it's possible for her to climb entirely into her down jacket, not crawling back out until the world has healed. Teresa takes turns shouting at everyone, and as soon as anyone responds, she informs them that she's not talking to them, forming an infinite loop wherein she shouts at everyone in turn until the Chosen One can arrive to break the cycle and so become the King of Jersey. In the background, Steven-Ron Howard and Stephanie embrace, then snap each other's necks simultaneously, and fall to the ground, finally free. But when Teresa finally succeeds in goading someone into calling her a name (in this case, "scum," which is an unconventional, almost retro choice by Joe Gorga) she runs outside and tells her meat golem about it. We then enjoy roughly three seconds of a fight that looks a lot like those old vibrating football table games.
Carey: As the scuffle begins, a crow wraps its talons around a flimsy tree branch, hovering just above the ballroom patio. It is Kim D. She gazes down at the fighting bodies below, their yelling muted by the buzzing of the fly swarms. The red ring around the black of her irises grows deeper, almost auburn. Milania, looking out the window with her back to her sisters, and babysitter gathered on the couch in front of the television, sees it all. She places the palm of her small hand on the cold window pane and stares past everything -- the silent fighting, Kim D. perched on the tree branch. 'It'll all be over soon,' Kim D. whispers to Milania, letting out a caw and ruffling her feathers.