Welcome to this week’s Catching Up! Wipe your feet on the way in the door. Mind the doormat; it’s a bit small.
Let’s dive right into the central argument of the episode, because this shit’s gonna take a while to diagram and I want to leave myself plenty of time. I could not even begin to draw you a flow chart of the fucked up mid-day slurfest that precipitated the Porsha vs. Marlo barn burner. Like the season at large, it was everything and nothing at once, a tangle of about four different arguments involving six different people. I’ve been backgrounding a lot of WWE Royal Rumbles lately (at this point I’ve resolved to just watch them all), and this was sort of the Housewives equivalent of that: various women running out to the ring in sequence, putting on these baroque little interludes of combat, and hurling each other over the top rope until only one remains to challenge the crown at WrestleMania. Admittedly, the metaphor falls apart here because the winner is Marlo, who’s been jobbing for six years now without a title push, but you see where I’m coming from.
Before we get to the battle of the doormat, though, Roachgate has to continue (and sadly, I don’t mean Janet). NeNe gets that look in her eye, the one where she wants to lay her thumb on Kim‘s windpipe, but obviously, Kim isn’t here. So in an interesting pivot, NeNe opts to parry with Shereé, putting her on the spot for her alliance with Kim. I’m into this move because it’s the first time in fourteen episodes anyone has laid a finger on Shereé, other than a bit of positioning around Prison Bae in order to blow that saga up later in the season (like, say, *checks watch* next episode). But this argument rolls in and out like the ocean tides, and now it’s about Porsha and Kandi, and now it’s about NeNe’s roaches, and now it’s about Cynthia‘s IKEA furniture, until, finally, it’s about Porsha’s doormat.
For the record, I think a doormat is a gorgeous jumping-off point for a scrap. On a lesser franchise, a Beverly Hills or a Potomac, argument subject matter that petty can create a haunting sense of ennui, a grim realization that you’re spending some of your incredibly finite minutes on this Earth watching Dorit and Teddi argue about stemware. But on an Atlanta, or a New York, or a Melbourne, the pettier the better. The minor trespass is always code for the major betrayal. I don’t know what Porsha’s doormat is code for here — I suspect it calls back to her larger disenfranchisement from the group — but watching her break down weeping because her MOTHER!!! bought her that doormat is delicious so I’m not going to split hairs.
And then of course Marlo spots her opening and pokes and pokes and it all goes to shit. I can’t believe I’ve never paired Marlo and Porsha off as rivals before — it’s actually a very even match, intellectually and otherwise (like Cynthia says, they’ve both got mugshots). I’m officially a pacifist but I admit some part of me was curious about what would happen if it truly jumped off; for Porsha’s many Mortal Kombat championships over the years, she’s never been met head-on, and I suspect Marlo could do the job. Alas, we’ll have to delay that particular case of bloody gratification, as the other women wisely pry the challengers apart and sequester them to different stretches of sidewalk (highlight is Marlo loudly acting the fool until Kandi points out the police are nearby, at which point she beams like a child beauty queen).
The episode predictably ends with Porsha heading back to Atlanta, notionally of her own volition but of course because production’s travel insurance doesn’t extend to cleaning Marlo’s bridgework off the streets of Barcelona. One more Georgia peach, plucked from the season ten cast trip. Que pena.
- if the episode-ending brawl is the Royal Rumble match, Eva and Shamea are the cruiserweights killing time at the beginning of the card. Lots of pointless flipping around and botched shots as the audience checks their watches, waiting for the main event to start.
- best musical cue of the episode: the wonderfully frightening “Porsha is turning” music that plays as Marlo goes a step too far and Porsha’s pupils go dark.
- whatever you may say about the editors of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and I have talked some shit in my day, no one is quicker with a damning flashback. That Shereé cockroach clip was a heartless dagger, not that I’m complaining.