It's Monday night, which means you should have tucked the kids in their pink leopard print beds, read them the story of how Chanel was really invented by an Italian, turned off the lights, and poured yourself the first of hopefully many glasses of red wine and Diet Coke. Ask your husband to hand you the remote so you don't chip your burgundy-colored manicured nails with the little diamond on the middle finger (so you can flash the American eagle with style when someone cuts you off in your Range Rover), because money can't buy you class, but it can buy you a diamond the size of a garlic knot. Then lock your husband in his wood-paneled basement with a bottle of Barolo and some dirty picks of JWoww, because it's time for the Season Finale of The Real Housewives of New Jersey!
Teresa and Joe have invited the many and sundry Manzos over to break bread and help promote Teresa's entrepreneurial venture, namely, shilling Skinny Italian products and stepping all over Bethenny Frankel's business model. Although, I don't think Bethenny would ask her friends to pair bellinis with their pasta. You can't really fault Teresa, though. She has to earn some money to keep her girls in leopard print jeggings and buy a replacement vase for the living room after Jacqueline's mother mistook it for a linebacker and took it out.
The enlarged family sits down to their last supper (I'm assuming an FBI SWAT team is going to swoop in and take Joe out at any minute) and talk, naturally, turns to Ashley's impending court case. Jacqueline looks slightly saddened as she reports that the dozen white doves of peace she sent over to Danielle's house were not appreciated and the emissary she sent to beg for clemency for Ashley was splattered with hot glue, beadazzled, vajazzled, and returned home with NO written on her forehead in glitter glue. Jacqueline is shocked that Danielle, a woman she once claimed as maybe someday having possible friend potential, would press charges against her innocent teenaged baby whose only real crime was being stupid enough to pull someone's hair on camera.
Shaving enthusiast and elder statesman, Caroline, clucks at the poor manners on Danielle. I mean, clearly, if she wants to be accepted as part of the group and wants to earn access to the Best Panini (Panini!) in the World, she will have to drop the charges against Ashley. Perhaps it is time for Caroline to step down from Mt. Olympus (that's what she calls her 4-bedroom colonial with stone patio, weight room, and three-car garage) and engage with the enemy. And by that she means, invite her to lunch to berate her publicly. It worked so well when Dina tried it! Teresa doesn't think it will work. She tried to say a kind hello to Danielle and Danielle ran! Teresa is stunningly self-aware. I am surprised she's not a cult leader. For some reason (probably the producers are holding their Chihuahuas hostage) no one tries to talk Caroline out of this not-brilliant plan. Caroline is willing to throw herself in front of the about to de-rail train that is Danielle to beg for Ashley's life, but she asks in return that no one fuck up her negotiations by texting rude things to Danielle *cough* Ashley *cough* or stalking her like a terrier after a weasel through a perfectly lovely country club *cough* Teresa *cough*. Teresa nods glumly, because that was the most fun and most exercise she'd gotten in years. Ashley is not present to sign a blood oath promising not to harass Danielle, so Jacqueline can only promise to try and talk some sense into the pig-headed moron. I mean, we all know that even if Danielle dropped the charges Ashley would still be writing Danielle's number in bathroom stalls up and down the Jersey Turnpike. Caroline sends Danielle a text seeking an audience. Everyone chucks their Skinny Girl Bellinis (I smell an impending Real Housewives trademark war in season 3! dramazz!!) over their shoulders and toasts with actual red wine.
Meanwhile, Danielle, who is having a perfectly lovely and lo-cal dinner around the coffee table with her daughters, gets Caroline's text message. She then reads the message aloud to her daughters because in a fit of parental amnesia she has forgotten that her children are, well, children and treats them like overly-invested much younger (and shorter) girlfriends who want the play-by-play of her personal drama. But, when Jillian expresses doubt and concern about the meeting, Danielle snaps back into mommy mode and points herself in the chest and says "Matriarch." She learned it from her word-a-day calendar and likes the way she purses her lips when she says it. Then she spells it correctly and gives herself a dollop of butter on her pasta as a reward.
After dinner, Jacqueline and Chris pull into the garage with some chilling piano music playing leading me to hope (fingers crossed!) that an axe-wielding hockey mask-wearing psycho is lurking on the slate-tiled path leading to the new construction four bedroom with modern amenities. But, alas, it's just Ashley. Who is wearing the same fugly blue knit hat she has been wearing all season. I mean, damn girl, if you're going to wear that style chapeau, it should at least be Rasta colored to give you some semblance of personality, even if it is a hacky-sack playing one.
Jacqueline sends her boys off to bed and tells Ashley the Good News! Jesus is saving her! If by Jesus you mean shaving enthusiast "Aunt" Caroline who is going to hell to save Ashley from a probable small fine. If by hell you mean crudite on a plate in a private dining room at a white tablecloth restaurant. Ashley blinks twice for yes. Then she compares Danielle to herpes and refuses to even consider a public apology to Danielle, causing both her parents to slam their heads into the oak cupboards at the futility of raising a lunkhead. They don't bother to call Caroline and warn her that Ashley is too stupid to appreciate what her fake aunt is doing, because that is clearly going to be the highlight of this episode if not the fortnight.
Jailbird Danny and his divinely feathered hair stop over at Danielle's house for some afternoon delight and light gossip. Danielle's feathers are as ruffled as Danny's hair and he tries to talk some levity into her, but she's not interested. She is warming up for a fight because she knows that Caroline Manzo is ready for one too. She points out that Caroline formed a very negative opinion of her without ever having a conversation with her and she kind of takes that personally. She also lays out a case for a vast Manzo conspiracy against her, namely, that they keep showing up wherever she is. Danielle forgets to mention that the Manzos are contractually obligated to hang around Danielle because (plug your ears): THEY ARE ON THE SAME TV SHOW. She just doesn't understand why they can't leave her alone. *cough* you're on the same show *cough*. It's like if Blanche got a restraining order against Dorothy, Sophia, and Rose and couldn't figure out why she still had to share her house with them.
Caroline is dressed, showered, shaved, put in her Bump-It, and powdered and blushed herself into the form of The Ultra-Matriarch. She gets some encouraging words from her children and then is ready to rumble for the family's honor. Contrary to the bumper sticker, she is simultaneously preparing for war AND peace. Meanwhile, Danielle is engaged in a guided meditation via Dial-A-Psychic seeking peace and serenity via an iPhone app. Obviously she has brought an entourage including her on-call psychic healer and armed (!!) bodyguards. Because while Caroline might talk like a Soprano scion, Danielle is the real striver. Caroline is ready for her. As is the restaurant, who has smartly sequestered the two putative ladies (what? Caroline shaves daily and Danielle is clearly a tranny) in an isolated dining room far far from the other guests. They aren't fools. Caroline sips ice water waiting for Danielle to arrive.
Meanwhile, over at The Brownstone, everyone from the littlest Giudice to the oldest Manzo has gathered around a large table to wait