The gang is still in Arizona for their cleansing retreat that’s supposed to be Melissa’s birthday party for a third episode, and it’s just finally getting dramatic. Caroline, not prompted by an unseen Bravo executive or anything, asks the room if they’re all happy with each other and their relationships. Joe Gorga decides to lay it all out.

He tells Teresa in front of everyone what he and Melissa think she’s been up to with Penny, and explodes.

Flash backward 12 hours earlier.

It’s the morning of Melissa’s birthday, and she’s enjoying some cuddle-action with her husband in bed when Teresa pops in to give her a present – panties with a rhinestone peace sign on the crotch. Kind of weird, but well intentioned. Still, Melissa says to the camera that it’s going to take a lot more than a pair of underwear to fix things.

Kathy, Ritchie and Rosie take a hike while all this is going on and discuss the horse whispering exercise from the day before. Kathy is inexplicably upset because she feels that Rosie “sticks up for her too much,” and that means that people don’t take her seriously enough. I don’t think that’s the problem. Rosie says that the reason she’s so protective of her sister is that she doesn’t have someone in her life like Ritchie; if she had someone special, she could focus her energy on her, but she has to protect Kathy for now. God Kathy, don’t you feel awful?

While the men drink by the pool, and Joe Gorga gives a touching speech where he tells Joe Giudice he loves him, the women play “zennis tennis.” The instructor tells them to “f—k shame” and leave their ego at the door” when they enter their court; you can tell from Jacqueline’s face that this isn’t going to go well. Teresa almost has an aneurysm trying to win.

Because they can’t just sit around a campfire or something, the whole group has to go on yet another teambuilding exercise. This time, they have to get up on a highwire with a partner and scoot across using each other for support. Teresa and Joe Gorga go first, and do pretty well. Nobody is able to make it across, but it’s hilarious to see them try.

Then Teresa has to get loud and demand that Melissa take a turn with her. Melissa just doesn’t want to go at all, and especially not with someone she doesn’t trust. Up there, Teresa jokes that “we’re never fighting again after this.” Of course, down on the ground, Joe is still getting shady tweets about Teresa, and is none too pleased.

At Melissa’s birthday dinner, things are going well and everyone’s having a good time, until she makes a speech. She mentions everyone at the table except Teresa – and it’s noticeable. Later as they’re drinking, Caroline opens the whole can of worms by telling the room that they should get whatever they’re feeling off their chests. She said that they’re all been there before and she doesn’t want to go to yet another retreat to bandaid an awful situation. You can see the wheels churning in Al’s head when he hears where she’s going with this.

At this point, Joe and Melissa want her to admit that she started the rumors about Melissa cheating, or was at least involved with Penny and Jan. That’s not happening. Joe is enraged and throws a glass at the wall.

Drunk Kathy comes up with the best plan, which is that they all take that trust that they built up on the highwire and apply it to twitter bullies. Tell people trying to hurt their family that they can’t break their bond. And what do you know? People actually listen to Kathy.

The game plan for leaving Arizona: unite for a stronger bond and hunt Penny down. It’s going to be good to get back to Jersey


Grade: C

Stray Observations:

At the spa, Al and Caroline talk about his experience with Wyatt. He clarifies that the emotional abuse he suffered from his father, while probably still considered abuse, was more “intense discipline.” And he’s taken the best parts of that discipline into his own parenting. Is it possible, though, that he’s just deflecting attention away from the situation? He’s a very private man.

Caroline: “We’ve done all these retreats and healing exercises and all it took was what we do best: argue"