After weeks of hushed tones, secret invites and bickering, we are finally, mercifully on our way to Africa. With all the women in the same room together for the first time in months, shit is about to get real.
First everyone has to recover from the bombshell Nene dropped on them at the airport by bringing Marlo along for the trip, and they do so by getting immediately and thoroughly smashed on a 16-hour flight to “The Motherland.” We’re just going to start the counter now, as you will only hear Africa referred to as The Motherland or AFRICA! (full exclamation) in this episode in an attempt to convey some sort of connection to a continent that couldn’t sustain their Louboutin habit for even one day. Cynthia jams a video camera in their faces the entire time; she is more annoying than a deeply rooted zit that has yet to break the surface and oblivious to social cues. Two minutes in, Cynthia is already my least favorite person on this trip.
Upon arrival, we have to watch everyone struggle with their luggage carts, brimming with Louis Vuitton luggage, makeup cases, and garbage bags full of diamonds. Marlo and Nene skip the escalator and instead try to cram their bags into an already-full elevator. You can practically hear the gears turning in her head as Khandi, stuck in the corner waiting for these dolts, figures out a way to get out of her contract.
On the way to the hotel, full of expectations for South Africa to look like District 9 or a Christian Children’s Fund commercial, everyone comments that Capetown actually looks “like a mini New York,” surprised that there aren’t silverback gorillas wielding machetes aimed at wild clitori running loose all over the city. What’s the plural for clitoris, anyway? All I know is that slicing them up by the dozens is an epidemic over there. Marlo gives unwanted etiquette lessons the entire ride, which no one pays any attention to having already written her off as a violent delinquent with seven! mugshots! Talk turns to the potential room situation at the hotel, and Mugshot Marlo, probably the only one in the group who has ever had to employ the phrase “two flusher,” is only concerned that she have her own bathroom above all else.
When they arrive at the hotel, Sheree makes a joke about how she should room with Nene and Phaedra, and everyone falls out laughing because ha ha! They all hate each other! Oh, Sheree, you’re so funny when you’re not boring us to tears! As the concierge shows them around, Mugshot Marlo insists on having the names, birthdates, national registry number, passport photos and shoe size of any housecleaning staff that could even THINK of entering their suite, revealing herself to be the paranoid psychopath only hinted at last week with the Billy Baldwin Sliver-style wall of camera monitors in her bedroom and around her house. The concierge looks on wearily, and says “of course” quickly so that she can make a break for it. Everyone continues to wear their sunglasses well into the night in an unintentional Corey Hart tribute, and we toast to The Motherland with Lay’s potato chips and orange juice.
Motherland count: 2
The next morning, Cynthia “P-Funk” Bailey busts out her best floor-length dashiki and her tightest box braid weave as everyone saunters over to an outdoor breakfast on the deck. They eat something called “a shot of bacon” while Mugshot Marlo’s etiquette lessons drown out the sound of Khandi’s eyes rolling. Phaedra casually mentions that she is friends with African royalty and has set up a meeting with the king before handing out little silver envelope mirrors to everyone as a gift to commemorate the journey... everyone except Mugshot Marlo, who was not supposed to be there. While the rest of the ladies check that their sunglass tint is up to par, Mugshot casually instructs Phaedra to send her a super special mirror when they get back to Atlanta. I believe she pulled that etiquette lesson directly from Emily Post – when you are an unwanted guest on a vacation you were not asked to join, insist that the host make up for their lack of clairvoyance by supplying a thoughtful gift to be delivered to your door upon your return. Keep it classy, Mugshot!
Sheree, eager to live up to her singular role as Intentional Shitstirrer, informs everyone that her Not Single Not Heterosexual friend Kevin is having a dinner party, and that she only invited Khandi and Phaedra to go because “Cynthia would never leave Nene alone” in the house while everyone else was at a party. This is the only thing I love about Sheree – she will NEVER take the high road! Within minutes, Cynthia, Nene and Mugshot are running away from the table and hustling into the house under the auspices of “getting ready” to talk about how soon into the trip Sheree is “throwing them shade.”
Motherland count: 3
We have a quick 5 minutes with Kim, whom I completely forgot existed. Kim is so far removed from the drama this season that I can’t even care about her new (cute) baby and weirdly narcissistic blown-up-naked-photo-of-herself habits. Do you also get the feeling she gives those out as holiday gifts or hostess presents? “Thank you for inviting me to dinner! Here’s a 5 foot photo of me, naked in my favorite wig, painted to match the embroidery on your couch.” There’s some “will they won’t they” marriage talk, and her mom and dad show up dressed like an Intervention episode and Sonic the Hedgehog (respectively) to make dinner while Kroy is away at Space Camp or avoidance therapy or football training. Kim complains about how ineffectual her assistant, Sweetie, is at being a nanny (even though she wasn’t hired to be a nanny), complains about having to be lucid for the duration of an entire meal, and makes weird faces while complaining about wanting a diamond ring.
All the way back in The Motherland! Africa!, there’s some jealousy over a bidet and then everyone is spirited away to a yacht. Cynthia passive aggressively brings up the lack of her dinner invite to Not Single Not Heterosexual Kevin’s AGAIN, and everyone compliments each other for actually being nice to for 24 hours, a feat they haven’t actually managed to accomplish. The camera quick-cuts to someone jumping off a cliff (with a parachute), which we sort of all want to do at this point.
The yacht captain, who managed to travel all the way from The Shire to Capetown without having elevenses, points out interesting sights while the ladies get drunk and scream “Africa!” and “Mountains!” to each other instead of having a conversation. Khandi and Phaedra talk about apartheid and congratulate themselves for being smarter and more cultured than everyone else on the show.
As the sun sets, the party moves to the bowels of the ship, where Mugshot STARTS, actually begins a conversation with Khandi by saying she expected Khandi to be a bitch, but is surprised she is actually nice. Khandi responds by running a variety of successful businesses, raising her intelligent daughter, winning another Grammy and paying her taxes on time. Cynthia, an interloper of Horshackian proportions, uses this as an opportunity to force a “clear the air” -style conversation, which no one seems interested in doing, at least not until they can see terra firma. The most important thing to know here is that Nene is wearing a glitter snood the entire time. She looks like the love child of 1970s Isaac Hayes and "disco stick" era Lady Gaga.
Back at the hotel, Cynthia traipses in to find Phaedra, Khandi and Sheree talking about “bootylickahs” and getting ready to go to Not Single Not Heterosexual Kevin’s party. Sheree FINALLY concedes that Cynthia is FINALLY invited, but she cannot bring Nene or Mugshot Marlo. Cynthia breaks her ankles and the land speed record running back to tell Nene and Mugshot what Sheree just said. At this point, Mugshot turns into Vigo from Ghostbusters – lightening strikes, clouds part, and goats all over the city start dropping dead. She’s so mad! How dare you, Sheree, how dare you not invite me to this intimate dinner on a trip I was never supposed to be on in the first place! Mugshot braids her hair, takes off her earrings, slaps some Vaseline on her knuckles and runs to confront Sheree.
Sheree and Mugshot recreate a small scale Boer War, with less gaining of independence from sovereign nations and more yelling about how many Aston Martins they own. Everyone crowds around as Mugshot utters the most offensive, terrible, pejorative slang for “gay” before the fight circles the drain and focuses on sleeping with 80-year old men, drug dealers, money problems, townhouses vs. condos, clothing being returned to Barneys, and the shame of owning just one Rolex. In the end, Mugshot and Sheree are mimicking each other like cuckoo clocks. Phaedra pulls out a compact and blots her makeup, Nene has a revelatory out-of-body experience about how stupid people look when they’re fighting, and The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. does a quick spin in his grave.
Next week, we resolve the fight and the ladies actually engage with nature, which is sure to be a treat. Will someone crack an ankle on their heels? Will a giant Hanna Barbera lion crawl from the woods, tie a napkin around its neck and swallow one of the women whole? Does anyone have to shit in a hole? I cannot wait to find out.