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'The Real Housewives of Orange County' recap: Episode 4

Featuring the charm and depth of an after-school special

By Stephanie Region

10:59 PM EST, February 28, 2012

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Tonight’s episode is sort of like an after-school special about courage. Everyone is facing their fears – some more valid than others. Whether it’s Tamra (terrified of Vicki’s reaction to her new friendship with Gretchen), Alexis(afraid of being judged) or Gretchen (scared of what Slade will do on stage in front of a live audience), all the Wives are on edge this week. Bottom line: The definition of courage is being afraid and moving forward anyway. All that’s missing is a shooting star and a James Earl Jones voiceover saying “The More You Know.”

We open with Vicki and Tamra doing a synchronized dance around the kitchen cooking a BFF-tastic breakfast while skirting around the topic of Gretchen. Tamra knows Vicki is pissed, but she knows she’s got to face the music. Tamra lays it all out on the line, like a cheating spouse’s last-ditch effort at truth. She spills about the lunches, the shopping, the everything. And oh, she’s even brought Vicki a gift! But noVicki is not having it.

Alexis and Heather meet for a passive-aggressive lunch to hurl compliments at each other. They better watch it – it’s all fun and games until someone puts an eye out! Just when I want to hate Heather for being so condescending toward everyone and saying things like “Alexis doesn’t seem that cerebral to me”, Alexis goes and calls Heather “floity-toity.” Oh, my. Heather, you may be smarter, but that doesn’t make you better.  And you’re not that much smarter – knowing how to say “Cheers” in 15 languages doesn’t exactly make you a doctoral candidate.

Slade, our perennial extra Housewife, simultaneously launches and ruins his stand-up career with an all-out attack on his fellow Wives at The Improv. This is Slade’s debut as a comedian, but Gretchen’s name was three times bigger than his on the marquee. (His bit about Gretchen being a sweet “unemployment line” just got funnier. Because it’s true.) On the bright side, at least Slade is funnier than Charlie Sheen’s one-man show.

Over in Tamra’s world, Eddie introduces the idea of them living together. He claims he is in love. His soap-opera acting leaves me unconvinced, but Tamra has fallen hook, line and sinker. At the fondue restaurant (where Tamra requests no cheese and just a chicken breast!), Tamra tearfully explains that she doesn’t think they should move in together because she doesn’t want to be a housewife (with a little ‘h’) again. She doesn’t want to just stay home, get pregnant and take care of the kids. Eddie’s look and subsequent response were the same as all good gay boyfriends: Girl, you better work!

On to tonight’s superlatives!

Most Likely to Return Home after Rumspringa: Vicki

Her response to Tamra’s (fairly innocent) sex shop gifts was “Pornographic is not biblical.” OK, Vicki – a little lube won’t make you Linda Lovelace.

Most Likely to Keep it Real: Liz

Slade’s mom is hilarious. Whether she’s telling Slade that his dogs are more entertaining than his jokes, or giving her gut reaction to Slade’s desire to propose to Gretchen (her answer is “Noooo!” by the way), the truth according to Liz has me in stitches.

Voice of Reason: Briana

There is a touching scene with Vicki and her daughter Briana at dinner. Vicki’s relationship with her children has always been difficult for the children. But there is real love there. Even when Vicki is over the top, Briana has a way of bringing her back down. After many jokes about life, they discuss Briana’s recent health problems and even though it is happening to her, Briana has a very sweet, calm way of comforting Vicki. I wish her all the best.

Be sure to let me know what you think of tonight’s episode in the comments below and follow me on Twitter @MutesVoice.