Do not read on unless you've seen The Real Housewives Of Vancouver Season 2, Episode 9 (or if you don't mind spoilers).
Oh hai, housewives. You're still here in my life, like the leeching "friend" who asks to stay on your couch for a night and then lingers for three months. The only difference is he'd be fine with a Chesterfield and you'd only satisfy yourself with Italian leather and silk-covered pillows. You really make me dread my Tuesday nights.
It's short-term pain, long-term gain this week as we first meet the Gremlin Queen, Jody, coming perilously close to water when she meets Amanda at the beach. They pick up after a rapturous episode last week, when a gong show erupted at the Amazon's (Ronnie's) birthday.
(ICYMI, I envy you. But if you really want to know, Ronnie fell off the wagon in a bad way, nearly ripping Corpse Bride Robin Reichman's head off when the Texan made a crack about her alcoholism.)
The Gremlin Queen was blown away that Robin would drink around two alcoholics, assuming (probably wrongly) that the Corpse Bride slipped the Amazon some vodka. Amanda then informs her that Robin and Mary want to have lunch with her, which prompts Jody to notice that Amanda is wearing an allegedly fake Hermes bracelet that Mary gave her for her birthday. Jody throws the thing in the water and takes her all-too-willing protégé off to get a new one.
Next we come to Ioulia, whose birthday is coming up very soon. The Amazon has graciously volunteered her Howe Sound cave as a venue, and one of the first people Ioulia can think to invite is Mary, Ronnie's best-friend-turned-nemesis. Mary doesn't want to go, but Ioulia begs her, and who's to turn down a gorgeous Russian who can throw down with the best of them?
"I can handle crazy, as long as they give me presents," Ioulia admits. Such charming greed.
Ioulia's not the only one with a birthday coming up. Mary's 49th (!) birthday approaches quickly and her friends Lisa and Marika want to throw her a big bash. Mary admits she doesn't want to invite Ronnie, still upset that the Amazon shared the fact of them having an intimate moment together. (I can't blame her, I wouldn't want anyone to know if I'd shared an intimate moment with Ronnie either.)
But enough of that crap, it's back to Ioulia! The camera looks her up and down as she pretties herself up for her birthday, paying special attention as she adjusts her cleavage in the mirror. Investor-husband Damien stops in, and he's gotten her a lovely pair of earrings. You'd think that this guy has an innate sense of what his wife wants, but he doesn't. Ioulia allows that she saw the things at Holt Renfrew, took a picture and then sent it to him. She certainly made the task of shopping for a birthday present easier than slamming down vodka to drown out a catfight.
This is why I like Ioulia: she's as vain as the rest of these botoxed hags, but she's not petty and she doesn't allow herself to get caught up in the drama the same way. She loves good food, high fashion and has an extravagance that would rival Barbara Amiel's, but she's so honest and self-aware that it's impossible to dislike her. She simply carries herself with a dignity that none of the other housewives possess.
Robin picks up Ioulia in a limousine, and on the way to the party she learns that Mary's not coming, that she doesn't want to be in the same place with Ronnie or Jody. Ioulia is upset that Mary committed to attending and then backed out at the last minute, like Robin did to Jody in Toronto.
"She's not going to get a birthday gift, that's probably what she's upset about," Robin says, entering my range of likability again.
Then the party starts, and all expect a magical night ahead. Ronnie has booked a four-piece group called The Tenors, and the Amazon is so enamoured of herself for booking them because they previously played for Celine Dion, Elton John and Queen Elizabeth II.
"If they can sing for the Queen of England, and then sing in my living room, I'm moving up in the world," Ronnie says.
Uh, girl, high school orchestras have sung for Queen Elizabeth II. The only difference is they didn't get paid. Then it's time to open presents, and Ioulia jumps at the task like an eager kid on Christmas morning. She gets champagne, caviar, vodka (of course), and is overjoyed with all of them until she gets to Robin's gift, a thick book.
"Um, what, it's $40?" Ioulia asks. And normally I'd harangue her for being an entitled bitch except that the Corpse Bride really should have known what she was getting into. When you go to a party at a Howe Sound mansion surrounded by the city's richest people, you can't expect to match a bottle of Dom Perignon with the latest Danielle Steel tome.
Ioulia is so titillated by the party that she asks The Tenors to sign her, um, tits.
"Can you sign on my chest, would that be trashy?" she asks. Jody mocks the suggestion, calling it unclassy. But then, she doesn't have plumage worth showing off the way that Ioulia does. Next it's time for the fateful lunch between Mary, Robin and Amanda. They meet at Hapa Izakaya and Robin's hope is that she can establish some peace between Mary and Amanda.
Anyway, Mary and Amanda haven't seen each other since their blow-up at dinner in Toronto and the latter is still upset about Mary lying to try and get out of her birthday. She then brings up something about a "filler" but Mary is no help at articulating this. Mary explains that she doesn't understand why everyone picks on her.
"Is it because I'm the nice one?"
"That definitely would not be it, no," Amanda responds.
They make some semblance of peace when Mary invites Amanda to come to her birthday, and the latter says she'll get back to her on it. From there we go back to Mary's place, where she's hired a matchmaker. She asks Robin over for some moral support. Instead of supporting her, Corpse Bride goes on to play helicopter mother, telling the matchmakers that they need to know her potential piggy bank's wealth, his penis size, his height, his kinkiness, whether he's been in any threesomes or orgies.
(Robin probably also wants to know what he thinks of having sex in a graveyard, like she did. You can just imagine her getting turned on at a sex scene narrated by Vincent Price.)
Mary says she just wants to find a partner she can walk with down the path into "old age" (she's almost 50). By "path" she must mean the lobby of the Vancouver Law Courts, by "partner" she must mean her lawyer, on her way to taking her latest ex-husband's money in a divorce hearing and living off alimony into her 90s.
Back at the Gremlin's Cave, Jody is visiting with her nephew Marcus and informs him of her plans to sabotage Mary's birthday by organizing a dinner at the very same time. She invites Ronnie, she invites other girl (Amanda) and she even invites Ioulia, who agrees to go.
Again, there's an opportunity here to slam Ioulia, but you have to look at the full context. Mary backed out of her birthday at the last minute so it's pretty rich to assume someone will just come to yours. Pleased with herself, Jody kisses her dog's face ... and Marcus helpfully points out that the dog had just eaten cat litter. Oh, how useful this would be to Mary if she knew this. But then, maybe Jody wouldn't be offended. Cat shit is, after all, a staple of the Gremlin diet.
The villainnesses (Jody, Ronnie, Amanda) gather at Reflections, a posh lounge at Vancouver's Hotel Georgia, where Amanda calls Robin "ditzy, dumb and VERY opinionated." Ioulia, curiously, hasn't arrived.
We see her in a cab on her way to Mary's, and for a minute we think, wow, nothing could be more awesome than standing up a cabal of witches, but it's not to be. Ioulia stops by Mary's, hands her a bouquet of flowers and says she's not going to her birthday. Mary is devastated, forgetting all at once that she jilted Ioulia at the last minute.
I have to say, I don't really blame Ioulia here. It's a crapshoot who will come anytime you throw a party. People show up or they don't, and you're appreciative to the people who do. You just don't fixate on the people who haven't shown up.
Then Ioulia makes her death march to Reflections, where all the witches can talk about is Mary. They gossip and chatter, trying to goad the Russian beauty into their quagmire of calumny, but she just won't bite. Mary finally arrives at her party, realizing only once she gets there how much effort someone else has gone to to throw her a nice gathering and show that they love her. It takes Mary more than an acceptable amount of time to get over Ioulia's snub.
Back at Reflections, the witches still haven't stopped talking about her. Amanda sums up Mary as a "sociopath," reading from an online description, "Sociopaths are often charming and charismatic, but they use their talented social skills in manipulative and self-centred ways." I really wish the camera had honed in on Jody when she said that.
Ioulia remarks that they never want to spend time with Mary, yet they spend all their time talking about her. Amanda realizes she never got around to telling Mary she wouldn't go to her birthday, so she does the classiest thing she can. She calls Robin at Mary's birthday to tell her she's not coming, but she promises to bring a present anyway.
"It's a bomb," Jody says.
Ioulia looks at these women with one of the most piercing sneers I've ever seen. At 27 years old, she's more mature than all of them combined. She later admits, "I wish I was at Mary's party."
Mary lets it slide, but still, the villainnesses won't stop talking about her. They toast to "alcoholics and non-alcoholics," and Amanda says, "I'm both, I'm alcoholic and non-alcoholic." Ioulia chortles. Then Amanda picks up her next drink, what she thinks is a virgin mojito. She takes a single sip, and ... oh crap, it's got booze in it! Amanda completely breaks down emotionally, crying so hard that all the vampire injection flows right out of her face, exposing the veins in her temples and the wrinkles beneath her eyes. Man, she is ugly when she's sad!
Ioulia asks, "Why are you crying? Was it a lot of alcohol?" She takes a sip, laughs. "I don't know, I'm Russian, I cannot even taste alcohol these days."
And that sets the witches off. Jody's daughter Mia says that wasn't funny, right after her own mother threatened to blow Mary up. Ioulia laughs her off, just like she does Jody when the Gremlin Queen tries to chip away at her ego. Girl, she's an elegant Russian, you're a bitter, short-stacked Canadian. There is nothing you can take away from this woman.
"I'm going to the bathroom, and I don't know if I'm coming back," she says before taking her leave. You hope for a touching moment when she shows up at Mary's party anyway, but it never comes.
Back at Mary's party, a packed house watches the first copy of her music video for "Hero." Little does she know that this is probably the only time anyone will see it. (Checking YouTube views. 1,228. Well, she sure showed me!)
Mary suddenly breaks down in tears, realizing that she's surrounded by so many friends and feeling a sudden gratitude she never expected she would feel at the start.
"In the end, goodness wins," Robin says. End scene.
You can watch Real Housewives Of Vancouver on Slice every Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET/PT.