Real Housewives of Orange County Season 7, Episode 17 picks up a little earlier than where the tropical adventure left off last week. Once again, Alexis Bellino reminds her friends at the table that not only did Tamra Barney bring a Louis Vuitton handbag into the jungle, she’s also a mean and hateful person. In case you drank too much of Vicki Gunvalson’s “jungle juice” to remember the last episode, the ladies are staging an intervention to cure Alexis of her “phoniness.”
Except that interventions aren’t really a cure in and of themselves. The unwilling participant has to realize they have a problem and go to rehab. In this case, Alexis is crying too hard and babbling about things Heather Dubrow’s husband, Terry, did or didn’t say (it was impossible to parse her sentences at this point) to really process anything. Heather seems slightly bewildered as to why Terry was brought into the discussion at all. “We like you for you; we don’t like you for your f***ing ring,” Tamra shouts, except she clearly doesn’t like Alexis at all. Vicki sits quietly by, but later says to the camera that all the Housewives are phony and materialistic in some way.
Everyone gets their turn to critique Alexis. Heather is proud to have poor friends, too. Gretchen says Alexis comes across as inappropriate or pretentious, but pulls out her therapy speak. If they want to help Alexis, they need to say, “The way you just said that made me feel this way,” Gretchen coaches them.
At this point, Alexis realizes she needs a retreat from this retreat. Heather attempts to hug the weeping woman, who says she wants to be alone. In a private interview, months later, Alexis is still crying about the girls’ heartlessness.
As the rain starts to fall, the ladies congratulate each other on their honesty. Gretchen gets an especially big shout-out for being such a supportive friend. Privately, Vicki finds this laughable and thinks they should just accept each other, flaws and all. Gretch leaves the dinner table to go see Alexis, who still wants to be alone. Later, Alexis reveals that she felt betrayed and didn’t want Gretchen in the room.
Gretch tells Alexis the situation is hard on her. Who is she, Vicki? Making everything about her now? “What about me?” Alexis asks. Gretchen tells the camera she’s Alexis’s one true friend at the table.
Back at dinner, Gretchen starts to cry, then begins to make eerily accurate predictions: Alexis will say she’s not a good friend and that Gretchen turned against her. Vicki tells the others that she likes Alexis and feels bad for her. Tamra suggests she go talk to her and bring her lobster. (See? They really do care about Alexis: Otherwise, they would’ve kept the lobster for themselves.) Naturally, Tamra distrusts Vicki’s motives. Gretchen peers into her crystal ball again and says Alexis will let Vicki into her room — even though she rebuffed Gretch. She’s right. Vicki manages to get past Alexis’s barricade. To be fair, she did have a plate of lobster.
Once inside, Vicki gives Alexis a hug out of love and recounts the time Tamra bashed her on a trip to San Francisco. Why do they always fight on vacation? Alexis realizes that V’s intentions are good even though she continues to talk about herself. Later, Vicki tells the camera that everyone is jealous of the drop-dead gorgeous Alexis.
When Vicki doesn’t immediately return to the table, Gretchen realizes that Alexis has let her into her room. Why would she do such a thing? To spite Gretchen, of course. OC warfare is occasionally subtle and passive-aggressive.
The following day dawns bright and full of monkeys and frogs. Alexis packs up — luckily she planned to leave the trip early all along. Heather comes to check on her and says she feels bad that Alexis got so upset. “We all have stuff to work on,” says Heather, and she hopes to get know the sweet, fun side of Alexis better.
Since Alexis has some time before her flight, she decides to put last night behind her and hang out with the ladies a little longer. In the van on the way to the national park, Alexis thanks Vicki. While Gretchen takes this as a snub, the truly upsetting part is that Alexis reveals she only ate one bite of her lobster. We are shell-shocked.
“This is the Costa Rica I was picturing,” Heather says when they arrive at the beach, where a picnic with champs (or champagne, if your last name isn’t Dubrow) is waiting. Gretchen and Alexis wander off to discuss last night. Gretchen doesn’t quite believe her friend when she says Vicki barged in regardless of what Alexis wanted. While she needed someone to be on her side, Alexis says all Gretchen could talk about was how sad she was. Gretchen explains that it was hard to see Alexis crying and that’s why she was upset. When Gretchen calls her pretentious again, Alexis wants to know why dainty Heather and her Chanel beach bag aren’t considered flaunting. Nothing really gets resolved, and Alexis says in a private interview that she doesn’t know if she and G can recover.
In bikini tops and beachwear, the remaining ladies drink champagne on the beach. While Vicki is secretly feeling superior to Gretchen for succeeding where she failed with Alexis, outwardly it’s all silliness. Tamra pulls off Gretchen’s shorts and runs after Vicki. Heather tries to remain dignified, but it’s hard to do with Tamra and Gretchen rubbing their butts together. “You gave me champagne!” Tamra accuses Heather, who says she’s never doing that again. Then they flagrantly flout the rules and feed the monkeys.
It’s less combative with Alexis gone, but it certainly isn’t less emotional. At a nature park, the ladies each pick a tree to plant so they can leave a legacy in the rainforest. (At least, that’s what Vicki wants to do.) Vicki gets one for the absent Alexis, which is sweet.
As Vicki watches Heather and Gretchen plant their trees, she says, “This is romantic.” She wants to come back with her grandkids 20 years from now.
“It just shows that, like, we’re gonna be entwined for the rest of lives in nature,” Gretchen pontificates.
“You know what’s gonna be sad one day? When one of us dies,” says Vicki, out of nowhere. Then she starts crying, presumably over their eventual demise.
Heather tells her not to be sad. “Did you have too much champagne?” she asks. Vick says she’s sad and happy at the same time. In her emotional state, Vicki (accidentally) murders Alexis’s tree. The irony is not lost on Heather. Tamra thinks everything that’s happened the last year has made Vicki lose her mind.
It’s time to white-water raft. Heather pointedly said she scheduled her flight so she wouldn’t miss any activities, unlike Alexis. While Heather is freaking that the raft will sink if it’s raining, Vicki is all smiles. “This could be the last picture of our lives,” says Vicki, though this time their impending deaths don’t make her cry.
Warning: Watching this section at loud volumes may cause hearing damage. “There’s no way we’re all gonna survive,” Vicki predicts. There’s a lot of screaming and shrieking as the ladies make their way through the rapids. Everyone lives. Look what they can accomplish when they all work together!
Once they’re out of the raft, Vicki is still in tears. “Call me, like, every day for the rest of your life,” she tells Heather, who is leaving for her flight. And then there were three. Time for cocktails.
Miss Champs is gone, and Vicki, Gretchen, and Tamra need beer. A still-emotional Vicki begins to cry about Donn. He’s going to be sad without her and miss her cooking. Gretchen tells her he has to figure out his own happiness, and Tamra tells her she’ll always worry about him. “He’s my family,” Vicki says, but adds that it takes two people to get divorced.
It’s not that she wants Donn back, though. She wishes her marriage could have been saved. Tamra thinks the sobbing Vicki is at her breaking point. “I’m not a crazy girl,” Vicki insists; she’s just upset about Briana’s elopment. But she also has a new best friend in Brooks, so that makes her happy. Vicki is a complicated ball of emotions.
The adventure in Costa Rica is over, and the ladies head back to the OC, where the sun never sets on their friendships.
Next week, Brooks needs new teeth, Tamra thinks Eddie will propose in Bora Bora, and Gretchen and Slade get into a big fight.
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Follow Jenny McGrath on Twitter @wetpaintjenny.