Join us every Thursday for Sarah D. Bunting's Real Housewives of New Jersey Power Rankings, wherein she ranks the RHONJ women (and their families) based on the events of last night's episode. Click here to view earlier RHONJ power rankings.
S10, E15: "Secrets Revealed"
With the season finale on the horizon, it's time to put a few season storylines to bed, so Melissa decides during a stagey beach-walk heart-to-heart with Joey that maybe she doesn't want another child after all. Joey, meanwhile, tries to force the "should Dolores stay with David" "storyline" into some kind of motion, announcing that Frank Sr. is really her soulmate and they should just get back together -- Joey will even pay for the wedding! Dolores and Frank both eye-roll that suggestion, but Frank's rationale is sort of sweet, in a meathead way.
Less sweet is the continued scrapping between Jennifer and Margaret. Jennifer seems to have been primed, by that black-magical combination of producer suggestion and tequila, to bait Margaret and Jackie at every opportunity. At least, that's how it seems when an initially good-natured and fun chugging contest instigated (and won!) by Jackie has a pall cast over it when Jennifer brings up Jackie's previous announcement that she hates giving BJs. On the other hand, Margaret seems determined to get annoyed by Jennifer even when it's obvious that ignoring her is the best strategy -- and deals a couple of low blows about Jen's stay-at-home status and that her only accomplishment is marrying rich.
But the real headline -- aside from Bill managing not to die of alcohol poisoning after a fishing trip that sees him succumbing to the other husbands' peer pressure with baffling ease -- is Melissa's summit meeting with Danielle. Melissa's already kicked Danielle out of "the group" with the blessing of "everyone" except Teresa, but in typical smug fashion, Danielle has a bomb of her own to set off: that the owner of the boutique suggested she yank Margaret's ponytail...and that Teresa encouraged her enthusiastically.
...Yeah, I assumed she was lying too, but Danielle brought receipts. Your Episode 15 power rankings...
1. Jackie. Before Jennifer attention-sucked the moment, Jackie's evident glee in challenging the dinner table to a chug-off -- and the evident fondness between her and Evan as they razzed each other beforehand -- was really charming. And she won! Jackie seems to see that, at this juncture of the season, it's her time to step back and let others mix it up, and there's something about that professional-Housewife attitude that I...well, "admire" is a little strong, but everyone's got their jobs in the 'wife-verse, and it's nice to see those jobs done well. [Last week: 2]
2. Dolores. She's a good sport about the boring fourth-act parasailing activity she's marooned in with Teresa and Jennifer; she stays out of various boozy frays, and tries to advise the 'wives who are frustrated by Jennifer that they should just ignore her as they would a child; she's probably less over it with everyone's "where's David?" shit-stirring than viewers are. But contributing to Team Catania's high ranking this week is Frank Sr., when he confesses ruefully that he would get back together with Dolores, but he can't be entirely sure he wouldn't cheat on her again, and he doesn't want to hurt her. (Also when he whangs a passed-out Bill's head into the car door because nobody's helping him carry Bill, which I shouldn't have laughed at, but hey, I'm not perfect.) [Last week: 1]
3. Melissa. I reeeeaaaally wonder what back-room negotiations led to Melissa getting nominated to eject Danielle -- especially since Danielle had already announced in our current timeline that she's done with the show. Who's pre-empting whom here? In any case, Melissa looks nearly ill with nerves when she sits down with Danielle, but also happy that she's finally in the middle of a conflict that could turn legendary at any moment...which is part of why she and Joey are still bumping along in the middle of the ratings. Between the "question" nobody cared about answering in re: their putative fourth kid, and the hernia-level straining they're both doing to center themselves in other people's storylines -- Joe Gorga's grim determination to get, and keep, everyone wasted is, I have to think, not entirely organic -- is a little bit sad, not least because it took most of the season to pay off. [Last week: 4]
4. Danielle. When Melissa tells her in so many words that she's been voted off Housewife Island, she looks sincerely stricken -- even though this is the opening she's been told to look for in order to reveal that Teresa was a catalyst in Ponytailgate. The subsequent self-satisfied settling of her sunglasses on her head afterwards is classic off-putting Danielle, but you have to give her credit for making the most of her last (?) moments on the show. [Last week: n/a]
5. Jennifer. The bottle/sucking comment is dumb; her "Sorry Not Sorry" t-shirt is not nearly the killing blow she believes it is; because she's buzzed most of the time in this episode, she has to work so hard to keep her assigned "scheme" straight in her head that you can see her lips moving. It's more tiresome than hateful at this point, though, and she's not entirely wrong about Margaret, who may not "always start" with Jennifer but certainly doesn't know when she should end it. Bill, meanwhile...oo-fah. Like, he clearly has his orders vis-a-vis hanging out with the other husbands, but this is an accomplished person whose willingness to let Joe Gorga goad him on masculinity grounds is not a good look. (Nor is losing consciousness during a day-drinking sesh, let's face it.) [Last week: 5]
6. Teresa. Doesn't do much except look creditable in Daisy Dukes...until the end of the episode, when she says she doesn't think it's "fair" to kick Danielle out of the group, and she's got her own mind about who she's friends with. This initially presented as pitiable Teresa stubbornness, which would be repaid eventually by Danielle turning on her; little did I know how quickly that would happen, or that Teresa likely actually meant that it wasn't "fair" to kick Danielle out for stirring the pot when Teresa had a hand on the spoon too. The previews suggest that Teresa will take this unmasking gracefully! jk, look forward to some defensive swearing and drink-flinging. [Last week: 3]
7. Margaret. Look, I don't enjoy clocking Marge Jr. with low ratings week after week. She's the Jersey 'wife I'd most like to hang out with. But coming for SAH parents about not working is just not something you do, and Jennifer's customary provocations don't justify it given that Margaret should have learned to let them roll off by now. I know everyone has their roles to play in continuing their respective antagonisms for the editors' sakes, but it's enough. I also didn't really need to know Margaret goes commando, tbh. [Last week: 6]
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Sarah D. Bunting co-founded Television Without Pity, and her work has appeared in Glamour and New York, and on MSNBC, NPR's Monkey See blog, MLB.com, and Yahoo!. She's also the editor-in-chief and publisher of Tomato Nation, and true-crime blog and podcast The Blotter Presents.