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Real Housewives

RHONJ Ssn 7/Ep 3 - Leopard Is the New Black

Glenn Rowley

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This week, The Real Housewives of New Jersey is all about Dolores as the newest 'Wife celebrates her birthday in true Jersey style with a leopard-themed party. Plus, Teresa and Jacqueline finally come face-to-face for the first time in years and Siggy's back after disappearing last week! Read on for my complete recap...

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It's only been roughly a week since Teresa Giudice's release from Danbury and she's still on home confinement, being constantly monitored by an ankle bracelet. As part of her home confinement, Tre has to always ask permission to leave the house, meaning she can't so much as walk her girls to the school bus in the morning. So, if anyone wants face time with the OG, they have to come to her, which is precisely what Jacqueline Laurita's decided to do. Showing up on Teresa's doorstep with two coffees, Jac takes her old frenemy completely by surprise. This is the first time the two OGs have seen each other since before Teresa went away - possibly even since the Season 5 reunion - and it's understandably a bit awkward at first. After the combination of Teresa's note from Danbury and her New Year's Eve phone call, Jacqueline doesn't quite know what to think and she needs answers. Referencing their Season 5 trip to Arizona, Jac reminds Teresa that they had the option of one of two paths: civil acquaintances or rebuilding their close friendship. At the time, Jacqueline thought they would repair and move forward, but that didn't exactly happen during Season 6. Teresa admits that she used to be unwilling to forgive, but her time at Danbury made her reevaluate her priorities and she wants a new beginning with her former BFF. This is music to Jacqueline's ears, and as the two tearfully hug it seems that Lucy and Ethel are finally back together!

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Meanwhile, Melissa Gorga is busy purchasing inventory for her new boutique at Place Showroom. In her quest to become a modern Italian woman, Melissa wants all the pieces at Envy by Melissa Gorga to represent her closet. However, her business partner Jackie has rather strong opinions about appealing to customers outside of Melissa's core demographic and warns her not to fill the store with only bandage dresses and cute rompers. But, if Jackie's going to make Melissa operate under a strict budget (a word she's never liked using), she's not about to sell a single item of clothing in her store that she doesn't personally love. Melissa is woman, hear her roar!

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After her sit-down with Teresa, Jacqueline stops by Dolores Catania' s house, where Siggy Flicker's already busy dreaming up a whole bunch of renovations. (Side note: after she was nowhere to be found in last week's episode, I'm overjoyed that Siggy is back and she's been enlisted her to help Teresa plan a birthday party for Dolores.) After popping the cork on a bottle of champagne, Jacqueline anxiously fills the newbies in on her conversation with Teresa. The two rookies are overjoyed to hear that Jac and Tre are going to attempt, once again, to rebuild their friendship and Dolores is particularly relieved that her birthday party won't turn into a war zone between the OGs.

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The next day, while Melissa drops by Teresa's house to vent about Joe Gorga's refusal to help her with the kids while she gets the boutique up and running, we finally get to learn more about Dolores' family and home life. She may have broken the old-school mold by getting divorced, but it turns out that Dolores is still incredibly close to her ex-husband Frank. So close, in fact, that he lives just down the street so he can help Dolores co-parent their two kids, Gabby, 20 and Frankie, 17. Over the years, Dolores and Frank have remained best friends, but she makes it clear in her confessional that they'll (in the famous words of Taylor Swift) never, ever, ever be getting back together. But God bless them for creating the perfection known as Frankie Catania and his abs. 

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On her way to meet Teresa for the first time, we also get more background on Dolores' fellow newbie Siggy. As she puts it in her confessional, when The Sig enters a room, the party begins. And boy do I believe that. The first-ever Jewish Housewife in New Jersey, Siggy was born in Jerusalem and is a well-known relationship expert and matchmaker. In addition to writing the book Write Your Own Fairy Tale: The New Rules for Dating Relationships and Finding Love on Your Terms, Sig also co-hosts the podcast Just Sayin' with Jersey Shore alum Sammi Sweetheart and has doled out relationship advice on every national talk show from The Wendy Williams Show to Kathy Lee Griffin and Hoda Kotb's hour of The Today Show. Meeting Teresa, Siggy is warm and welcoming, and the OG immediately takes a liking to her. The two 'Wives select the perfect, cozy room as the venue for Dolores' party and settle - naturally - on a leopard theme for the big day. I mean, is it really a true Jersey party if there's isn't any leopard print?

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The following day, it's time to celebrate Dolores, and even her 102-year-old grandmother is dressed in leopard print for the occasion! Dolores is positively radiant in a red dress and all the 'Wives are there, but things get off to a bit of an awkward start when Teresa's cousins Kathy Wakile and Rosie Pierri show up in their best accents of animal print. Since her release from Danbury, the OG has mended fences with both Melissa and Jacqueline, but relationship with her cousins remains strained at best. In fact, the two Friends of the Housewives are even relegated to a completely separate table from the rest of the women as Teresa toasts to friendships and the walking perfection known as Dolores Catania. 

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Siggy gets the party started by opening up the floor for funny stories about Dolores and with the sangria flowing, it's nice to see all the ladies laughing and getting along. Melissa recounts how Joe Gorga always had a giant crush on Dolores growing up with Kathy and Rosie acting it out, and Tre even regales the room with a hilarious story about all the girl-on-girl action that happened at Danbury. Eventually, Melissa asks Teresa and Jacqueline how they feel about their latest reconciliation and both OGs agree that they're getting reacquainted with each other. Unlike her own familial relationship with Teresa, Melissa points out that it speaks volumes about how important Tre and Jacqueline are too each other since they technically don't have to be friends. Things between the BFFs are slowly getting back to "normal" and no one wants the peace to end anytime soon.

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After Dolores blows out the sparkly candles on her leopard-print cake, the party winds to a close and Melissa is completely wasted. Under the influence of alcohol, the veteran 'Wife becomes her own spirit animal, known as Melissa Motherf---ing Gorga, and Teresa's tasked with the role of designated driver to get her party animal sister-in-law home. Meanwhile, Dolores jumps into a limo with Siggy and Jacqueline to keep the birthday shenanigans going, and as the episode ends I'm struck with a shocking realization: we're ending yet another episode of RHONJ on a completely happy note! How long will this last?

What did you think of this week's RHONJ? Do you adore Dolores as much as I do?Is Teresa justified in her feelings towards Kathy and Rosie? How great is drunk Melissa? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!