It's Mother's Day at the Manzo's! First of all, the "Previously on..." with a naked Chris in the bathtub was a jolt to my unsuspecting eyes. Definitely not something I expected - were the rubber duckies part of last season too? The episode starts with Caroline up to her elbows in yellow rubber gloves, cleaning the kitchen while Princess Lauren looks on. In the middle of cleaning, Caroline brings up the issue of where Lauren and Vito are going to live once they're married. She wants the newlyweds to live in her house so they can save money to get their feet under them, but Vito's macho pride is putting up a fight at the idea. Lauren understands her mom's logic, but is trying to show her soon-to-be-husband that she's willing to see his point of view as well. Caroline gets her to agree to look at a few houses, hoping to show her the difference between saving in a smart way and renting impulsively. With that, Caroline leaves to meet friends for lunch and puts Lauren in charge of fridge duty. Like that's going to happen...
As soon as Caroline drives away, Chris arrives at the house in a giant blue onsie. What's going on here? Albie and Lauren are wondering the same thing, the former asking why his brother is dressed up like Gumbi. Chris asks the pair what they've gotten their mom for Mother's Day. Dead silence. That's the answer Chris was expecting so he's come up with an idea to save the day: recreating childhood photos of the three to put in a scrapbook for Caroline. Cute, right? Rallying the troops, Christopher runs the photoshoot with a hilarious iron fist - directing his siblings in wardrobe choices, poses and nailing the perfect facial expressions. He even got the coveted spot for girls across New Jersey between Albie's legs with "a handful of titty" in one of the shots. This photoshoot is clearly evidence to back up Christopher's claim that he's the favorite child of the family.
Meanwhile, Caroline's having lunch at Novelli's with her former RHONJ co-stars Kathy Wakile and Rosie Pierri. While Kim Zolciak's spinoff got her away from the other Atlanta ladies, Caroline's is quickly becoming a parade of New Jersey 'Wives. It's nice to see that the cast have remained genuine friends in the wake of their stint on The Teresa Giudice Show. (I say that as an unabashed Teresa fan). With all the wedding planning craziness, Caroline needs to take some time to laugh, and that's what Kathy and Rosie do for her. The goal is to stay sane, but with 110 people coming to the Manzo house for Lauren's bridal shower, is that possible? As for the worlds of Kathy and Rosie, the Wakiles are finally getting ready to move into their new house that's been under construction (as seen on Season 6 of RHONJ) and Rosie is torn between wanting to settle down with a nice girl and not wanting to be tied down. Caroline reminds them that Lauren's dream house is the Wakile's current one and explains her perspective on her daughter and Vito's living situation. With Lauren acting like a "little bitch" (her words, not mine), all Caroline knows is that she'll be popping Xanax like Tic Tacs come wedding time.
Later, while spray-painting flowerpots in the garage for the wedding shower, Caroline talks to Albie about the unexpected path life sometimes takes. Back in 2008 when he was kicked out of law school, who would've thought Albie would be getting into a completely different line of business and his college roommate would be marrying his sister? Albie explains that he feels like a different person than he was back then - the new Albie is done living to make everyone else happy. He would rather be at the bottom of a mountain he wants to climb than at the top of one he climbed to please someone else.
Caroline also takes Lauren house-hunting with the help of her sister-in-law Patty. Upon seeing a dream house whose price is in the mid-$700,000 range, Lauren finally gets the reality check her mom has been hoping for. In order to have the life she wants later on, Lauren will have to make sacrifices now. However, this doesn't make her any less nervous to bring the subject up with Vito, because she doesn't want to spend their first few months of marriage with a miserable husband.
That night, Albie and Chris are out at Little Town Social for a boys' night with some friends. In her interview, Caroline admits that living apart has given the brothers license to become individuals, but it's important to her that her kids all maintain relationships with each other as adults. As they're dropping shots in the bar, the subject of dating apps comes up as Rob the roommate is "on the swipes" during drinks. Albie blanches at the offer of having a Tinder account set up for him, and Chris can sense a secret being hidden by his older brother. With a sheepish smile on his face, Albie explains that he's been talking to Brittany, his ex-girlfriend from last season, every once in a while. Thrilled at this juicy development, Christopher throws out that Brittany didn't get a fair chance with the family last year because of her busty, vixen exterior. Albie claims that her physical beauty is the last thing on his mind, but I'm calling B.S. on that. However, Albie thinks that if he's going to have a different outlook on life, his relationships should be a part of that, and promises to keep the boys "abreast" of the situation. Pun fully intended.
The family gathers the next day for Mother's Day dinner and Vito and Lauren reveal they've reached a compromise about their post-nuptials living situation. To Caroline's delight, Vito has agreed to live with the Manzos following the wedding under the condition that there's a set expiration date to the arrangement. With that issue finally put to bed, it's time to give Caroline her gift. She opens the scrapbook and immediately bursts into laughter at the recreation pictures, but when she gets to the individual letters the kids wrote to her, the tears start flowing. Albie's writes that the best quality Caroline instilled in her kids is the ability to take an otherwise insignificant moment and turn it into a special memory, just like these pictures. Christopher promises that matter who the siblings become, they'll always be Caroline's babies, and Lauren writes that one day she'll hopefully become half the wife and mother her mom is. Caroline calls the touching scrapbook the best gift she's ever received. "Well that sucks!" replies Christopher. Maybe next year they'll spring for diamonds.