Caroline Manzo is on a rampage this week. Whether it was about her house, her kids or Lauren's upcoming wedding, nothing was safe from her wrath. On a side note, this week's "Previously on..." featured Albie popping up from behind the couch to scare Caroline and I'm just happy it's not going to be Christopher in a bathtub every week.
The episode starts out with Caroline upstairs cleaning toilets while the three kids are in the kitchen gossiping about how crazy she is. Lauren in particular says that her mom never has anything remotely positive to say about her getting married - it's always about how she thinks Lauren won't be able to handle it and isn't ready. In Caroline's defense, the brothers also had spend time in this conversation teaching Lauren the difference between a consonant and a syllable, so she may be onto something there...When Caroline comes downstairs after cleaning the bathroom and sees how much of a mess the kids have made her kitchen, she explodes. Hearing Albie say that from where he's sitting, "[she] lives to serve" doesn't help her temperament. Now, having an Italian mother I recognize both of these actions as entirely normal. Being negative about an upcoming life change is an Italian mom's way of saying she's going to miss you. As for the cleaning - my mother is the type of person who would clean the house both before and after the cleaning ladies came to, ya know, do the job she was actually paying them for. My mom is a Caroline. I get the Manzos, people. (In this analogy I'm clearly Albie.)
Coincidentally, my dad is also somewhat like Albert Manzo - the quiet type who, rather than jump into an Italian mom's fight with her kids, decides to take her out of the house on a date. Albert takes Caroline out to play tennis and burn off some of her Pete Sam-pissed energy. However, Mama Manzo isn't the most athletically adept person in New Jersey and can't manage to hit a single ball. She also can't let go of how angry she is at the kids, and spends most of the tennis session venting to Al rather than getting her volley on. (In classic Italian mom fashion, she also blames the kids for making her aggravated during her date with her husband.) Albert ventures a guess that the real reason she's angry is because her world is changing, but Caroline deflects by railing about how Lauren can't turn off the "daddy button" with Al's American Express card. The kids, meanwhile, decide to apologize for the messy house by wiping the kitchen counter with wood cleaner and vacuuming Christopher's face. By the time their parents get back from the tennis outing, the house is sparkling, but Caroline refuses to give them a round of applause. Do they think they're heroes for cleaning up after themselves?
Next, Albie goes to a local diner to meet a mystery date, who turns out to be Brittany, his sultry ex-girlfriend from last season. In his interview, Albie explains that they've stayed in touch since the breakup, but this is the first time he's met face-to-face with the vixen. Apparently, Britt called the meeting to tell Albie she misses him and just wanted to see him. Albie points out that a lot has happened since they were together, and thinks that his new perspective on life could lead to a better result for their relationship the second time around. Asking if she'll come around to meet his "roommates," Albie explains that his family's negative opinions of Brittany put a strain on the relationship - but hey, at least this time she's fully covered by a real shirt. Ultimately the pair decide to take things slow and give it another shot.
Caroline and Albert go on a date of their own for the express purpose of getting away from the kids. Caroline, however, can't seem to discuss anything but the kids, going on a tirade about Princess Lauren spending all of her dad's money and the rude awakening she'll be in for once she says "I do." Albert tries to reassure her by saying that the cutting of the purse strings will be Lauren's problem, not Caroline's, but it does virtually nothing to quell her frustration. He also points out that if he wants to spoil married Lauren at Christmastime, that will be up to him. Albert has created a monster and refuses to stop feeding it even after she becomes Vito's problem.
The next day, Caroline and Lauren are packing up soaps to take to Cafface when Albie comes downstairs to strike up a conversation. His out-of-the-blue "what's going on in your lives?" question goes over like a lead brick and both mom and sister have their antennas perked up. Something's going on with Albie. Visibly nervous, he sheepishly tells them he's started seeing the infamous Brittany again and the poker faces hiding the disdain are hilarious on Caroline and Lauren. In her interview, Caroline claims she's giving this new turn of events up to God. With a wedding and a bridal shower to plan, she doesn't have time to deal with Brittany the vixen. Albie suggests Britt help out with the bridal shower, but Caroline pushes for an answer about why he's really getting back together with this girl she's clearly not a fan of. Albie claims he wouldn't be open to dating her again if he didn't think it could be the real thing, which is probably the last thing Mama Manzo wants to hear. In her confessional, she claims that she acts as an advisor to her adult kids, and a brutally honest one at that, but tells Albie he's the least of her worries and puts a pin in the Brittany conversation.
At Cafface, Caroline quickly brings up the issue of daddy's credit card with Lauren. Lauren immediately goes on the defensive, claiming that all she ever hears from her mom is how much she's a "shallow bitch" who won't be able to handle being married. Jacqueline arrive mid-argument to get a ring-side seat to the entire thing. Caroline (loudly) claims that she's merely trying to give Lauren a reality check, but what Lauren really wants is her mom's support, not her criticism. She explains that Caroline's constant digs are making the process of being engaged and planning the wedding less than enjoyable by constantly rubbing her face in the fact that she's getting cut off. To Lauren, the only people who don't think she's capable of taking this step into wedded bliss are the ones she's related to. As the argument escalates, she asks Caroline and Jac to leave the store and angrily locks the door behind her mom and aunt. Out on the sidewalk, Caroline's still fired up as Jacqueline tries to cool her down by pointing out that all their lives are changing and everyone needs to just take a breathe. However, Lauren shoos them off the sidewalk, telling them to go to dinner or something and muttering "f*** you and your thoughts" under her breath. Bridezilla, indeed.