IN last week's episode of Real Housewives of Melbourne we watched as a four-year-old's birthday party disintegrated into tears, swearing and an angry walkout - and that was just from the Housewives.
This week, we open at Gina's house, where Venus and Lydia have popped around for a post-party debrief to rake over the behaviour of "old moll" Janet, as Lydia calls her.
Gina's still smarting that Janet took credit for the present she'd bought for Venus' young daughter, Sophia.
"She's done it in a prankster way, but she's actually a really nasty old cow sometimes," Gina fumes.
"She's just ugly, she's ugly. She's an ugly drunk," says Lydia.
Across town, and on a phone call to Jackie and Sally, Janet lets it be known that the feeling is mutual:
Sally's happy to fan the flames, telling Janet that Gina has "moved on from Gamble, and is now trying to DESTROY you and me." This may only be her first season, but she's certainly fluent in Housewives melodrama.
With divisions between the two Housewives factions ever deepening, Lydia has a plan: Why not bring them all together for a big boozy dinner party to "sort out all our differences." What could possibly go wrong?
Next we're with Gamble, who's about to debut the song she's been working on as her second anniversary present to husband Rick. It'll also act as a thankyou - Rick paid for expensive equipment to restore Gamble's hearing so she could sing again for the first time in over two decades.
"If I didn't have my hearing and this stable relationship, I'd have never got back on the stage. Where do you find the courage if you're out on your own?" says Gamble, and suddenly we're crying.
She leads Rick into an empty Athenaeum Theatre, blindfold on, then takes to the stage, backed by a full band.
She belts out the song, This Time, and absolutely nails it.
It's a lovely country-tinged ballad; the sort of thing that'd play during a McLeod's Daughters wedding scene.
And just LOOK AT RICK'S PROUD LITTLE MAGIC PUDDING FACE:
The song is out today on iTunes. All proceeds raised go towards Gamble buying a case of Veuve for her next seance.
Gamble's not the only one given an emotional, heartwarming subplot in this, the final episode of season four before next week's reunion. We check in with Sally as she and her two sons scatter her late husband's ashes: It's affecting, it's heart-rending, to be honest it feels rather intrusive watching it on a TV show like this.
We also check in with Venus to see the long-awaited resolution to her powerful season-long story arc: Her quest to buy herself a luxury sports car. #bravestruggle.
"Maybe I'm having this sort of thirty-odd-year midlife crisis thing going on," Venus says of her desire for the car, stretching the definition of 'thirty-odd' beyond reason.
"I just want a flashy sports car," she wails to her husband, Lord King Prince James Or Whatever.
James suggests that spending half a million dollars on a two-seat car may not be the wisest purchase, given they have two small children (who Venus was presumably going to make catch the bus from now on).
"OK, why don't we just negotiate. I'll let the car go … IF we buy a bigger house," she pouts.
"I'm happy with that," says James, revealing himself to be the world's worst negotiator.
Finally this week it's time for the main event - the group dinner Lydia has planned for everyone to 'work out their differences" (read: say to their faces what they've been saying behind each other's backs all season).
Lydia is eager for the ladies to sample the dishes she'll be preparing during her home cooking classes, so naturally she hosts the dinner in a restaurant and makes someone else do the cooking.
Jackie and Janet are the first to arrive, and Jackie decides to go for the jugular early: "I think it's great you got a job finally," she tells Lydia, who seems rather stunned at this early attack.
"Yeah, well ... I've always had a job. My job will never end," says Lydia, vaguely (answers on the back of a postcard, please).
In a piece to camera, Lydia fumes at this suggestion she's bone idle from a woman who, in her mind, "Sleeps all day and talks to the dead." Excuuuuuse me, Lydia, she does a lot more than that. She's also a contesant on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here.
Before the starters have even been served, Lydia pulls a power move so audacious it leaves the other women utterly. She announces that she has a few words to say, suddenly clutching a printed-out speech running over several pages.
She begins. This ain't no speech - it's a roast.
"Shall I start with the villain?" she asks, gesturing to Janet.
Janet, she reads (yes, Lydia can read), is "the real diva of the girls - challenging, difficult," especially "when you've taken some high-octane tea - I must find out WHAT that is."
She moves around the table, giving her verdict on each of her co-stars - Gamble's "the ditzy one", Jackie's a "tainted woman." Gina, of course, gets a glowing appraisal.
The reactions are amazing as the women realise they've been invited along tonight purely so Lydia can read them all to filth.
Bizarre unsolicited roast over, Venus takes the floor, saying she wants to set the record straight. There's been a perception among the other ladies that she's Gina's lapdog, something she realised a few episodes back when Janet jokingly congratulated her for daring to come to an event without Gina's permission.
It was a passing comment but now, two episodes later, Venus decides she was gravely offended by it - and decides to hit back.
"I have a lot of respect for you Janet, because you are a lot OLDER than all of us here," she says, then plays dumb as Janet scoffs at the obvious backhanded compliment.
"Are you older than me? Simple question," she continues, clicking her fingers at Janet.
Unfortunately for Venus, while the only insult she can think of to throw at Janet is 'old', it appears Janet has been stockpiling insults about her all season - and unloads them all in quick succession.
"Yeah, I'm older. Are you fatter than me? Are you dumber than me? Are you wearing a wig? What is your f**king point?"
The gloves are off now, both women happy to ridicule each others' appearances.
"It's a stupid wig! Look like you're wearing a hat! Stupid wig!" Janet cackles.
Venus returns fire: "Well you look ridiculous with those eyebrows that are up in the air!"
And then, a breath later: "I'm not one to put women down."
Well too bad love, because Janet's just warming up.
"You're an embarrassment. You're a fake. Your whole life is a fake. You pretend to be something you're not," she spits.
This clearly rattles Venus, whose voice goes about three octaves higher as she demands to know what Janet means.
Janet is now an oasis of calm as she lays it out. "Your whole thing trying to portray yourself as Lord and Lady is f**king bulls**t."
"MY HUSBAND IS A LORD! HE'S LORD OF THE MANOR!" Venus shrieks. Mega lol.
Janet has even more ammo: She announces to the table that Venus - brace yourself - rents cars. The implication being, Venus is secretly povvo but tries to give the appearance she's wealthy.
"I would like to know what life she's actually living, simply because I'd like to know who I'm socialising with," Janet insists. Because heaven forbid you fraternise with the poor.
Now it's Sally's turn to air her grievances - she once more tells Gina she never called her a "wog bitch", and demands Gina admit to the group that she made it all up.
Gina reacts well to this request:
"I'm going to ask you once: Leave me alone. Do not talk to me," Gina tells her. "Stop trying to be in my face and relevant, cos you're not."
Janet sticks up Sally, so Gina turns her attentions on her: Janet's "awful" and "a drunk."
Janet and Gina argue, but Venus - "the yapper at the end," according to Janet - keeps butting in.
"Oh, just shut up, you're a waste of space," says Janet, waving a hand at her dismissively. "You are a scumbag."
It feels like they're just getting started - I'm not even sure the mains have been served - but in the interests of making next week's bumper 90-minute reunion especially juicy, this is where we wrap up the episode.
"You know, all you have in life is your memories. And my memories with you girls are … not good," says Gina.
And then - because it's a day of the week ending in 'y' - Gina dramatically announces that she's "done," grabs her clutch purse and storms out.
Next week: The reunion! Don't think these women are finished fighting - they reunite for one final epic stoush of the season, adjudicated by Alex Perry.
The Real Housewives of Melbourne airs 8:30pm Wednesdays on Foxtel's Arena Channel. We'll have a full recap up on news.com.au as soon as the episode airs - and you can chat all things #RHOMelbourne with recapper and old moll Nick Bond on Twitter at @bondnickbond.
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