Feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey would have had a field day with last night's episode of The Real Housewives of New York City. Each star felt the self-consciousness of a new gaze, beyond just the one afforded by the Bravo TV cameras — and the way they reacted told us something about each of them: In front of paparazzi on the red carpet, Alex and Simon mugged and poked fun at themselves. In the same situation, Jill costumed herself simultaneously deeply and sexily, and yet clung to her anonymous husband as if afraid to let go. Bethenny reacted with simultaneous disbelief and titillation at seeing a computer version of herself that (gasp) actually looked like her. Who knew she could be so easily reproduced? And Kelly was so at home posing sexily vacantly in front of the camera, it was almost as though there was absolutely nothing going on underneath. And Ramona, who allegedly isn't intimidated in front of the most powerful businessmen or famous people in the world, was completely undone by the mocking stare of the smaller, wiser version of herself: Avery.
Kelly: After seeing portions of Kelly's photo shoot in every episode of the season, we finally find out what it's for: the invitation for her Halloween party. While Kelly wins points for generally being a ho (the best was when she was wearing jeans that exposed her underbutt, and asked: "Do you want to do some from behind because it's, like, spicy?") and for actually looking quite pretty in front of the lens (why doesn't that makeup artist, ANY makeup artist, help her all the time??), the rudeness of showing up so late to her own party and for then getting angry when the other housewives left made her so despicable that we soon forgot her prettiness. "I'm a mom, I don't want to be over the top!" she said, wearing the skankiest, most over-the-top outfit in the room. "You can't put a BlackBerry in a bunny costume!" Oh, Kelly, you can't make that argument as you're waving around your purse. Next!
Ramona: Ramona dreams of having a line of jewelry on HSN. As crackpot as she is, honestly, who is HSN to say no to Ramona? And why is she so nervous about being on-camera when she's on-camera all the time? Whatever, moving on, what really weirded us out about Ramona this episode is that, for a few moments there with the video camera, it really looked like Mario wanted to have sex with her. Hard. With the camera, probably. We were not ready for that. Ramona wasn't really in competition this time around, but the incident with the pet hors d'oeuvre really put her at the bottom. It was gross when Brad accidentally ate the dog food, but it was grosser when Ramona ate the piece her pooch had ALREADY BEEN EATING. Not okay.
Silex: As much as we were originally appalled by the Feed Bag corset Simon bought Alex for $7,000, it didn't actually look that bad on her (and yes, she wore it to the Met gala in real life). We loved how Simon said "It's for Lauren's charity" without even dropping that it was socialite Lauren BUSH he was talking about. In fact, once again, this pair did surprisingly well in this week's competition. Later, during pumpkin carving, even though they spend time ripping on Manhattan and living in an apartment, they're pretty adorable with their matching witch hats. Though that ends when Simon vamps around with the gauze on the steps. There is literally no question in our minds as to why their kids have that mild-to-medium gender confusion going on.
LuAnn: : Victoria is home from boarding school, and the mother-daughter duo goes shopping. Along the way, The Countess imparts important life lessons, such as "You can never have big enough eyebrows." This shopping trip was an odd mix of high and low: At one point LuAnn says the price of a dress "doesn't really matter as much." This happened not fifteen minutes after she was taped bartering with a street vendor to get the price down on two pairs of knockoff Van Cleef & Arpels necklaces. Even so! This was a cute montage. She also gets points for performing a modified "LuAnn" (to turn one's back openly and awkwardly on a conversation that is distasteful) on Bethenny, showing her back to the health-foods chef when the complaining about Kelly's party lateness became too much.
Bethenny: Still clad in Rollergirl regalia ("It's a recession, I don't need four costumes!"), Bethenny delivers her 300th denouncement against Kelly outside after she fails to show up to her own party: "I'm never wrong about people," she says. "Never. Wrong. About. People. Kelly lives in her own world of fabulosity, and thinks everybody cares. But nobody cares. Rollergirl doesn't care." [Exeunt] As beautiful as this speech is, and as right as she was to complain that Kelly would put her name on a trashy cash-bar party and not Jill's charity event, Bethenny really needs to get over the Kelly thing. Has to. She's better than her, and the spiraling insanity again cost her the episode — despite her rollerblading-through–Times Square exit, which was somehow awesomely the opposite of Kelly's jogging through traffic last episode.
Jill: This was a great episode for Jill. There were her amazing costumes (even sexy underpants to cover her surprisingly cute butt!) and the part where she succinctly elucidated her disappointment in Kelly's failure to arrive at her own soirée: "I. Am. Pissed." She could have lost points with her complaints about the catered food for her event, but she saved it with "Everybody loves chocolate-chip cookies!" It was the interview with the BBC that really won us over. The whole thing was such an amazing blur — why were they even there? — that all we could remember was that a) the interviewer actually literally stroked his chin the entire time, and b) used the phrase "you people." After it was over, Jessica, who was at this point a little bit drunk, looked down at her notes. All they said was: "Fabulous, fabulous economy." Jill wins the episode.
Auxiliary Winners: Max: For appearing shirtless, in a loincloth. Even Chris's straight male roommate gasped at the splendor. Max Mara, Roberto Cavalli, Jill Stuart, Cream: The brand names that accidentally on purpose appeared. Brad's Floral Suit: Which had a life of its own. Was he supposed to be Scarlett O'Hara? Because that's the only acceptable excuse for a gay man to make a costume out of curtains. Avery: Because, like Ramona, she says it like it is, but she's more polite. PUPPIES!!!!!: For just being you.