Let’s Explore! The Real Housewives of Potomac Recap: Fanning the Flames

If I remember right, Candiace kicked Ashley out of the Bassett house in season four, after Ashley told her not to break her mom’s table in the house that Mama Dorothy owned and held the deed to.

So the fact that Ashley moved into Candiace’s million-dollar marital estate on the same day that her breakup with Michael became public is a pretty big deal. It’s too bad that all this hard-won progress won’t even last an episode, but we can enjoy it while it’s here.

The show has set up these two-part arcs to go along with and build on the season’s main storylines, which, of course, seem to be the drama between Chris and Candiace. Gizelle and Karen are the two biggest stars of the show.

Robyn and Wendy have a small grudge that won’t go away. Mia and Jacqueline used to be best friends but now hate each other. Candiace and Ashley are on the edge of loving and hating each other. And Charisse is just there, commenting on everything and reminding us that she was the one the show was supposed to be built around.

No matter what, Ashley’s time spent with Candiace is intriguing for a number of reasons. As someone who has to co-parent with a man who regularly embarrasses her and her family, Gizelle can relate to Michael’s discomfort with public ridicule, which has led to tension between the two of them. I get it, but it doesn’t wash with me when both ladies say their husbands are fine men despite their heinous behaviour.

You may have forgiven them, but you have no control over the audience’s ability to forget what they have seen with their own eyes, especially if the guys in issue continue to deny any wrongdoing. When Ashley started droning on about how hard it is for her to date attractive athletes because she is “going to compare everyone to Michael,” I thought my eyes were going to roll back in my head.

Candiace tells Ashley that Chris is no longer at ease among the cast and that she has cancelled IVF due to the strain of the recent rumours. What’s fascinating is how openly they discuss Gizelle’s long history of manipulating the show to advance her own romantic interests, including Candiace and Chris, Candiace and Monique, Wendy and Eddie, and Robyn in the early seasons when Juan was still persona non grata.

So it’s all the more perplexing that after claiming to be angered by misrepresentations about their partners, notably Candiace, both Ashley and Chris would then switch to rumour-mongering around Karen’s marriage.

It’s the same degree of targeted whispering about each other’s marriages for the sake of pleasure, with no sense of boundaries or concern for what the Huggers may have come to grips with privately, and I assume Candiace feels it’s fair game because the rumour is about Karen and not Ray.

Robyn sees a lawyer regarding a prenup. Ya Allah, what’s up with Ms Dixon’s hair? She acquired her extensions and highlights from the same person who gave Gizelle her initial confessional look. Gizelle’s second yellow look is an improvement, but the wig still shakes and the top is ill-fitted at the bust.

I’m glad Robyn has some money, but I don’t get all the hedging and hawing over the Dixons’ first marriage. Juan was a DMV-area legend in his college-basketball prime, played for the Wizards, and lived a lavish lifestyle. If they can’t admit how his success affected their marriage, they shouldn’t remarry. Every time Robyn mentions Candyman, Juan appears surprised. Immature.

Wendy gets the cockamamie notion (probably from producers) to organise a “burn session,” when the cast tries and fails to air out their concerns in order to move on. Chris Bassett says this only works if everyone has good intentions, and it’s evident that Gizelle and Robyn don’t.

Wendy, to her credit, has acknowledged that her demeanour can come across as condescending and holier than thou. That is not a major concern for me. At times, all of the women can be performatively condescending in their own way.

I believe the issue is more about the women feeling insecure because Wendy is making the most of her opportunities. Wendy can be corny and stilted at times, and according to a recent interview with Carlos King, part of that is because she has been trying to figure herself out after spending her life dutifully fulfilling the roles of Nigerian daughter, wife, and career woman, but it is not translating well.

The narrative edits have also heightened the tensions between Robyn and Wendy; apparently, they had an offscreen relationship during the pandemic, and none of her concerns about her changing body image was ever relayed to her off-camera, and now Robyn is allegedly on a mission to ice her out by any means possible.

All of this context is provided as a useful preamble to Robyn’s irrational burst of beige rage at the winery. Robyn, it appears, is convinced that she not only did not appear aggressive in her confrontation with Wendy during Ashley’s dance class but that she did not need to be restrained and told to sit down before embarrassing herself on national television.

She is so enraged by the implication that she tried to fight her that she says, “please be careful in your words because that is dangerous,” which is just capital-I ironic for someone who has long been best friends with Gizelle “word on the street” Bryant.

She can call Charisse and her terrifying boob job for backup all she wants, and have Gizelle gang up on screaming down Wendy all she wants, but she is the only one who ends up looking like a fool here, stomping out to the sprinter van with nothing but a mean-girl attitude and weird “thug” tropes.

Ashley, never one to be outdone, fills the void by bringing up allegations made by a friend of hers that Chris was flirty with her at the Spring Fling, immediately putting Candiace on the defensive.

These claims were revealed to her after her one-on-one time with Candiace, according to her, but her tone with Candiace — smugly asking, “It don’t feel good, huh?” — certainly raises red flags.

This bothers me for several reasons:  we are now conflating hitting on people/making passes with an inappropriate crossing of boundaries that implies violating consent;  I really don’t need another season of Potomac to be a referendum on a husband’s behaviour, and I will not pretend that any of these husbands are of such high moral fibre that they are above anything resembling infidelity.

The way the cast stacks the deck and vaguely lays it out without proof sets us up to automatically defend the men in the story as victims of catty women. For a variety of reasons, this drama is veering into very messy territory, and I need us all to eject quickly and move on to why the hell Mia throws a drink at Wendy in Miami.