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New Blood, Old Feuds: The Real Housewives of New Jersey: Season 13, Episode 1 recap

I’m not sure I have matured or regressed, but watching the premiere of the thirteenth season, I no longer felt crippling anxiety watching the women repping the Garden State. What’s changed? It’s probably the fact that for the first time in five years, there’s been a shakeup in the cast, although sadly, for me, it’s Jackie who is now a friend-of.

That means we get to meet, for the first time in a half-decade, we get to meet several new housewives, both of the full-time and friend variety. In addition to Jackie and Lexi (she still counts, right? She and Tiki were roller skating and the Gorga event), there is also a new Jennifer (Thessler), who might not be a slave or soldier to anyone, although it’s early. And then there is Rachel, whose son is apparently best friends with Melissa’s son. Good, because she needs any ally she can get along the periphery of the show. And most surprisingly, there’s a new Danielle! But that’s not the surprise, though she, too, is a blast from the past: she has Manzo ties! Her stepmother is married to one Caroline and Dina’s brother. (No word on if Dina talks to either him or her these days.)

So, okay – we’ve just started to meet the newbies. But then it’s back to business, with two storylines revisiting existing feuds from last season. First, there’s Jen vs Dolores, a largely one-sided preemptive strike on Ms. Aydin’s part. Why is she mad? I’m not sure. Some time between the end of last season and the recording of the reunion, Jen did something or said something mean to Dolores, leading Dolores to call her a C-word before Andy had barely finished asking them all about their newest plastic surgery.

So now Dolores thinks Jen owes her an apology, and Jen thinks her silent treatment is an escalation of their war. At a climactic photo shoot at Chez Marge for all the husbands and significant others to lube up and pose, Jen decides to start talking about Dolores loud enough for everyone to hear. Including Dolores. Then Hurricane Dolores lands on Jen, and just when I thought we’d get a “To be continued…” chiron, they actually fight. And it’s not so exciting. But I guess this is their story for the year. (Dolores also introduces us to her new guy, a four-leaf clover named Paul, who seems like he’s sweet and also that he gets what he has gotten himself into.)

Our other big story revolves around – who else? – Tre, trying to cauterize the mess she made last season by constantly barking at Marge for asking about Luis’ rumors on-camera, including a literal mess when she shoved everyone’s food on Marge’s white dress in Nashville.

Teresa invites Marge and Joe B. to her new house with Luis. Not for dinner. Not for brunch. Not for lunch. For…cheese and crackers. Yeah, quite the olive branch there. (I wonder what she’d make of that reference if presented to her.) Teresa is now reclaiming her namaste by engaging in talk therapy. She’s going to try and take the high road. Luis sure knows how to play this game, telling her to use plastic water bottles. Either he’s too lazy to do the dishes or he’s seen her eat around these women before.

It doesn’t get off to a great start. Marge has broken her wrist while roller skating at the episode’s earlier event, but Teresa still absentmindedly asks her to lend a hand and carry food out to the pool. Then as Luis and Teresa (Luisa? Tuis?) discuss blending their home with dogs and daughters, Marge says “Five bitches!” She’s too quick for her own good. Teresa catches the reference and decides to ignore it, which really does show more personal growth than I’ve seen.

Performative or not, the two housewives seem to hear each out and decide to move on with their best feet forward. “I think Luis really is impacting her life,” Marge said. Have they put the kibosh on their feud, at least until next season? I guess we shall see.