The fact that I’m doing a Total Divas recap this week comes as much of a surprise to me as the fact that I did one last week for With Leather over at Uproxx.com. However, I got some good feedback from my discussion of Episode 5 of this thought-provoking series, and people asked if I would continue the recaps here at my own blog.
Ok, two people said they liked it. And one said I should do it again. But I can’t think of a better way to decompress after a customarily-nerve-wracking episode of Breaking Bad than to absorb an episode of Total Divas. This week’s episode: Diva Las Vegas.
Cold Open: Chris Jericho – Matchmaker
I’m not sure when this was shot, but Chris Jericho hadn’t gone on tour yet. I know this because JoJo consults Y2J in an effort to determine whether Justin Gabriel is single or not. Note that, were I JoJo, this would have been my third question after the far more obvious “Is he straight?” and “No, seriously—are you sure he’s straight?”
Jericho asks JoJo if he should prepare a note with “DO YOU LIKE JOJO – YES / NO” check boxes and pass it to Gabriel, once again proving why Chris Jericho is probably my favorite pro wrestler of all time.
Act One: The Forbidden Fruit
We begin with a RAW from Hartford, which puts us at June 3, 2013 (and, yes, I had to Google that). Keep in mind that, in “pro wrestling time,” three months feels like a year. Three months? Who knows what was even happening back then?
Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) competes as part of Team Hell No (Remember them?!?), then kisses his girlfriend Brie Bella in the back. Let me clarify that. What I mean to say is that he kisses her on the mouth in the backstage area of RAW. Sidebar: It’s interesting that they always identify the guys and most of the Divas by their real names, but they use the Bellas’ fake names. And Justin Gabriel’s, for that matter.
Brie opines that she has the best boyfriend in the world, but I’m transfixed on Damien Sandow walking around in the background. That’s not a great sign for me, but let’s just move on . . .
JoJo and Justin Gabriel (not his real name) get acquainted backstage. We see a flashback wherein JoJo breaks up with her previous boyfriend, Sebastian, whom JoJo calls “the love of her life.” I know it’s a flashback because the footage is in black and white. Thanks, Total Divas!
Eva Maria (real name: Nattie) expresses misgivings over JoJo’s fixation on Justin Gabriel. I should note that seeing JoJo’s previous boyfriend (who looked like he was about 19) makes me think she’s much younger than I previously imagined. As Eva and JoJo watch Gabriel’s match backstage, Eva observes that Justin’s ring attire permits JoJo to assess how well-endowed Gabriel is, which is exactly what you would say to someone about a would-be love interest you thought was all wrong for them.
Michael “P.S.” Hayes, inexplicably in a walking boot (off the top of my head, I’ll guess “parasailing accident”), makes a quick cameo as he sneaks up on the two neophyte Divas and startles them. This is one of those “reality” television moments that seems rather fake to me, as I’m confident they would be able to smell him several seconds before his arrival. Then, Eva says she thinks it’s a great idea for JoJo to invite Gabriel to their “housewarming” party, which, again, doesn’t make a lot of sense if she thinks them being in a relationship is a bad idea.
Cut to the WWE training facility. As the girls work out, Nattie shows up and interrupts the in-ring training session by delivering a monologue that serves as a recap of last week’s episode of Total Divas. That’s just great television, folks! Most noteworthy to me is the fact that Nattie thinks that her friend Jaret looks like her fiance TJ (Tyson Kidd). They don’t.
I also liked that Nattie prefaced her monologue by saying, “I don’t know if I should tell you guys . . . ” Again: There is a CAMERA CREW present, just as there was at the intimate dinner between Nattie and Jaret that she’s pretending to be uncertain about discussing. HERP A DERP.
Trinity (Cameron? Naomi? I’m bad at this) connects the dots for the audience and says that Nattie is only troubled by the Jaret situation because he’s providing the attention that TJ hasn’t been giving her.
After some squared-circle frolicking and time-lapse video, we shift to the aforementioned apartment-warming party of JoJo and Eva Marie. There’s some obligatory bronzer talk, then Eva teases JoJo about possibly kissing Justin Gabriel at the party. You remember Justin—the guy Eva thinks would be a disaster for her good friend JoJo.
People start showing up, but it’s initially just the cast of Total Divas and the mid-card boyfriends, TJ and the Uso. We discover that neither JoJo nor Eva Marie drink. There’s discussion of something called “Brie Mode,” which is a playful phrase meaning “dangerous alcoholism.” This explanation, courtesy of Nikki, is accompanied by a montage of photographs in which Brie is allegedly very drunk. Nikki gleefully explains that she will most definitely get Brie into “Brie Mode” when they go to Las Vegas for Nattie’s bachelorette party.
You may recall that last episode, Nikki had a tearful reconciliation with her father, estranged in part due to his addiction / substance-abuse issues.
Justin Gabriel shows up with an unidentified male (WAKE UP, JOJO), and Nattie quietly discusses the Jaret situation with Nikki, who seems to be quite an enabler. Then there’s some random dancing. Then we find out that Ariane is a fan of older men. And, by “older men,” I mean “possible statutory rape.”
Finally, JoJo gets Gabriel away from the crowd and makes out with him a little on the balcony. Eva Marie reiterates her concerns to the camera, which would make a lot more sense if she hadn’t been goading JoJo into going after Justin at every opportunity. We get our first act break at long last. I’ve only seen two episodes, but I’ve realized quickly that these shows are ridiculously front-loaded.
Act Two: I Have a Rabbit
Justin (age 32) and JoJo (age 19) are on their first date. Gabriel kids JoJo over the fact that she’s too young to drink wine with lunch. He also expresses surprise that this is, in fact, a date, which is always a great sign. NOT THAT THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO ME BEFORE AND, YES, OF COURSE THIS IS A DATE, TIFFANI, WHY ELSE WOULD I ASK YOU TO THE MOVIES AND PAY FOR YOUR TICKET AND POPCORN?!?
Whew. Blacked out there for a second. When I regain consciousness, Nikki and John Cena, PhD (Thuganomics) are shopping for Nattie’s bachelorette gift. Nikki can’t wait to tell Cena that Nattie has only ever made out with one guy. Cena has the exact reaction I would have—“How am I supposed to respond to this?” Cena then basically tricks Nikki into outing herself as (formerly?) promiscuous. Conversations with Nikki make Cena sound like he’s an actual doctor.
Back at Ariane’s apartment, she talks with her boyfriend,
Virgil Vincent, about some inane bullshit. Vinnie does (sheepishly) make a decent point that he doesn’t seem to be invited to social functions his girlfriend attends, to which Ariane responds that everyone is “from work.” In other words, non-superstars need not apply. Suck it, Vincent!
I will say that it’s weird that he wants to go to a bachelorette party.
Of course, not as weird as having your fiance at your bachelorette party.
And that’s what we see when the show cuts to the Vegas hotel room where the pre-party gets started. The Divas are there, as are the boyfriends—minus Cena, who was probably selfishly missing the bachelorette party to go visit some sick kids or something. Some random WWE guys are also there, like Curt Hawkins (huh?) and Hornswoggle (?!?). Things migrate to the pool, where Nikki warns Nattie about continuing to text with Jaret, which is actually good advice.
Act Three: “The Most Wildest [sic] Ride of Her Life”
JoJo spots Gabriel talking to some other girl at the pool. Literally, just having a conversation. JoJo is troubled by this, which makes perfect sense, since she and Gabriel had gone on one date (that he didn’t even realize was a date until halfway through lunch).
Back in the hotel room, Nattie does a shot, TJ gives a heartfelt toast that highlights his limited mic skills, and Brie ominously declares that we won’t see “Brie Mode” tonight (FORESHADOWING!!!). Nikki then announces that the girls have to leave to go to Chippendale’s, and Justin Gabriel frantically asks if he can come with.
(No, he doesn’t.)
Nikki tells the camera that Nattie isn’t merely in for the wildest ride of her life, but for the most wildest.
After the Chippendale’s show, which goes exactly as you’d expect, we cut back to the hotel to see JoJo frustrated that her age prevents her from doing anything in Vegas, including gambling. Bored, JoJo and Eva Marie go on a “walk,” and just happen to see Justin Gabriel with what appears to be a woman. They refer to her as “another” woman and “some other chick” on the show, but it’s worth reiterating that Gabriel and JoJo have been on half a date—and a day date to boot.
Act Four: Nikki Mode
JoJo, upon seeing Gabriel share a cab with a woman who isn’t JoJo declares that she is “done” with Gabriel, which is roughly akin to me writing a letter to Sports Illustrated indicating that I’m no longer interested in covering the NFL for them.
I’m really having a hard time understanding what JoJo thinks her beef is, here. Is this just all contrived reality show nonsense? I hope so. Is it just because she’s 19? Maybe.
Eva, who previously dared JoJo to kiss Gabriel at their party, and who stood backstage at RAW telling JoJo to size up Gabriel’s genitalia for future reference, now says to the camera “We all warned her. We told her not to mix business with pleasure.”
Back at Chippendale’s, the Divas get drunk after the show. Nikki claims that “Brie Mode” is in full effect, and a couple of the girls’ vaginas get blurred as they dance on top of tables. This would probably be a good time to mention that this episode is rated TV-14.
In a super-ironic twist, it’s NIKKI who takes a tipsy tumble to the floor, not Brie! I betcha didn’t see that one coming (well, unless you saw a commercial or promo for this episode, or a “coming up on Total Divas” snippet earlier tonight).
Whenever Nattie gets “serious,” I feel like it’s all fake. There’s an extended scene where Brie and Nattie talk about Jaret and TJ on Nattie’s bed, and I couldn’t care less about the outcome of this moral dilemma.
Acts Five & Six: For Your Consideration
Brie has to sneak back into her room without waking Bryan up. Her strategy to accomplish this goal consists of knocking on the door and ringing the room bell until Bryan wakes up and opens said door. Brie attempts to put some Chippendale’s novelty sex-toy handcuffs on a groggy Bryan. Comedy.
The next morning, Brie “confesses” that she was in “Brie Mode” the previous night. Bryan is incredulous that Brie thinks he didn’t figure that out on his own. “You put pink handcuffs on me,” he astutely notes.
Everyone shows up for a lunch the next day, including Gabriel, who sits next to JoJo. JoJo rambles about something. She pulls Gabriel aside and tells him she’s confused. He tells her she’s beautiful and talented, but the age gap is a problem. Blah, blah, blah. WHO GIVES A SHIT? THEY WENT ON ZERO-POINT-FIVE DATES.
JoJo seems like a good egg, and I want to give her a pass on this, so I’m just going to chalk it up to her literally being a teenager.
Meanwhile, hotel room small talk between the Bellas comes to a screeching halt when Brie realizes that Nikki’s vibrator is under the sheets on the same bed she’s currently occupying. Nikki retrieves the device, only to throw it at her sister. The scene culminates with this exchange:
NIKKI: It’s my purple people eater.
BRIE: I’m sure it’s an “eater.”
NIKKI: Ooh! I wish.
So, it goes without saying that this will be episode that E! submits to the Emmy committee and the Peabody Award panel.
Over at Ariane’s room, Vincent shows up, and Ariane isn’t particularly happy about this. Everyone goes to dinner, and Nikki toasts “boners” for the second time in this episode. I’m not sure what kind of restaurant this is, but, after serving a custom cake (which Nattie ruins by getting her hair all over it and biting into it directly, just because it happens to be a man’s body—sorry, I take cake-eating seriously), the waiter brings out platefuls of cotton candy. That is followed by additional slices of a different cake.
The show is edited to make Vincent look very obnoxious, but watching the background makes it clear that no one really gave a crap as this stuff was happening in real time.
Act Seven: Coasting to a Stop
After dinner, the crew goes to Ghost Bar and dances and junk. Nattie and TJ express their love for each other. Meanwhile, Vincent exhibits behavior that is in no way unusual for someone at Ghost Bar, but we’re supposed to believe that he’s OUT OF CONTROL!!!!!!
I mean, three shots? Good lord—I hope he doesn’t die of alcohol poisoning. This is getting scary. Ohmygosh.
Vincent then says the exact kinds of things that a merry drunk has probably said to you 100 times in your life. For example, he tells the Uso that he would “back you up, any day, any time.” THE HORROR!
Ariane starts yelling at Vincent about allegedly spilling a drink on her. Vincent (who, let’s remember, is HAMMERED!!!!) shows her the drink still in his glass, and asks her to calm down. In other words, the actions of a CRAZY PERSON.
Ariane then tells Vincent that she’s leaving. They argue a little. She leaves.
Nattie says she’s excited about getting married.
And that’s the end of the episode for some reason.
Next Week On Total Divas: Eva Marie gets a big break by being asked to pose for Maxim, and JoJo wonders where her big break is. Ariane and Vincent argue some more, and possibly have a (big) break-up. Nikki gets a big break of her own in the form of a fractured leg, which explains why Brie has just been wrestling singles for the past two months.
The more you know.