From the moment we were treated to a clip of cinematic classic Sharknado 5: Global Swarming wherein Ian Ziering says, “I think we just started World War Shark” to thespian of screen and stage Porsha Williams, who responds in turn by getting smacked with a mid-size flying shark, I knew we were in for a treat of a Real Housewives of Atlanta episode. The one thing I was not prepared for: Mbele.
Psychic mediums have an illustrious history within the Housewives franchise and are even more prolific outside the confines of Bravo, as we’re reminded when Kim hilariously recounts all the different reality TV mediums she’s received readings from, including the Long Island Medium and “Tyler” of Hollywood Medium “fame.” Even though I touted RHOA’s own entry into the psychic-medium hall of fame at the end of last week’s recap, nothing could have prepared me for Mbele. Where Allison DuBois was rude on RHOBH because she was at a dinner party being asked to read futures (or whatever) while swilling martinis out of a flower vase and puffing on an e-cigarette like she was starring in a futuristic Mad Men remake, Mbele is mean…seemingly for sport? Maybe because she has a small amount of the dark lord (Satan or Voldemort, take your pick) inside her? It’s really impossible to say.
But the most confounding part of the Mbele experience was that we’ve seen this exact plotline before. Three years ago, NeNe gathered all of her closest enemies in front of another professional — and actual learned psychologist — and asked him to help them fix their problems, and then when he informed her that she was the root of most of the problems, she became very angry and dramatically left the hotel conference room. Like any true Housewife would, I’d like to quote myself commenting on that spirited time: “The one who smelt it, dealt it, y’all. Always. NeNe smelled the sweet scent of a redemption story line for herself and drama for others, and ended up in a bit of a pickle.”
A zebra cannot change its stripes, and a Housewife cannot change her ways — only her wigs. Once again, NeNe ended up in the pickle of not being able to redirect the group’s focus from herself, but this time she lucked out; NeNe didn’t have to dramatically leave because Mbele did the leaving for her. I never thought I’d says this, but…that psychic was not very professional!
The editors at least know they have to give us a little cushion before delivering us into the cold, frightening hands of Mbele, so we’re treated to vignettes such as “Porsha acts!” and “Kim is back!” My favorite is certainly Porsha running lines for the onstage remake of Two Can Play That Game (sure, why not), where not only do we get to see Porsha attempt to cry on cue, but we also learn that it takes an assistant, a business assistant, a publicist, a sister, and a manager to make Porsha — a host at Dish Nation and aspiring hair salon owner — happen.
Sheree and Cynthia, on the other hand, are more focused on their love lives. Sheree accepts a call from her secret prison boyfriend while her delicate, giant son Kairo is making dinner for her. Secret Prison Boyfriend Tyrone has some good news: He spoke to his lawyer, and they’ve made some traction on “how the government withheld all this evidence to put me in prison.” So, apparently Tyrone was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on wire and security fraud charges under allegedly false pretenses, and Sheree is all about it: “I’m not just going by this man’s words. I’ve seen the documents, I’ve seen it all.” Oh, well if you’ve seen the documents, by all means, marry this man and start writing up contracts for Netflix’s next big true crime docuseries!
Sheree has invited Kim and NeNe to dinner, where Kim arrives with most of her boobs out and a purse made by L.A. Lights. NeNe still hasn’t arrived about an hour into the meal, so Kim and Sheree call her and learn that she’s not coming because NeNe thinks “there’s a lot of damn elephants in the damn room.” (This is where I inform you that this episode is brought to you by the word “elephant” and the color “blond wig with black roots.”) NeNe is reasonably angry that Kim came to her house uninvited, got into a big fight, and broke a bunch of glass; also that Kim’s daughter Brielle apparently came into NeNe’s house (what, is there an open window NeNe doesn’t know about somewhere?) and Snapchatted a small colony of roaches in her bathroom.
Of course, NeNe never mentions any of those reasonable things. Instead, she gets it in her head that to divert the attention away from her ongoing conflict with Porsha, she should focus everyone’s attentions on the group’s other “elephants in the room,” and she should do that with…Mbele the Energy Reader.
Things start out pretty calm in the deserted café, with Mbele asking NeNe to tell her about the group’s issues “loosely.” NeNe tells her, “There is some sisterhood and some non-sisterhood.” Doesn’t get much looser than that! So you can’t even blame NeNe for Mbele’s bizarre reaction to each new woman who enters the room. It is apparently a no-phone zone, which gets everyone off on the wrong foot, but Cynthia hands hers over willingly, noting that Mbele’s energy is “…kinda strong.” Perhaps my favorite moment of editing in a season already ripe for an Emmy nomination is when Kandi enters the room and Mbele insists on hugging her, saying, “I don’t shake,” while we see flashbacks of her shaking NeNe and Cynthia’s hands when she greeted them.
“I don’t shake” seems to be a trait that Mbele just picked up on the spot, because she proceeds to give everyone else uncomfortable, forced hugs even though it is very evident this woman is the opposite of a hugger. I felt like she was being operated by a snake and a series of pulleys like that old horcrux lady in Harry Potter. When Kenya comes in, NeNe starts to tell her there are a few rules, and Mbele cuts in, “One, don’t walk away when people are talking to you.” Y’all. This little troll woman is so mean! Kenya was just trying to put down her umbrella! And I never stick up for Kenya! But of all people, Kenya speaks my exact thoughts when she notes, “Mbele has an interesting energy. She’s very intense…slash mean.”
And then comes Kim. Whose energy I imagine looks like a Magic Eye poster being set on fire by a dragon in a waist trainer. Kim simultaneously informs Mbele that she’s also very spiritual, but that she will not be giving her phone up because she has “six babies at home” (wouldn’t want to miss any of those roach Snapchats!). Once everyone is seated, NeNe announces that most of the fights at their gatherings have been focused on her and Porsha, but “there’s lots of elephants that need to be discussed,” so why not give her a break and s—-talk each other for a while instead?
I can’t believe that this energy reading didn’t go well when the intentions were so pure!
While constantly rolling her eyes and blinking for 20 seconds at a time, Mbele tells the group that if there are any secrets to be shared, she’s going to share them. Then she turns to Sheree, points her little E.T. finger at her, wags it for 100 minutes, and says, “Know when you want to start and when you want to end, there is no reason for you to be indecisive.” Okay, that seems fine. She tells Kandi that she has a little psychic within her. NeNe, apparently, has “a heart of gold,” which NeNe nods solemnly along to. It’s when Mbele reads Cynthia that things take a turn. She tells Cynthia that when people say things to her, she doesn’t always want to listen, but this is a time when she needs to.
Cynthia doesn’t love that read, so Kim whispers to her not to worry about it, but Mbele is all, WHAT DID YOU SAY? You might think that a psychic-medium would be accustomed to people being a little defensive about bold statements regarding their personal lives, and would therefore tread lightly…but you have clearly never looked into Mbele’s cold shark eyes or received one of her non-optional hugs. Mbele snarks at Kim, “‘Dixie cup’ here is going to help us out, I guess.” Which is kind of funny, but as Kim points out, “I don’t believe anybody who’s guided by a higher power would talk s— like that.” A valid point, made less valid by Kim insisting that she — a woman who recently threw a wine glass at Kenya because she quoted a tweet about her daughter giving a bl– job — is from a higher power.
Mbele tells them all to switch seats, glaring at Kim and Porsha, who are (weirdly) holding hands, saying, “The connections, with heads and asses and everything else, is a little too much.” Everyone moves except Kim and Porsha, so Mbele asks — there’s no other way to say this — if she can give Kim a bath. How would she do that? Well, first she would clean herself, then she would go outside “and get a little bit of bushes,” dip those bushes in a jar, and finally, she would…clean Kim.
Kim gives that a hard pass. Mbele does not like that. She taps her burning sage into an ashtray in what could only be an homage to the O.G. Allison DuBois, especially given that the ashtray is surrounded by what appears to be a bottle of Captain Morgan and a Zima. Then she stands up, says, “I don’t feel like it today, I just don’t feel like it right now,” and walks out of the room. These women broke a psychic. It’s an incredible moment that — even if you’re someone who reads these recaps without watching the show — you simply must watch.
Kandi takes over because she’s apparently an apprentice-level medium, but when she turns the attention once more to Porsha and NeNe’s elephant, because it really is the only elephant of the season, NeNe gets upset. In her new confessional look with the purple shoulder wings and the greased-up boobs, she complains, “The whole point of this event was to talk about these other damn elephants in the room!” So…Sheree attempts to talk about the other elephants that NeNe mentioned having with her and Kim, but NeNe claps back, “I! Don’t! Have! Anything! I! Need! To! Talk! To! You! About!”
So Cynthia tries to ask Kim and Kenya why they don’t like each other, and agrees with Kenya when she says that Kim came for her that night at NeNe’s party, and not the other way around. Later, when everyone finally gives up and leaves this now-cursed café, Kim tells Cynthia, “I need you to not talk unless you know. Just be gorgeous, just be a pretty face.” Even with Mbele poking voodoo dolls in the walk-in freezer somewhere, that is the rudest s— anyone says all night.
Kim stays back to talk to NeNe about whatever it was that made NeNe skip their dinner with Sheree, but NeNe just rambles about Kim not being supportive. So, naturally, Kim asks NeNe if she’s been using drugs. And, finally, as all truly ludicrous moments do, it all ends with the five most meaningless words ever combined: “It is what it is.” But is it? IS IT??1 of 1