Meet 'RHOP' Star Ashley Darby's 'Cutie' Son, Dean Michael: 'I'm Overwhelmingly Happy'
Ashley and Michael Darby are revealing their first photos of 3-week-old son Dean Michael
The first half of this episode felt like the beginning of a horror movie where a bunch of unassuming college kids head out to an isolated cabin in the middle of the woods to get drunk and fool around. What could possibly go wrong?
The RHOP ladies were just going on poncha tours, and taking Instagram thirst traps on the cliffs of Madeira, and dressing up in leather for what Ashley refers to as “a good old-fashioned dominatrix party.” But between the editors dropping the needle on the poppy score and turning the screen black and white anytime someone referred to how well they were all getting along on this trip, things started to feel a touch foreboding. And eventually, the horror did begin in the form of Ashley ax-murdering a perfectly fine dominatrix party with the news that she’s agreed to be a witness in Monique’s counter-suite against Candiace.
But before we get to the actual bloodbath, we just get a little preview of it when the episode picks back up with Ashley telling Gizelle and Robyn about the statement she’s made. After they finish berating her for “assassinating Candiace’s character" by talking about things that were aired on national television, the whole crew heads to some natural pools that they hope won’t “put [their] vaginas at stake.” But the only thing at stake is our eyeballs, seeing Candiace’s whole ass while she pretends to record a music video for “I See You (Remix)” And you know what? I did not hate the little video that the editors threw together, which was no doubt better than anything Candiace would actually produce, and it featured a surprise shot of Ashley pumping. Normalize breastfeeding by putting it in reality stars’ R&B music videos!
On their final day in Madeira, the women ride in sidecars to a famous poncha bar, where they must make ‘em pretty strong because some people seem a little lopsided afterward. But eventually, they all trickle to lunch at the resort where Robyn excitedly tells the others that the website featuring their hat-modeling photos has gone live…which soon reveals the fact that Karen’s photos are not featured alongside the other women’s. It was clear last week that this was meant as an intentional dig at Karen when the editors flashed all off the modeling photos onscreen, and Karen’s were just as average as anyone else’s, and I dare say that profile shot was kind of fierce. But for whatever reason, Robyn didn’t like Karen’s photos, and instead of just saying that she left them out because the photos weren’t doing Karen justice, she says, “When I looked at it, I just felt like it didn’t match the rest of the website.”
To which Karen smirks in her testimonial, “Thank you, next” as she throws Robyn’s hat on the ground. And one day, when sociologists and psychologists study season 5 of RHOP, I think they’ll identify this moment — not the Ashley and Candiace moment still to come — as the one that turned the season upside down.
I know how that sounds! Of all things to cause chaos — cheap leopard print hats? But upon close inspection, I think this is the moment that Karen decides she is all the way over these women trying to knock her down or keep her in place all the time when she knows good and well that she is the grand dame. And “all the way over it” is really not a place you want the Grand Dame to be. I mean, we want her to be there — because when Karen is all the way over these women she calls press conferences about her taxes, and starts new businesses, and storms out of her own wig parties. But the other women should tread lightly.
Karen’s insistence on not choosing sides between Candiace and Monique has held a tentative peace in the group. But now that Ashley has made her decision, and the other women aren’t being as supportive of Karen’s position as she’d like them to be, real cracks in the façade are starting to form.
And Ashley’s side has certainly been chosen. She told Gizelle and Robyn earlier in the episode that she made the statement for Monique because she doesn’t want her to go to jail, and I really believe that was her motivation. But Ashley makes the mistake also telling Gizelle and Robyn that Candiace “should just call it an even,” instead of writing her off forever. And you better believe the Green-Eyed Bandits tuck that little tidbit away to reveal when the time is right…
And that time is, of course, at the good old fashion dominatrix party that Gizelle and Ashley have inexplicably decided to host inside a conference room at their Madeira resort. If you’re wondering if that means that Candiace is wearing a full leather face mask and has both of her butt cheeks exposed while receiving the delicate news that Ashley is acting as a witness against her…
Yes, I’m so sorry, that is exactly what it means.
For the dominatrix party, Gizelle is decked out in a red corset, Ashley is wearing lingerie, most of the other women show up in leather pants and tops, but Candiace arrives fully outfitted in lingerie, a harness, and a leather cat mask complete with ears. The woman has always loved a theme.
As for activities, there’s the thing where Gizelle makes everyone slap a blurred-out dildo on the coffee table; there’s the dominatrix walk-off; there’s a game where they answer questions about their sex lives. Karen has an extremely dirty look on her face for most of the party, but she more than participates in the question gaming, telling the others that she keeps a vibrating pillow on her bed that is “no longer dry” when she’s done with it (yowza) and that she hasn’t given a blow job in 2.5 years because “it wasn’t the first thing on my mind.”
Gizelle says in her testimonial that she’s “a true proponent of, ‘if you’re not sucking his dick, someone else is.’” And I really just don’t understand why Gizelle has to go out of her way to embarrass herself like this in every single episode.
But once everyone simmers down, Ashley sees an opening to kamikaze what has otherwise been a pretty lovely trip. In the final moments of the party, she tells Candiace that she wants to be transparent with her as “growing friends,” so she’s telling her directly that Monique asked her to write a statement for her lawsuit, and she did it “because I am worried about what could happen to her.” Wendy asks if the character statement was in the positive about Monique or in the negative about Candiace, and Ashley replies that she wrote about “what was seen publicly … at your house, when we were at the reunion, and how we had back-and-forths on social media.
To which Wendy responds: “So basically, you’re trying to assassinate her character,” just like Robyn and Gizelle did earlier.
Listen, it would be well within Candiace’s right not to want to be friends with Ashley if Ashley is trying to help Monique win a lawsuit against her. But the other women’s insistence that Ashley is assassinating Candiace’s character by writing down on paper events that happened on national television is — to put it bluntly — annoying as hell. Stick up for your friend all you want, but be better at it!
Wendy at least understands why Monique would want this statement from Ashely: “They’re trying to weaken Candiace’s case, saying that Candiace has a temperament that will result in someone being physical with her.” Ding, ding, ding! And that’s a strong defense for Monique and one that Ashley does not try to deny that she’s contributing to. As tensions continue to rise, and Candiace finally starts speaking for herself, Ashley just sits there and takes it. Candiace says that Monique has talked “cash money s---” about Ashley to her, and she’s “playing the dog f---” out of her by getting her to make this statement.
Ashley says that her goal is to “lessen what could happen to Monique, and not harm [Candiace].” And if all of this ever plays out, that’s likely what Ashley’s statement regarding events that are already recorded to film would do. Unfortunately, this is when Robyn chimes in: “But Ashley, you also said you wrote the statement kind of as revenge against Candiace.” Which is not what she said! But when Candiace hears what Ashley said — that they would be “even” — the tissues start getting folded. Candiace cries, “Monique will use anyone in this room to f--- with me, so don’t sit here and say what you did is not gonna affect me, because it f---ing does!”
That this is all happening in that little cat mask and with bare buns sitting directly atop a hotel chair is entirely too much to handle.
Ashely tells Candiace that however she proceeds to “move with [her]” is understandable, and Candiace replies: “F--- you, Ashley!”
Ashley takes that verdict and leaves the party. So then everyone starts fussing at Karen about refusing to condemn Monique, at which point she tells them that she “knows some things that you all don’t know.” They were all there to see the same fight, so the others are confused what Karen could know about Monique’s side of the story that they don’t.
In her testimonial, Karen says that she’s seen Candiace statement, so she knows that Candiace “admitted to releasing the glass on Monique in self-defense,” and she’s “waiting on Candiace to tell the truth.” The editors play a clip of the altercation while Karen is saying this, and Candiace’s description…seems accurate? I don’t know, it’s hard to see with all that crudité on the table, but didn’t Candiace throw the glass once Monique already had ahold of her wig? Is Karen taking issue with the word “release”?
If so, then she’ll definitely take issue with a few of the words Candiace is about to unleash on her in person: “Monique is a pathological liar, you know that, Karen! She has no grounds to press charges on me! You have unmitigated gall!”
And I think Karen responds for all of us in this sticky situation when she replies, simply: “Well, now it’s in the judge’s hands, and my prayers go up.” See you back here next week for the results of Karen’s prayers, and the debut of her new wig line.