It’s the beginning of a new season, and it’s shaping up to be a good one.

This week’s kickoff episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey started out benign enough, as each housewife demonstrated their attempts to cultivate calm since last season ended in balls-out, violent insanity. Jacqueline had a baby, which seemed to bring some peace to her home, and was also told by her husband not to associate with Danielle, so we now know that decision-making isn’t something she has to worry about doing on her own. Danielle, meanwhile, visited a priest, exhibiting a desire to hold true to her Catholic roots but a complete and total inability for self-reflection as she yelled at the preacher that she didn’t care whether or not anyone liked her, and then, returning to her inside voice, asked him to teach her how to pray for them. Teresa sent her kids off to school, and we witnessed what might be the first televised moment of the beginnings of a binge-eating disorder as her three-year-old snuck about 50 snacks into her backpack. Even Caroline, that crazy, crazy bitch, seemed to seek calm by way of dropping $8,000 on a new suit for her now skinny but still somehow threatening husband.

And speaking of threats, that’s the magic word around which the show began to take a turn for the Jersey. Apparently, “threat” means something very different to the Manzo family than it does to the rest of us. The first hint of this came in the form of the following nonsensical-yet-foreboding statement form Caroline, about Danielle: “She would come knocking on our doors and she would come alone. That equals a threat in my mind.”

Really? Because some people might just call that a “visit.” But we learn later that the interpretation runs in the family, when Caroline’s daughter, Lauren, and son, Albie, discuss the fact that Lauren is dating Albie’s best friend, Vito, which has turned into a slightly precarious situation, as Albie has yet to embrace their love. “You have to have a sense of humor about it,” older brother tells younger sister. “I take that as a threat,” she retorts.

As the show arcs, we learn, of course, that nothing is ever truly calm in Franklin Lakes, and that 90% of the Real Housewives would have pretty much nothing to do or talk about if it weren’t for Danielle. First, in a visit to a store called Posche, we find out that despite Teresa telling the camera that “unlike Danielle, I have friends,” Danielle does in fact have a friend in Kim, who owns the boutique. Kim and Danielle agree that they will be friends for life. But not ten minutes later (reality TV time), we see Kim sitting at a fancy dinner with the ladies and stating matter-of-factly that she’s actually not Danielle’s friend, listening as her husband calls Danielle a pig, and then getting up and sloppily, white-wine-drunkenly leaving the table.

Backstab! Caught live!

Meanwhile, Danielle has lost her damn mind. Realizing that Caroline has thrown a party to which she was not invited, she loads her kids up in the car and drives halfway down the freeway, talking about how much she doesn’t care that she wasn’t invited, and how she’s only going to drive by and see who’s there, and how she really doesn’t CARE at ALL that she didn’t get the invite in the mail, and it will just be a quick stopover. Meanwhile, her children — who, BTW, seem remarkably well-adjusted, if not constantly humiliated/bewildered by their mother — are trying to use their most calm, level-headed voices while pleading with her not to do it. And just when you think you’re about to witness the biggest train wreck in TV history — she turns around.

Crisis averted.

But only for this week! Next week’s edition promises more drama, as the ladies discover something shocking about one of Danielle’s daughters, Teresa gives birth, and it looks like someone, finally, pulls a gun.

Other tidbits that we learned this week include:

  • Dina is quiet crazy. She surrounds herself with hairless cats and statues of Buddha while quietly assuring viewers that she is surrounding herself with positivity, yet retains the glint in her eye that says, “I’ll cut you.”
  • Teresa’s kids are anti-semites. Her 8-year-old daughter states the following: “I wouldn’t marry a Jewish person! They make their kids have hair like this [indicates pais].”
  • Jacqueline’s daughter, much to everyone’s relief (except the producers of the show) is practicing safe sex.
  • And finally, Caroline is a bully, as Danielle so aptly put it: “Caroline’s acting like a big bully.” Who knew?