Rhonda and Deborah are still together in the small bedroom. Now that Deborah has the floor, so to speak, she makes a play of backing down.
In confessional. Rhonda wonders when is the last time Deborah was just listened to. Back in the room, Rhonda is saying she’s sorry Deborah is having a challenging time and feeling like giving up. She talks her into staying but Deborah makes it clear she doesn’t trust Rhonda. (That seems reasonable to me, after Rhonda helped the others gang up on Deborah.)
Meanwhile Jennifer tells Kim and Towanda she doesn’t know if it’s her responsibility to reach out to Deborah. Obviously the houseguests are coached that they are there not only to achieve their goals but to help the others do theirs as well, and Deborah is not following the program.
Sinae is in a hopeful mood on the way to the eye doctor. When she gets there, the doctor says he thinks she will keep the vision she has and function better with better glasses and continuing to adapt to her situation.
Kim is talking to Josie about her next assignment, which is to ask Deborah out to dinner. Josie is shocked and can’t believe Kim is going to put herself out there to be rejected. Kim dives in and asks. There is some bickering because Deborah is once again driving (why???) After dinner, Kim narrates that it’s a misconception that Deborah doesn’t listen. Deborah is on the phone later telling her daughter she will get along ok if she keeps thing superficial and light.
Back to Rhonda and Sinae leaving the eye surgeon. Rhonda tells Sinae she will be going home alone in a cab. Sinae is nervous but she knows she needs to get used to doing this. When she gets back to the house she’s pretty high on her accomplishment.
Iyanla is one-on-one with Kim. Because Kim may not be aware of how others see her, Iyanla has an exercise. Kim pulls cards from a stack. Each card has a word written on it to reflect a bad feeling one might have about oneself. The first card says “ugly”. Kim relates to that. The second card says “judgemental” and it reminds Kim of how harshly others judge her. Iyanla tells her she might be judging people too, whenever she “shoulds” on somebody. Her assignment: go back to her roommate Deborah, who now represents Kim’s sister, and let Deborah pull cards which Kim will then put into her own context. Kim is not enthusiastic about having to deal with Deborah some more.
In the loft, Deborah is asked to hold off for another day in order to practice being patient. She is ok with it. Today will be Towanda’s day to tell her story and she’s pumping her fists with glee, so I still don’t understand why yesterday, Kim was trying to prepare her for this. Towanda narrates she will be watching Deborah closely. The first picture on the plasma screen is a sexy publicity still of Towanda and four other women. The story is that she is Toni Braxton’s sister. Deborah is the only one to show any enthusiasm about Toni, but in fact others are shown doing in behind Towanda’s back later in the show. So Deborah is the only one who will take the heat for that. The Braxtons began singing for their father, a minister, and then as their own group. Towanda sings contralto. Her pain comes not from Toni splitting off, but later after sister Traci had left to have a baby, Tamar signed a solo contract without telling the two remaining sisters, who were still promoting themselves as an ensemble. Towanda was humiliated because everyone in the industry knew it while she was still working on projects for the trio. And furthermore, Trina, the last good sister, planned her wedding date close to the date that Towanda had chosen, forcing Towanda to elope. That sounds really passive-aggressive to me, and in fact Deborah shares in confessional that it word hurt a lot if her daughter felt the need to be married in secret. Also Towanda’s dad had to step down from the ministry so as not to publicly admit he cheated on his wife. He still preaches but Toni does not attend. Iyanla wants her to consider doing so in the future. Towanda is told that her goal will be to “discover your true self.” (This is a major departure from season one and something that has been expressed by women who have attended casting calls. The producers are urging applicants to have a concrete goal in mind for starting over, but in the end they are just picking women who are charismatic, and assigning them goals later.)
There will be an assignment for Towanda – she’s going to sing a cappella in a mall. She still sings all the time at Karaoke, so this will not push the comfort zone as much as Iyanla seems to think. On the phone, Towanda tells her husband someone was impressed about Toni – “you know who.” Towanda’s husband doesn’t understand the point of singing in the mall.
Rhonda and Sinae are together creating steps. We learn that at 18, Sinae is already a senior in college. She talks about her ex-boyfriend Matthew. They dated almost two years. It appears Sinae broke up with him because her parents don’t like him – her dad because he’s black. But yesterday she told us she has no relationship with her dad, so I suspect the real reason for the breakup is edited out. Sinae says they speak often though she hasn’t seen him since she went blind. Among things she admires about him: he’s the closest to perfect she’s ever known, and he adores her. Some of the steps will be: accepting blindness, redefining the role of her mother, and having a support network. Sinae says she would like a future where she meets her mother for lunch somewhere, rather than her mother coming to get her. (sheesh – is this about being blind or being 18!)
Josie is on the phone with a girlfriend who asks if Josie has bonded with anyone in the house. Josie instead tells her how impressed she is that she’s there with Toni Braxton’s sister. (You can probably tell how resentful I am that only Deborah gets called on this!)
At the mall, Iyanla is disappointed Towanda didn’t dress up, causing Towanda to wonder if this means she’s feeling more comfortable than she has a right to. This causes her to get a bit more jittery. Iyanla puts up a sign with the name “Towanda Smith” and introduces Towanda to the small audience. They applaud and she sings the National Anthem. Singing, she reminds me of “Gemini’s Twin” from Saturday Night Live. She also gets the words wrong. At the end of the song she does hold two long notes like a real singer, so I don’t know what the other thing is about. She thinks the assignment is over until Iyanla brings out another sign with “Towanda Braxton” and “Toni Braxton’s Sister” on it. She gets about the same reaction from her little audience.
Kim is shown alone with Deborah, who draws a card for Kim. the word is “victim” and Kim shares that she acted like a victim when she complained about the small room. The next card is “ugly” and Kim says she feels ugly so she puts on a lot of makeup. Deborah doesn’t get why Kim needs to tell her this, or tell anyone for that matter. In confessional she wonders how it relates to her and is quite sure that because Kim feels ugly without makeup, that means she thinks Deborah is ugly too. (OK, that IS narcissistic.) Deborah is shown challenging the validity of Kim’s assignment but Kim seems to stay cool and polite about it.
When Towanda gets home she tells Deborah about her assignment. Deborah asks her if she hit the high note and got all the words right, then starts singing it herself. Towanda narrates that this reminds her of people at karaoke trying to say “look, I can do it too.” (Not that Deborah’s right, but that’s arrogant of Towanda.) Apparently Deborah sings the National Anthem again and again as she works out (she’s not a bad singer really) and the other housemates are ready to cut their own ears off. They don’t like how she appears to be competing with everyone in the house, and Towanda narrates that it’s going to get worse before it gets better.