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Secrets and Lies – Starting Over, 9/17/04

The show opens with Josie on the phone to Rhonda. Deborah is packing. Rhonda is narrating that Josie left the house at Jonathan’s urging before the baby was born and ended up begging to come back, so Josie feels a personal stake in keeping Deborah from doing the same thing. Rhonda asks to speak with Deborah who is still dressing, so Josie sends Kim to the phone in the meantime. Kim tells Rhonda everything seemed fine until 6 this morning when she got up and saw Deborah’s journal in the trash and she was going home. Deborah gets to the phone and reminds Rhonda she promised to stay for 3 days, the 3 days is up and she feels even worse. She’s tired, worn out, and can diet and exercise at home without having to be phony and kiss ass.

The cab (it’s a minivan) is outside and Josie pays the driver and sends him away. (Josie is really taking initiative this season. Suddenly she’s not sitting back and pretending to be stupid so people will give her stuff. I hope she likes herself better this way. She’s still braying into the camera in confessional though.) Rhonda gets Deborah to promise to wait for her. In the kitchen, Jennifer is sitting cross-legged on the counter dissing Deborah. Kim mentions that she has already started to lose weight. Deborah is hauling her luggage upstairs and outside to wait for Rhonda on the porch. Kim tells her she’s glad she’s waiting and tells her they sent the cab away. Deborah cries as Towanda tells her it’s because the other women don’t want her to leave. (Could-a fooled me.) Deborah tells Kim she doesn’t like being humiliated and taught about patience, and now she doesn’t want to share her story, knowing how the others feel about her. If Rhonda doesn’t get there by 9, she’s calling the cab again. Rhonda arrives and Deborah tells her she appreciates the effort the women are making to get her to stay. Rhonda tells her it is because they want her here. (yeah right) They go inside where everyone is waiting for a group meeting. Deborah tells them that in a group, everyone assumes a role and she has become the bitch, the one who talks too much. Rhonda says she can now be the truth-teller. (oh, so now it’s ok.) Deborah promises to stay until the end of the month and all the women act thrilled as she goes off to breakfast. Jennifer narrates that she would like Deborah to start fresh but doesn’t expect it to happen.

Next we see Deborah driving alone. She gets out of the van and makes a cell phone call. We can barely hear her, so there are subtitles. She is talking to someone wanting to know if a man has gotten her messages, that he and Deborah were having champagne to celebrate her being on Starting Over, the condom broke and he needs to concoct a reason for her to fly to San Diego for a couple of days to get this taken care of, because soon she will start to show. Luckily we go to commercial because I need to scrape my jaw up off the floor. This is not the greatest position to be in, at 46, in questionable health and all alone.

When we come back from commercial it’s the middle of the night. The backyard is on fire the firetrucks are showing up. I think, but I don’t know for sure, that the crew leaves at night and there are security cams in the bedrooms, because late night bedroom shots are always black & white and always from above. We see the women being awakened by the firetrucks. I believe the crew re-staged the flames at a later time and added it in. The fire was started by a homeless person who sneeked in through an unlocked gate. The women kick themselves for not keeping things locked. (Do they not know how many fans found the house and spied on them in Chicago last season?) It’s interesting to see what people grab when fleeing a fire. Josie got the baby, Towanda got the baby bag; Kim got Jennifer and Sinae; Deborah got a framed picture of her daughter and a diamond bracelet. In the morning they are all trying to recover. Towanda is on the couch with Chloe asleep on her chest. Deborah is eating and Kim tells her chicken for breakfast is disgusting. Deborah tells her the best breakfast is a cheeseburger and some onion rings. She does not seem offended by Kim’s comments. They act like friends. Deborah tells Kim she will be brief today when it’s time to tell her story because she does not want to have them get to know her. Kim tells her she wants to know the story and that she’s hurt Deborah doesn’t want Kim to know her. Kim advises Deborah to say exactly what she would have said all along and Deborah is surprised. (Did somebody threaten these people to start being nice to her??)

Iyanla and Towanda work on discovering what’s beneath Towanda’s armor. Iyanla suggests different emotions and Towanda acknowledges that she’s offended by the way her singing career turned out; that she’s hurt by her parents’ divorce. She knew about it before her mother, and it was a damaging secret to keep. Apparently “secret squirrel” is Towanda’s nickname for herself. When Iyanla asks a question, I get the impression she is working from extensive background information, like when she tells Towanda there are problems in the Braxton house that pre-date her father’s affair. In fact the father was extremely strict with the girls and they never tasted freedom until Toni – she holds up a hand – became TONI – she waves both hands in a big arc. Towanda shares that she forgives but has a hard time forgetting. She wants to be right so she creates a fantasy scenario and has to protect it from being wrong. I wonder if this refers to her eloping because her sister’s wedding date was too close to hers. We aren’t given any examples. Iyanla narrates that Towanda doesn’t feel in any hurry to discover herself, but that she’s really a “quiet storm”.

Jennifer’s on the phone telling someone “the crazy lady” tried to leave. Jennifer says she is loud, talks over people and did apologize, but it still leaves Jennifer drained, She doesn’t understand why they couldn’t have just let Deborah go.

In the loft, everyone applauds that it’s Deborah’s day to dish. (that’s it, they were either threatened or bribed.) The first picture on the plasma screen is her adolescent daughter Aja next to the red convertible Deborah bought herself for her 40th birthday. Then a photo of her father. They worked together until she was 30, and he has passed away. The next is her wedding picture. Her husband’s name was Edwardo; she called him “Cardinal”. She said that was the happiest time of her life: cute husband, cute baby, even her dog was cute. Then after they had been married 3 years he was killed by a drunk driver. She got to the hospital thinking he only had broken arms and legs when in fact he was unrecognizable. A machine was breathing for him and when she lifted him to hold him, the back of his head was not there. At the funeral home, she was so shocked she checked with them to see if he had somehow come back to life. She relates that Aja, who was 11 months old, walked for the first time at the funeral, and did it perfectly. Iyanla tells her it’s because the baby knew that without a father, she would now have to walk alone. :roll: There is another photo, Deborah’s brother Jerry who was supportive to her when she lost Cardinal, and who died prematurely of pneumonia. Jennifer narrates that by now, even she is starting to feel compassion for Deborah. Josie narrates that she’s envious that Deborah has had 3 special men in her life. Iyanla wants to know if Deborah has let go of her three heroes so someone else can come in. This is where Deborah mentions she’s had 300 blind dates and has been celibate for many years. (What, it doesn’t count if the condom breaks???) Next there is a photo of a thin Deborah just 2 years ago. Deborah says she has gained 50 pounds due to a sedentary lifestyle. Rhonda narrates Deborah is in for a shock when she realizes her weight is just a symptom. Deborah is told her goal is to claim her womanhood. She amends it to REclaim.

The group is told they are to meet again tonight with someone special who will work with them “in different and particular ways.”

Deborah meets with Marcus, a personal trainer. She tells him she has 42DD’s and does not want to do any bouncing. They discuss diet and she is firm that she will not eat skinless chicken. She does compromise on cotton candy though, promising to eat one handful instead of a bag at a time.

Towanda is on the phone with her husband. She tells him her goal is “getting to know Towanda”. She lists her steps: get to know self; get to know priorities; learn to forgive; build communication skills; and build family relationships. He sighs like he doesn’t think it’s possible.

Cut to Marcus narrating that the biggest challenge for Deborah will just be “her doing it”.

Next the ladies are back together for the special group session, except Deborah who is late. The women wonder if the special visitor will be “a dude” as Kim puts it. Jennifer mocks her for using that word but Kim is not shown reacting. Deborah arrives. the women ask if she has been at the gym for four hours and she lets them believe she got lost coming home. (I think she spent part of the time making the cell phone call that was shown earlier in the show.)

The visitor is a man after all. It’s Dr. Stan Katz, clinical psychologist. He announces he will be the man of the house and wants to know what they think of it. Sinae reminds him he’s the man of the LOFT. Jennifer’s baby talk gets worse than ever and everyone is tense. They discuss the fact that all the women have man issues resulting from their relationships with their dads. Even Deborah, the one with a good paternal relationship, is messed up because she expects men to be reliable and dependable. (Shame!) Josie is shown putting the baby to bed and narrating that she hopes someday Chloe’s father will acknowledge her. Then she says she thinks it’s already affected her at six months old (:shrug:), so she hates to see what will happen when she’s 16.

The closing scene is Deborah on the phone with her daughter. Up until now I have defended her, identified with her, commiserated with her. Then I hear her berating her daughter because Aja has failed at some task where she was supposed to call someone pretending to be her mother to get some information. Deborah asks “do you feel like a human being? Do you feel like the person that you should be?” Then tells Aja she will not raise a child with excuses and orders her to do it and report back.
The previews show Rhonda asking Deborah if she is pregnant. There are also allusions to more closed-eye sessions with Iyanla and something about Josie having to imagine life without Chloe.

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