Jen, Towanda, Kim and Sommer are grousing about the good grade Josie received at the previous evening’s Board of Review. Sommer says Josie has learned to impersonate Rhonda to get on her good side, which would not have worked if she had Iyanla for a life coach.
Then we see Iyanla showing Jen how she “steps into” her name. Whenever she hears her name, Iyanla imagines herself stepping into it and feeling grand. She tries to get Jen to do the same but Jen looks awkward doing it. They try it a couple more times, Iyanla encouraging Jennifer to grow all the way up, that Little Jennifer will become Lady Jennifer. Jen takes off what’s left of her necklace of labels, saying “These are HER labels.” Iyanla declares this a breakthrough and Jennifer closes her eyes and imagines that she is calling up the beauty, grace, excitement, freedom, that hearing her own name should bring. (I might try that one myself.)
Next it’s up to the loft where everyone gets to see Sinae’s completed steps on the plasma screen. She’s crying because it will be sad not to see the others graduate. (actually in Season One, the women did come back to attend each others’ graduations.) There is a knock on the door of the loft and it’s Andy Paige, a graduate from Season One. (Andy started her company Cents of Style after graduation. She’s an expert at beauty and something she calls “strategically building your wardrobe for $100.00 or less.” (I am hoping to someday be able to ask Andy if it’s possible to find great bargains and still buy American, which is an important principle for some of us.) Andy asks Sinae what she would like to be telling the world and Sinae says she’s just tired of announcing “I am a college student” with jeans and t-shirts. Andy explains she can still wear nice jeans, and maybe dress them up with good shoes, a jacket or handbag. They go shopping to build what Andy calls “a polished, pretty look.” She gets an idea of how much Sinae can see in the store and they explore shopping on a budget while sticking to the rule of 3’s: that each item you buy must go with at least 3 things already in your closet and be able to be worn in 3 different ways. (Uh oh. I flunked.) Andy narrates that Sinae’s catching on really well.
Cut to Rhonda, unzipping a suitcase for Josie. All Josie’s “burdens” will go into it so that Josie can “pack up all the baggage and move it all out of the Starting Over house.” Rhonda suggests different things to signify Josie’s burdens, like single parenthood, memories of Grandma, being a burden to friends. Josie adds a cell phone and empty wallet to signify how Chloe’s father gives her a hard time whenever she asks for money. More loud swearing in front of the baby as she gets ready to drag the suitcase around the house with her all day.
Then we are invited to text a question to Rhonda, who might pick your question to answer. (My question would be, why don’t you wash Josie’s mouth out with soap.)
Andy and Sinae are discussing fit. Andy narrates that Sinae can feel when something fits properly. She gives practical advice, like all tops should be no more than 3 to 5 inches below the hip, to make your legs look longer. They look at fun chunky jewelry and then go off to meet Michelle, who Andy describes as “a really famous celebrity stylist.”
Josie drags her suitcase out to where the roommates are playing cards, swearing at the top of her lungs but clearly revelling in her newfound attitude of co-operation. Rhonda notices the roommates’ bad mood.
Back to Andy, who’s talking babytalk to Sinae. (Please let it be because Sinae’s 18 and not because she’s blind!) Sinae is up for anything, and Andy says they will darken her white hair and add bangs.
Then more of Josie swearing about having to drag the bag everywhere with her, even to the bathroom. On the baby monitor, Chloe has woken from a nap and Josie is out at the pool with her bag. The roommates discuss whether they are expected to care for the baby, or tell Josie she’s awake. Sommer finally gets Chloe up and brings her downstairs. They’re all irritated that Josie did not ask anyone to watch the baby, so Sommer leaves a message on Rhonda’s voicemail to ask for a clarification. (Read: TATTLING)
Josie abandons her bag for a minute and the others are p-o’d that now she has neither Chloe nor her assignment, so they hide the bag. When Josie asks where it is, at first they pretend not to know, but finally Jen relents and tells her. Josie narrates she knows there’s more to the aggression, and that she’s proud of herself for moving forward and disappointed that they are not. After a while Sommer offers to explain, and she & Josie go upstairs to talk. Towanda eavesdrops from downstairs. Sommer explains to Josie that they are all back to walking on eggshells with her, and Josie retorts that this is because of their own insecurities. Towanda, agitated, tells Kim, “She feed’n Sommah bullsh*t and Sommah eat’n it!” (Unlike swearing, ebonics is fun, if the person doing it happens to be ethnic.) Towanda narrates that Sommer’s a people pleaser and Josie has a way of attacking until you back down. And in fact, that seems to be exactly what is going on, as Josie skillfully gets Sommer to backpedal. Josie believes the others are jealous of her progress. Then she turns on the waterworks and makes it be about Chloe. Towanda, still listening, tells Kim Josie is brainwashing Sommer.
We see Andy helping Sinae practice blending makeup by feel, so she can look pretty and polished but not overdone. Sinae’s hair is finished but we only see it from the back, and she looks just like Jennifer!
Sommer comes downstairs to start spinning for Josie. She doesn’t feel Josie has manipulated them, just that she made a mistake. Jen retorts that a mistake is something you do once, and that ya don’t leave your daughter alone.
Next Josie meets with Dr. Stan and they talk about how having a child doesn’t automatically mean you have a burden, but it can often seem that way because now you are a package deal. Josie announces that she is a burden to everyone in the house except Sommer, because “we had a talk.”
Then cut back to Sommer defending Josie to the other women and Towanda, sarcastically, “ooh, that’s good for you.” (I believe Towanda could cut a person to ribbons in 3 words or less, and no doubt has.)
Dr. Stan is trying to look at things from Josie’s point of views. “OK, you didn’t do your assignment right so they hid it.” He encourages Josie to invite them to explain why they did it, and asks her what she would say if they did. This gets her to crying, so he continues the role play and asks “what if I’m telling you you’re not responsible with your daughter?” Josie replies that it makes her feel like she’s a bad person. Dr. Stan asks if it’s possible to be a great mom yet not be perfect. She acknowledges it is, and he urges her to go inside, take everything out of the bag and think of positive meanings to turn the burdens into gifts. Josie is also getting up the guts to ask the houseguests why they are upset.
We get a preview of Andy sneaking Sinae back into the house. Sinae’s wearing a scarf and sunglass and looks like Julia Louis-Dreyfus playing Elaine Bennis playing Jackie Onassis.
Josie confronts the housemates and they hedge, telling her it’s not Josie per se but really the Board of Review. Josie tells them she wants them to know they reflected it onto her. She gives them the dickens for it and then proceeds to make it be about Chloe. Jen calls her on this, and Josie interrupts, tells Jen she’s entitled to her opinion and Josie’s not trying to change it but really wants to know how Jen feels. But she makes sure Jen can’t finish the thought. This is actually an improvement for Josie because she’s staying with it, and even though she’s not listening, at least she doesn’t seem to be screaming with the baby in her arms. Towanda speaks up and says she’s afraid Josie is going to punish them by withholding Chloe, and Josie promises that was the “old” her. Kim says they really just all had a bad day because of Sinae leaving. (Coward.) Josie, satisfied, leaves to go finish her baggage assignment and Towanda sends her out with a cutting verbal pretend-cheery flip-off.
Then we see Andy sneaking Sinae around to a back door. It’s hard for Sinae with sunglasses in the dark, but she doesn’t stumble very much.
The women put on their Sunday best for Sinae’s graduation. They go out to the pool. Chloe’s not there. Before Sinae gets there, they are each given a candle in a glass cup to set afloat on the pool to symbolize their wishes for Sinae, and then they seat themselves. (Much safer than last year’s ceremonies where the graduate had to walk down the living room stairs with a roommate on each step holding a candle. I was always quite sure they would set the guest of honor on fire.) Andy guides Sinae out the door and everyone is astounded at her new look. (She does look older and very pretty. She still looks exactly like Jen from behind.) Rhonda does highlights of Sinae’s stay in the house – holding her new cane like it was a dead rat, her courage using public transportation and asking for independence from her mother. Rhonda tells Sinae she hopes she believes she can accomplish all the dreams she had before losing her sight. Iyanla gives her usual spiel about what a great opportunity it has been to know her, and lots of advice culminating in “you must never give up 5 minutes before the miracle.” (I like that one.)
Doctor Stan tells her never to get too smart or too confident to ask for help.The women all get to give their parting comments. They are all genuinely nice to her. Sinae is still trying to get used to her new bangs while they are calling her “Nay Nay.” Iyanla presents the graduation gifts: a closed-caption TV/reading machine to replace the one she has borrowed from the Braille Institute, and some software to enlarge type and add sound on a computer. Sinae offers a silly speech to each Life Coach, telling Rhonda she’s not to hot to be a mama, exhorting Iyanla to stay in her own world in the big world, and telling Dr. Stan he taught her it’s ok if your clothes don’t match. Rhonda asks Sinae to stay by the pool to contemplate her stay in the house while she leads the others topside to prepare for the goodbye. Sinae narrates that at first she was scared she would not be accepted in the blind community as well as not being able to get around like she wants. She comes up to the driveway and they are all lined up with a flower, including Chloe, who doesn’t recognize Sinae with the new hair and screams when Sinae holds her.
Sommer narrates that whoever comes to the house next will turn the house upside down for a while and that she’s scared to have a new roommate.