“Total Divas” Season Three (Episodes Eight and Nine: “Cross Country Catastrophe” and “No Longer the Bridesmaid”)

This week, it’s another “Total Divas” double-header, but this time there’s a twist: Nikki Bella is the voice of reason.


In the course of two hours of “unscripted” TV, there are no fewer than a half-dozen moments at which the person who endorses the sanest, most commonsensical course of action is the same woman who last week complained about drinking “sink water.”

Also, Stephanie McMahon is in this episode and literally nothing else matters because she talks about the importance of good breast health while sitting in front of a “Triple H: Thy Kingdom Come” promotional poster. So I probably should have waited until the end to tell you about that, because it’s all downhill from here.

The evening’s first episode opens with Brie telling the story, from her perspective, of her injured husband, Bryan “Daniel Bryan” Danielson,” chasing down the guy they caught robbing the Braniel manse.

“Which is not a smart thing to do,” Nikki wisely points out.

Yeah, that’s right. Nikki Bella displays better judgment than Daniel Bryan. Chew on that for a while. (Nikki also points out that the robber probably really meant it when he told the Braniels he was sorry, since he’d broken into their house only to discover that everything in it is recycled.)

The Braniels are going to be walking the red carpet at the Teen Choice Awards, which means Brie needs a new dress.

“High five for shopping,” Brie tells Daniel/Bryan.

“For what?” he responds.

Thrifty-to-the-point-of-stupidity B.D. Bryan tries to take Brie shopping in her closet. For a red carpet outfit. Because despite being a celebrity, he has absolutely no idea what a celebrity is. Also, imagine Daniel Bryan as your stylist.

Also, imagine sharing a bank account with Bryan Danielson, who has set up text alerts that appear specifically tailored to let him know every time Brie spends money on something he’ll find annoying, like a $400 birthday dinner for Mama Bella or a $22 coffee shop outing with Nikki. Brie despairs about finding a Teen Choice Awards outfit.

Nikki is again the voice of reason (I AM NOT KIDDING) and takes Brie to a “vintage couture” boutique (read: designer resale), where Brie finds a gently used Dolce dress. And then asks Nikki to buy it so she can pretend it was a present.

After walking the red carpet (which is actually blue) and hearing the number of questions Brie gets about her dress, Daniel Bryan Danielson apparently comes to and realizes his famous wife is famous, telling her in the car:

“You’re right. Dresses are important for your branding.”

It’s all fun and games until I realize that DANIEL BRYAN IS WEARING A BURBERRY DRESS SHIRT. That’s right — Mr. Freecycle Goat Face Penny Pincher is sporting a shirt with a sticker price around $275. I call shenanigans, E! Network. I call serious shenanigans.

Moving on.

Summer Rae is on a campaign to prove she’s still the villain, bringing onetime Rosa Mendes love interest and milquetoast Cleveland Brown Gary Barnidge backstage at Raw, where of course they run into Rosa who also works there. She pulls Summer aside and they have a predictably hostile exchange about why Summer is a lying tramp.

“I didn’t lie,” Summer says. “You didn’t ask me am I going out with him.”

Rosa compliments herself for not punching Summer in the face.

“It’s not part of your program,” Summer sasses back.

Poor rejected Rosa spends a good chunk of the episode going on ill-fated dates with a couple of other guys — a 23-year-old saved Christian who takes her to a trampoline park and tells her he’s saving himself for marriage and a muscly meathead she met on Instagram who lets her flirt with him and then says he’s not into girls who are too pushy.

So Rosa and Nattie go out to a lesbian bar, which seems like a questionable idea for a handful of reasons. Rosa flirts with another woman and then kisses her while Nattie talks to a friend about vitamins, which you kind of get the sense is the story of Nattie’s life.

Rosa ends up sauntering back to the hotel about 5 a.m., according to Nattie, who takes a break from a phone call about her cats to confront Rosa about the possibility of a relapse.

(Nattie’s phone call, by the way, includes her saying this: “I want to cut his fur, but I can’t — I’m still waiting for Cat Fancy to figure out what they want to do.”)

Rosa finally admits that she’s “like, more into guys, but I have been with girls before,” and then slowly reveals that all her relationships with men have been disasters and in fact men probably have been her biggest drinking trigger. In Nikki Bella’s absence, Nattie dispenses some sound advice:

“If you enjoyed kissing that girl, then so be it … She’s got a nice set of breasts on her, so.”

Back in Florida, Eva Marie and Jonathan are moving back across the country to California with a couples’ road trip with Ariane/Cameron and Vinnie. Some F-minus poor judgment follows, including Eva Marie being allowed to tow a trailer and Ariane thinking it’s a good idea to ride on the trailer hitch while Eva drives her around.

These are the things that go wrong before they even leave a parking lot.

“Jonathan’s gonna have a mental breakdown,” Eva says. Before they even load the truck.

Good news, though: Uptight Jonathan has made everyone itineraries so they can budget their time! The group decides he needs to blow off steam by throwing things off the balcony. Including a mattress. It hits some other balconies on the way down. Again: Have not left the parking lot.

Once they do get on the road, they go to a tractor museum, where everyone takes turns driving a tractor and taking selfies, which makes Jonathan seriously murderous. Especially when the delay forces them to re-route and share a single room in Mobile, Alabama, that must be accessed using directions secured in a coded lockbox. Their bed and breakfast turns out to be a creepy haunted mansion. “We’re in an episode of f–king Scooby Doo,” Jonathan says.

Later, at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, Eva and Jonathan argue about whose fault it is that they’re having a terrible time. It’s obviously Eva’s fault because she’s the absolute worst, but she makes it Jonathan’s fault, also because she’s the absolute worst. In the car, they argue more, which makes Vinnie and Ariane argue, and then everyone is additionally miserable, including the viewer.

Cross-Country Death March 2014 pulls into San Antonio, where Eva suggests they jettison the UHaul, hire some movers and book flights to Los Angeles. Eva feels bad about the whole thing, although not bad enough to handle all the logistics herself instead of handing them off to Jonathan.

As you may recall from last week, Ariane in a moment of generosity asked Nikki Bella to be her realtor, a premise that smacked of disaster from the outset.

“If I could choose my house, it would definitely be something like John Cena’s,” says Ariane. And also every person ever who likes houses at all.

But Ariane lives in the real world. So when Nikki shows her a $2.75 million property made entirely from steel girders and glass, they have to have a little heart-to-heart about how people who are not John Cena live.

“Nikki is definitely a little cray-cray to even show me this,” Ariane says.

Turns out it’s all part of Nikki’s strategy to manage Ariane’s expectations. She takes Ariane to look at a perfectly decent property priced at $1.4 million. It looks like John Cena’s house’s baby sister of a house.

Vinnie falls in love with the house and then falls right out of love with it when he hears the price. (Vinnie, in case you are unaware since it’s never been discussed on the show until now, drives an armored truck for a living.)

Nikki can’t bring the price down on the house, so Ariane and Vinnie come up with a great solution: She can waive her commission so they can afford it! Nikki says no, Ariane blames Nikki for having shown them a nice house in the first place, Nikki basically says she didn’t know Vinnie couldn’t afford a nice house, Ariane fires Nikki as her realtor, and Nikki makes some remarks about her time having been wasted before peacing out.

Later, Nikki corners Ariane in the makeup room at work and there are halfway apologies all around without anyone ever actually apologizing. Textbook “Total Divas.”

Eva Marie, as you may recall, is already married but is getting married again for some complicated reason that has to do with her dad having had cancer for a long time. The Bellas corner Eva and Brie tries to force her to be sad about her dad having cancer.

“We’re at work — like, what the f–k?” Eva says in a talking head.

Brie is troubled by Eva’s refusal to be publicly sad.

“If that’s how she handles it and that makes her sane and makes her stronger, then let her.” Nikki says.

Yes, that’s right. The same Nikki who earlier this season was asked what she planned to say in a loving intervention with her sister and could only come up with “stop being a bitch.”

They go off to look at the cookies in catering but not eat them, which provides the opportunity for a perfect segue into the Bella Twins’ entrance music. Because, you know, you can look, but you can’t touch.

Back home, Brie tells Bryan D. Bryan about her interaction with Eva, and he points out that when his dad died, he didn’t necessarily want to be weeping around the office with people whose job it is to beat him up.

She decides to throw Eva a bridal shower. Daniel B. Danielson suggests a Transformers theme. Then he says, “Dean Ambrose offered to throw me a bachelor party and you said no.”

What kind of bachelor party do you think Dean Ambrose would plan? Don’t worry, Brie knows:

“He wanted to take you to a strip club and get you motorboated by a stripper.”

Which requires some clarification from Mr. Braniel:

“OK — I would not be motorboated, I would be the one doing the motorboating.”

For her part, Eva complains to Jonathan about her Bellavention, and he tries to talk her into actually confronting her fears about her dad.

“I don’t think that I’m in denial whatsoever, so f–k off for that,” she says.

“I mean, I get that you’re upset, but I hope that we could talk about it as husband and wife and not have a situation where when I try to talk about it you tell me to f–k off.” Wishful thinking, son. #allredeverything

The Bellas and Jonathan put their heads together, and the result is a surprise bridal shower for (lest you forget, already-married) Eva Marie. There’s a tea party, and then Jonathan shows up with a new, upgraded ring that Eva Marie would later spend a lot of time Instagramming IRL. Oh, and she and Brie apologize or whatever, and then Eva gets real with her mom and asks to be kept up-to-date on her dad’s health. And then she calls her dad to tell him she loves him.

Speaking of marriages, Natalya’s continues to fall apart. Probably because a tough-love-scared-straight scenario played out so well earlier this season with Ariane and her teenage brother, Nattie takes Tyson “TJ” Kidd to meet with a divorce attorney to learn about the real cost of divorce. It’s perfect because TJ is about as mature as a 14-year-old.

“Don’t forget to blame me for everything,” Nattie says to TJ on the way in. So clearly everyone is coming into this with a positive attitude!

Everything is going as well as can be expected until the attorney explains that courts don’t set up joint custody arrangements for animals. So Nattie and TJ decide the most practical thing to do is to live in separate bedrooms in their house until they decide how to manage custody of the cats.

Nattie brings Naomi/Trinity over to drink wine and drown her marital sorrows, and she discovers that TJ has failed to brush poop out of one of the cats’ tails.

“There’s always somebody who’s got it worse,” Trinity says, temporarily filling in for Nikki Bella as the voice of reason.

TJ shows up and picks a fight, after which Nattie throws his clothes out on the lawn while Trinity scolds her.

“I came over to have a glass of wine and relax,” Trin says. “Now I’m outside picking up laundry off the lawn.”

Trinity and TJ have a little heart-to-heart and then it’s Nattie’s turn to pick a fight, and the upshot is that both Natalya and Tyson Kidd seem like they would be nightmarish to be married to, so they’re probably perfect for one another.

Later, Nattie gets passive-aggressive about housework, TJ gets passive-aggressive about blame, and he packs up his stuff to leave so they won’t fight anymore. Then TJ shows up at Raw despite not being on the main roster, and Nattie loses her mind in perhaps the first reality TV argument to ever be drowned out by the sound of entrance pyro.

Which provides Nikki Bella yet another opportunity to be the only grown-up in the room.

“We’re backstage at Raw,” Nikki says. “I’m like, hey guys, you need to take this somewhere else because this is a work environment and that is not OK.” At which point I start to wonder if there are really three Bellas and there is some kind of Triplet Magic going on here.

Hopefully next week’s season finale will tackle the pressing question of who is this person and what has she done with the real Nikki Bella?