I’ve got good news and I’ve got some bad news (please read that last bit in a British accent and imagine me standing at a very tall podium).
First, the good news, which you may already know, depending on how much attention you pay to Total Divas news (I’m guessing, based on what I know about the readership of this feature, that most of you don’t actually watch the show and rely on me to bring you the highlights): Naomi is coming back next season. And she’ll be joined by Maryse, Renee Young, and Lana.
LANA, you guys. Lana, who has a Santino-grade commitment to kayfabe. Lana, who has been faking a Russian accent so long even she thinks it’s real. I can’t imagine what this is going to be like, but it’s either going to be spectacularly entertaining or train-wreck-grade terrible.
Beyond that, think of all the associated significant others and relatives who come along with these cast members: The Miz. DEAN AMBROSE, whose one and only unblurred appearance on Total Divas was a tour de force of comic relief on Daniel Bryan’s Patented Hippie Tour Of Arizona. RUSEV. The Uso-Fatus, who have consistently provided some of the greatest moments in Total Divas history.
More exciting still? The new/returning cast members are replacing Alicia Fox, Rosa Mendes and Mandy Rose — consistently the weakest and least interesting faces on Total Divas this season. The only thing that could make this better would be if it were filmed in an alternate timeline in which Titus O’Neil was never suspended and could be on hand to provide insight and hilarious tough love in each and every episode.
The bad news: We’ve still got a two-part season finale to slog through.
Part one, which aired this week, is so boring there’s almost nothing to say about it. Literally the highlight of the entire episode is the standalone cold open, during which Natalya and Nikki Bella go to see Chiropractor To The Superstars Dr. Tommy Rhee for some cryotherapy.
“Here’s the thing,” Dr. Rhee explains as he prepares the two wrestlers for their turns in the subfrigid tank. “It’s cold. You’re gonna be cold no matter what.”
“It’s almost like you’re standing naked in the Arctic,” Nattie says. Later, she adds: “There’s a reason why I don’t live (in Canada) anymore.”
Let’s be real clear: Nattie is not from the Arctic but from Calgary, which has basically the same climate as Montana. But OK.
The rest of the episode deals with the entire cast’s group trip to Paris, which they say is for work, but I don’t remember WWE having any tour dates in France on last fall’s European tour, so it seems they’re mostly there to do Total Divas press. (Yes, the problematic Season Five timeline rears its head yet again. We’ve bounced from July to December to back to October and who knows when else. During the episode, the Bellas mention they will return in a few weeks for their grandmother’s birthday trip; that trip would coincide with the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks.)
In a prior career, I was a senior staff member at an all-girls camp in the Northeast. Several times a summer, our older girls would go out of camp on overnight trips, and the change in scenery coupled with the standard hormonal turmoil of female adolescence generally resulted in the same kinds of predictable drama on every trip: Hurt feelings over motel roommate selection, arguments over activity choices, tears because one girl sat with a different group of friends than usual.
Apparently being a Total Diva is a lot like being a teenager at summer camp, because this is exactly what happens in Paris. Alicia Fox and Rosa Mendes are fighting because Rosa only cares about her baby and is stressing Fox out so Foxy decides to “cut her off.” Mandy feels ditched because Eva Marie hangs out with the Bella Twins. Paige and Foxy are miffed that at first no one wants to stay in their side of the massive pair of apartments the group is inhabiting. Foxy clears the air with Eva about a fight they had, like, eight episodes ago. And everyone gives Nattie a hard time because Tyson Kidd is the only man she’s ever been with.
For real, camp drama was way more intense than this.
In a moment that is supposed to be the emotional pinnacle of the episode, an outing to the Eiffel Tower turns into a surprise proposal when Rosa’s boyfriend/baby daddy, Awkward Bobby, shows up with a bunch of scattered rose petals and a way-too-big ring. (Like, the band is oversized for Rosa’s finger. The diamond itself does not seem out of place for this crowd.)
“It’s the most exciting time in my life right now,” Rosa gushes. She has to explain this because otherwise it is not very exciting for the viewer, I guess.
Missing from the supposed-to-be-romantic scene are Foxy (“I didn’t really want to be there, but I kind of feel bad for missing it a little bit … Everyone is so happy for her, but I still feel very ick about the whole situation”) and the Bellas, who have opted instead to wander Paris on their own. For Nikki, recently exiled to the injured list, the trip is a perfect excuse to drink wine and scarf carbs. Cue Bossy Brie, who rains on the private cheese tasting John Cena has arranged for the twins by harping on Nikki about having to work off the calories later. Nikki dismisses her sister as the cheese tasting host sets down a platter of brie.
“Are you excited to taste yourself?” Nikki asks.
When the Bellas go for a bike ride (joined by Eva, which hurts Mandy’s feelings when she’s left to join the other Divas on a shopping outing), Nikki and Eva (who are both riding in heels) enjoy the sights while Brie celebrates “burning them calories.”
“That’s not the point of riding bikes in Paris,” Nikki says.
“Not everyone has to show their stomachs five nights a week,” Brie points out. “I just don’t want you to throw your priorities out the window.”
Then neck-injured Nikki, still riding her bike, turns the argument up to Emotional Eleven.
“Did you ever think that maybe I’m doing this because I’m scared?” she shouts at Brie.
Eva starts to look like maybe she wishes she’d skipped bike riding and gone on the awkward market trip instead. (She’s not missing much. Rosa buys a baby outfit at Petit Bateau, which you can literally get in the U.S., and Foxy makes up with her, which is mostly a relief to Paige.)
Later in the day, Brie talks yet again about how she’s not indulging on the trip.
“Did you know that I have not eaten one macaron since I have been here?” she asks.
“Oh, I ate a whole sleeve for you,” Eva says.
But then they go to a sidewalk café for drinks and Brie, loosening up, orders some fries because she loves her sister (it totally makes sense in the context of the episode, trust me).
“Maybe I should go into Chanel next,” Brie says, threatening to really kick up her heels. But: “No. My husband would divorce me.”
Later there are more hurt feelings (the twins and Eva take a private macaron-making class and then go out to a fancy dinner at the restaurant from “Something’s Gotta Give,” reservations arranged by John Cena), which results in Mandy feeling left out and crying and talking about how she is starting to “see Eva’s true colors.”
“I’m not a kiss-ass, and I’m not gonna forget about it,” she says in a tone that is probably supposed to be ominous since, after all, this is part one of a two-part episode.
There is one truly entertaining scene in the entire episode, and it comes, as it so often does, at Nattie’s expense. Remember earlier I mentioned everyone giving her a hard time because TJ is her one and only? Paige decides it’s important to fix that. So she sets up easels and brings in a male model.
“Operation Let Nattie See Another Man’s Dick is underway,” Paige explains.
Obviously the model is going to get nude, and obviously he does this as the ersatz art lesson gets underway. Everyone except Nattie giggles like mature adults would, which is ironic since the whole point is supposed to be that they are more experienced and worldly. Nattie finally catches on that she’s supposed to be the butt (no pun intended) of the joke.
“Paige, this is disgusting,” Nattie says. To the model, she adds, politely: “I like your hair. It’s nice and glossy.”
Moral of the story: You can take the girl out of Canada, but you can’t deactivate the deep-seated cultural politeness. Even with awkward nudity. Also, you should definitely let John Cena plan your next trip to Paris.