In every family, there’s someone that doesn’t quite fit in, who’s not really accepted, and whose boring presence kind of ruins the show – basically, the “Cousin Oliver”. On Total Bellas, that’s Nikki’s new boyfriend, Artem. Though, to be fair, nobody else is really that much better. Check out the full recap for all the details.
The episode starts off with Nikki a fun scene where Birdie paints make-up all over aunt Nikki’s face. Nikki has to wash her face off, apparently, because she’s not there at the butterfly conservatory with the rest of the family. So she can’t get offended when Kathy says that she doesn’t want Artem in the family photo she’s planned for her birthday.
Brie gets why, because you can see John Cena in her wedding photo, and after he and Nikki broke up, it’s weird. In other words, Brie assumes that NIkki and Artem are likely to break up at some point. Kathy says that unless and until Artem and Nikki are married, he’s not part of the family.
Later, JJ says he wants to invite everyone for dinner later that week. He and his wife Lauren don’t think Nikki will go, because they’re not so close. He also thinks that Nikki likes Birdie more than she likes his loser kids. Brie says that it feels that way only because Nikki spends so much time with Brie and her family, which kind of proves his point, but whatever.
In a talking head segment, Brie says that her car was stolen a few days earlier, right out of her driveway. The police call her and let her know that they’ve found her car. Brie’s been scared ever since it happened, and she blames Bryan to some degree, because she’s had to deal with this alone while he’s been on the road.
The next day, Nikki and Kathy are out shopping, and Kathy tells her about her family photo plan. Nikki gets upset that Kathy doesn’t want Artem in the photo, and says that Kathy and the rest of the family aren’t taking her relationship seriously. In a talking head segment, Kathy confirms that’s the case. Nikki tells her that if she doesn’t want Artem there, she’ll have to tell him. Kathy decides to take two photos, one without him that he won’t know about, and then one with him that she’ll put up whenever he come over. This is a plot right out of a bad TV sitcom from the 70s.
Later, Brie and Birdie go to pick up and inspect her car. The car’s a mess, and has bullet shells in it among the trash that the thieves left inside it. This frightens Brie a lot, thinking about what could have happened had she’d been home when the car was stolen. So, as you do when you’re in the middle of a traumatic crisis, she decides to throw a Downton Abbey-themed cocktail party that night at a friend’s bar.
Nikki hopes that people will use the party as an opportunity to get to know Artem a bit more. He decides to teach them how to dance the box-step, which – go figure – isn’t enough for Kathy to change her bad two-picture plan.
At the party, Brie tells Nikki what JJ and Lauren said about Nikki hating their kids. Nikki dismisses this as nonsense. Nikki thinks that JJ is just jealous of the twins, and then trash-talks JJ and Lauren.
The next day, Brie tells Bryan about the car but other than feel bad for her, there’s nothing he can do. Brie is still shaken up, and doesn’t want to be alone at home. So she’s disappointed that Nikki has to leave the next day and won’t be able to stay over for a while.
Later that day, Brie heads to JJ’s for the family dinner. Kathy’s there already, and so is some random named Maya (maybe Lauren’s sister?), but Nikki’s a no-show. Turns out she’s at a restaurant with Artem. Nikki tries to pimp out Artem to dance for the waitress in exchange for free pie, but he doesn’t. The guy has no personality, and literally one single life skill, and he won’t even do that. Nikki should dump this ratings-suck and go back to John Cena and beg him to take her back.
Anyway, Brie calls her, and Nikki brushes off JJ’s party. She passive-aggressively says that she doesn’t want go in case she offends the loser kids if she so much as smiles at Birdie. With JJ and Lauren offending her with their comments, and Kathy dissing Artem, Nikki says she doesn’t want to hang out with her family anymore.
Nikki starts venting about JJ to Artem. Artem boringly suggests that JJ may be jealous of the twins’ relationship. Nikki gets it, but because the whole family is immature – seriously, Birdie seems to be the only brains in the family, and she’s two years old – she’s not going to do anything to change it. Instead, she texts JJ and says she’s not coming. While JJ is understandably ticked off about this, Nikki is non-plussed, focusing more on having a pie fight with Artem.
Bryan is back at home, and Brie suggests that while he’s there, they get some new security features installed on their property, including a security gate in the back. He understands her concerns, and offers his suggestions for security systems as well. They get the security systems put in place, but while they provide her with some comfort, she deep down she won’t feel fully-safe until Bryan is off the road and living with her full-time.
It’s photo day, and Kathy, JJ, and Lauren are in a park waiting for the twins. And, woo hoo! Johnny Ace sighting. Kathy spells out the two-photo plan to JJ and Lauren, who are just like, SMH. JJ and Lauren say that they have plans, so may not have time for everyone to get there, take a photo, and then wait for Artem to come and then take another.
Then, to make matters worse, as the family is hiking over to the photo spot, the skies are darkening and threatening to open up in a huge storm. Speaking of shade, JJ throws some of his own at Nikki, sarcastically noting that she’s standing right beside Birdie, and then taking more potshots about it.
The whole family starts arguing about it, and JJ and Nikki start screaming at each other. Johnny becomes the voice of reason, separating the two and breaking up the argument and suggest they all go back to their cars to dry off. As the family heads to the cars, guess who should show up but Artem. JJ, still hot-headed about everything that’s happened, blabs to Artem about Kathy’s plan, angering Kathy. Everyone leaves, angry with one another.
A week later, Kathy, Nikki, and Artem go to a wine and zoo experience. The three of them take a picture beside a giraffe, who, in his two seconds on screen, shows more charisma than Artem has all season. Nikki and Artem tease Kathy about her ill-fated photo plan (the pictures ended up being terrible, as everyone was caught mid-argument and in bad weather), but they all kind of laugh it off.
Kathy then tells Artem why she didn’t want him in the picture, which is because of her own experiences with having to take family photos down because they included exes in them. She says she would love Artem to eventually be in the photos as a true member of the familiy – in other words, as Nikki’s husband. Personally, if they do get married, I think they should make sure he’s at the very end of the photo, so when they do eventually break up, they can easily trim him out of the photo. Win-win. Except nobody wins if he’s around. But for the photo logistics, it would work. He teases proposing to Nikki, and they all laugh.
The next day, Nikki invites Brie, JJ, and Lauren to a kids’ museum, so she can hang out with all of her neices and nephews together, and also make up with JJ. There’s tension between her and JJ, but they talk it out. JJ explains that he wants to make sure that Nikki has a good relationship with his kids, because they really don’t know her, despite her being their aunt. Nikki says she wants to be more in their lives, and will make an effort to do so. They make up, and the family is united once more.
Bob Kapur likes pie. E-mail him a slice at [email protected].