The men in Brie and Nikki’s lives take center stage in this week’s episode of Total Bellas, as Bryan and Artem learn how to become better fathers. And the girls learn how to be better daughters to Kathy. And if that introduction sounds kinder and gentler than most of my introductions to this show, blame the ayahuasca, because I took a dose of it the size of Birdie’s terrible attitude. But don’t worry… watching this show is enough to ruin anyone’s high. Meaning the rest of this recap is as scornful and snarky as ever – and deservedly so.
The girls and Artem – so… the girls – are shopping for maternity clothes, and Brie tells the others that Bryan is taking her to Flagstaff for their “babymoon”. Apparently, this is a honeymoon people have before their baby arrives. Nikki invites her and Artem to the babymoon, even though Brie doesn’t want them there, and she doesn’t think Bryan will either, because Nikki.
At home, Kathy calls the girls and Nikki invites her to the babymoon as well. Brie tries to dissuade her from going, but Kathy has absolutely nothing else going on in her life, so she’s in. Brie is worried about having to tell Bryan about this development because she knows he’ll start screaming “No! No! No!”
Nikki and Artem are talking what to name the baby – they have already chosen Matteo as his first name, and Artem wants to give him a traditional Russian middle name, but it’s too hard for Nikki to say, much less spell. Nikki is surprised to learn that Artem doesn’t have a will. I assume she means a will to live because he’s married to her, but she actually means a living will.
They continue their planning, which next involves them picking Godparents for the kid. It’s assumed that Brie would be the Godmother, but they want to confirm if Bryan would be interested in being the Godfather. He gets all uppity when they tell him that the baby is going to be baptized, arguing that the kid should get to choose his own religion. His lecture prompts Nikki to ixnay him as Godfather.
Brie bought Bryan a bicycle to soften the blow that her whole family will be joining them on the babymoon. If he was smart, he’d pedal like hell to get away from this marriage, but he also has no will to live, and just accepts this is his fate from now on.
The twins have a tea party with Birdie, and my God, Nikki has a closet full of more hats than she has IQ points. Which, granted, isn’t a lot, but still it’s a lot more hats than anybody could ever need. She tells Brie that Artem doesn’t have a will, and Brie says she needs to force him to get one. And also a baby-raising agreement for when they inevitably break up. Birdie proves that she’s her mother’s daughter when she declares she wants to drink some wine – Birdie Mode!
Later, Kathy shows up at the house and she’s excited because she hasn’t seen everyone since the pandemic started. Just in time for them to all make the drive to Flagstaff. Birdie may be my new favourite character after she dropkicks the E! camera just out of spite.
In Flagstaff, Kathy declines to go on a walk with the rest of the family, because she wants to stay in the house and meditate, which she says helps her Bell’s Palsy. Brie is worried, because she knows that Kathy has been feeling a lot of stress lately and that could trigger another bout.
The rest of them go walking and start talking about Kathy, with the girls worried that Kathy is more stressed than she’s letting on. They feel that they are the root cause of the stress because of the way they forced their father back into Kathy’s life, and the revelations that they dropped on her about Nikki’s past sexual assaults. Having cameras shoved in her face for a stupid reality show may not be helpful either, but they’re not going to derail the gravy train, so that doesn’t come up. They decide to confront her about it to force her to reveal what’s so stressful whether she wants to or not.
Back at the house, they ambush her, and unsubtly ask her about her stress. Their relentless questioning stresses her out more, so Bryan and Artem save her with a ploy to get her away from the girls.
The next day, Bryan has arranged to take Artem for a therapy session with his shaman, who people may remember from last season. Bryan teases that he and Artem may trip out on the ayahuasca as part of the session. And somehow this will help Artem be a better father. The will discussion also comes up again, and so does the baby-raising plan, because everyone but Nikki can see the writing on the wall about this doomed relationship.
Later, Nikki and Artem go fishing, and she’s as bad at it as she is wrestling. She brings up the plan again, and she assumes that she’d get custody of the kid if she and Artem split up, but he disagrees, noting that he’d be the better maternal figure than she ever could be. He says that you shouldn’t have to plan for the worst, and that whatever happens happens. But secretly we all know it’s because he doesn’t have a penny to his name, being an unemployed dancer, so it doesn’t really matter. And as long as Nikki leaves him everything, or leaves Matteo everything, then he’s got it made in the shade anyway. #LongCon. After all of this, they do agree that Bryan will indeed be Matteo’s Godfather.
That afternoon, Bryan and Artem bike up to the shaman village for some fatherly bonding. Bryan is looking forward to the session because his dad wasn’t the greatest, so he needs to learn how to be a good dad. Artem hasn’t had that problem, but is willing to give the shaman a chance anyway, because there’s still half an hour to go in this episode.
Kathy’s made the girls an ice cream sundae buffet for lunch, but instead of just enjoying it gratefully, they decide to pepper her with questions again about her stress. They ask her if they were the cause of her Bell’s Palsy, and she basically says yes. She says that their book was hard to read because it exposed a lot of her failings as a mother. They reassure her that they’ll always look out for her, and they don’t want to see her stressed, so they’ve booked her for some therapy sessions. Presumably, not involving ayahuasca, but who knows.
Bryan and Artem visit with the shaman, and he gives them a destressing session. Artem’s a bit worried because he doesn’t want to freak out like Bryan did the last time Bryan was there (you may recall that episode where Bryan became a blubbering wreck). Also, he’s worried about messing his frou-frou hairstyle by pouring water on it. But he does embrace the part about sharing his feelings, and he confides in Bryan and the shaman that he is scared about failing as a father and not being as good as it as his own dad was. He cleanses away the fear. #HippieNonsense
By this time, it’s too dark to bike back to the house, so he and Bryan decide to camp out at the shaman village. For fun, they decide to prank the girls with a text that suggests they’re chasing that ayahuasca dragon. The prank works, and the girls and Kathy are worried after reading the rambling texts (or, as Nikki pronounces it, “the Texas”).
The girls are upset that their own vibes have been harshed, so decide to drive to the shaman’s opium den and save their men from the drug-peddling shaman before their lives are ruined, Reefer Madness style. When they get there, though, they realize that the woods are dark and scary, and nearly chicken out and drive back home. They finally muster up the courage, and find Bryan and Artem glamping it up in a giant comfy yurt. They’re ticked by the guys’ prank, but eventually laugh it off. But, wanting the creature comforts of home, the girls and Kathy leave the boys there to yurt it up, and they head back to the house.