Recap: ‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta’ – ‘Shaping Up and Shipping Out’

It’s our last episode before the ladies leave for their trip to Africa, so it’s a chance for fond good-byes (or passive-aggressive sniping, at least in Peter and Cynthia’s case), worry (Phaedra’s probably a bit justified in suspecting Apollo is going to drop Ayden on his head at some point) and whining (and most of that is from someone who isn’t even going on the trip). Not much happens in this episode, but what does happen is surely setting up a battle royale next week, so hold on to your hats. 
First off, we get to see continued bonding between NeNe and Marlo. NeNe clearly adores Marlo, even as she seems to judge her and envy her — which, for NeNe, is as close as she can get to actually liking another woman. 
Marlo shows NeNe her ridiculously fabulous home and then tries to give her a Chanel bag. NeNe won’t accept it, though it isn’t clear if that’s because she thinks ex-cons have cooties or because she thinks Chanel is for old ladies. NeNe is actually pretty insulting about half of the things in Marlo’s house (including a high-tech security system), which suggests to me that she’s just damn jealous. 
Over lunch, NeNe comes up with the brilliant idea of inviting Marlo to Africa. In theory, this is because she and Marlo have become besties, but really, this is about NeNe wanting to make sure the numbers are even — three against three. I’m hoping she doesn’t think an actual fight is going to break out, but I think NeNe could probably wallop everyone else going on the trip by her lonesome, possibly by throwing one of her big, honking shoes at them. 
Kim has good news! She’s lost a pound and a half by sitting on her ass and playing with her wigs! Kroy suggests that she could lose even more if she, you know, worked out. Kim thinks that’s just crazy talk, because her preferred way of body sculpting is liposuction. Her latest brilliant idea is to spend $150 to get a body wrap. Kroy, who is not a complete idiot, tries to explain to Kim that it simply isn’t possible to lose five pounds of fat by wrapping an Ace bandage around your midsection. But Kim doesn’t care. Because she won’t have to sweat, stop eating Cheetos or otherwise make an effort, no amount of money or physical pain is too much to endure. Thus, the wrap. 
At the other end of the spectrum we have Kandi, who understands that you can’t sit on your ass and body wrap your fat away. She meets with her trainer, John, and confesses that she hasn’t been working out, plus she’s been eating crap. John responds by making her do exercises that are half boot camp, half mule torture tactics. Meanwhile, Kim waddles around her house in a mummy wrap, extruding “toxins,” otherwise known as water, otherwise known as very very temporary results. 
The other unforeseen side effect of Kim’s treatment? She won’t be able to shower — which means she and Kroy won’t be able to go… swimming. Kim’s daughters stare at them, trying to sort out what “swimming” really means, but thankfully the conversation just dies and we don’t have to listen to adolescent girls shriek at the realization their mom is way into sex with her much younger (and smarter) boy toy. 
Soon enough, Kim gets unwrapped — and she’s lost more than ten inches! For the next hour, or until she drinks a glass of water! But she’s thrilled and she’s hungry, so she wants pizza. Let us all bang our heads on the wall starting… now.
Cynthia asks Peter to help her pack for Africa, which basically means they chat happily for a few moments before Peter picks an argument. He can’t get one day with Cynthia, but she can spend ten days with her friends! And she tells him she needs a break from him! For some reason, this doesn’t devolve into a total blow-out, and Cynthia just happily tells him she can’t wait to go to Africa, as it’s been 20 years since she as there. He can’t believe she’s glowing, damn her! But for some reason, Cynthia (who may want to stop by Egypt, as she really is the queen of denial) thinks this trip will be great for her and Peter. They’ll be able to miss one another! Yes, that’s what they need. I was thinking they needed the kind of break that starts with divorce proceedings, but whatever. 
Phaedra is also trying to prepare herself for her trip. She’s hoping Apollo can handily Ayden, which says to me that she should just get a sitter to stop in on a regular basis, but no, Apollo can handle it. Phaedra’s other worry is NeNe, though she has high hopes that the trip will give her a new attitude, or someone will kidnap her in the bush. It’s a win-win either way. 
Back to NeNe and Marlo (and Andre, NeNe’s assistant). NeNe needs some new clothes, as she’s hoping to nab a rich South African man during her trip. More importantly, she needs more time to bond with Marlo. They’re both label whores! Who can probably share clothes and, with some pinching, shoes! It’s a dream come true! NeNe and Marlo can also bitch about the other girls, which is equally important. Marlo is not a fan of Kandi’s, but she intends to talk to her “whether she likes it or not.” NeNe is thrilled, as she thinks Marlo will be able to put everyone in their place during the trip. If NeNe had a mustache to twirl, she would be doing it during this scene.
The shopping trip should end on an up note — except that NeNe gets her bill, which is over $10,000. NeNe is appalled! She isn’t spending that kind of money! When it is explained to her that the necklace she likes so much is made of diamonds, she says she’ll pass. Why would she EVER spend that kind of money?That’s crazy! Um, isn’t she rich? To paraphrase the old saying, if you have to check your bill and toss stuff back, you can’t afford it. 
The NFL lockout is declared over, which is good and bad news for Kim and Kroy, who go for margaritas so Kim can 1) get hammered and 2) sniffle. Kim’s sad. Kroy’s stressed, because he suspects everything will go to hell in a handbasket if he isn’t there to manage it. They talk about Sweetie, who is shaping up as the Most Disgruntled Assistant of the Year. Kroy suggests she isn’t organized. But Kim needs her! Sweetie’s not much, but she needs someone to help her limp through her grief over Kroy’s absence. Still, they’ll be Skype-ing, but not naughty Skype-ing. This comment precedes some ickiness, as Kim and Kroy talk about how Kim is turned on when Kroy wears his uniform, how Kim could get pregnant if they’re not careful, and what Kroy refers to as spray and pray. Eww. 
Speaking of naughtiness, Karen (Kim’s mother) and Sweetie light a million candles for Kim’s romantic surprise for Kroy. Sweetie seems to be appalled that she has to scatter $400 in rose petals and run a bath. Then again, Sweetie just seems annoyed, period. Of course, Sweetie doesn’t finish the job before the happy couple arrives and it’s basically a mess, but at least they can enjoy some privacy in the tub as their house burns down, right? Nope, because Kim’s DAD has to drop by to tell them to play safe or at least name the next kid after him. If Kim has mental problems, I think we know where to lay the blame, really. 
Everyone heads for the airport. Phaedra is still nervous that Apollo can’t handle Ayden alone, then even more nervous that he might take him to an e. coli infested water park. Apollo is just worried about getting some before Phaedra goes. Aw, isn’t that sweet? Kandi tells her mom that her insides are saying “no, no, no” to Africa, which is probably a pretty good warning signal. Run, Kandi, run!
Meanwhile, Kim is bracing herself for Kroy’s exit. Chanel doesn’t listen when Kroy is gone! I’d argue that this is because the poor dog knows that Kim is the one who dresses her up like a damn Barbie accessory, but okay, Kroy has a magic touch or something. Kroy’s exit is shaking the household as if he were leaving for war, which is a bit much, really. He isn’t going to DIE, people. 
At the airport, NeNe arrives and asks everyone to wait — Marlo is getting her things out of the car. Marlo sashays up as if her presence is not completely irritating to everyone else, and Sheree and Phaedra stare at Marlo as if she has a third head. Phaedra being the organizer of the trip would have liked to know a little more spice was being added to the gumbo, but she decides to put on a happy face. Kandi thinks NeNe needs her muscle with her, and notes that Marlo is good muscle to have. You know, her being a convict and everything. 
Our first look at next week’s Africa episode looks lovely. The ladies go on safari, they go to an orphanage, they toast one another — it’s all sweetness and light. But because this is “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” everything has to break down into backbiting, screaming and insults. And yes, even NeNe and her new ally Marlo get into it. It looks like a mess. Can’t wait!
Do you think NeNe should have brought Marlo to Africa? Do you think Kim should have gone on the trip? And who do you think is going to ruin the trip first?