The girls introduce us to the new additions to the family, two gorgeous puppies. They're cute as a button of course. Aw, puppy burps! They look like cartoon characters. Let's hope they're treated well. There's some of the hired help Kate doesn't have, working there in the background doing things only Kate does all by herself. It's Andrea, I think.
Kate is in what I think is her office or possibly just a second living room, which is cluttered full of way too many pieces of furniture, papers, and other crap everywhere. There is a lot of pressure on the next birthday when your kids say that last year was the greatest birthday party ever, she explains. Oh, so this is just about her own ego.
Oh, nice, an intern came up with a cool animated graphic for us explaining how two vehicles will transport the two teams (boys vs. girls, of course) to the various clues with the final destination being the party. But for that visual I would be lost, so thank you, good intern.
Kate finally explains where the heck Collin is. Her explanation is that he is "struggling" and she is "not able ... to meet his needs." He is learning skills and insights to be the best that he can be. She's right, she can't meet his needs, she's awful with him and all her kids. Long story short, the birthday party will be "tough" without him.
So, that's it? It'll be tough? Goodness, you would think she's talking about an unfortunate bunion on her toe really putting a damper on her day, rather than her own child. They show some old clips of Collin which are slow motion and oddly really desaturated, like the kind of clips you would find in someone's funeral montage or something. Creepy. How come they can't go to his placement and have the birthday party there, at least for part of the day. The heck?! This whole thing is tragic, sad, and terribly disconnected.
Moving right along! Kate and the twins go party shopping on the company credit card again, and I smirk at Mady's comment that they should buy anything Mady finds ugly because the younger girls seem to love whatever she finds ugly. Heh! She's a brat, but she's funny at times. Mady explains that they weren't asked to help, they were ordered to. I totally understand how annoyed a teen feels when they don't have a choice in things, and it's too bad Kate can't employ better parenting techniques to help them feel like things are more collaborative in this family, instead of them just always being her slaves. At the same time, it's not unreasonable to be expected to help out with your siblings' birthday party even if you're complaining the whole way through it. You'll live. If Kate had asked them for help as Mady wanted, there's a good chance they might have said no, because she's lost their respect and good will so they're not feeling it. So then she would have had to order them anyway, which just makes anything you "ask" them to do seem like a sham. She has so much rebuilding of trust to do with these girls, who have, like Dr. Markham explained, hardened their hearts toward her. The sad thing is Kate doesn't even seem to know it.
Cara complains the whole time that this is taking forever, while Mady often finds herself going down random rabbit holes playing with irrelevant toys and decorations they're not going to buy. They finally leave the party store with an absolute motherload of crap. Apparently they're stocking up for the end times as envisioned by Alex Jones, not a simple 12th birthday party.
Kate goes on and on about how she has so much prep work to do ahead of her that day and the next. Now imagine having a job and throwing your kids a nice party, too.
Often this show goes into an incredible amount of unnecessary explanations about things that are happening, I guess to fill up the time. And once in awhile they explain nothing, leaving viewers completely confused. Suddenly Kate and the twins are at goggleWorks downtown decorating for the party. So, the party isn't at the house? It's off site? And what is this place? They never say. Cara doesn't want to be a part of this. The twins go into a rather telling explanation about why Cara was so annoyed, and that is because Kate sprung this decorating on her once she got there, and never once mentioned up until this moment she wanted Cara to stay and spend her time decorating. She does this often, explains Cara.
Kate sounds like one of those mothers who know they have no control of their kids when they just parent normally. For instance they know if they let them know in advance they'd like them to help decorate, they'll get a huge fight and maybe even a refusal to go into the car, and it might never happen. But instead of learning better parenting techniques to get more cooperation out of your teens, they resort to trickery. If Kate springs this project on Cara suddenly once she already got in the car, got to the venue, and has no way to get back home, Cara will have no choice but to help. Withholding various information from children who are plenty old enough to be kept in the loop is manipulative, pure and simple. As well as rude. More and more, I have a very clear picture of exactly why her kids don't respect her, and that was exhibit A.
Naturally the decorating comes with various degrees of bickering from Mady and Kate about differences in decorating. Who cares? At least your teen is willing to help. Does it really matter whether the prize table goes over there or over there, and whether Mady hangs streamers over the door or over the windows? Talk about learning to pick your battles.
Ha! Mady says, "Kate, please don't yell at me." Yes, Kate, please stop yelling at her.
Mady explains that Kate is trying to replace yelling with just acting disappointed in her. Ah, so, replace outright hollering with just some good ole fashioned immature passive aggressiveness. Did an online parenting class teach her that?
Mady further explains that Kate denies she yells. That's typical. Kate admits the kids have often actually asked her to stop yelling. Wow. Though, not surprised. For God sake, Kate, this should be a wake up call. Your kids are pleading with you to stop yelling at them. As I went on at length in the previous recap, yelling is as damaging to kids as physical abuse. Your kids instinctively know that, and they don't like it. They've asked you, apparently on multiple occasions, to please stop parenting them that way. Her response? "No, I wasn't yelling." Heh. And, nice to see Mady's comment verified. Kate does in fact deny she does this, even when it's right there on film that she in fact does.
The twins somehow find a bit of motivation to get back into the decorating and it's looking like a real party now, with treasure chests, maps, and balloons. Fun if you were seven years old. I hope the sextuplets enjoy this juvenile set up and don't think to themselves, wouldn't it be way less nerdy, and more grown up, to just invite some friends over for pizza and go see a movie?
Commercials. They are really stretching to fill this episode. The "coming up" segment is nearly 30 seconds long! Maybe I should just recap that, and skip the real segment, eh? There's lots of screaming and yelling, Kate messes up the scavenger hunt because for all her claims at being all about organization, she's actually just an airhead, and more yelling follows.
The party day is here, and it looks like at least a few friends are there, which makes things seem so much more normal. "Do I have to attend this party?" Kate asks. I don't find the teasing she does like this cute. It's mean. Kate begins the scavenger hunt. Kate corralled Andrea into driving one of the vans, and I guess she'll drive the other. Eh, I wouldn't want that liability as a nanny, not with a ton of other strangers' kids. Kate gives a boring lecture on safety.
Eventually Kate realizes she's a doofus and forgot to plant the second clue. After all her show over the planning she did, how the heck does that happen? This feels like a scripted plot device. I can picture the storyboard, and plot point A is uh-oh, Kate forgot a clue! Will the party be ruined? Stay tuned! Either that or she's even more disorganized that I thought. Instead of coming up with a clever way to distract the kids, she ever-so-obviously herds the kids back behind the house so she can fix her mistake. The kids know exactly why they were herded out back but to their credit they just let it go with a few snide remarks.
The kids have noooo respect for her. It's almost comical, though rather sad. She's trying to explain the scavenger directions and various kids of hers are interrupting her, jumping the gun on the next direction, asking questions before giving her a chance to explain, and being so freaking rude. None of the kiddie extras are doing that. Not interrupting people when they are talking, especially when someone is trying to give directions to a large group, couldn't be more basic.
I understand better now that the kids don't know the location of the party, and the clues will lead them there. Girls vs boys of course. It could be editing, but it seems to me the girls are figuring these clues out at lightning speed. This party could be over pretty quick for them. The girls kind of just fly through the riddles shouting out ideas left and right until they hit on the answers. Oh, and there's three more of the girls, so they have a better chance of someone figuring it out sooner. The boys in contrast are taking longer with the clues, being more diligent and careful as they work through the riddles collaboratively, and having patience with themselves, which I find very typical for boys their age. They seem more concerned about solving it correctly rather than quickly. It's just a different style of tackling a puzzle, but unfortunately this is just going to validate their inferiority. Sigh.
Kate gives the boys a head start handicap since there were more girls than boys. I count four boy friends, six girl friends. So the teams were six boys versus nine girls. Kate laments she is always getting blamed for things being unfair. Maybe because things are unfair? The girls complain about the boys' head start, explaining that even though they have more people it takes them longer to load and unload the van. Seriously? They had just three more friends! That should barely make a difference. They really are a pain, I hate to say it, and very divisive all the time. It's getting ridiculous. The boys are so awesome, laughing at themselves when they couldn't figure out this clue that said another name for cow, and a word for someone being not so nice. Hm. Beef Mommy?
Do the girls have different clues or a different order? I didn't pay attention to the intern's graphic and now I'm confused. The girls end up at a food truck first instead of the beef jerky place. They know those owners too. This episode is really weak on explanations. You cannot convince me production didn't coordinate this all in exchange for free advertising on the show, this is way too involved. Kate can barely stuff nine peppers all day let alone arrange something as complicated as this. Ohhhh, Kate reveals that the couple that owns the beef jerky place? Their daughter Maggie is at the party. Well, that explains how the girls' team is flying through this. Kate, that's why you're unfair. I wonder if the sextuplets honestly know their daughter, or if that was just a perk for the jerky place participating in the show, that their daughter would be a part of the party.
For no particular reason, I'm going to show a beef jerky map, because it's just pretty cool.
The girls were just "owwn" it, says Kate, because you can't take the PA out of the girl. Well of course they were owwwn it, they had insider trading information.
The boys are pulling away from the beef jerky place just as the girls arrive. Haha, good, I hope it makes the girls panic and I'm rooting like crazy for the boys to stick it to them and win this. I wish they hadn't gotten such an obvious advantage, because even if they do win, the win will never be "real" to the petty girls. Like puppet governments.
It is getting a little more clear that the teams are pursuing these clues in different orders. Good god, the girls are unbelievably smug about the fact that they've realized the girls are actually starting their "second" clue at the beef jerky place when the boys are just finishing up their first, which was the beef jerky for them. I don't know how the boys stand it. They should have never even opened up their van door to talk to them and just gone on with their game without making contact. Even the boys are like, they're being "sassy." That's putting it kindly.
What's really telling from the boys, although I think they're just trying to be funny, is that the envision if they lose the penalty is going to be no cake. No cake?! Aww, just like when they didn't get their birthday cupcakes when they were toddlers? See, these things scar kids for life, Kate!
It's just Aaden and Joel on the couch explaining all this. It feels wrong somehow, though they're two pretty cool kids. You know what else is too bad? That Jon's not here. The kids are having fun, despite Kate. A blast, really. It would have been awesome for him to go with one team, and Kate the other. They would barely even need to see each other. Or he could at least be waiting at the final destination. Many divorced families put aside differences and spend birthdays together for the sake of the children. This one can't, and it only hurts the kids.
The next clue leads them to a salon where they have to get a red X painted on one nail and let it dry before they can leave. That's sort of neat. I like the boys' friends, too. They seem fun, chill, and game for everything. Exactly the cool friends I would expect they have. Back at the jerky place, the girls have lost interest in running around like crazy. They've calmed down a bit and are enjoying some soda and hot dogs.
Kate says that she didn't rush the girls along because she figured the boys are going to be way behind anyway this whole time. She is such an ass. She is constantly putting them down and doesn't even seem to know she is. The girls too confirm they're sure the boys are way behind. Sounds like a huge mistake to me. Never assume someone is way behind unless you know it for sure. I couldn't be rooting more strongly for the boys. 2016 is the year of the underdog, and if you happened to be rooting for one or more of them, it's been an incredible year for you. The Cubbies, Brexit, Trump, Penn State (go State, see you at the Rose Bowl!). And now, the boys, I hope!
The boys don't seem to be getting most of these clues but Andrea is giving them giant hints until they solve them. Great, another reason the girls won't legitimize their win. Andrea tells the cameras that the boys need help sometimes, and she thinks they're going to lose. The hell? Andrea always walks around with a sour expression on her face and I really don't appreciate a nanny making fun of her kids and being so negative. She must have pre-ordered Kate's book, How to be an Asshat. Aw, even Aaden and Joel know that everyone thinks they're clueless, but at least they find this amusing. Poor boys. It's not even true! They are getting painted just like she painted Jon, the clueless dolt. What a lie. She really hates men. Get therapy.
The clues look like they are on that old treasure map paper you dip in tea and burn the edges. There's no way Kate did all this set-up work herself. How would she possibly squeeze it all in between all the stuffing peppers and loads of laundry?
Oh, wow, even Mady is explaining how the girls are competitive and think the boys are dumb, but in fact the boys are quite smart. That warms my heart that Mady of all kids would give these boys some freaking credit for once. And, I've observed the same, they are quite smart, and not only that, but socially intelligent. Geez.
No, no, not a clown! No! "I'm scared of clowns!" one of the boys says. Well heck I am too after this year's most bizarre phenomenon, clown sightings. This is kind of like Amazing Race only more disorganized. They get the next clue from the clown.
Cut to the girls. Leah has their next clue. Hannah reaches for it too, but Leah snatches it away from her pretty aggressively. The girls act five years old, and oddly, no one ever calls them out on it. It is absurd, just absurd, for a 12-year-old to behave like that, even with her sister, and get away with it. I almost can't blame them for how nasty they come across, because no one is telling them to knock it off when they do immature things like that. After initially doing really well, the girls are now off track on the next clown clue, thinking it means a party store. Kate isn't helping them at all, other than to look constipated when they have the totally wrong idea about the clue. Her shutting up for once is one of the few things I like about how she's handling this. The fun, and challenge of this is figuring it out on their own. They don't need an adult's help, they're not toddlers. For that matter neither do the boys. It's good for them to be on their own in so many ways. I don't like all the big hints Andrea gave the boys, it encourages them to be brain-lazy.
The boys race to the food truck. The girls are headed, incorrectly, to the party store. Kate obliges, but purposely drives by the clown, hoping they will notice. Hannah does indeed notice somehow, and they get their clue. Can the clown go home now? She's creeping me out standing on the side of the road there like she's looking for a john. Gross.
The girls for some reason still think they've crushed the boys. It sure is annoying when people who in reality have no clue where they stand are sure they've won. Shut up. The girls are really just trashing the boys all day. They're obsessed with them, and it's weird. The boys don't talk about them nearly as much as they talk about their brothers. In a strange way, it reminds me of Kate and Jon, with Kate absolutely consumed by him, and Jon hardly ever mentioning her unless asked. I wonder if that's something the girls have subconsciously picked up from her, a preoccupation with the men in the family and all up in their business.
There goes Andrea making fun of them again for wanting to take two freaking seconds and get something to eat at the food truck after all this running around. Not everyone cares that much about winning so much as they care about enjoying the experience itself. Good grief. Andrea is as unlikable as the girls in this family. Is it an estrogen thing?
I'm getting a little lost again, but I think they're at a hair salon now. They don't seem to do anything here but get a photo of the group. The next clue involves an old school phone book. I have no idea what that's all about, it's hard to follow. The boys seemingly end up at the hair salon just seconds after the girls, but that could be clever Amazing Race style editing. I remember this one season of Amazing Race pretty early on in its tenure, where one couple was literally hours and sometimes even days ahead of all the others. They would only catch up at one of those challenges designed to throttle all the teams, then get way ahead again. There were multiple ways to tell how far ahead they were if you paid attention. But the editors tried not to let on they were that far ahead outright, and employed lots of editing techniques to make it seem like the other teams would arrive at the challenges just seconds after the first team left. Only it would be like, pouring rain one second and bright and sunny the next. It was funny.
Nail salon, hair salon, LOL, sounds like Kate couldn't get any more creative with these locations than her own little pea brain. What's next, Nobu? Joel figures out lickety split they need to look in the phone book. They seem to be grabbing an address from it and heading there.
Kate seems to have a major advantage over Andrea in that she knows all these locations and how to get back and forth easily. Andrea in contrast needs a GPS, and is getting so stressed she asks the boys to please be quiet so she can hear the GPS. Aw, Andrea is the preverbal sucky taxi driver who has never heard of a Main street in his own city, who shows up on every last episode of Amazing Race, drives around in circles all over town eventually taking them to the Bay Bridge instead of the Golden Gate and crushes the best team's dreams.
Somehow the boys arrive at Goggleworks first, they don't explain how or when they passed Kate especially with Andrea acting so confused and tight-fisted behind the wheel. Did Kate take a wrong turn she wouldn't admit to? Odd. The twins are waiting for them. The twins are happy for them and are very nice about congratulating them. That's cool. Here come the girls, and I predict an incredible amount of sour grapes about to happen.
For Kate this really is so much about the competition, about who will win and who will lose. It's bizarre, the hyper-focus on this. It's just a silly birthday party for 12 year olds. Goodness. This is practically all she's talked about this whole episode. The girls, too. In contrast, the boys talked so much more about how they figured out the clues, and the things they said and did along the way, and what they enjoyed. It's obvious they appreciated the experience itself so much more than who won or lost. Sad thing is, they would have taken a loss so much better. The win doesn't matter all that much to them. You almost want them to just give it to the girls, just so they'll shush up for once.
Yep, here we go. The boys "cheated." No one ever gets the better of a Gosselin girl without "cheating", apparently. I honestly think they believe this. If they were politicians they would still be recounting votes after all this time, refusing to believe somebody could actually have gotten the best of them fair and square. An extreme desire to win and a visceral, conspiratorial reaction toward anyone else who gets the best of you is narcissistic behavior, as painful as it is to point these things out in children, I think we have to start being honest about that. After all, a narcissist is perfect, so how could anyone get the upper hand on a narcissist unless they did so through errant means? It makes sense that a narcissist would teach narcissistic behavior in the children, and that at least some of them would pick up some of the traits even if they never end up actually developing the diagnosed personality disorder. Incidentally, how do the girls know whether the boys "cheated"? They weren't there with them and didn't see what happened along their journey, what hints they got or didn't. They have no evidence whatsoever anyone cheated, but they've immediately decided that if the boys won, they must have cheated somehow. They're so bitter, and terribly unfair. Also, so what if they had a little help? Let them have a little bit of glory once in awhile. Let them win once in awhile. The girls have the upper hand on so many things, can't they find it in their hearts to let their brothers, who by the way are a man down, to have this one? Take one for the team here and just let them have it? A pity.
Speaking of Collin, not a word mentioned of him since the start of this episode, nary a tear. No one seems the least bit upset he's missing out on all this good fun and a special birthday. It's not healthy to just cut him off like this and go on with life like nothing happened.
The boys did have a lot of help from Andrea, but the girls had their advantages too, like three more heads to mull over the clues, a better driver, and the jerky store's daughter in their group who helped them get that clue quick. Sounds like a draw to me in terms of advantages. They also chose to dilly-dally around at the jerky place eating hotdogs and drinking sodas for what seemed like a really long time, and they really struggled with the clown clue even when Kate was giving them a clear face that they were way off in their guess about the party store. Judging by the way the editing makes this seem, had those two parts of the puzzle moved along more quickly for them, they probably would have won. That's on them. The glaring lack of personal responsibility for their own shortcomings and missteps along the way, is very unhealthy.
Ha, the boys are all dressed up in various costumes and shout at the girls as they come in. Good, they deserve a chance to gloat for once.
Andrea admits she's glad the boys won and they're smarter than the girls bargained for. My only question is whoever gave the girls such a firm idea that their lovely brothers (who by the way, everybody here seems to like just fine) are complete idiots who know absolutely nothing? I can't imagine.
The party has a photo booth, and a money booth where fake money blows around and you have to grab it and then can use it to buy party favors. Ridiculously fun, and it's practically all the kids want to do. At the end of the day I have to give Kate, er, production, a solid A minus for this party. Other than a few babyish aspects of it, and the weird erasing of Collin from it all like he never existed, it's a big hit, and all in all the scavenger hunt was pretty good.
The party segment is going on much too long now. There's a tortuously long part with a piñata complete with flashbacks, which seems pretty juvenile. Anyone can find a 12-year-old's birthday party to go to at some point if that's what interests you, you freak, so I don't see a need to recap that. Piñatas are a tradition. Kate will have these kids hitting a piñata on their twenty-first birthdays, half wasted.
Cake time. Mercifully, Kate opts out of singing happy birthday to them six times. So she's finally let them grow up a little.
Can I ask again, is there a reason she can't visit Collin and bring part of this party there? Having worked in foster care for nine years and seen my fair share of children who are in facilities, I'm struggling to recall a facility, even a terribly high level of care placement, that did not permit families to see their children, especially on their birthday. Contact with your loved ones is such a fundamental component of modern treatment, it's hard to imagine why they couldn't include him in this party in some form.
Kate bookends the episode with, oh by the way I missed Collin when we sang happy birthday. Oh good I'm glad she gave him a passing thought, by the way. Sounds like they've filmed almost every single birthday. Weird, and totally Dionnes, right?
I imagine the question to Kate from the producer was, what's different then and now? Her response is, the kids are taller and older. Heh. She really is a sociopath who struggles to identify personality traits in her children, and more substantive aspects of their beings she can chat about. When all is said and done I actually know very little about her children as people because she rarely explains much about them. I can only observe their personalities directly when they're on camera, without help from Kate. I don't think she is able to see these things, really. In a strange way, she has unwittingly protected them from further violations of privacy by being unable to truly know them as people and share who they truly are with the world.
The party comes to a close and Kate says she didn't wear them out. Wear them out? Because her kids just turned three years old. It was the best party yet, the kids say, giving Kate, and production, a new one to top. Oy vey, they're eating donut-y things in New Orleans next time. Mardi gra me into a coma please so I can skip that one.