Welcome back, Jon and Kate watchers! While we had a week off from the show (though we were inundated with Larry King interviews and Las Vegas spectacles, because do we ever really have a break from Jon and Kate?) it was time to jump back into the swing of things with last night's ''Dude Ranch and Dress Up.''
Things stayed par for the course with the kids splitting up time and activities between parents. The boys, like in the last episode, were with Kate, while the girls stayed home with Jon. Ma Gosselin took Collin, Aaden, and Joel to a dude ranch in Wyoming where they rode horses, chased goats, and made some really questionable fashion choices (well, Kate did, anyway.)
From the very beginning, the boys were utterly fascinated by the ranch, musing that the horses looked like cows, which Collin quickly affirmed that it was because they were, in fact, ''horse-cows.'' The mysterious and majestic horse-cows held the lads' attention until grasshoppers stole the spotlight. The boys' playful nature and funny running commentary salvaged what could have just been an interchangeable themed episode. Kate showed up to the ranch in yet another inappropriate outfit (as rancher Bob so delicately put it, she was ''not in high heel country.'') In addition to Kate's daring new wardrobe is her ''need for speed'' attitude as she rode, rather speedily indeed, on an ATV.
Admittedly, the boys looked painfully cute in their cowboy outfits and hats that were much too large for their little heads. Wish we could say the same for Kate's pink cowgirl hat (c'mon Kate, just about everyone is on your side now, please stop making it so hard for us!) She and the boys rode horses, much to their delight, although Collin was concerned that ''the horse is going to eat me!''
Back in Pennsylvania, Jon tended to the girls (including Leah, Alexis, and Hannah, who, sadly, were all but missing from the last episode). It's hard to tell how much of this was actually done while Kate and the boys were in Wyoming (TLC has become masters at editing over the past few months) as we're occasionally transported back to PA to check in on the rest of the Gosselin kids having a scavenger hunt in the backyard, going to the dentist, making tin-can telephones and playing dress-up with their very unenthusiastic dad.
Katie's got a gunThere was almost too much irony about the fact that Jon, who never really wore the pants in his family, volunteered to wear a dress for his girls' dress-up party, particularly in an episode where he gets about 20% of the screen time. It was almost enjoyable to watch Jon play with his kids again, going so far to be a good sport and actually don a dress, purse, and hat. That was until Jon reminded us that now he's living in New York City, and while he misses his kids, he really, really likes being on his own there. Kate? Consider the pink hat, the heels, and the shoddy Southern accent forgotten!
The little girls, who were particularly funny during their couch interviews, saved the day with their dress-up commentary. A not-so-modest Leah boasted, ''I looked like a rock star!'' But, in her defense, she really sort of did.
The girls' brothers, back on the ranch, were wowed by a cowboy named Clay, fascinated by horse poo (but, what five-year-old boy wouldn't be?), and enamored with escaped goats and kittens. Kate disappeared (as Aaden cried, ''We can do whatever we want, 'cause Mom's gone!) to try her hand at the shooting range where she not so slyly said she was picturing someone while doing it. It's a long shot, but my money's on her imaginary target wearing an Ed Hardy shirt.
Kate also mentioned that it was the first time in five months that she (though she doesn't mention the kids here, oddly enough) had been free of the paparazzi. While it was certainly nice to see Kate let go of a lot of her former idiosyncrasies, when she talks about the paparazzi hounding her, you can't help but think to yourself, ''But, you've still got a camera in your face right at this very moment!''
When she reunited with her boys, they took part in a mountain lion trail (no lions, just a lot of their former prey), rode horses again (this time ending in an egg fight) and attended a rodeo/cookout. While I realize it's petty to pick sides (and many of you have told me how you feel about doing that in these recaps), it was hard not to wave your Team Kate flag when she said, in a most heartfelt manner to her boys, she's ''so honored to be their mother.'' While the episode was one of the more tolerable, light-hearted ones of this season (thanks mostly to those wee Gosselins) it all still feels like its losing steam. It's not as depressing or tense as the season's rocky beginning, but there's still something looming over this show that no amount of rodeos and cute outfits can salvage.