With only two more episodes left before the explosive season finale, rumors continued to swirl around Danielle Staub’s (or is it Beverly Merrill’s?) alleged mid-80’s crime spree. And while Danielle herself made countless references to her “past” (said to include an arrest for kidnapping, extortion and possession), she revealed frustratingly little–aside from the fact that she likes to booze it up and talk trash about Dina (sample quote: “You’re like spitting sound on the bottom of my shoe”). While Danielle danced gingerly around the allegations made in Cop Without a Badge, she had no qualms about gyrating with Caroline’s son Albie during a group salsa lesson.

The evening got off to a controversial start when Teresa’s husband Joey made the first of several homophobic remarks (“This is the gayest thing I ever did”), which did not sit well with the (who knew?) rainbow flag-waving Danielle, who picked a fight with him and zinged Teresa for good measure. Teresa was looking for a reason to join the Manzo sisters in their anti-Danielle crusade, and the salsa scuffle provided all the ammo she needed.

But for all of Danielle’s seething, no hard evidence ever emerged that it was Dina who brought “the book” into The Chateau for all to see. (And by ‘The Chateau,’ we mean the local beauty salon, not Teresa’s gargantuan onyx-coated mansion, which Joey apparently paid for mostly in hundreds). Dina earned a few points by weeping endearingly about her pre-teen daughter Lexi’s two-week trip to Cyprus. When not fretting about crazy a–” diseases Lexi might contract at imaginary Greek water parks (where the water is not FDA approved), Dina shared the intimate details of her child’s undergarment choices (Dina: “I want her to still wear panties with Cinderella on them; she wants to go to Victoria’s Secret”) and physical development (“It’s hard to see my little girl getting bubbies”). Even the hairless cat looked appalled.

But in the show’s most surprising twist, Jacqueline defied her in-laws by refusing to dump Danielle. Her curiosity stirred by Danielle’s rap sheet, Jacqueline wavered between hanging up on her (a clear sign of Manzo-sanctioned de-friending) and bonding with her over an afternoon bottle of Veuve (a blatant gesture of Manzo-prohibited re-friending). Dina, meanwhile, bluntly noted that if Danielle continued to insult her, “I’m gonna get my Brooklyn on and knock her block off.” The welcome interludes of humor came, as usual, courtesy of 7-year-old Gia Giudice, who did not disappoint her adoring public. As her mother Teresa moved six-figures worth of furniture into their marble quarry of a mansion, Gia bossed around a humble staffer named Alberto, booked a gig on Gossip Girl and sighed, “A lot of want me these days.”

Sure, next week’s episode promises even more Danielle drama, but seeing Gia mangle “I’m a Little Teacup (short and small?)” somehow seemed more compelling than watching six middle-aged Jersey girls get all worked up over (alleged) crimes and misdemeanors. –Suzanne Zuckerman

Tell us: Should Danielle just come clean about her past once and for all? Are the Manzo sisters right to be concerned about her?