When the first episode of the season was filmed, Joe had a week left of his 41-month prison sentence for bank, wire and mail fraud. Cameras captured the heartbreaking and tender moments among his wife and daughters, as well as the not-so-nice stuff that was being said about the family behind their backs.
We'll start with a scene in which Teresa, Gia (18), Gabriella (15), Milania (14) and Audriana (10) were cooking dinner with Teresa's father/their nonno, Giacinto. They were discussing Gia's decision to attend Rutgers University in the fall. She said she wanted to be a lawyer. Milania accused Gia of copying her desired profession, but everyone laughed because they had never heard Milania express interest in law before.
"I've been saying I want to be a lawyer for a while because it gets me so mad that our dad is in jail and might be getting deported," Milania said, as Gia added, "Yeah, but I mean, he's fighting the battle."
"I just don't know how the whole thing's gonna do," Teresa said somberly.
"He's done with his sentence, but his immigration case isn't finished yet," Gia explained. "He just has to stay there for a little bit until his case is finalized because we're appealing it. I already told him, 'Say you lose this appeal, you better fight it until the Supreme Court.' And at first -- 'cause he didn't want to be in ICE -- he was like, 'I'm done with this shit.' But I'm just like, 'If you do that, you will not have a relationship with me.'"
"I'm going to prom, I'm going to graduation, I'm going to college. Those are three big things I want my father here for," she continued, but Milania interjected, "No one cares."
"I don't know why you have to act irrational because if you were graduating and moving on to a new chapter of your life, Milania, I don't wanna hear you," Gia fired back, cutting off her sister. "I understand we're all hurting, but I'm saying it's a big year for me, and I would want my father here."
"I'm done here," Milania said, getting up to leave. "Goodbye."
Audriana, the youngest, looked down and politely asked her mom, "Can I leave?" After getting excused, she gave Gia a big hug and walked away.
"I didn't say anything wrong," Gia maintained to her mom, who said, "Milania's just very sensitive."
Gia seemed to think her sister wasn't seeing the bigger picture -- that she was going to have her dad there for her milestones. "Wait, we don't know that yet," Teresa warned. "I mean, God willing."
Teresa's father told Gia not to worry because he'd be her father and her grandpa, which brought her to tears, which brought Teresa to tears.
"If I were my father," Gia said in a later confessional, "I would have the urge sometimes too to probably sign the papers and go straight to Italy. But this deportation should not be happening. He should've made himself a citizen a long time ago. It just should've been done. And now, this is the time for my father to show us that he really does love and care about us."
In her own confessional, Teresa explained the situation: "Joe has a week left before his three-year sentence is finished, but instead of coming home, he's immediately being transferred to an ICE immigration facility. He was born in Italy, came here when he was a year old, and he had his alien card. He just never applied for his citizenship. So when you commit a crime, you could be ordered deported. Once Joe's released from prison, legally, he's a free man. And if he wants to leave and go to Italy, he'll leave whenever he wants. But instead, he's choosing to stay locked up in an ICE facility because, if he goes, he can never ever come back to America."
Teresa later opened up to her brother, Joe Gorga, saying, "I hate that my kids have to go through all this. Like, he's done his time! And now, I'm fighting to keep him in the country."
He then filled in wife Melissa Gorga on the conversation he had had with Tre, adding, "and on top of everything, these cheating allegations."
"That sucks," Melissa replied. "I'm sure the girls are seeing that. Have you talked to her about that?"
"Yeah," Joe said. "They're friends."
"Friends it is," Melissa reiterated. "I just feel like everything that's gone on in her life always gets in the way of our relationship. It is what it is. I'm not one to hold a grudge."
In their respective confessionals, the Gorgas touched more upon the subjects of deportation and cheating, while Melissa revealed how she and Teresa got back in each other's good graces following the explosive Season 9 reunion.
"What kind of life is that? Teresa's spent three long years waiting for her husband to be out of prison. Now she's fighting this deportation. The truth is, Joe might never come home," Joe told the camera. "The last thing my nieces need to hear is that their mother's running around with this boy toy. Whatever these girls are going through, now they're reading this?"
In her own confessional, Melissa admitted there were "a lot of pictures out there, but if Teresa says she is not cheating then I go with what my family says." She added, "There was a lot of tension between Teresa and I, but she called me and apologized."
"There's tons of cheating rumors going around about Teresa. There's photos of her with some 20-something-year-old guy," Margaret Josephs told the camera. "If she's stepping out on Joe, who can blame her? He's about to get deported, and he's been gone for three years. She's been through enough. It doesn't matter to me if the rumors about Teresa are true or not. What goes on behind closed doors is frankly none of my business."
To her business partner, who brought up the various cheating rumors and possibility of deportation, Margaret said, "I mean, it's crazy. I mean, it's f--king plastered all over. Like she doesn't have enough headaches? He's paid his time, so I feel very, very sad."
Later, Margaret met up with Melissa and Jackie Goldschneider, where they discussed whether they'd be attending Jennifer Aydin's upcoming party. Jackie said she wasn't sure if she wanted to go because, after she and Jennifer worked on their relationship, Jackie stumbled upon a video Teresa posted to Instagram of Jennifer doing her best impression of Jackie. It was not flattering.
"Teresa, to me, she's broken," Jackie vented to the ladies. "She should be home with her children instead of sitting in a restaurant and making fun of me." Melissa tried to defend Teresa by saying she had "a lot going on" and wasn't "thinking about what she's doing," but Jackie felt that was "such an easy excuse."
Margaret wondered why Teresa would want to post anything negative given "the press she's getting right now, cheating rumors, pictures of her holding hands with some young guy who wears the backpack, no less." Melissa calmly said, "Honestly, guys, I've heard he's a friend."
But Jackie was skeptical. "I don't know. There's an awful lot of pictures out there," she said. "I mean, if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck..." Melissa cut her off and said she "can't have anybody saying that because that's not the situation." She asked Jackie to "respect that," which she agreed to do.
Later, Teresa was outside in her backyard with Gia and a muscular pool guy named Tony. She wanted to give the girls the pool they always wanted, now that her restitution had been paid off. In the middle of discussing logistics, Dolores Catania called. She asked to stop by. Teresa said there was someone there she probably hadn't seen in a while.
When Dolores pulled up, she said, "Oh! Hey, Tony! Looking handsome! I remember when you guys dated for two seconds. It's nice to see old friends." She elaborated in a confessional, saying, "Teresa was like 17 years old. You know, maybe they made out a little, maybe they went to the beach. That didn't last because Joe always was crazy about her. He was not going to let her marry someone else."
Once Tony left and the women went inside, Dolores started talking to Gia about her son Frankie's college experience. Gia said she chose a school that was 45 minutes away, adding, "I stayed close because if my dad comes home, like I would wanna make up for lost time."
When Gia left, Teresa updated Dolores on Joe's standing with prison and ICE. She told her about how Gia threatened to cut off contact with Joe if he refused to fight the deportation order, adding, "This appeal is costing me so much money, but I don't care. I'll spend the money. I don't care. And then at least I'll know I did everything I could."
"When I was in jail, my freedom was taken away, so I know what Joe's going through," Tre later told the camera. "That ICE facility could be worse than where he is now, and Joe is hot-tempered, so he could be like, 'You know what? That's it. I had enough of this place. I'm out of here.'"
In her own confessional, Dolores revealed, "I don't think Teresa's so crazy in love with Joe right now. I'm being honest. [The appeal] is driven by Gia's request."
Dolores also had some bad news to deliver to Teresa: She said she spoke to Margaret after Margaret's dinner with Jackie and told her what Jackie said about the cheating rumors. Teresa was pissed. "F--k Jackie!" she said, asking if Melissa was there. "I hope Melissa stuck up for me and set Jackie straight." She later told the camera Melissa "had days" to call her and tell her what Jackie had been saying, so she couldn't wait to see them both at Jennifer's party.
After Margaret talked Teresa off the ledge of bringing up the topic at Jennifer's husband's work event, Jackie decided to confront Jennifer about the video. The conversation did not go well. Jackie walked away after she felt disrespected by Jennifer's finger in her face, so Jennifer chased after her, screaming. Once again, Margaret tried to break it up.
Meanwhile, Teresa vented to Melissa about the rumors she felt Jackie was continuing to perpetuate. Then when she saw Jennifer had walked away from Jackie, Teresa swooped in to confront her. Jackie maintained someone had asked her a question about Teresa, but Teresa didn't want to hear it. "Just keep my name out of your mouth?" she asked, as Jackie asked the same from Teresa. They agreed to not talk about each other, but Melissa said she knew the truce wouldn't last.
The episode ended with Joe's release from prison. He called Teresa from what is believed to be the ICE facility.
"Everything is like lock down over here," he said. "I'm telling you, it's bad. My time is done, and I'm wasting my life away in this freaking crap. I don't know what could happen. I could just freaking go nuts!"
"The Real Housewives of New Jersey" airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Bravo.