The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City recap: A 24-karat spa-pology
Jen and Whitney argue over who ruined Sharrieff's birthday party the most, while Heather begs them to let her take the blame.
At one point in tonight's RHOSLC episode, while Whitney and Heather are driving out to the-set-of-Deliverance-I-mean-mountain-spa, Heather whispers, "I'm, like, scared and excited." And ain't that just the truth. I would define my permanent state of being right now as scared and excited, and never more so than on Wednesdays, because, well, Wednesdays are kind of when all the world-altering events are going down these days…
But also, because Wednesdays are when The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City airs, a series that fills me with constant excitement and trepidation. While I live in fear of Jen Shah splashing hot water out of an ancient tub onto a cameraman and threatening to "drown a bitch," or of Mary Cosby treating Charlinda like a lamp that occasionally speaks, I also treasure those things for their sheer lunacy. I fluctuate rapidly between worrying that all of the marriages on RHOSLC are about to go up in flames, and in the very next moment, grabbing onto some insane hope that this might be the first Housewives franchise in history to actually mend relationships rather than eviscerate them.
You might think that the episode that comes after Jen hurled a crystal tumbler into the Top Golf night sky would offer a reprieve from such heightened emotions — but no. RHOSLC is firing on 100 at all times. So, while this episode does feature a lot of recappin' in kitchens, it also features a brand-new volatile outburst from Jen, and some unbelievably vulnerable moments from Heather, who I continue to stand in awe of. Plus, that recappin' in kitchens is actually interesting because there is just so much happening here.
When the episode opens, no one has spoken since the disastrous end to Sharrieff's golf/hip-hop birthday party. We see Jen telling her second assistant Crystal that she's "embarrassed, and sad, and disappointed in [herself]" for losing control like that. Which is a shocking amount of accountability from Jen…
It will not last the hour. At Beauty Lab with Heather, Whitney says that she came to Jen with the intention of being a good friend by letting her know that her other friends were talking behind her back, "but before I could get my point across, the other women jump up and ruin it for me, and it turned into an epic failure!" Which is interesting, because per my recollection, Whitney was super hammered, struggled for minutes through telling Jen that Lisa and Meredith were talking behind her back, causing Jen to get angrier and angrier, and then when Jen actually went to calm down a bit with Lisa, Whitney decided to tell Meredith that Jen has been talking behind her back about her marriage, which enraged Jen all over again.
The things Whitney said were true, don't get me wrong — but lighting those little fires all over that Top Golf is now somehow being morphed into saying that Heather caused things to escalate by jumping in to give Jen the Lisa/Meredith intel while Whitney was sputtering out like a car battery. For some reason though, Heather is more than willing to shoulder the blame for things going sideways and then goes on to effortlessly explain to Whitney what was actually happening that night. Jen didn't want to believe them over Lisa and Meredith because Jen considers them to be the upper echelon of Utah society, and wants the validation of being accepted by them. But Heather says Jen is betting on the wrong hand: "I want to say to her, 'Why are you so thirsty for their love when they have zero investment in who you are or your life?'"
Whitney listens to all of this unblinkingly, and imagining her trying to navigate any of this nuance at Sharrieff's party after twerking and drinking 12 glasses of wine is just… hilarious.
Equally hilarious is the fact that Mary seems to be actually trapped inside her teetering bedroom-turned-closet with Charlinda, as it's the only place we ever see her anymore. And in this episode, Mary quite literally became trapped inside her own giant belt when the zipper broke just as Whitney was FaceTiming her. When Whitney tells Mary that the foolproof plan to confront Jen at her husband's birthday party didn't go well, Mary's eyes bug out (well, Mary's eyes bug out more), and she says, "I mean, even I wouldn't do that." And that's how you know it's really bad.
Mary confirms again to Whitney that Meredith and Lisa told her they were scared of Jen, but Meredith and Lisa are still swearing they didn't say anything like that to Mary. Meredith and Lisa are also having a lot of uninteresting conversations with their husbands, and talking about how much they love supporting other women at fancy dinners while throwing shady comments around about all of their castmates who aren't cool enough to be invited to said entrepreneurial yurt dinners. Listen, I like Meredith, and I think Lisa is hilarious in her testimonials, I just want more…
Especially when you consider what we're getting from the Blonde Bandits and Jen Shah. Whitney has apparently asked Jen to go to the spa with her so they can talk things out, but as Whitney and Heather arrive at this "spa," it certainly appears like they're driving into a junkyard. There are abandoned-looking cabins with saws nailed to them and yard bathtubs full of dirt everywhere dirt ("was that an actual tumbleweed?!" -Heather). Personally, I thought once you got past the saw-cabins, the natural springs looked amazing — but the moment I spotted all the, uh, dirt, I had to wonder how Jen was going to react to this setting…
Of course, I never could have expected Jen to emerge from her Porsche with a bedazzled fly swatter she just happened to have on hand, and yet that is precisely what happens. Jen is further alarmed by the bathtubs they're supposed to soak in that are filled with hot spring water trickling down the mountain, but Heather is able to coax her in by saying: "Shah, put the fur on the shrub, and get your ass in the tub." Words to live by.
Whitney feels bad that the party went sideways, but tells Jen she really was just trying to come to her as a girlfriend until "the other women joined in," and she lost control of what was happening. At this point Heather says, "It was all my fault," and I really appreciated Jen immediately telling her it absolutely was not, and she doesn't look at it that way, especially given what's coming later.
Jen reminds Whitney that she told her specifically how much this party meant to her marriage, and now after her outburst, Sharrieff hasn't spoken to her in days. Heather looks horrified to hear this, but Whitney keeps pushing forward with justifying why she brought up the topic at Sharrieff's party as a way to "prove my loyalty to you."
I understand Whitney's desire to defend herself; she just lit the fuse, but she didn't turn Jen into a bomb who throws glasses and storms out of parties every time she gets mad. But if she's really trying to apologize, she probably shouldn't exclaim, "It's not my fault it went wrong!" 30 seconds into the conversation. To which, of course, Jen replies that it is kind of her fault, after which Heather tries to come in again with the "it's all our faults!" narrative. Even though it is super just Whitney and Jen's fault!
Jen works herself into an absolute rage until she's screaming, "MY MARRIAGE IS F---ED UP BECAUSE OF THAT NIGHT!" Which, ya know, is kind of just a fraction of that story. Heather cries out that Whitney didn't want that to happen, to which Jen screams, "But it did, so take some responsibility!" Heather once again suggests that they all three take responsibility, and eases Jen back into talking about what's going on with Sharrieff. But apparently, while she's doing that, Whitney dares to glance sideways, and when she does, Jen screeches: "Whitney, if you roll your eyes and look over there one more time, I will drown you bitch!"
Then Jen smacks a big splash of water in a seemingly random direction until we hear the voice of an off-camera producer say, "Why did you splash the camera." And Jen has a simple enough answer for that: "That's what happens when you f---ing film me in the bathtub!"
Oh, it is bananas. I love it; I hate it; but I simply never could have predicted what came next…
Actual vulnerability and — gasp — resolution.
Jen storms off, during which time Heather begs Whitney to set aside her natural desire to defend herself for now and have empathy for what Jen is going through with Sharrieff. Heather then coaxes Jen back into the tub and explains the real reason she was perhaps overly eager for Jen to know what Meredith and Lisa were saying behind her back.
"I was pissed because you know what Lisa's done to me, and I feel like you want to be Lisa and Meredith's friend more than you want to be mine," Heather tells Jen, who is finally stunned to silence. She asks Heather what she's talking about, and Heather tells her: "I'm not terrified of fighting or bringing it to you, but I'm terrified of you being like, 'Girl, you're done — I'm with Meredith and Lisa.' Because it's more important for me to be your friend than it is for me to be heard."
When I tell you, my jaw was on the floor. Such eloquence! Such vulnerability! Heather admits that, with everything that happened in her marriage, she is filled with insecurity over the idea of being left the moment she reveals her most honest self to someone. But it also takes a unique kind of self-confidence to even admit that you fear you're not good enough — and it's certainly not something we hear on the Housewives very often.
Jen swears to Heather that she can tell her anything, anytime, to which I say prove it. Whitney swears to never do anything like that to Jen again, and Jen forgives her, with the caveat in her testimonial that she's not totally over it because her marriage is not okay. So, it's time to check in on that in 5, 4, 3, 2…
Sharrieff arrives back home after not speaking to Jen for four days and finds her getting ready for bed — all of her makeup off, all of her designer defenses down. Jen says in her testimonial that she's happy Sharrieff is home, but she's scared to hear what he has to say: "I feel like I'm walking on eggshells, like is this the last straw, is he finally done?" They sit down, and Sharrieff says that he was really upset after the party, and he didn't think it was best for him to start talking to her while he was angry. He says he loved the party, but he was upset because when Jen starts to drink, she can't control her emotions.
Jen cries that she's drinking because she's trying to numb the pain of Sharrieff never being there. And then it comes pouring out — what Jen has talked to us about in testimonial, but apparently never talked to Sharrieff about. She's still hurt that he wasn't there when her father died and that she had to make all of the decisions on her own, and pretend she was strong when she wasn't. "I'm so angry at you!" she cries out. "I'm so angry and upset because you couldn't even go to dad's funeral!"
Sharrieff says that Jen has never told him that, and he hasn't been able to understand why she's been so angry at him. Jen apologizes for not telling him before, but she didn't know how, and Sharrieff tells her he's not ashamed of anything she's done, he just wants them to get better from here. For the record, they do not discuss the fact that Jen torpedoed his birthday party, which technically was the reason they didn't speak for four days… and I wouldn't exactly call the fact that it took them a year and a reality show to open up about these things to one another an incredibly positive sign, but…
What can I say? I'm rooting for these two. See you back here next week to see which element of matter Jen throws next.