The ladies head to Las Vegas to race fast cars, try on expensive shoes, and scream at each other just a little bit.

By Jodi Walker
January 21, 2021 at 12:38 AM EST

You never forget where you are when a new Housewives franchise airs their very first packing montage. I was on my couch at home after spending yet another Wednesday afternoon processing a historic national event, and capping it off the evening with a Real Housewives of Salt Lake City episode wherein Meredith receives fashion advice from her son while he wears a zip-up track jacket and says the only thing he knows about Las Vegas is that it's "like, the prostitution capital of the world." (To bring this particular Wednesday full-circle, Brooks Marks and Amanda Gorman are only one year apart in age — do with that what you will!)

Of course, we were treated to our first packing montage because the ladies are headed on their first official Housewives vacation: a weekend trip to Vegas. Two things about this trip shocked me to my absolute core (and no, neither one of them involves watching Heather save Jen's whole life when she plummeted head-first off a bar). The first was that these women flew coach to Las Vegas. I mean, it's a short trip from Salt Lake City to Vegas, but… there's always a class above coach, and I simply did not expect to see Meredith Marks sitting in a middle seat.

The second is that we were deprived of a Mary Crosby packing montage because Mary Crosby — though she has escaped her closet and made it back to the kitchen where she blends various powders and potions into smoothies and takes saran wrap off a seemingly endless supply of small bowls — is not going on this Vegas trip. I understand that there was some change in production halfway through filming this season that was ultimately a positive because it's given us all the iconic RHOSLC gifts we know and love today, and the new producers had the good sense to bump Mary up to a full-time cast member…

But we simply need more of her. Nevertheless, Mary manages to do a lot with a little. When explaining why she won't be coming on the Vegas trip, Mary lays it out simply for us: "Put it this way — I'd rather have a plane full of mice than to be in Vegas with Jen." Well, that clears that up! Plane full of mice, it is.

Ahead of Vegas, two important dinners take place in Salt Lake. First, Whitney has her brother and sister over to eat dinner together with their dad, Steve, whom her siblings had had a much more distant relationship with during his addiction. It's the first time they've all been together in 10 years — and it's airing on reality TV! Eek! But everything seems to go well. Steve thanks all of his children for their support, and Whitney's brother and sister agree to attend a counseling session with him at his sober living facility.

Heather and Jen's dinner is a little more fun, but less successful overall. Jen was shocked to hear that Heather is afraid of losing her as a friend last week, and wants to prove to Heather how much she cares about her. Which she of course does by setting up a double date with Sharrieff's best friend so that they can all four hopefully spend the rest of their lives together. Unfortunately, "Big Daddy" has a physical presence to match his name, but not exactly a personality presence. He spends the entire dinner drinking Shirley Temples and talking about his job as a football… well, actually, I still don't totally understand what he does.

Still, Heather appreciates the effort from Jen: "She did a really nice thing, inviting me to this…sober TED Talk."

But Jen knows Big Daddy didn't make up for much, so when the women arrive in Vegas, and Whitney informs them they're going to be driving luxury race cars in one hour, Jen tells her she can't — she's taking Heather on a surprise adventure instead. Which means that Whitney is going race car driving alone with…

Lisa and Meredith, the two women she threw under the bus at Sharrieff's party and hasn't talked to since. Meredith doesn't really seem to care about what Whitney did (her Real Housewife superpower is indifference), but Lisa is still big mad. When Whitney invited Lisa on the trip, Lisa said she'd have to think about it, then she never got back to her, and Whitney finds out from Meredith once they're at the airport that Lisa flew out to Vegas the day before for "work," and is planning on hanging out with them, but just… didn't plan on telling Whitney.

In her testimonial, Whitney says it's rude and selfish, and then turns her tone ever-so-slightly more nasal to do an impression of Lisa, which she ultimately decides she can't pull off because: "I can't look like I'm taking a s--- and being sexy at the same time." I do so enjoy when Whitney gets mad.

Despite all of that, the race car driving and apologizing between three people who'd really rather not be contractually obligated friends goes over just fine. Because these are surface-level friends. These are co-workers. Whitney can apologize for having Lisa's name in her mouth, and then turn around and make fun of Lisa for driving like a grandma after bragging to the race car instructors that she drives a Porsche at home because it won't matter. She can just apologize again, it's not that deep. Even Lisa says she's quick to forgive — she just wants an apology so she can move on and have fun.

Credit: Bravo

The same cannot be said for Heather and Jen. These are real friends with real feelings, whether those feelings are entirely reasonable or not.

Jen's surprise for Heather is a private shopping experience where she buys her expensive shoes and a sexy dress. They take photos of one another, and Jen drapes her body across the bar in a new botanical-print suit, exclaiming that people can get the outfit, "But you can't buy the tits, because my surgeon retired!" Heather and Jen both stand up on the bar for a photo, and while Jen is arranging her legs, the ankle strap on one of her thousand-dollar shoes breaks, and she literally goes plummeting forward face-first with nothing to break her fall. Heather grabs onto the back of Jen's jacket like a mama cat would to a kitten, and keeps her from smashing headfirst into the ground, and it all ends in laughter as opposed to blood and gore…

So, moments after Heather has — I truly believe — saved Jen's life, Jen starts screaming at her about the kind of friend she needs to be. This woman simply cannot go one single day being happy, and it's growing a little tiresome!

Things start to go south when Heather and Jen start discussing what the other women may be discussing at that very moment. Jen says that Whitney needs to understand that if she brings up a topic she can't put closure on, "Lisa will slaughter you, Meredith will eat you, and I will chew you up and spit you out." I think it's something more like, Lisa will ice you out, Meredith will forget you ever existed, and Jen will go so radioactive on you, you'll WISH you never existed…

But either way, Heather tells Jen that's a terrible way to treat someone, and tells the camera that she thought they had squashed the Whitney beef. Jen does not like Heather standing up for Whitney at all, saying that Whitney picked the wrong birthday party to open her mouth, and complaining again that she told Whitney how important that party was. "Are you blaming Whitney for throwing the glass?" Heather asks, and Jen looks like she's about to short circuit over the reveal that Heather is not simply going to let her rage-monologue as usual. In her testimonial, Jen complains that she's gone out of her way for Heather, only for Heather to cover for Whitney: "Like, let Whitney stand up for herself… come to the big girl table, Whitney, stop eating chicken nuggets at the kiddie table — eat caviar, bitch."

So clearly Jen is coming at Heather from a reasonable place. Suddenly, Jen whirls around on Heather, seething, "I'm your goddamn friend, bitch, you stand up for ME with Whitney!" After Jen has just called her a bitch, Heather politely asks to know when she ever didn't stand up for Jen, and Jen screams, "What do you mean, she ruined my husband's birthday!"

Hey, Jen? We've already heard that song, let's play a new one. As usual, Heather hits the nail on the head in her testimonial, saying that Jen doesn't want a friend, she wants a henchman: "Someone who, whatever mood she's in, whatever she feels is important, you will just pile on. There's no room to be objective or to be helpful, it's just like… the house is on fire, and you're either on my team, or you're dead to me."

Unfortunately for Jen, she's not accurately reading the room right now: not on the small scale of her castmates, or the larger scale of the Housewives audience watching this show. Because what Jen — and to some degree, Heather — don't seem to realize is that Heather is the one keeping this whole train on track. And Jen needs Heather a lot more than Heather needs Jen. As her final act of rage, Jen hisses that the only reason any of them are putting up with Whitney is because they care about Heather, but… I don't think Whitney is the cast member whose antics everyone is constantly having to put up with.

What do you say we all meet back here next week to see if Jen can go one episode without screaming at her friends that they need to have blind loyalty to the person who is constantly screaming at them? See you there!

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