By Jodi Walker
January 07, 2021 at 12:56 AM EST
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The entertainment value of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City (a 100 out of 10, obviously) is as much about the little things that happen in every episode as it is about the big things. Yes, we'll walk away from this hour gasping for air at the memory of Jen chucking a glass into the wild Top Golf yonder while she screams at Whitney to shut the f--- up about Mary…

But you can't let that distract you from Heather telling us that her ex-husband once withheld sex from her because she wasn't adequately offended by the glory hole scene in Scary Movie 3. Or Mary, sitting in her house that looks like a fancy funeral home, bragging that her deceased grandmother left her "omes, churches, daycares, a mortgage company, restaurants… and her husband!" Or Whitney explaining that her in-laws waited seven years after her marriage to Justin to hang their wedding photo next to the one they kept up of Justin and his ex-wife and that they added the wedding photo of the ex-wife and her new husband right alongside it.

Yes, we have to hold onto those little glimpses of magic — even when a gal wearing a hooded sports bra gets in way over her head sharing secrets at a hip-hop-golf party, leading another gal dressed as Beyoncé from the 2016 Super Bowl to send a tequila-soda hurdling into space…

Speaking of, Jen finally has a good reason to throw a party: Sharrieff is back home from scouting season, and it's his birthday. So, Jen wants to plan an extravagant surprise party because she "read in some personal growth book that if I want more love, I have to give more love." She tells Whitney as much on the phone, but she also tells her that she's not inviting Mary, because why would she — they're cordial, but no longer friends.

Whitney goes to Mary's house to check in on her, and apparently to check out her closet as well, because that's directly where Mary leads her after forcing her to put sanitary booties over her stilettos in order to protect her funeral home rugs from, what Mary describes as, any visitor's potential to have "hurled, and walked in it." There are just so many ways to describe the fact that shoes are dirty without assuming that someone may vomit and then walk through their own vomit before arriving at your home. This woman's mind is simply unknowable.

Anyway, Mary leads Whitney into her closet, which is actually her bedroom that she's started using as a closet because she already filled up all of the other closets in the house. It is filled to the brim with more Chanel, Gucci, and terrible metallic pants than the eye can see but is somehow the opposite of glamorous. There's not even a giant closet ottoman, the signature of any good Housewives closet! As Whitney says, "If your clothes are taking over your 20,000 square foot house, you might be a high-end hoarder."

Inexplicably sitting amongst racks and racks of clothes, Mary wastes no time in getting to the point: She's hurt that she's not invited to Sharrieff's party, less because Jen isn't inviting her, and more because the other women aren't standing up for her. "At the end of the day, I'm the one getting mistreated because you guys are too afraid to say anything," Mary says. She tells Whitney that everyone has spoken to her about not liking the way Jen is treating for her, yet no one is speaking up for her.

Whitney apologizes for letting Mary down but wants to know a little more about this "everyone" that's comforting her behind closed doors. This is probably where I should mention that listening to a conversation between Mary and Whitney — two people with, uh, unique cadences — is a bit unnerving, but nevertheless, Mary manages to communicate that Lisa and Mary have both spoken to her. "What do they say?" Whitney asks. "I'm scared of her," Mary responds, with her eyes all the way out of their sockets. She says that everyone is pretending they don't see it because they're scared of Jen, and that's not right.

Credit: Bravo

Whitney doesn't like being in the middle, but she feels like she's been a bad friend to Mary, so she heads over to another friend's house for a little advice…

There are other scenes with actual Housewives in this episode that we could discuss — like Lisa's family feeding penguins while she reveals that, in an attempt to spend more time with her 15 and 8-year-old sons, she's helping them start a male grooming product line called "Fresh Wolf" — but I only have eyes for Whitney's friend Sara. The moment Whitney arrived at Sara's house, I knew that recognized her chaotic energy. Thankfully, before I had to wrack my brain too hard, the editors helped me out with a flashback…

Sara is the woman who came stumbling into Jen's party during the premiere, carrying a giant present, drunkenly singing "Happy Birthday" à la Marilyn, only to stutter out at the name portion because she realized she had no idea whose birthday it was. Which is to say: Sara is an instant RHOSLC icon. And she does not disappoint with her follow up performance. As soon as Whitney arrives, they reminisce about having their first marriages (Sara is on her third) at the Salt Lake City Temple. And when Whitney asks Sara how she's doing, Sara responds with the standard: "I don't know, life, right? So many kids. And stuff. But… I'm creating a new version of life." Do tell, Sara!

Sara's version of new life seems to be lifting the burden of complicated charcuterie platters off of her delicate shoulders, and I respect it. In the kitchen, she struggles to cut up two apples on a dinner plate then looks at Whitney and gasps, "Do you like pecans?" Whitney shrugs, "Sure, throw some on there," and Sara beams, does a little wiggle, and sprinkles pecans onto the plate with sheer delight.

After the pecans have been dispersed, Whitney explains her predicament with Jen and Mary, and Sara says that Whitney should just talk to Jen about it. They decide that since Jen is so much more chill around her husband, maybe Whitney should talk to her at Sharrieff's party — the one that Jen is really concerned about going perfectly!

Now, I truly see Whitney as someone who means well — but I also see Whitney as someone who sometimes miscalculates how to accomplish the wellness that she means. And adding Sara into the mix… well, they probably should've just sat there and eaten their apples, if you know what I mean.

Because, once at Sharrieff's party, Whitney's intention to be a better friend to Mary by sticking up for her has somehow morphed into Whitney feeling it's her duty to tell Jen that Lisa and Meredith have been telling Mary they're scared of her. Heather agrees to back Whitney up in this conversation because "Jen deserves to know that Meredith and Lisa are talking behind her back."

Now, you know I ride for Heather always, but it must be said that the only reason she thinks Lisa and Meredith have been talking behind Jen's back is because Mary told Whitney that. And we saw that conversation — it was not particularly extensive! I fully believe that opposing Jen is scary, but I don't think Meredith and Lisa are the ones she scares — Heather and Whitney are. This is particularly evident as Whitney guzzles glass after glass of champagne at the party in order to gain "liquid courage" to speak to Jen.

But before any of that goes down, the actual surprise party happens, and it is, frankly, delightful. Mostly because Sharrieff is delightful. I just love this guy, and I hope he never does anything to disappoint me, which would make him the first Househusband in history to achieve that feat. Sharrieff is thrilled to see so many people from his past, Jen has flown his family in, and of course, their two sons are there: adorable Omar in a track suit that matches his dad's, and Sharrieff Jr., whose bone structure is as impeccable as ever.

But once enough fun has been had, and an impromptu dance battle has taken place, Whitney decides it's time to grab Heather and pull Jen aside. This is when it becomes clear that while everyone has had some drinks, Whitney has had everyone's drinks. "So, Jen, you know I'm a straight shooter, and I told you from day one that I stand up for what's right and wrong," Whitney starts off, as the smile slips from Jen's face. But as Whitney tries to transition into the Lisa and Meredith reveal, she loses the thread and asks to start the conversation over. "I've told you from day one that I've always stood up for wrong and right," Whitney begins again, while Jen and I make the same bug-eyed face at her literally starting over.

When Jen suggests Whitney get to the point, Whitney tells her, "I'm coming to you with a loyalty." But every time she starts to say what she was "surprised to hear" about Lisa and Meredith this week, she pulls up short. Finally, Heather just bellows: "They're afraid of you!"

And I kid you not, in her testimonial, Whitney scoffs, "Are you kidding me, Heather — I had it handled!" The only thing Whitney has handled is the stemless wine glass glued to her hand for this entire conversation. But to Jen's very brief credit, she doesn't get angry about Lisa and Meredith immediately; she points out that "Mary is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs," so why should they believe Mary? Even so, Whitney's inability to communicate and insistence on talking about Mary has ignited Jen's rage spiral, so when Lisa and Meredith come over to see what's going on, she's moved on to screaming: "I'm really f---ing pissed off, so let's get this all out on the f---ing ground!"

Credit: Bravo

And hey — talking it out directly with the people actually involved in the gossip seems like a good way to move past this and get back to the very fun party taking place behind them. Lisa immediately says that she's not scared of Jen, and Meredith coos, "I have never had a conversation of any significance about Jen with Mary," which makes me cough out a laugh. Lisa pulls Jen away from the group to talk, and it briefly seems like everything could settle back down. Jen is confused by what Whitney told her, but Lisa says it's not true, and in her testimonial says that she's very annoyed with Whitney…

And I hope she's ready to settle into that sentiment, because back in the other huddle, Whitney has turned to an unexpecting Meredith and said, "Well, in light of, like, people going behind your back, I also want to come to you about Jen." In her testimonial, Whitney says she'll never have this much liquid courage again, so she might as well tell Meredith now that Jen has been suggesting there's "a bigger story" about her separation from Seth. To me, being drunk seems like a very good reason not to have an important conversation, but what do I know about Top-Golf-based confrontations?

Jen returns to the group in a calmer state of mind, and agrees to have a conversation with Whitney about how this all went sideways… unfortunately, Whitney reveals how sideways it's actually gone by suggesting that after she's done with Jen, Meredith can talk to her "about what I shared with you." Jen whips her head around at Whitney while Meredith says that she's actually had enough and it's time to go. (Heather, for the record, has moonwalked about 40 feet away because when she saw this thing going left, she immediately went right, and straight-up hid in a corner.)

"I just want to get to the bottom of the bulls---!" Whitney cries out as things escalate to a full-on screaming match. But Lisa tells her that there is no bulls---, and why would she think they were scared of Jen. "Well, because Mary —" But that's as far as she gets. Mary is the trigger-iest of triggers for Jen, and she absolutely flips a switch when Whitney brings her up again, screaming: "Mary is f---ing crazy, SHUT THE F--- UP ABOUT MARY!" And she punctuates that last bit by flinging her glass into the Top Golf abyss.

"I'm surprised she didn't pick up Whitney and throw her," Lisa deadpans in her testimonial, and it is absolutely perfect.

The worst part though is that once Jen storms inside, Sharrieff seems not to have even noticed the screaming match or glass throwing that was going on outside. Whitney made a bad judgment call in bringing this up at a party that was so important to Jen, sure, but if Jen could have just gotten her emotions in check afterward, Sharrieff could have continued to enjoy his party just like she wanted him to. But that is… not an option for Jen. She yanks Sharrieff by the arm, crying that they have to get out of there. When he asks why, she screams: "These mother f---ing bitches, let's GO!"

Somehow, Jen's little 14-year-old son Omar ends up escorting her to the car, whispering "Mama, breathe," as Jen continues to shout out into the void. That particular bit made me very sad. Inside, Whitney has gone into a full drunken weep, crying to her husband, "They won't own the truth, and that's the honesty."

Oh, this is a mess, and not one that looks like it will be resolved anytime soon according to next week's trailer. As for the timing of this episode and its accompanying recap, I liked what Meredith had to say on Twitter: I hope that this might serve as a small escape for anyone who needs it, but at this moment, the insignificance is especially stark. But I'll still see you back here next week when, I hope, things might be a little better.

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