The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City recap: Jen's new phone, who dis?
The best, most dynamic Real Housewives storylines happen when every scene, every sentence, every moment has you changing your mind on who's right, who's wrong, and in the case of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, who's potentially going to jail. Stretch that feeling out into a whole season, and you've got yourself a ballgame; distill it down into one conversation inside a barn that's inexplicably been dressed up to look like a West Elm showroom so that Lisa can scream at Meredith… and baby, that's lightning in a bottle.
Hardly anything of substance happens in this episode of RHOSLC beyond establishing that it costs approximately the same amount of money for a Housewife to mount a legal defense against a federal indictment as it does for a different Housewife to change the name of her skincare line. And yet, I was riveted — eyes absolutely glued to the screen — as Jen casually returned to the land of the un-indicted, and everyone went round and round about whose behavior has been most egregious while surreptitiously attempting to throw one another under the bus. Because I somehow agreed with… all of them? And also… none of them? (Of course, I've never related to any single Housewives guest star more than the closet organizer who was so stunned by the sheer Mary-ness of Mary that she couldn't even speak during her one precious moment on national television.)
It all starts with the gals debriefing the Vail chaos to their closest loved ones, whether that be a teenager, a step-grandfather-turned-husband, or a man silently dying inside while Lisa Barlow prevents him from retrieving his BigGulp from the kitchen until she's done talking. This should have been a boring montage given that we've already borne witness to it all, but there were just so many delicious moments to take in.
But things transition from good old-fashioned idiosyncratic fun to vital plot structure when, in the middle of debriefing the Vail trip, Lisa nearly chokes on her BigGulp after reading a text, and commands John to sit back down at the exact moment he was attempting to flee the room. And for good reason…
Jen Shah has made contact. She has a new number (presumably because her old phone was seized), and she's texted to see if Lisa would like to get coffee. Lisa tells John she needs some time to figure out where she stands with Jen after the way she's treated her the last few weeks — it has absolutely nothing to do with the federal indictment — and she'll respond to her when she feels ready. Meanwhile, Heather answers the phone in the middle of a conversation with her daughter, and agrees to meet Jen during the day at a steakhouse of her choosing. The juxtaposition of their reactions is as delicious as the wedge salad Heather and Jen ultimately share.
I worry for Heather's ride-or-die stance with Jen, given the serious allegations against her, but I was also impressed with the delicate way she approached it. Heather says that when she was at her lowest, she simply needed someone to hold her hand and not ask too many questions. And when Heather sits down with Jen, she doesn't ask any questions — not in a way that would harm Jen, but more notably, not in a way that would help Jen, either.
Each time we've heard from Jen since she was arrested, she's made sure to note that it was Sharrieff's number that called her on the party bus, but it wasn't Sharrieff talking on the other end. When she says she thought she was on her way to an ailing Sharrieff, but was then surrounded by cars that she assumed were there to kidnap her, Heather simply nods and eats her wedge salad. When Jen says that she didn't ask for a lawyer because she knew she hadn't done anything wrong, Heather simply gulps her lemon water. And when Jen tries to start sewing seeds of doubt about Stuart (who is now a "friend" and not a business partner that Jen hand-feeds bananas to), Heather just takes another bite of mashed lunch steak.
Now, the one part of the conversation that did engage Heather, and likely everyone at home too, was hearing Jen talk about the police invasion on her home. It breaks my heart to think about how traumatized her teenage son and nephews were, because the only ounce of sympathy I can ever muster when Jen's face starts cracking into sobs — and that is the only word for what's happening to her face, right? — is for her family.
I thought for sure we'd never see Sharrieff on this series again, but here he is, having a perfectly good Popeyes meal ruined by the realization that, even under federal investigation, his wife will find a way to blame all of her problems on the people around her not being loyal enough. Jen says over and over in this episode that people are happy to be around you when things are good, but "the second s--- goes down, you find out who's really there for you." But perhaps Jen doesn't remember that she was singing the exact same tune last season, when she was destroying all of her relationships and screaming at everyone all the time, and then waiting to see who would remain by her side. And people did! But now…
Well, at least Sharrieff states boldly and clearly that he'll never leave Jen, even though he kind of grimaces when Jen boldly and clearly declares she's innocent.
So, it's a little wild that, in a season where Jen was quite literally arrested, it's Mary Cosby who seems to be drawing the most suspicions. First of all, there was her heinous remark about Mexican people last week that she's now apologized for with what appears to be a Junior Prom invitation. And now — knowing that her friends have started airing out the public rumor that she uses her position at the head of a church to take money from her parishioners — Mary marches a professional organizer around her house, bragging about all the "things she's been blessed with." Mary then says in her testimonial, as though she's explaining why she has a proclivity for collecting snow globes, "Most people have family to be attached to and have history with — I haven't spoken to my mom for 20 years, so for the last 20 years, I bonded with things in my closet."
This, again, is a pastor — a woman of god! — explaining that, in the absence of familial attachments, she bought and emotionally attached herself to material possessions. Mary further elaborates to the professional organizer (who has actually turned green at the thought of organizing Mary's closet-house): "It can be a bit much, but as I always say, the more things I have, the bigger my heart is." I'll have to double check, but I think that's a verse from the New Testament.
And right smack-dab in the middle of the accusations against Mary are Lisa and Whitney: sworn enemies, forever trying to find a way to coexist together on a reality show. Lisa is so mad at Whitney for accusing her of purposefully bringing Cameron on the show to expose Mary that she completely forgets how to ride a horse and winds up screaming at Meredith in a room surrounded by saddles. And Whitney is so mad at Lisa for trying to pin all the accusations being made against Mary entirely on her that she accidentally forgets to tell her husband that she's applied for a million-dollar line of credit that he'll probably need to cosign.
Whitney is all kinds of weird, but I don't know if there's ever been a more relatable Housewives moment than Whitney huffing, "Yeah, I'm really bad at money." (It is, at minimum, a close second to Heather begging them not to let anyone clear her burger while she was away from the table last season.) Of course, when I say I'm bad with money, I mean I went a little hard on Black Friday. When Whitney says she's bad with money, she means that she has spent all of her family's savings on rebranding a beauty line that no one had heard of before this season of RHOSLC.
At the beginning of this season, Whitney insisted that she had a booming skincare line called Iris + Beau that she was rebranding to Wild Rose Beauty. Now, she sometimes calls Wild Rose a new business (when saying she's spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on its launch), while other times calling it a "rebrand" (when justifying a $20,000 photoshoot). I simply don't understand what's so expensive about changing a name, and to be fair, Whitney doesn't seem to either. She outright says she has no idea how much money she's spent on this "rebranding."
Jenni, bless her, notes that Whitney should fire whoever is in charge of her "rebrand," because when she arrives at the photoshoot/launch party, she doesn't see a single Wild Rose Beaty product. In fact, there is Iris + Beau merchandise everywhere, leading the editors to throw up a "NOT WILD ROSE" title card over every non-rebranded item. It is gorgeous work. But even that doesn't hold a candle to what Whitney herself coughs up once she takes a break from modeling not-Wild-Rose to sit down with Heather and Jennie — the only people she's on good enough terms with to invite to this not-event.
She tells them that she's tired of Lisa dropping breadcrumbs about Mary, then trying to blame everyone else for picking them up. So, she took matters into her own hands: she called Cameron herself, spoke to him for three hours, and based on their conversation, "If Lisa knew one-tenth of what I know now, and if one-tenth of that was true, Mary is bigger and badder than we ever realized." Of course, we'll have to wait until next week — and probably next season — to find out what that means, because somehow, all the women agree that the least problematic way to handle this is for Whitney to speak to Lisa at a spa. So, I'll see you back here next week when, hopefully, Jenni's daughter Karlyn can straighten this entire mess out.
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