The women of RHOSLC are reunited for the first time since Jen’s arrest – whether they like it or not.
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Of all episodes, why is this the one Real Housewives of Salt Lake City producers decided to super-size? These events could have easily been split into three separate episodes and still been more than a reasonable Housewives watcher could comprehend! With one of the Housewife under federal investigation, the other women are either sure that her arrest is somehow most impactful on their life, or completely checked out from the situation because they're more focused on the allegations that a different Housewife may be the predatory leader of a religious cult.

By RHOSLC season 2's 14th episode, "What the Pho?" the women have moved past fighting for screen time, and now seem to be just hoping to avoid jail time. It is for that reason, perhaps, that the seats at Jennie's International Peace Luncheon seem to have eject buttons built into the armrests; two-thirds of the women flee the table at various points. Only Heather and Whitney stay seated throughout, and we know that's only because those two are always going to sit back and enjoy the show when the food is good and the entertainment is free. And because, up to this point, Heather and Whitney are the only bond we can really count on in this franchise.

Indeed, the speed and efficiency with which alliances change hands in this episode is unlike anything I've ever seen on Housewives. At one point during Jennie's luncheon, she basically invites Mary to leave after lying about badmouthing Jen (for anyone counting, this means than Mary has either kicked someone out of, or been kicked out of, every single luncheon that has taken place in RHOSLC to date).

THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF SALT LAKE CITY -- "What the Pho?" Episode 214
Credit: Natalie Cass/Bravo

But before we unpack the luncheon chaos, Lisa finally answers Jen's text invitation to reconnect after she was arrested by Homeland Security. It ends up being the most awkward interaction in an episode absolutely chock full of them.

Jen tells Lisa that she doesn't understand why she wasn't there for her after her arrest, so Lisa tells Jen that she was still angry with her for the way she treated her at her sons' photoshoot (the worst of which seemed to be offscreen in phone calls and text messages). Jen thinks that when "s--- implodes," everything else should cease to matter — Lisa should just pick up the phone and be there for her. And… theoretically, I would agree. But we can't put aside every single other thing that we know about Jen Shah, which is that for the limited amount of time we've spent with her, a pattern has emerged wherein she treats her friends terribly, but if something bad happens to her, she demands their unending support.

Lisa says in her testimonial that what Jen's going through sucks, but it doesn't minimize what Jen did to her prior to her arrest. To borrow from Lisa's own question-and-answer style: is Lisa's timing in taking a stand for herself against Jen the best? Probably not. But has Jen always expected far too much from her friends in return for far too little? One hundred percent… but Lisa can't quite stick the landing, so when Jen starts crying, she commits to being there for her no matter what.

Next up on Lisa's checklist of strained relationships is Whitney. If these two could just admit to one another that they'd love nothing more than to expose Mary as a fraud, and join forces to do it together, I firmly believe they'd be unstoppable.

THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF SALT LAKE CITY -- "What the Pho?" Episode 214
Jen Shah, Mary Cosby
| Credit: Natalie Cass/Bravo

So, paddleboard yoga it is! After Lisa and Whitney plunge into the water in jean shorts a bunch of times, they really lean into that discomfort by talking about how awkwardly their last interaction ended. Whitney tells Lisa that since Meredith's conversation with Cameron was at the center of their blow-up in Vail, she took it upon herself to contact Cameron and find out what he knows about Mary. Whitney says that if Lisa already knew the things she found out from Cameron, it's no wonder she would be scared of Mary.

This is an unusually savvy move from our Whitney Wild Rose, but Lisa doesn't bite, simply saying, "Mary's complicated, we're navigating someone complicated." It's a complicated topic we'll have to save for a later date because, for the first time since Jen was arrested, all of the women are coming back together. Jennie explains that in Vietnamese culture, when there's a conflict, everyone sits down to a meal together and sorts it out. So, she's chosen to share that tradition, along with Vietnamese food, with her friends today, in hopes that it might restore some peace to their warring group.

THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF SALT LAKE CITY -- "What the Pho?" Episode 214
Jennie Nguyen, Jen Shah
| Credit: Natalie Cass/Bravo

Ultimately, this luncheon produces so much absolute mayhem that I think a bullet-point list is the easiest way to explain the course of events. So here goes:

  • Jen, Whitney, and Heather arrive together wearing perfectly coordinated pastel outfits. Despite pulling out every single Marketing for Dummies fact in her head to damn Jen to federal prison over the last three weeks, Whitney has now decided that Jen is deserving of her grace, and that perhaps she judged her too quickly.
  • Meredith is upset when she sees Jen approaching the International Peace Garden despite her explicit request to be left off of any invite list that included Jen from here on out.
  • After commenting that Lisa is "not self-aware of her behavior," Mary makes another racist comment when she tells Jennie that she has "yellow undertones" and remarks on her "slanted eyes" — at the luncheon where Jennie is sharing her Vietnamese culture with her friends for the first time. Truly, the peaks to which Mary can spike my levels of disdain for her in a single episode are Ramona Singer levels of impressive.
  • When Whitney loudly whispers about how awkward it is that everyone is acting like everything is fine, Jen takes it upon herself to open the conversation up to her arrest.
  • Mary questions Jen's claims that she had no idea what was going on when she was arrested, then begins fussing at Lisa for interrupting the conversation she's trying to have with Jen in the middle of the table. (Later, when Mary and Jen actually do get to have a private conversation, Mary's important message for Jen goes like this: "I pray to god that you're guilty — er, that you're innocent.")
  • Lisa and Whitney start sparring over who said worse things about Jen in Vail, which leads Mary to claim that she "did not talk about" Jen on the trip at all. Cue: clip of Mary saying that she believed everything Jen was being accused of because, "I never saw nothing good in her, never, and I was scared of her because I knew what she was capable of."
  • Jennie finally blows up, accusing Mary of lying; she had just as much to say about Jen in Vail as any of them. Somehow, Jennie saying that Mary doesn't really care about Jen turns into Mary hearing Jennie say that she doesn't really care about Mary — a sentiment that Jennie is happy to get behind, so when Mary says she might as well leave, Jennie points her to the gate.
  • Mary leaves, Meredith chases after her.
  • At the table, with Jen sitting right beside her, Lisa says that the Vail trip was so traumatic for all of them that she "probably still has PTSD from that day." It takes a lot to make Jen Shah look rational, but in that moment, Lisa does it.
  • Jen cries out, "And you don't think I do," and unexpectedly flees the table into the cold, odor gland-less arms of Mary Cosby.
  • With Jen now joining the outliers, Meredith returns to the table and accuses everyone of making Jen's pain all about themselves… shortly before remembering that she hates Jen, and deciding it's time for her to leave this lunch.
  • Lisa goes after Meredith, first accusing her of never standing up for her, and then begging her to stay because she makes her feels safe… and so, Meredith agrees to stay for Lisa.
  • Mary also talks Jen into returning to the table (despite the fact that Jen found Mary during her own impromptu exit from the luncheon), where Jen states once and for all to the entire group: "I promise on my kids, on my husband, on my dad — I did not do any of the things that have been alleged against me."

Finally, Jen tells the women that she just needs people around her "who believe me and are there for me." And I firmly believe that the subsequent shot of all the women looking around the table trying to assess who that is — and more importantly, who it's not — will play on a loop in the Louvre one day. See you back here next episode for another slice of history!

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The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City (TV series)

A peek inside the unconventional lives of six successful women navigating an exclusive social circle in a city where religion, status and perfection are praised to the highest degree.

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