The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City season 2, episode 17 recap: Jen Shah and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day
Now that RHOSLC is almost through with its second season, some patterns are beginning to emerge. And between her two screaming matches, the near-drowning of Jennie, and a hauntingly nondescript silver bottle full of alcohol, the obvious theme that shimmied to the surface tonight is that Jen Shah simply burns too bright to sustain an entire 20-episode season.
Sunday night's trip to Zion may as well have been a shot-for-shot recreation of season 1's trip to Las Vegas. Everyone is furious with one another, there's no reason they should be going on a trip together, and yet they are contractually obligated to interact. (Although at times, it seems just as likely that these women are pathologically drawn to the notion that they are capable of working any of this out. Spoiler: they are not!) Over the course of both seasons 1 and 2, Jen Shah has boldly proclaimed all the things she's working on about herself in her testimonials, and then throughout the course of screaming at all of her friends — which they do not love, but also tolerate way more than any human should — come to believe that nothing has ever been her fault, she is hurting more than anyone else could possibly hurt, and yet she is the one who gets blamed for everything.
This episode — coupled with last season's trip to Vegas — proves that there is no amount of spirituality, no Las Vegas psychic with Connie Britton hair, no bra made of crystals, and absolutely no bag of Smartfood large enough to make this Housewives ecosystem function properly with Jennifer Shah inside it. It will always crumble under the weight of her delusion because Jen Shah is loyal to nothing and no one except herself and the rage that keeps her upright. It's no wonder that she became an entrepreneur — this woman is simply unmanageable.
And this is not to excuse anyone else on this trip — except the chef who had to keep Jen from licking every serving dish as she tried to plate dinner — who were all tiny little nightmares in their own right! But, by the time we get the point in a second season where Jen has morphed into a heat-seeking, anger-shotgun, lashing out at any living form that gets in her crosshairs, I am continually forced to wonder: how do we solve a problem like Jen Shah? So, I hope you've had a relaxing holiday weekend thus far because we're about to recap one of the most stressful, uncomfortable, combative episodes of Real Housewives I've ever seen!
The episode starts back right where we left off — on the Sprinter Bus from Hell, with Jen and Lisa about to get into a physical altercation because Jen thinks Lisa doesn't hold Meredith accountable. Jen also thinks that Lisa doesn't understand what she's going through and that her children might lose their mother. And Jen also thinks that Lisa needs to understand that she's not guilty of anything she's been accused of, and Meredith and Mary have probably framed her for the crimes.
All of these things are being screamed either directly into Lisa's face, or from the opposite side of the bus when Shanae the Producer manages to wrestle Jen away. (At one point, Shanae bodies Jen back into her seat to prevent her from clawing her way back over to Lisa, for which she deserves at least a 20 percent raise.) Things were legitimately on the verge of a physical fight multiple times, and it is a wonder it never came to that. But even more unbelievable is that, somehow, after Jen commences screaming, "THIS IS MY LIFE, THESE ARE MY KIDS," during an argument that had nothing to do with Jen's arrest or possible imprisonment.
Lisa walks over to Jen to comfort her. It literally felt like watching a woman enter a tiger's cage wearing a meat suit. But by this point, Jen has cried and screamed herself into exhaustion, and Lisa approaches with an apology, a hug, and tells Jen that if she needs to "kick the s--- out of [her]" every once in a while to understand that she would never want to hurt her, then that's okay. Ah, yes — beautiful, gorgeous, healthy friendship! Maybe I'm an idiot, but this seems like Lisa genuinely not being able to bear seeing Jen be so upset — what else could explain her approaching the woman who lunged at her across a bag of Fritos not five minutes ago?
I kid you not, Jen goes back over to the group, Heather makes a joke about Jen needing some carbs, and they finish out the rest of the bus ride like the best of pals. Although a flashback later tells us that Jen was drinking heavily for the rest of the drive, as does Jen's behavior for the remainder of the episode. When Mary and Meredith arrive in their own Sprinter Van after flying to Zion on their own, Whitney and Heather lock the door of the bathroom they're getting ready in exactly like the clip of Cassie in the Euphoria premiere that's now become a meme.
But eventually, Meredith and Mary make their way inside the bathroom, where they ask about the bus trip from Salt Lake City to Zion, to which Heather responds, "Have you ever seen Celebrity Death Match?" I firmly believe Mary still thinks people use VCRs and cassette players, but she gets the Celebrity Death Match drift and is bereft she didn't get to witness Jen and Lisa fighting. And yet, it's not enough to make her want to apply her many serums and creams a little faster in order to make it on the Red Earth Ceremony Whitney has planned for the group.
Yes, that's right! In a display of pure naivete, pure ignorance, or both, Whitney has planned another spiritual experience for these women in hopes that it will suture the wounds that only years of therapy, time apart, and the ability to actually eat a full meal without getting into a screaming match could ever heal. But bless her, Whitney will put a crystal in her bra and try anyway. She manages to wrestle Meredith onto the bus but has to leave Mary behind as they head to meet Whitney's spiritual healer Benita, who walks them through a lovely labyrinth ceremony that everyone really seems to enjoy — y'know ... until Mary shows up.
Mary is 30 minutes late, refuses to participate — and instead of just getting back on the bus, she awkwardly loiters around in the background of the labyrinth, like The Babadook. This sets Whitney down one of her paths where she's determined that this will be the day she stands up for herself and makes everyone take her seriously! To her credit, this is the best it's ever gone — but there are just so many bigger fish to fry at the first Zion dinner. Whitney is intent on pointing out that it's hypocritical of Meredith to say they shouldn't invite Jen to events where she'll also be in attendance, but Mary has treated Whitney horribly in the past, and Meredith has been stuck to her like glue all season … but no one really cares about that. We care about what the hell is going on with these accusations between Jen, Meredith, and Mary.
Jen briefly leaves the table to eat the food being prepared in the kitchen with her bare hands when everyone starts litigating if Jennie said she was a criminal or not, but eventually returns with slightly elevated blood sugar, read for the second time that day, to absolutely lose her shit. After, Mary tells Whitney that she just can't find the emotional energy to say she wants to be her friend, and Whitney responds, "Well, now I feel like it's pointless for me to even say anything," expecting everyone to oppose that notion, but everyone is just like, "Well observed, girlfriend," Jen takes this as her opportunity …
She opens up the floor about what's been bothering her: "I would like to know, Meredith, why you hired a private investigator to research about me." Straightforward, I like it! And I also like that Meredith has a straightforward answer: she didn't hire a P.I. to investigate Jen, she hired a P.I. to investigate the threats being made against her family, which involved submitting the names of all of her reality television co-stars to said investigator.
That response could have stopped this entire runaway train, but instead, it leads Jen to simply derail her anger toward Jennie, screaming, "YOU TOLD ME SHE HIRED A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR TO INVESTIGATE ME, JENNIE, THAT'S WHAT YOU SAID!" Jennie tries to explain that she told Jen how Meredith brought up the private investigator during the Vail conversation about Jen, but not that Meredith hired an investigator specifically to investigate her. And if Heather had spoken a single word during a single one of Jen's tirades, she may have reminded Jen that she also told her that very morning that Meredith hired the P.I. to investigate text messages being sent to her sons.
But Heather doesn't say that, leaving a nice opening for Jen to scream, "SO WHAT, YOU GUYS THINK IT'S ME?" Meredith says that it's the investigator who thinks Jen was her making the threats, with 90 percent certainty. Jen sputters, but Meredith tells her she can't deny she's been terrible to her family. To which, Jen of course responds that it's Meredith's family who's been horrible to her family because Jen somehow always relates Brooks saying he saw Jen's vagina back to the fact that she has two sons. At that point, everyone starts screaming, even Meredith, inaudibly screaming vagina-this, vagina-that … which leads Jen to hop out of her seat, get in Meredith's face and scream, "DO YOU WANNA KNOW WHAT YOU'VE DONE? YOU DON'T WANT ME TO TELL EVERYONE WHAT YOU'VE DONE, RIGHT?"
Um, do I get to participate in this pop quiz?! Because I would very much like to know what Jen thinks Meredith has done. Further, I would like Meredith to explain her response to Jen: "Really, you want me to tell them what you've done, baby? Oh sweetie, you have no idea what I know." Well, Meredith, there is literally only one way to find out. But we never find out what Meredith knows because when Jen starts screaming that Meredith obviously had something to do with her arrest, Meredith naturally disengages, and leaves the table. But at least in the heat of this disengagement, Jen accuses Meredith of being fraudulent and having 10 boyfriends, to which Meredith says, rather iconically: "Who's calling who a fraud? Love ya, baby, bye."
And with that — love ya, babies. Bye.
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