In the last episode of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, a pho luncheon that reunited all seven cast members at the International Peace Gardens was, unsurprisingly, as far from peaceful as you can imagine. There were so many left-of-field comments, talking over each other and petty arguments that the whole thing felt like a mix between 30 Rock’s “Queen of Jordan” and listening to five podcasts at 1.5x speed simultaneously. This week’s installment is slightly calmer (read: actually coherent), but there is one holdover from the past episode that still casts a major shadow.
During the pho luncheon, Mary told Jennie she had “yellow tones” and referenced her “slanted eyes.” In the moment, Jennie seems too stunned to respond, but when the Housewives all gather again (for Whitney’s Wild Rose Beauty rebrand event,) Jennie tells Mary that she was hurt by the comments. Mary looks surprised, says, “I love slanted eyes” and asks if anyone else knew that was offensive. The others, especially Whitney and Lisa, back Jennie up. (Lisa reminds Mary of her other racist comment comparing Jen to “Mexican thugs,” which Mary flatout denies.) Meredith, however, waffles, saying she doesn’t know if the comment is offensive or not, making everyone else roll their eyes. Rudeness, conflict and generally out-of-pocket behavior is part of the Housewives gig, but it’s disheartening to watch Jennie be forced to defend herself against racist comments from a person who is, essentially, a coworker. It especially sucks that Jennie doesn’t have unanimous support from the other cast members, because Meredith has for some reason decided that because Jen is her sworn enemy nobody else can do anything wrong.
Mary and Meredith’s strangely enduring friendship is the unexpected throughline of the episode. Because Mary will never pass up an opportunity to butcher the Italian language, the two meet at Veneto the day after the cursed pho luncheon. We’re less than a minute in before Mary whips out a bad—and racist!—impression of Jennie. Let’s once again pause to emphasize that Mary is awful, and not in the fun-to-watch way. Meredith cringes, says “no character please” and yet still trusts Mary with some hot gossip. After Mary somehow blames Lisa for her conflict with Jennie, she asks Meredith about her relationship with the Queen of Sundance. Meredith says that watching Lisa defend Jen was “triggering,” and she still doesn’t know why Lisa won’t fully take her side. The tension between Meredith and Lisa has been simmering all season, and Meredith explicitly says she doesn’t know where their friendship stands.
The other Housewives have noticed just how tight Mary and Meredith have been lately. Heather—whose Beauty Lab is apparently doing so well that she can randomly buy her business partner a new Audi—goes to help Whitney prepare gift bags for her brand relaunch party. Whitney goes on and on about how stressed she is and how much work she has to do, and then immediately takes a wine break. Work ethic I can get behind! The two start with their favorite topic—Lisa being two-faced—before getting into juicer territory. Whitney tells Heather about Mary’s (alleged) threat to Lisa in Vail: “See what happens when you mess with my church? You wind up in jail.” Whitney and Heather then wonder aloud if Mary has anything to do with Jen’s indictment. The two quickly turn into this meme, connecting dots that may or may not actually make up a picture. They remember that Mary didn’t join the rest of the group on the party bus, just like Meredith…and that Meredith hired a PI to investigate Jen without telling anyone else…and that Jen said that Mary “fucked her grandfather,” which Rev. Cosby is likely still holding a grudge about. They speculate that Meredith could have tipped off federal authorities about Jen’s business practices and told Mary what she knew. That would mean that Lisa was kept in the dark and, as Heather puts it, left to “ride up with the scalawags.”
Is there anything to these theories? Eeehhh. Jen was hardly subtle about, well, anything, and the indictment pointed to a larger network of scammers that I doubt Meredith knew anything about. Maybe Meredith and Mary planned together not to ride the party bus, but it’s just as likely that these are the two Housewives most picky about transportation. Maybe Mary’s comments mean that she sent Jesus after her longtime enemy, or maybe Mary just says whatever she wants without thinking it through. (Okay, we know that last part is true.) Maybe Meredith is dropping breadcrumbs about sharing damaging information to the FBI on purpose, but I suspect she is just a shrewd reality TV cast member angling for screen time. Sure, it’s possible there’s some sort of grand conspiracy going on. I just don’t think it’s the most likely, logical explanation.
Still, Meredith and Mary’s undying loyalty to each other is raising eyebrows all the way to Whitney’s party. Unlike at her photo shoot, Whitney has both fully committed to the new brand name that she spent $300,000 on and actually displays some products, so things are looking up. Things go about as you would expect: there’s some questionable fashion choices on the red carpet (Meredith in particular tries to rock a Chanel X Big Bird suit), the Real Husbands laugh at some dumb sexist joke Seth makes and Mary calls the party “one of the worst events I’ve attended” after searching for a coat check. Jen shows up, and Meredith once again learns the hard way that she should ask who’s invited in the group chat. Jennie then gathers the girls for the aforementioned lesson on why racism is bad, which just makes me sad. She then makes a point of rejecting Mary’s (tackily re-gifted with a receipt still in the box) Louboutins and giving them to Jen. At this point she has fully hijacked Whitney’s big night, and I fully support it. Whitney suddenly remembers that she is supposed to be hosting this thing, but she does find time to tell that the group shouldn’t let Mary’s racism slide. In the confessional, she says, “I like my friends how I like my skin care: non-toxic and cruelty free.” Bitch, that’s a rebrand! For some reason, Meredith decides now is the time to tell everyone that they should show Jen more loyalty. Lisa asks if Meredith is directing these comments at her and then accuses Mary of lying about comments she made in Vail. One after the other, Mary and Meredith disengage and storm off.
Lisa, who has designated herself the peacemaker of the season, chases after Meredith (with Heather’s encouragement). Meredith says Lisa is yelling at and attacking her, refuses to have a conversation and Lisa is now genuinely pissed. She then, with only slightly more success, forces Mary to talk to her. Mary calls Lisa “two-faced,” continues to deny that she compared Jen to Mexican thugs (while making more questionable comments in the confessional about cartels) and Lisa, accurately, guesses that Mary is defensive because she knows she’s wrong.
We—hopefully—have reached a crucial turning point in the season: the end of Lisa playing both sides. She’s tried to be friends with everyone (well, except Whitney) all season, but it always blows up in her face. Meredith is still hurt that Lisa and Jen are friends. Lisa has been coy about the damaging information she knew about Mary’s church, and now Mary (unwisely) is picking fights with Lisa. Are Meredith and Lisa truly on the outs? Will Lisa team up with Whitney, of all people, to directly confront the allegations against Faith Temple? We’ll find out next week, when, according to previews, the party bus returns and Jen’s apology tour blows up in dramatic fashion.
- This episode, we get more moments of the Barlows at home, which involves Lisa scrubbing her toilet in a crop top and awkward footage of Jack prepping for prom as Lisa goes full Amy Poehler in Mean Girls.
- For her own sake, Jen probably shouldn’t be on this show at all, but for the past several weeks she has been doing her level best to look humble while maintaining her innocence. (We already know it won’t last.) This episode, she makes hygiene kits for the National American Tongan Society with her mom, who is cashing out her retirement to help pay for legal fees.
- Friends of the show/speculated future cast members Angie and Sarajean are at Whitney’s party, but there’s too much other juicy drama for them to get any real screen time.