How powerful is the chaotic energy of megachurch heiress Mary Cosby? At a party she isn’t even invited to, her gossip still manages to unleash a dizzying series of events that leaves Jen practically rabid with rage, Heather cowering in the corner, and the usually unflappable Meredith storming out of a Top Golf. That’s called power, or at least a reality show producer’s dream come true.

Before we get to the glorious disaster that is this episode’s finale, we need some (still pretty entertaining) background. Love is in the air as the Housewives prepare for Valentine’s Day. Meredith is feeling particularly lovestruck after her newly rejuvenated relationship with Seth. She says that they have learned to communicate and understand each other without personal attacks. (“The fact that you need to go to therapy to learn that!” Brooks retorts, confirming that he may be bitchier than any of the main cast members.) Later, Meredith is sporting her wedding ring, the couple flirts at a family dinner, which Brooks finds “genuinely revolting,” and there is fragile peace at the Marks household.

Heather, meanwhile, has a much less head-over-heels Valentine’s celebration with her ex-husband Billy. This is the first appearance from Billy, and the family’s Valentine’s party is awkward but fairly cordial. Luckily, Heather saves the tea for her confessionals. When she and Billy were still married, he walked out of Scary Movie 3 when a glory hole appeared on the screen. Then, he withheld sex from Heather because she wasn’t properly offended. Heather also reveals that the fight that broke their marriage was over baptism scheduling. Yikes! Heather’s entire story arc is a cautionary tale against marrying after only three months of dating.

In less exciting news, Lisa takes her family to Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. There’s not much to this scene, which is a corrective to the “workaholic” narrative the series has been building around her for a while, but the penguins are cute!

The real meat of the episode is Sharrieff’s surprise birthday party, which is crazy from its inception to its fiery downhall. Kicking things off, Jen, anticipating our work-from-home future, conducts a planning meeting with one of many assistants from her bed. (To be clear, Jen is not on her laptop. She is lying down, underneath the covers, while her assistant sits next to the bed. This woman knows how to live.) The guest list is long, but one noteworthy person is not on the list: Mary. Jen says she’s cool enough with her rival to fix her wig if it’s falling off, but not enough to invite her to the party. Jen’s taxonomy of intimacy has depths that sociologists will need decades to explore.

Mary, unsurprisingly, takes this slight extremely personally. In a tearful video call with Robert Sr., she asks “what did I do?” (Let us all remember, that among other things, she told Jen that she “smells like hospital.”) Mary is especially hurt because she believes the other women agree with her, but are too afraid to stand up to Jen. When Whitney, donning hygienically-bootied stilettos, stops by Mary’s house for a visit, Mary confronts her directly. Mary claims that Meredith and Lisa specifically say that Jen scares them, which is why they don’t call her out. Whitney feels that, because she’s been caught in the middle of the feud, she hasn’t been a good friend to Mary. It’s clear that she is no longer comfortable as a bystander. 

On the night of the party, everyone gets ready according to the night’s theme: ‘90s hip hop golf. Sharrieff is oblivious to Jen’s plans, but he doesn’t like surprises and seems to prefer the idea of going to Popeye’s than Top Golf. Luckily, Sharrieff is either a great actor or he’s actually excited when the party starts. The other Housewives make questionable fashion choices to fit the theme, and Whitney makes it worse by half-rapping, in her heavy Utah accent, “this is your hip hop wife from the 1990s” and then instigating a dance battle. Overall, it’s appropriately messy fun, and Jen pats herself on the back for all of the good wife points she’s scoring.

That is, until the specter of Mary Cosby overturns the whole evening. Whitney, fueled by too much wine and Heather’s ill-advised support, decides that she simply must talk to Jen about the gossip swirling around the friend group. This kind of poor judgment is bad news for the Housewives and great news for us, which Whitney seems to realize after starting the conversation. Terrified of confrontation, she confusingly stalls until Heather bluntly tells the truth: Lisa and Meredith are (allegedly) afraid of Jen. This botched confession immediately turns into a botched argument. Jen yells that Mary is “fucking cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” and is understandably upset that this drama is coming up in the middle of the party. Meredith and Lisa come over to see why Jen is screaming and, well, everyone blows up in 100 different directions. Meredith and Lisa are mad at Heather and Whitney, Jen is mad at everyone, and nobody seems to know what Mary’s end game is. And, because a whole season’s worth of gossip and secrets might as well come out now, Whitney tells Meredith that Jen has insinuated deeper problems in Meredith’s marriage. (Specifically, a man on the side.) Jen responds with an operatic temper tantrum—she throws her glass, storms out, and, most hilariously, punches a display of balloons. So, yeah, this is no longer Sharrieff’s special night. 

In all of the chaos, a lot is left unclear. Who are Heather and Whitney trying to defend (or take down), because at this point, they’ve pissed everyone off? Has Sharrieff’s patience officially run out? And, most importantly, is Mary actually telling the truth? (Either the receipts don’t exist or the producers are holding onto them tightly for maximum drama.) One thing is clear—a series that started at 11 in terms of balls-to-the-wall craziness still has a lot of insanity left to explore.

Random observation:

  • This season’s timeline is now in February 2020. Apparently, all of the non-confessional scenes were filmed before pandemic shutdowns, but next season will definitely have to contend with COVID-19. The producers will need to get creative—dramatically hanging up on a Zoom call doesn’t hit the same.  
  • Whitney’s friend Sara is back! She had an incredible cameo in the first episode, where she drunkenly sang “Happy Birthday” to Jen. (It was not Jen’s birthday.) Sara also suggests that talking to Jen directly will strengthen their relationship, which, LOL. 
  • Speaking of the first episode, Heather describes that party as “Eyes Wide Shut freaky white people shit.” This is both hilarious and accurate. Maybe she should start writing these recaps. 
  • More good confessional shade: Heather calls Mary a “high end hoarder.” 
  • Another episode, another day of me feeling badly for Charlinda, Mary’s long, long, loooooong suffering housekeeper.
  • Quick fashion review: Jen’s Beyonce-inspired party outfit is the right amount of extra. Mary’s all red and pink ensemble, including a shirt she bought in “Milano,” is the wrong amount. This cast owns an unreasonable number of Gucci belts.