‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ Recap: ‘A House Divided’

This week on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, the longest vacation in recorded history finally comes to a close. Yes, this girls’ trip has technically only lasted a few days, but this drama-filled, emotionally draining journey to hell has turned into several hours of television and likely many, many more hours of professional counseling. (I already know I will need to call my own therapist immediately after the season finale.) Somehow, Jen’s arrest is already starting to feel like a distant memory as the cast dances around the allegations against Mary’s Faith Temple Church all while picking old fights that were bound to boil over.

This episode, we finally get some substantive info about the skeletons in Mary’s closet. For several weeks, Lisa and Whitney have both hinted that they know negative information about her church—Lisa is close with Cameron, a disgruntled former member of the congregation, but she won’t get into specifics about his experience. After eating several pounds of melted cheese and watching everyone else drink from the shot-ski, Mary gets tired of tormenting Whitney and goes to bed. This gives everyone else—sleep-deprived, tipsy and still traumatized from federal agents swarming the Beauty Lab parking lot—the chance to ask what the hell is going on. Lisa waffles like a Utah legislator drawing Congressional boundaries until even her friends Jennie and Meredith feel frustrated. Under pressure, she blurts out that Cameron mortgaged his house to give her $300,000. Cameron claims that Mary and Robert Sr. would regularly convince the congregation to give them large amounts of money, and in this particular case, Mary used it to get surgery removing her odor glands. 

This explosive information, coming so soon after Jen’s arrest, turns up the pressure cooker even more, unleashing big emotions that will likely reverberate for seasons to come. There’s so much to keep track of that it seems easier to go housewife by housewife:


Plenty will change as the season continues, but I’m already prepared to declare Whitney as the MVP of Season 2. Throughout all the chaos, she has been funnier than ever, probably the smartest person in the room and, crucially, the only cast member whose motivations are both logical and sympathetic. Unlike Heather, she is clearheaded about the implications of Jen’s arrest. Unlike everyone but Heather, she seems to be done with Mary’s bullshit. And she defends her cousin when everything goes haywire at the end of the episode, even when that means choosing Delta over a private jet. Team Whitney!


Every episode, I get more and more confused by Lisa. She (at least sometimes) tries to be friends with everyone, but the only thing she’s succeeded at so far is pissing everybody off. Is she really playing four-dimensional chess, as Heather and Whitney so fervently believe? I have no idea, but if she is, I have zero guesses on what her end game will be. Why does she insist on protecting Cameron’s privacy (even though cameras filmed their conversation,) tell the group what he said on a whim and then make up with Mary in the middle of the night? Beats me! Her insistence on playing both sides—first with Meredith and Lisa, and now with Cameron and Mary has gone from confusing to disturbing. If she truly believes Cameron, she should want to stay as far away from Mary as possible. And yet, for no clear reason, she doubles down on their friendship even harder.


Look, Heather is very charming. She makes me laugh (on purpose!) at least once every episode, and her reunion with her estranged sister this week was truly sweet. So it’s sad to see her break down at the end of the episode—she seems genuinely hurt in a way we haven’t seen until, well, one of her besties got arrested a couple of days ago. It helps that she is right about pretty much everything. Yes, it is weird that Lisa and Mary are all of a sudden closer than ever! Yes, Mary is rude to Whitney for pretty much no reason! Yes, everyone should have learned their lesson from Jen and ask Mary some hard questions! The big question mark at the center, though, is Heather’s maddening loyalty to Jen. Heather is right to treat Mary with skepticism, but she won’t bring that same energy with Jen who, you know, might actually go to jail. 


Jennie is a year behind on all of the drama, which honestly works in her favor. (Sure, she gets less screen time, but she is also the only one who seems to be going home without lasting emotional scars.) Jennie had a rivalry budding with Mary, but Mary decides to throw her some snakeskin Louboutins as a peace offering. (“This will lighten up my luggage,” Mary says in the confessional. Heartfelt!) With designer shoes to keep her quiet, Jennie minds her business and eats a croissant while everyone else melts down. Good for her!


Jen is not in this episode, which I’m sure is a relief to her legal team. Unfortunately for her, though, an ABC News special, The Housewife and the Shah Shocker, outlined her case in more detail. Pretty much every part of the documentary looked bad for Jen, especially heartbreaking interviews with victims who were defrauded by a shell company that allegedly worked with her. The documentary, streaming on Hulu, is worth watching if you want true-crime details the Real Housewives hasn’t dived into (yet).


Meredith was clearly having the time of her life when Jen got arrested. She gets to experience two of the greatest pleasures in the human experience—being proven right and luxuriating in a stupidly fancy bath—at once. I can only dream! Sadly, now that the focus has shifted to Mary, Meredith’s moral righteousness about Jen feels much more suspect. When she learns about Cameron’s allegations her first response is to…feel guilty for gossiping? And not to worry aboutM Mary’s victims, which she scolded the group about in Jen’s case last week? It really doesn’t add up, especially when she was so suspicious of Jen that she hired a private investigator to track her. Even without firsthand evidence that Faith Temple is bad news, Meredith surely sees that Mary is frequently awful to others in the group for no good reason. I was rooting for you Meredith!


Yikes. YIKES. This episode is a new low for Mary. At times in Season 1, if you were feeling generous, you could call Mary an entertaining eccentric. Now, faced with real questions about her behavior, she completely melts down, fully unleashing a sinister side that makes for chilling television. She categorically denies all of the negative allegations about her church. (Since the season was filmed, The Daily Beast has published an investigation about abusive practices at Faith Temple.) She gives everyone besides Whitney expensive gifts just to be an ass. And when direct questions about her actions are raised, she gives an impromptu sermon in the living room, basically says that Heather is a fat alcoholic and calls Jen a “heartless thug, like Mexican people that make all those drugs.” Wow. At this point, it’s painful, and maybe even ethically questionable, to watch.

After a not-at-all-relaxing getaway, the Housewives finally travel back to SLC, though Heather and Whitney skip out on Meredith’s private jet and fly commercial as a protest. After an unbelievable string of episodes, it’s probably for the best that everyone is out of that cursed Vail mansion. As everyone returns home, they will surely have to keep grappling with the fact that a man may have MORTGAGED HIS HOUSE so that Mary could get her ODOR GLANDS REMOVED. I know I’m going to keep thinking about it.

Read all of our recaps of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.

Josh Petersen
Josh Petersenhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
Josh Petersen is the former Digital Editor of Salt Lake magazine, where he covered local art, food, culture and, most importantly, the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. He previously worked at Utah Style & Design and is a graduate of the University of Utah.

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