Lisa Barlow fans: we are in crisis. Partly out of hometown loyalty—never change Draper—I have always found Lisa fascinating to watch. Her character on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City is so perfectly Utah and yet also distinctly herself—a Diet Coke-guzzling, KFC-obsessed “Mormon 2.0” who loves both capitalism and God. But after spending this season trying to balance her friendships with both Jen and Meredith, Lisa finally reaches a breaking point, and this episode honestly looks pretty bad for her. She ends up looking like a disloyal, hypocritical friend to Meredith, her long-standing beef with Whitney is pettier than ever and she (allegedly) tries to undermine a LGBTQ+ charity event hosted by one of her closest friends. When another cast member gets indicted for defrauding the elderly and you still are portrayed as the villain of the week? Yikes. 

This episode starts where we left off last week, with Jen vs. Meredith: On Ice! We also, immediately, see Lisa’s antics at work. After Meredith storms away from Jen, Lisa tries to tell Meredith “you have to go back there,” and Meredith immediately retorts “I don’t have to do anything.” True! Lisa, who alarmingly is more invested in this makeup than either Jen or Meredith, keeps trying to play peacemaker, and Meredith says, “I’ve said it! She lies and denies. I’m done listening to the lies.” She is serving us slam poet who has ABSORBED every single self-help podcast on setting boundaries. Meredith is now officially annoyed with Lisa, and so am I TBH. As these two go back-and-forth, Heather and Whitney gently suggest to Jen that just maybe she is wrong to attack Brooks online and should apologize. (“Likes hurt,” Heather explains in her best junior high assembly voice.) Lisa tries to coax Jen into talking to Meredith, but Jen is not having it. She tells Lisa to “shut the fuck up,” which is certainly a choice when Lisa is by far the biggest ally Jen has right now. Things look bad—Jen screams, “I’m trying to defend my fucking vagina!” so loudly it echoes across the lake, she throws her $70,000 bracelet in the snow (which Lisa recovers for some reason) and needs her (maybe literal) partner-in-crime Stuart to talk her down. But then, just as things seem to be taking a turn for the worst, Jen just…apologizes. And it seems to go pretty well. Lisa is absolutely thrilled, Meredith thanks her, and both agree that Jen should talk directly to Brooks.

By the end of this looong fight I feel exhausted with both Jen and Meredith, and Whitney, Heather and Jennie look good by (mostly) staying out of it. Heather relishes the messiness, leaves early and gives good commentary from the comfort of her camp chair. (Maybe she should write these recaps.) Meanwhile, Jennie remembers there is a trophy on the line and literally fishes through the whole thing. Icon!

Now, we move on to the second stop on Lisa’s burning bridges tour. She meets with her friends SaraJane Warner and Angie Harrington, who gets a lot of screen time (and confessionals) out of the blue, suggesting she could play a larger role in the series’ future. Lisa and Angie have been friends since they met working at a call center more than 20 years ago. They have stayed friends because—what else—they both love what Angie calls “deep fryer, gallbladder pain fast food.” After recapping her personal history with Lisa for the sake of viewers, Angie invites Lisa to a charity event she is hosting for Encircle, a resource center for LGBTQ+ youth. The only problem: Whitney, who Lisa says “annihilated my character,” will be there too. We learn that Angie and Whitney are both friends and distant relatives, or, in Lisa’s words, “inbred polygamy cousins.” (Bravo really loves to remind everyone outside of Utah just how weird our state history is. Someone in the church’s PR office saw this episode and started crying and throwing up.) Lisa clearly does not want to be around Whitney, but she says, “I would never control who people are friends with,” which feels pointed considering her tense balancing act with Jen and Meredith.

The plot thickens when Angie and Whitney meet for lunch. After clarifying their family history—they are both related to Shadrach Roundy, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s bodyguard—the two talk about Lisa. Angie knows that Lisa does not approve of her friendship with Whitney; in fact, Lisa asked Angie to not call Whitney her cousin. Then, Angie gets to the real problem: hours after she told Lisa about the party, a catering company owned by Lisa’s close friends suddenly cancelled plans to provide food for Angie’s charity event. In their text to Angie, the caterers say that Lisa’s assistant asked them to host a different event at a restaurant. Whitney immediately suspects sabotage, and Angie doesn’t know what to think. This kind of conflict is not engaging to watch, because the stakes are so convoluted and unclear that it’s difficult to parse what exactly happened, let alone who to side with. Unless we get a signed affidavit from these mystery caterers at the Season 2 reunion, this will probably be an inscrutable case of “she said, she said” dragged out for many episodes. 

Unaware of the drama brewing, the other Housewives, all invited to the ‘70s casino-themed charity event, prepare for the party. Whitney struggles to stay on theme, Jen chooses fur with her cute assistant Murlio, who seems sweet and hopefully has stayed far, far away from any of Jen’s business practices. Seth, looking much better without a goatee, remains very straight and very in love (gross,) and when Meredith asks what the Church teaches about gambling, he responds, “Great question. But I believe since it’s fun it’s not allowed.” (He’s right!)

Fitting the grand tradition of tacky, over-the-top RHOSLC house parties, this event looks, for the most part, pretty fun. Mary awkwardly tries to climb over a banister instead of talking to Jen. Seth tells Heather, IN FRONT OF MEREDITH, “your personality is so distracting I never noticed your breasts,” which I find deeply horrifying, but Meredith and Heather seem to take it in stride, so who knows. Heather, who generally comes across well when she minds her business, has a good time away from all of the turmoil gambling with the husbands and teaching Mary good selfie technique. While everyone drinks and gives money to gay people—both of which might still be illegal in Provo on Sundays—Jen tries to act like nothing is wrong with Mary. She suggests that their families get together to grill, and immediately Mary shakes her head “no,” which is very funny! Though these two tentatively made up at last season’s reunion, Jen, as she is apparently wont to do, tweeted something messy—in this case, a meme about Mary marrying her step-grandpa, which (sorry Mary) is also very funny! These two wildly big personalities will probably never get along for more than 10 minutes, but it’s fun to watch them try to make up with a pinky promise. (Let’s never forget that Mary is the only Housewife who actually instigated a fight with Jen by saying that she “smelled like hospital.”) 

For once, though, Jen’s never-ending drama is not the center of the episode—it’s Lisa’s turn to meltdown. Even her entrance to the party is cringeworthy—she enthusiastically greets Jennie while openly ignoring Whitney, who is standing right next to her. Probably more than any other cast member, Lisa is perfectly capable of giving a fake-nice “hello,” and the fact that she doesn’t even pretend to try shows that she is on her bullshit from the beginning. After a few drinks, Angie takes Lisa aside and asks about the catering. Lisa is immediately panicked, upset and adamant she had nothing to do with it. Angie says she does believe Lisa would sabotage her event, and I am wondering why these two are friends in the first place. Then, no surprise, Lisa says she is actually not okay with Whitney and Angie’s friendship. Angie, sensing Lisa’s hypocrisy, questions the tangled friendships between Meredith, Jen and Lisa, and so Lisa drags them both into the whole mess. Lisa, who is feeling very attacked, comes unglued when Whitney, instinctively attracted to the sound of Lisa crying, comes into the room. Lisa feels betrayed that Angie and Whitney talked about the text over lunch and, in drunken sobs, she storms out looking awfully defensive. Unfortunately for Lisa, Whitney gets the devastating last word in her confessional: “When Lisa’s screaming, it’s because she’s being challenged. When Lisa cries, it’s because she doesn’t want to deal with it. And when Lisa walks away, it’s because she’s guilty and she’s been caught red-handed.”

Random observations:

  • This episode, Meredith visits Mary’s haunted mansion, and we learn absolutely nothing new. No surprise, neither of them trust Jen!
  • “I’m not going to the weak side of the ice because I lied about my body weight,” Heather says. She really is on fire this week!
  • Astrology with Lisa Barlow: “I’m a sag. I need my fun.”
  • This week in Real Housewives beauty: Meredith gets a vampire facial, which apparently involves microneedling with your own blood? I trust that it makes your skin look good at some point but Meredith’s is…frightening. Happy Halloween!
  • While Seth does correctly say that the Church discourages gambling, Jen incorrectly says that “thou shalt not look at porn” is a part of the Word of Wisdom. 
  • More proof that Jennie’s kids are by far the best people on this show: the only footage of Jennie at home this episode is the family peacefully folding laundry.

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