We’re only at the beginning, but Meredith Marks has emerged as an early frontrunner for MVP of this season of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. In Season 1, she had great moments, but she wasn’t as explosively dramatic as Jen or as off-the-wall as Mary or as distinctly Utah as Heather. But as the messy social media activity of Jen Shah turns Meredith into the Joker, her icy demeanor and quiet intensity is creating mesmerizing television.

In her only scene of the episode, Meredith is FaceTiming her son/BFF Brooks when Seth comes in wearing this horrifying mask from last season. Meredith disengages, Brooks, as always, finds the whole thing deeply embarrassing, and Seth says he “thought there would have been more of an emotional orgasm.” Gross! Seth is still not in Park City full-time, but Meredith says their marriage is strong and he’s making an effort to spend time in Utah. After Meredith hangs up because, in Seth’s words, their dinner is getting “colder than a witch’s ass,” Meredith vents about her frustration with Jen’s social media. Jen has continued to like and share negative posts about Brooks, including one that says she should “slap Brooks and call him a sissy bitch,” and you better believe Meredith has SCREENSHOTS. Jen’s behavior is truly uncalled for, and Meredith feels especially upset that the comments assume Brooks’ sexuality, which he has not labeled even to family members. Fans have often inferred that Brooks is gay, and I can understand why the family is hurt that Jen and others are making assumptions about a deeply personal matter. Meredith gets quiet and tense when she feels angry, which is 100 times scarier than Jen’s dramatic outbursts. When Seth asks if Jen’s behavior could be a misunderstanding, she pointedly asks “misunderstanding where?” sending a chill all the way to St. George. By the time she exclaims, “It’s cruel! It’s cruel!” Meredith has fully transcended to become the Meryl Streep of basic cable reality TV.

The other subplots of this episode don’t reach the operatic heights of Meredith’s righteous anger, but there are still plenty of interesting dynamics bubbling before the big arrest we expect in future episodes. For the first time this season, Jen’s assistant Stuart Smith, a.k.a. Stu Chainz, makes an appearance. He was indicted along with Jen on fraud charges, and knowing what will soon happen to these two fills even mundane scenes with plenty of dramatic irony. (In a later moment, the two briefly mention some sort of “CBD deal” and contract. Jen’s businesses continue to make no sense, which is highly suspicious!) We also meet Dwayne, Jen’s nephew who recently moved to Utah, who speaks for all of us when he says “Jen has too much damn stuff in her house!” This socially conscious king encourages Jen to focus on charity during Ramadan and donate some of her many, many, many pairs of shoes to Goodwill. Jen seems receptive because she is embracing her self-improvement era, which means working on her marriage with Sharrieff, letting Dwayne move into the Shah Chalet and FaceTiming Heather. The two haven’t spoken since the Season 1 reunion, but Jen is hoping to patch up her relationships and the (alarmingly) forgiving Heather is willing to meet in person.

Mary’s solo scenes are fun because no matter who she’s with, she is always mentally on an entirely different planet. After going stir-crazy during the pandemic, Mary is working with her cousin Big Joe, a contractor, to remodel her house. Mary immediately says that Joe is a terrible contractor because Rev. Cosby will never turn down the opportunity to talk mad shit about a loved one to the American public. Apparently, Joe takes forever to finish projects, but Mary explains “when he does do things, he’s really good.” Me too, Big Joe. I will say this about Mary’s current house—it isn’t boring! A world away from the tasteful model home interiors of Meredith’s Park City house, Mary’s is filled with kitschy figurines, enormous rainbow dining chairs and a living room dominated by a hideous green color palette. “It’s like a marriage,” she says. “Everything’s stale.” After roasting both Big Joe and her own decorating taste, Mary discusses her strained relationship with her son Robert Jr. It seems to be some typical parent-child relationship drama until Mary says her dating advice to Robert is…“if you smell fish, run.” Truly what? Mary has a remarkable gift for starting with an almost-human emotion and twisting it into the weirdest thing you could possibly imagine.

Because Jennie is contractually obligated to hang out with the other Housewives, she and Lisa drive up to the Shah Chalet. We first learn that Lisa is a scary driver, and if you’ve ever seen a Draper mom terrorizing a parking lot in her Escalade, this news will not surprise you. Lisa says Jennie reminds her of Jen, which could be a read, but Lisa means it as a compliment because they are both “super animated” with “big personalities” and “huge hearts.” Sure! When they get to Jen’s house, Lisa suggests they learn how to sew and make pants. I am immediately reminded of my 7th-grade careers class, which I almost failed because I couldn’t make a pillowcase, so I agree with Jen this is a bad idea. Jennie and Jen do bond as quickly as Lisa predicted, but we don’t have much time for camaraderie because Lisa wants to negotiate a peace deal between Jen and Meredith. Jen quickly gets defensive because she is tired of constantly apologizing. Lisa gently suggests that maybe dragging Meredith’s family online is not exactly mending the relationship. “There would have been no motherfucking issue if he hadn’t said anything derogatory about my vagina,” Jen says/yells as Lisa solemnly nods. (The origins of this fight, which started at the beginning of last season, are truly too stupid to summarize.) Let the healing begin! 

Meanwhile, Heather and Whitney have some cousin bonding time with Tiffany Colaizzi at Name Droppers which we love to see! Salt Lake magazine is very pro-Name Droppers. This shopping trip gives Heather the chance to workshop her nightclub routine about “knitted beaver” and Whitney the chance to drink in the middle of the day. Win-win. After deciding not to buy a $21,000 Chanel purse—even Real Housewives have limits—the two cousins talk about Jen’s recent call to Heather. Whitney is, understandably, skeptical, but Heather feels like Jen may be truly ready to change. Whitney tries out a convoluted metaphor about touching a curling iron to explain why Heather keeps going through the same cycle with Jen, but Heather still feels a desire to mend her friendship. 

We then see more of Jennie at home with her family, and honestly, she seems to have shit together! Her kids are cute, her spice cabinet is perfectly organized and she cooks ravioli that looks delicious. But, no surprise, a man comes in and ruins everything. Apparently her husband Duy strongly wants more children—Jennie says that in Vietnamese culture, larger families signify wealth—while Jennie opposes the idea. In a dick move, Duy brings it up in front of the kids, asking Karlyn if she would want a little sister! I’m totally on Jennie’s side here, especially because she does most of the housework and child care.

Over at the Rose house, Whitney is also worried about balancing family responsibilities with her husband. As her beauty brand Iris + Beau grows, Whitney is struggling to keep up with her kids’ needs and she worries about how her career could affect her marriage with Justin. Then, in the most awkward moment of the episode, Whitney pivots to what’s really on her mind—my girl is horny as hell! “Sex, babe,” she says in her unmistakable Utah accent. “I need it as much as you do.” Apparently, Justin and Whitney used to have sex nearly every day, but now it’s dwindled to two or three times a week. Heather talks a big game, but Whitney is officially the show’s freakiest cast member. She takes advantage of her confessional to pantomime the difference between “robotic sex” and the sex she wants from her husband and suggests that Justin should grab her boobs while she’s sleeping. Good talk, I guess?

Now, the climax of the episode: Jen and Heather meet up to unpack their issues at Midway’s Ice Castles. Jen, who loves a seasonably on-theme yet utterly impractical outfit, wears a leopard-print fur coat and high-heeled boots. She also makes Stuart walk ahead of her to test the icy ground, and he literally takes the fall for her. Foreshadowing? When Heather arrives, the editors do her extremely dirty—when she slips on the ice, lets out a strange yelp, which is then echoed like bird calls throughout the entire Ice Castle. Evil! The two women get the VIP treatment in a cozy little corner with rocking chairs and a campfire, which might make me actually want to go to the Ice Castles again. When Jen tentatively tries to bring up the drama, Heather says she’s tired of Jen’s “dumb little digs,” including mean jokes about her body and calling her a manipulator, liar and racist. That last one particularly stings for Heather, who is hurt that Jen would “pull that card in such a charged time.” Later, Jen shares that she feels ostracized from the group because of her race, especially after her difficult childhood as a person of color in Utah. In a confessional Heather says, “I believe Jen is treated differently because of her temper, not because of the color of her skin.” This is tricky territory, and one of the most compelling dynamics that’s unique to this series. On the one hand, Heather isn’t wrong to say that Jen antagonizes others in the group. On the other hand, Heather is probably too quick to question Jen’s reasoning, and her deep offense over Jen calling her racist flirts with the damaging idea that being called out for racism is just as harmful as racism itself. 

Still, it’s hard to deny that Jen has been unkind to Heather. As Jen talks in circles, Heather asks if they’re “breaking up” as friends. Jen says she needs Heather to trust her, and Heather admits this will be difficult for her. At the same time, Heather says that she loves Jen and is committed to building their friendship. Is Heather making a mistake? Probably. But Heather is so genuine I can’t help but root for her, and she has grown a lot since last season—she sets a clear boundary and refuses to ignore or disbelieve the hurtful things Jen said. Jen apologizes for some of the comments and says she’s struggled to be there for anyone lately, even family members. But even as Heather and Jen are on much better terms, Meredith is angrier than ever, and she’s not disengaging anymore.

Random observations:

  • After Jen and Heather make up, Jen offers up churros as a peace offering, but immediately puts them directly on the campfire for some reason. Heather, never one to let a good snack go to waste, grabs them from the open flame and takes a bite.
  • For whatever reason, the funniest moment of the episode for me was Jen’s reaction to Lisa’s suggestion that they sew matching pants together. 
  • These first couple of episodes have been fairly light on the Husbands, and we haven’t seen Robert Sr. at all. Is he still trapped in Florida?

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