‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ Recap: ‘Memorial Meltdown’

I’ll say one thing about the cast of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City: this group has an almost impressive talent for ignoring what’s right in front of them. We’re now at the penultimate episode of this wild, glorious season, and the Housewives, through a combination of binge drinking and sheer delusion, have managed to spend all of their time on petty fights while there are about a dozen glaring (and more interesting!) issues that everyone is completely ignoring.

Really, this season should have been about two people: Mary and Jen. When one of your friends is wanted by the FBI for defrauding the elderly and another one of your friends married her step-grandpa to inherit the leadership of an alleged cult, it seems like it would be hard to focus on anything else. The other cast members, though, have mutually decided to maintain an uneasy status quo with Jen. This can be frustrating, but I understand why. Nobody has any way to definitively know what Jen did or didn’t do (though the evidence does not look good for her,) and between a desire to believe their friend is innocent and TV contracts requiring them to spend time with her, most of the women have decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. Meanwhile, there are moments where the group almost addresses the many, many reasons to be wary of Mary, a reverend who lacks even the most basic instincts of human kindness. But, partly because nobody can actually focus and partly because Mary will just deny everything anyway, all of this is neglected too. Instead, we get a protracted, exhausting investigation into Meredith’s dad’s memorial and a deep dive into the rapidly crumbling 10-year friendship between her and Lisa.  

I may be disappointed by all of the mess left unexplored (remember the little nugget that Meredith and Jen may have slept with the same man?!) but what we do have in this episode is so deliciously weird that I can’t complain too much. We pick up this week with Lisa’s furious hot mic rant, where she unleashed a torrent of every nasty thing she could think of about Meredith. When Heather, Whitney, Jennie and Jen go check on Lisa, she makes it clear that she feels everyone, not just Meredith, is to blame for not properly defending her. She packs a season’s worth of frustrations into one meltdown while security stands outside the door just in case. (Give everyone behind the scenes on this show a raise.) She threatens to pack up and leave in the middle of the night—as pretty much every cast member has done—and everyone besides Jen makes the mistake of following Lisa into the bathroom. She brandishes a hair dryer Brad-Pitt-in-Thelma-&-Louise style and yells, “I am fucking richer than all of you; I don’t need to fucking be here!” 1. I would like a fact check on this. 2. After this moment, Heather references this scene from Mommie Dearest in the confessional, solidifying her status as this cast’s one true gay icon. The other cast members actually do agree that Meredith hasn’t been a great friend to Lisa, who is left crying in the bathroom clutching a roll of toilet paper. 

While Lisa’s explosive tirades are accidentally funny, Meredith’s white-hot, quiet rage is genuinely scary to watch. While everyone else is dealing with Hurricane Lisa, Meredith fumes in the kitchen wearing a confusing original tracksuit while Mary mutters to herself that Heather “has the snobbishness of a true Mormon” and looks “inbred.” At this point, everyone should have gone to bed hours ago, but Whitney still tries to work things out with Meredith. She tries to explain that she didn’t mean any harm to Meredith by once again questioning the timing of her dad’s memorial, but Meredith doesn’t buy it and neither do I. Meredith brings up Whitney’s father, an addict who she hasn’t spoken to in months, and asks how she would like it if the group questioned her stories about him. Meredith is certainly hitting below the belt, though Whitney could have avoided this whole situation by believing Meredith’s first (and most plausible) story. Meredith points this out, to which Whitney responds, “Do you want me to hire a private investigator to find out?” I’m not on Whitney’s side here, but that’s a solid burn. Apparently, Mary was standing in the corner during the whole conversation, and after witnessing the confrontation, she just says “women” and shakes her head. Okay!

At this point, everyone has officially lost it. While Jen, Heather and Whitney are drunk peeing, Meredith storms in and demands to know who is speculating about her dad’s death. Whitney says “everyone,” and Lisa comes in swinging to deny this. I suppose we could quibble about the definition of “speculating,” but so far pretty much everybody, including Lisa, has at least entertained the possibility that Meredith is lying about the memorial. Lisa calls Meredith a “fucking liar,” and things devolve from there. Meredith is so upset and defensive that Heather feels even more suspicious, Lisa refuses to apologize and drunk Whitney yells “Meredith needs you” at Mary over and over. For once, Mary’s constant annoyance with Whitney makes complete sense, and Mary says this trip was her “last attempt” to make peace with the group. (Maybe she was never going to film the Season 2 reunion.)

After what has felt like 17 episodes of real-time documentary footage, yet another grueling girls’ trip has come to an end. Even Meredith elects to ride home on the sprinter van, and everyone must have exhausted themselves because no exciting footage is shared.

Back in SLC, Jen meets with her long-suffering lawyer Clayton. I’m always fascinated by Shah legal drama but this is pretty uneventful except for two things: Clayton says they won’t be going against Stuart unless he makes a plea deal and testifies against Jen, which has already happened and we learn that Jen herself wants to take the case to trial. 

Back at the Barlows, something truly remarkable happens: Lisa is cooking! And I mean actually cooking, not reheating Taco Bell. Inspired by the grill in Vail, she makes bacon-wrapped asparagus and immediately announces her plans to become a celebrity chef. (I am similarly ambitious when I am even slightly good at a new hobby.) She is bursting with confidence and announces that her next cooking adventure will be…learning how to make eggs. John, a supportive king, responds with a halfhearted “yeah.” With John, she debriefs after the trip and declares that she’s done getting in the middle of Jen and Meredith’s problems. She also says she will “always love” Meredith, which is an interesting stance considering her entire rant just days earlier.

For probably the last time, we get a sneak peek into Faith Temple, which is always equal parts fascinating and frightening. Apparently, Mary invited Jen personally to attend a service, which definitely feels like a trap. Jen, who relates to being accused of wrongdoing, wants to check out Mary’s church herself before making any preconceived judgments. What she finds is, as always, unique. In the church’s first in-person service since the pandemic, congregants tearfully read very passionate letters about how much they love Mary, all while someone fans her like she’s a medieval monarch. This is not the kind of footage you want when others are accusing you of running a cult where you’re worshiped as a God, but Mary has never had great judgment on what to share on a reality show with producers who are definitely not on her side. 

The episode closes with Meredith, who, along with her yassified personal trainer Jeff, is bringing out some sort of machine that looks like something between exercise equipment and futuristic torture device. I don’t know what her plan is, but she has brought out wine and a full spread of appetizers, so this workout already seems like my speed. Meredith has invited Whitney and Heather to experience…whatever this is, but Whitney is still mad at Meredith from Zion, and she plans on fact-finding, once again, about the date of her father’s memorial. At this point, I have steeled myself for another disastrous confrontation, but the vibes are much better away from the Cinco de Mayo pressure cooker. Heather and Whitney try these mysterious machines, which apparently use direct current muscle stimulation, whatever that means. (Heather knows this is probably pseudoscience but considers putting one in Beauty Lab anyway.) Meredith apologizes for her Zion outbursts and says that she believes Whitney’s intentions were good even if her delivery was questionable. She also gives a clear answer to one of Whitney’s biggest questions: the date of the memorial. This date matches Heather’s story and not Lisa’s, which I’m not sure means anything nefarious. All three, though, speculate that Lisa is up to something. Behind the scenes, Whitney and Heather were much bigger Meredith memorial truthers than Lisa, but for Meredith, who knows her friendship with Lisa is already on shaky ground, this is just one more question mark. For now, this is Meredith’s biggest ammunition, at least until the reunion, where everyone can hash out Lisa’s private comment that Meredith has “fucked half of New York.” (Woo!) Next week: the season finale!

Random observations:

  • A lot of these women pronounce Zion like out-of-towners. (It’s zi-IN, not zi-ON. SMH)
  • Meredith once again dispels the rumors that she traveled to Vail separately because she knew that the FBI was looking for Jen: “I’d want to be there to watch the arrest. Are you crazy? You think I would have missed it if I was the cause of it?”
  • Who knows if the series will ever fully unpack all of the dirt Meredith has on Jen or all of the details people know about Faith Temple Church. So much left on the table, so little time!

Read more 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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