Hi baby gorgeouses! Before digging into this week’s episode of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, an important update from the recently filmed Season 2 reunion: Mary did not show up. Whether she was busy picking out 47 new fonts for another Instagram apology or just didn’t want to answer honest questions about her church and racism (probably the latter,) she did not subject herself to what probably would have been a brutal reunion. As far as I know, this is not allowed by the Bravo gods, which likely means she won’t be coming back for the third season. We also got a first look at the reunion outfits, which are, let’s just say, interesting. Meredith in particular stands out for doubling down on feather-forward fashion statements, which has inspired Twitter to compare her to Sam Eagle, Rosita and Sulley. Someone tell Jen’s social media assistant to not like any of these tweets, or we won’t hear the end of it until Season 25.
Now to the actual episode. Maybe the healing ceremony Whitney dragged the group to actually made an impact, because the climax of this episode was the first fight in a while that felt more cathartic than chaotic. Yes, this group of friends is more dysfunctional than ever. But for us watching at home, there were clear stakes, some great lines and actual dramatic tension, unlike the pho luncheon, which quickly devolved into unsatisfying word vomit. Things are looking up as we approach this season’s final act.
From the moment the husbands took a break from talking about boobs to announce their Mother’s Day gift, the Housewives knew instinctively that a girls’ trip with all seven of them under the same roof would probably go spectacularly wrong. (The men are either scarily oblivious or the producers put bugs in their ears.) I, for one, am shocked that anybody would willingly board the same cursed party bus again after Vail. But board the party bus (conspicuously without Meredith and Mary) they did, and we begin where we left off last week—with Lisa and Jen coming thiiiiis close to a full-out physical brawl. After listening to Jen yell about Meredith and loyalty and whatever else, Lisa finally snaps, and soon both a producer and Whitney are physically pulling them apart as Lisa, unleashing her inner New Yorker, yells “wanna fucking go?” The exasperated producer corrals Jen to the other side of the bus who, after hurling a few more accusations, breaks down into sobs. Lisa, of all people, goes to comfort her, and for the rest of the trip, the others tiptoe gently and treat Jen like a toddler who just threw a tantrum, which is basically what happened. The same dynamic continues: Jen has all of the power because she is shameless enough to scare everyone into submission. The others may claim they are going easy because they have compassion for her situation, but I just think they are (understandably) terrified of setting her off.
After yet another grueling, possibly traumatizing car trip, they finally arrive at Red Rock Villa. While trying desperately to salvage this already tense vacation, the Housewives get a chance to show off their (mostly accidental) physical comedy chops. In just one afternoon, we’re blessed with footage of an already drunk Jen doing a fan kick alone in her bed, a slapstick routine with Jen and Jennie on a pool floatie and a very tense Heather screaming because she’s startled by the sound of Whitney’s hairspray. Somewhere between Whitney showing off her bikini body and Jen (playfully) throwing her wet hair extensions at Lisa, you might be fooled into thinking this trip could actually be a success.
That is until Meredith and Mary finally arrive. I have realized, for better and worse, that I am a Whitney on vacation. I like an itinerary, I don’t want to lay by the pool all day and I do not appreciate deviations. For my fellow Whitneys and I, it is a struggle to travel with Marys, who want a full day to unpack and are physically, spiritually and psychologically incapable of being rushed.
There is a key difference between Whitney and I: she uses her vacation time trying to inspire a spiritual awakening. (Remember when she nearly started a Civil War by surprising everyone with a trip to the hypnotherapist?) Whitney almost gives herself an ulcer trying to get everyone in the bus on time to meet Betina, a shaman, in time for sunset, and they eventually leave without Mary, who needs extra time to bitch about her closet space. To both Whitney’s and Betina’s credit, this whole experience seems much more healing than that Las Vegas hypnotist’s horror house. They hold gratitude bundles, do a labyrinth walk to release “whatever doesn’t serve them” and chant their names in a drum circle. Mary, meanwhile, shows up 34 minutes late with a bad attitude and refuses to participate. (This woman is in NO position to judge someone else’s spiritual practice, but Mary is not known for self-awareness.) On the ride home, some of the women are feeling the love, but Whitney’s good vibes are soured because the group was too late to do fire burning, a key part of the ceremony.
Back at the house for dinner, Whitney uses her toast as an opportunity to call out Meredith and Mary’s tardiness, and then says now is the time to “put it all out on the line.” Uh-oh. Meredith is annoyed but apologies, Mary refuses to apologize, Jen calls Meredith fake for apologizing and the mess has officially begun. Meredith continues her tirade that everyone else should be better friends with Jen, which I simply never understand. Is it a master plan to rile up Jen? A way to passive aggressively poke Lisa? Or does she simply have a moral code I have no hope of untangling? Whitney then asks Meredith directly why she continues to be friends with Mary, who is the most offensive of the group, while holding a permanent grudge against Jen for calling Brooks a twink. It’s a necessary conversation, but it quickly turns into a round of pot and kettle as Meredith questions everybody else’s friendship with Jen. (Which isn’t entirely unwarranted either. Nobody is blameless here.)
It wouldn’t be an RHOSLC argument without some dramatic exits. Jen, who was already sloppy by the time Lisa finished her morning Big Gulp, drunkenly wanders into the kitchen, steals food from a tray and offers to help the cooks because, in her words, “these bitches are fake as fuck out there.” Meanwhile, Jennie has extremely valid gripes about Meredith “I Don’t Know If It’s Offensive” Marks’ waffling on if racist comments are actually racist. Now, it’s Meredith turn to storm away, which is her usual MO. Meredith may pass this off as emotional maturity, but this time, it sure looks like she’s just refusing to consider honest criticisms about her behavior. Everybody recruits Mary (notably, not Lisa) to retrieve Meredith.
Meredith’s return to the table gives Jen the opportunity she’s been waiting for. She calls out Jen for hiring a PI, but Meredith clarifies the PI wasn’t to dig up dirt on Jen; it was to investigate anonymous threats, which, it turned out, were most likely Jen. Considering that Jen literally just tried to physically attack a woman who is ostensibly her good friend, this all seems quite plausible. Somehow, Vaginagate is re-litigated for the umpteenth time, but I don’t even care because we finally get to enjoy Meredith on our screens again. Watching Meredith double down on her friendship with Mary has been a bummer, because she is the most fun when she has the moral high ground. Luckily, pretty much everyone has the moral high ground over Jen. Jen gets increasingly upset and asks Meredith if she had anything to do with the arrest—Heather should have never planted this seed in the first place—which Meredith denies because, again, this theory makes no sense. Jen is riled up, though, and Meredith finally makes a well-timed exit, wine glass in hand, as Jen sputters that she is a fraud. Perfectly, iconically, Meredith replies, “Who’s calling who a fraud? Love you baby!” and slams the door. Even after Jen drops an accusation that Meredith has “10 boyfriends,” Meredith has the last laugh. For now.
- Let’s take a moment and express our gratitude to Shanae, the producer who restrained Jen from ripping Lisa’s hair out. We appreciate our brave essential workers!
- After Jen throws a wet clump of hair extensions at Lisa, all she can do is reply “wow” repeatedly. What else is there to say?
- Heather realizes, far too late, that she needs to fly private for all future trips: “Whatever alliance Meredith and Mary are in, I would like to be a part of. I will chant whatever they want around the boiling cauldron. I just don’t want to ride on the sprinter van again.”
Catch up on Season 2 of RHOSLC with all of our episode recaps.