Is it just me or did the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City just deliver one of the best first-season episodes in Housewives history? From start to finish, it was a masterclass in interpersonal conflict, shifting loyalties and cast dynamics. There were lies revealed, rumors confronted and trust broken. There was even a hypnotist! Probably the strongest episode of an already-great season. And that’s saying a lot.
The latest Real Housewives of Salt Lake City episode kicks off in the wake of last week’s race car peace summit with the ladies getting ready for dinner. Whitney Rose shows up at Heather Gay‘s room to fill her in on everything she missed. She’s feeling great about making up with Lisa Barlow and Meredith Marks. Now everyone can finally have a fun night together! Poor, poor Whitney. She has no idea the tornado of crazy that’s about to come her way.
Bursting her bubble of happiness, Heather informs her of the drama that went down with Jen Shah on their private shopping trip. And like any sane person, Whitney is dumbfounded to find out Jen’s still furious with her. Didn’t we put the hip-hop party behind us like two episodes ago? Didn’t Jen accept Whitney’s apology while sharing an outdoor bathtub? They hugged it out! And ever since then, Jen’s been nothing but cool to Whitney’s face. And that, my darlings, is the definition of two-faced. But you can’t make sense of something that’s completely illogical.
At the same time, Lisa and Meredith are downstairs, about to be bombarded by Jen, who’s serving her best J.Lo Versace pantsuit moment. The brunette bandits (that’s not a thing, right?) are both relieved and thrilled to have cleared the air with Whitney. Jen, on the other hand, isn’t so happy to hear everyone made up. In fact, she’s fuming. Somehow, Jen turns the whole thing into one big attack on her. Because now everyone is Team Mary Cosby and Team Whitney and no one is Team Her. It’s a ridiculously childish way of looking at the situation. Not to mention inaccurate, but Jen’s way past listening to anything the other ‘Wives say. She prefers to stick with the false narrative she’s built up in her head.
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Unsurprisingly, all it takes is five minutes of Jen‘s aggression before Meredith disengages from the drama. After all, it’s become her signature Housewives move. As she flees across the hotel floor, Meredith explains via confessional that intense conversation triggers her childhood trauma. That’s why she’s always running away from conflict. Which makes all the sense in the world. But still, Meredith. Girl. Do your job. You signed up for Real Housewives. This is the gig.
Just as Meredith exits, Heather and Whitney make their grand entrance, walking right into the chaos. Without so much as a hello, Jen gets right in Whitney’s face. Like I said, Whitney has no idea what she’s walking into. That triggers Heather to protect her cousin. She puts herself in the middle, standing up to Jen, who’s utterance of “Don’t come at me, HEATHER!” will continue to haunt my dreams for the rest of the year.
Then Jen turns and makes her getaway, smacking Heather as she tries to stop her from leaving, with only Lisa chasing after her. It’s honestly total chaos. But as it plays out step by step, it’s also completely riveting. Finally, Lisa gives up and makes her way back to a still-baffled Whitney and Heather.
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No one understands what just happened, but Lisa is running out of patience. And for once, the blondes and brunettes seem to be on the same page. Dinner’s obviously ruined, so the ‘Wives throw in the towel and retreat to Whitney‘s suite for a debrief. Once Meredith joins them, the truth all starts coming together. Comparing notes, it becomes increasingly clear that Jen‘s the one who’s been doing a whole lot of manipulating behind the scenes. She’s spent most of the season pitting the two sides against each other and now her true colors have been unmasked. Lisa says she’s done being Jen’s friend if this is the way she acts, but Heather argues she still sees redeeming qualities in her. Don’t speak too soon, Heather…
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The next morning, Whitney has another surprise on the itinerary. But Heather‘s running late, and Jen claims to have left for the airport. But when Heather drops by to get her shopping gifts from the Shah Squad, guess who’s getting glammed up? That’s right. Jen Shah, sitting with her minions and pretending like nothing even happened the night before. Heather is understandably shocked, and tries to have a little come-to-Jesus moment with her friend. But of course, there’s no accountability. No self-awareness. And certainly no apology for hitting Heather at dinner.
At the same time, Lisa checks in with Mary, who’s still hiding in her closet back in SLC. Surrounded by Charlinda and her clutter, Mary couldn’t be less surprised to hear Jen is ruining the trip. She doles out a case of “I told you so.” And I’m almost swayed to her side until she throws out the little dagger that the other ‘Wives deserve what’s happening to them.
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(Also, I again have to question whether this FaceTime call with Lisa actually happened while the ‘Wives were in Vegas. Lisa’s wearing a completely different top than we see her in either before or after the phone call. And the blank white wall looks suspiciously more like her minimalist mansion in Draper rather than the NoMad in Vegas. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s yet another pick-up scene to keep Mary involved in the storyline.)
Whitney‘s surprise arrives at the home of Kimberly Friedmutter, renowned Vegas hypnotist and author of Subconscious Power. (Fun fact: she also starred in TLC’s short-lived blatant Housewives ripoff Sin City Rules back in 2012.) Whitney’s brought the ladies for some spiritual healing, and Kimberly’s immediately serving Allison DuBois energy. Except nicer and without that iconic e-cig. But just as the ‘Wives are settling in for some hypnosis work, the doorbell rings and in walks Heather. With Jen meekly gliding in on her coattails. The others are stunned to see her, and the energy in the room immediately takes a dark turn. Just look at Meredith‘s face to see how she’s feeling.
So this is now going to be a little group therapy session. And Jen‘s obviously in the hot seat. Finally, after weeks of skirting the issue, Meredith confronts her point blank about the rumors she’s been spreading about her marriage. At first, Jen tries to deny it. But Heather and Whitney are both there, so sorry girl, you’re caught. Instead, she half-apologizes without ever actually admitting what she really said. (Meredith had shared the night before that she had seen other people off and on during her many separations with Seth Marks. This was news to Lisa, but doesn’t exactly answer for Jen’s assertion about the mystery man in NYC.)
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On a giant couch, Kimberly then decides to lead the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City through a game to find out who they trust. By a raise of hands, she asks who doesn’t trust Lisa. Then Meredith. Then Whitney. Each time, no hands go up. Then, she asks who doesn’t trust Jen. And like a scene from Mean Girls, all the other ‘Wives’ hands shoot up to say they’ve each been personally victimized by Jen Shah. Shocker, this makes Jen angry. And feel ganged up on. So when Kimberly asks who doesn’t trust Heather, she raises her hand as an act of petty revenge.
I’m sorry, of all people you’re going to choose to turn on, Heather is not the one, dearie. Cue the montage of the numerous times Heather’s been nothing but a good friend and chased after Jen all season long. This was not a smart strategy, Shah. Because now you just look petulant and dumb. Everyone has valid reasons not to trust Jen. Which leaves us on the perfect cliffhanger for next week’s super-sized RHOSLC finale!
TELL US – WERE YOU SURPRISED TO SEE THE BLONDES AND BRUNETTES TEAM UP AGAINST JEN? DOES JEN DESERVE NOT TO BE TRUSTED? WAS MARY RIGHT ALL ALONG?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]