The latest episode of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” gives us a glimpse of the day that Jen Shah was arrested on federal fraud charges. We’ve seen bits of this in clips, and there have been news accounts. But there’s more here.
And in this extra-long, 90-minute episode, Mary Cosby burns more bridges and unleashes more craziness as there are more allegations about her allegedly cult-like religious practices.
Jen gets bad news
Let’s start with the end of the episode, when authorities come looking for Jen. Here’s how it unfolds:
• Heather Gay, Whitney Rose, Jennie Nguyen, Lisa Barlow and Jen meet in a parking lot and board a shuttle/party bus for a trip to Vail, Colo. The plan is to spend two days at a house Meredith Marks rented there.
• As Jen is sitting on the bus, her cellphone rings. “Hi, baby,” she says — indicating, perhaps, that it’s her husband, Sharrieff, on the phone. “I need to go to the house?” Jen asks.
• Jen has a sudden look of concern on her face. She asks Whitney to turn off her body mic — Jen obviously doesn’t want her conversation overheard and recorded. She gets off the bus and listens on her phone, looking increasingly worried.
• Jen tells Heather that Sharrieff is “in the hospital” with “internal bleeding” and might need surgery. “I need to go.” At Heather’s urging, Jen repeats the story to Whitney, Jennie and Lisa. They offer her hugs and support, and genuinely appear to be concerned. They discuss canceling their trip.
• Jen’s story is a lie, of course. We saw Sharrieff just hours earlier looking completely healthy as Jen packed for the trip. It’s also weird that Jen tells Heather that she might fly to Colorado and join them.
• Twelve minutes after Jen leaves, police show up looking for her. They’re wearing jackets emblazoned with NYPD (New York Police Department) and HSI (Homeland Security Investigations). Production staff tell them Jen left, and in what vehicle.
• Heather, Whitney, Lisa and Jennie are surprised. Shocked. “Is this a prank? Is Jen playing a prank on us?” Whitney asks.
• The police lie, too. “We have to just talk to her to make sure she’s OK,” one of the officers says. He repeats that a couple of times. Actually, he’s there to arrest Jen. (And her lawyers would later cite police “deception and trickery” in trying to get the charges dismissed.)
• The Housewives are confused. Lisa dials Jen’s assistant, Stuart, to see if he knows what’s happening. (We know he was arrested the same day on the same fraud charges.) Heather asks if she should call Jen to tell her the police are looking for her. “I don’t think you should,” Lisa says.
The episode ends with a graphic declaring, “To be continued.”
And a couple of addendums:
• Meredith Marks is not there. She called Heather earlier the morning said she’s already in Colorado for a memorial for her late father, and she’ll meet them in Vail. Might be true, but it’s at least a bit suspect because of (a) the timing, and (b) we know (from clips of future episodes) that the Housewives will later suspect Meredith reported Jen to the authorities.
• Mary Cosby is not there. Probably not suspect, because Mary is avoiding both Whitney (after picking a fight with her) and, perhaps, Jennie (after not inviting her to an event.) More on that below.
Jen and Stuart
Earlier in the episode, Jen and her first assistant/business partner, Stuart Smith, go snowshoeing. Jen says her therapist has advised her to “spend quality time with the people I love, which is you.” They talk about their kids and how they handled staying home from school during the pandemic.
“I envy what you have. You’re with your kids every day,” Jen says. “And I’ve sacrificed that for work. To set up all these businesses and companies. I did it so that we could take care of employees. .... And if I wouldn’t have sacrificed that, a lot of families wouldn’t be eating right now.”
Jen thanks Stuart for “sticking with me through the bad times, the good times. And I hope you realize, too, like, the sacrifices I made — they’re to take care of you and your family.”
“I’ve seen that,” Stuart says, “and I know that you’ll always be there and I’ll always be here for you.”
Jen says Stuart is “more than a business partner. He’s been there with me … at my lowest points. He is very loyal.”
The obvious question is — will their mutual devotion survive when they’re both facing federal fraud charges?
Mary’s behavior gets even more bizarre
There’s a whole lot of Mary in the Nov. 7 episode, and the more you see of her, the worse she looks. She’s fights with pretty much everybody, bouncing from one confrontation to another. Here’s an attempt to make some sense of it:
Cooking class • Mary invites all of the other Housewives (except Jennie) to an Italian cooking class at the Park City Culinary Institute. Mary sets a dress code for the event — Italian street wear.
Mary affects an Italian accent that is super offensive. Not just because it plays on Italian stereotypes, but because she’s incredibly bad at it. “Mary, please,” Jen says in a confessional. “I will donate to your church if you stop speaking in Italian.”
Mary snubs Jennie • Mary makes a point of not inviting Jennie. “I don’t really care for Jennie,” she says. “I feel like being yelled at is a type of disrespect.”
To be clear, Jennie didn’t actually yell directly at Mary. When the other women were arguing with each other during an outing, Jennie yelled at all of them to shut up and stop fighting. And Mary definitely went on the offensive against Jennie, issuing orders and acting superior.
Later, Mary says, “I don’t like Jennie because she gossips, and she starts trouble.” This from the woman who, In Season 1, gossiped about Lisa and Meredith, lying to Whitney about what they’d said about Jen. And that started an enormous amount of trouble.
Jennie’s take on Mary • Jennie knows she hasn’t been invited, so she stays home and cooks with her two younger children. She has a great time — much better than the women who went to Mary’s event.
“Mary looks great on the outside,” Jennie says, with her “fancy clothes. Chanel. Louis Vuitton. You can dress so elegant on the outside. But you know, Mary’s pretty [expletive] on the inside.”
Meredith’s take on Mary • Meredith offers Jennie this evaluation of Mary: “She’s not a trusting soul to begin with, and she’s a very guarded human being. And so if there’s confusion, her mind goes to the worst.” Not necessarily a good look for a church leader, but …
“You guys didn’t get off on the best foot,” Meredith says. “She takes time. … That’s just how she’s wired.”
Mary plots against Whitney • Mary says she called Whitney four times about the cooking class, and Whitney did not pick up. So after telling the other Housewives to wear “Italian streetwear” (whatever that is — they’re not sure), she tells Whitney to wear “mafia streetwear” — to dress suggestively. It’s an attempt to embarrass her.
“She never even called me back. … You need a punishment for that,” Mary says. “Show respect. ... At first I was gonna make her come in, like, a monkey outfit or something, but I said, ‘OK, that would be mean.’”
Whitney’s not dumb. When she got Mary’s message about how to dress, she “thought it was a bad joke. … Clearly, Mary wanted me to arrive today dressed as a slutty mafia girl.”
Whitney dresses fashionably and Mary can’t stand that her attempt at punishment fails. She berates Whitney, complaining that Whitney “skipped my joke” and didn’t wear “what I told her to wear.” Yes, Mary berates Whitney for not falling for her “joke” and embarrassing herself.
Phone manners • Mary obsesses over Whitney’s failure to answer her calls. Whitney explains that she was driving a carpool for her kids and their friends at the time. Mary struggles with the concept of what a carpool is, and she refuses to believe that that could last for 45 minutes.
Later, Whitney says she did call Mary back about two hours later. “It wasn’t good enough. She didn’t answer.”
The battle continues • During the Italian dinner, Jen — Mary’s longtime arch-enemy — tells her, “I got your back.” Mary brushes it off.
Whitney insistently tries to get Mary to acknowledge the “beautiful” thing Jen just said, and Mary responds with extreme rudeness. “Don’t explain nothing to me!” Mary says, surprising the other Housewives.
“Mary has a problem with Whitney?” Jen says later in a confessional. “It’s like spin the bottle and whoever the bottle lands on, that’s who Mary M. Cosby is going after.”
When Whitney tells Mary she’s speaking to her like she’s a child, Mary reacts with anger and condescension. “You’re too insecure. Grow up. Grow the heck up,” Mary says. “You are a little girl. That should be a compliment.”
Mary is still obsessing over Whitney not calling her back. She scolds Whitney like she’s a child: “Bring your voice down! You don’t yell at me!” Mary yells. And then she dismisses Whitney from the event. “You can go,” she says, pulling faces and yelling, “Little girl!”
“Mary Cosby, I have had your back more than any other woman in this room,” Whitney says. That’s true. In Season 1, Whitney was the only Housewife who wasn’t on the outs with Mary.
“Mary, I love you,” Whitney says. “Well, act like,” Mary replies dismissively. “You never show me.” And she’s STILL obsessing about Whitney not answering her calls.
The big question is how Whitney could have remained friends with Mary after some of the texts she’s received from her. Including: “I’m better than you.” And “You deserve everything Jen did to you.” And “I don’t need all the fake injections in my face to make my face look like whatever. And I don’t need tummy tucks and facelifts and eyebrow lifts and breast implants. Everything is fake. I’ve never had plastic surgery. Never. I don’t need it like you do.”
A declaration of war • Whitney leaves the table at the Park City Culinary Institute, and Meredith goes after her. In the meantime, Mary goes after Heather. Later, when Heather says, “There is so much love for you, Mary. And support,” Mary dismisses her. “I don’t need that.”
When Meredith brings Whitney back to the table, Mary has a sour look on her face, grimacing and shaking her head. Meredith asks if they can find peace, and Mary goes on the attack against Meredith. “I have a side, too. … What about me?” Mary says.
“I’m here for you,” Meredith says. “You weren’t receptive to me.” And the producers helpfully insert a clip from 10 minutes earlier, when Mary refused to listen to or talk with Meredith, dismissing her with a wave of her hand. Mary says she’s sorry, but apparently learns nothing. Minutes after she yelled at Whitney, Mary says, “I don’t get screamed at because I don’t scream at people.”
Whitney asks, “Do you care about me as a friend?” And Mary replies, “I don’t think we’re friends like that. I really don’t.”
In a confessional, Whitney says that “crushes” her. “Maybe she just loved having a minion. And moving forward, I will no longer be her little soldier.” To Mary’s face, Whitney says, “The gloves are off then, Mary.”
‘Never make (Mary) mad’
Meredith tells Whitney about the warning she received from Cameron, a former member of Mary’s church, in the previous episode. He told her to be on her guard against Mary and her husband.
Whitney is close friends with one of Mary’s cousins, and “when I started getting close to Mary ... he kind of pulled me aside and was, like, ‘Whitney, I just need you to know to be careful. Never make her mad.’”
Whitney says Mary’s cousins are afraid of her “because they believe that she holds the power of God. … Her congregation believes her to be God. And I don’t think that’s any secret. … When they speak in tongues, they’re speaking to Mary like she’s God. And I feel like Mary feels like she has a pass to talk to me in a demeaning way because she knows that I know that she holds the spirit of God.”
Heather explains “Mormon” theology
Heather has lunch at Veneto in Salt Lake City with her niece, Caroline, her niece’s husband and her daughter. Caroline is her sister’s “golden” child, who went on a mission and went to BYU, Heather says. “And now Caroline and her husband have decided that being Mormon isn’t for them.”
“We should really toast to burning in hell,” Heather says. And they raise their glasses to “outer darkness.”
And then Heather shares some information about “Mormon” theology, with her own special twist. She outlines the three degrees of heaven — the Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms, and assigns Lisa to the Terrestrial with others who “just weren’t valiant in their faith.” (Lisa drinks alcohol, after all.)
“And then you have outer darkness, who are people like me that have accepted the gospel and been married in the temple, made all the covenants and then chosen to walk away,” Heather says. “So, like, I would have to ask [serial killer] Jeffrey Dahmer to get me into his degree of heaven.”
That’s more than enough for a regular episode, but this one was 90 minutes long.
Jen shoots hoops • Jen plays basketball (sort of) with her 16-year-old son, Omar. She tells him she was on the basketball team in seventh, eighth and ninth grade. She heaves up a shot that doesn’t come close to the hoop and says, “I just broke a nail.”
Pole dancing • Whitney tells her husband, Justin, that she wants to move the stripper pole from their family room “back to the bedroom.” Justin and Whitney then start spinning on the pole. “That might be the first time I’ve been on the poll sober,” Justin says.
Jen vs. Lisa • Jen is still offended that Lisa didn’t invite her to the fundraiser she threw in the previous episode. At the cooking lesson, Jen says, “If I happen to squirt a tomato in her eye because I am a professional chef today, that’s not my fault.”
It’s a secondary dispute in light of everything else going on in the episode, but after passive-aggressive sniping and yelling at each other, it seems pretty much resolved. Maybe. It’s hard to tell with these Housewives.
Whitney explains • Whitney says all was not what it seemed when a designer with whom Jen had a huge falling out went on social media to thank Whitney for giving him gifts.
Whitney says that the designer “reached out to my team” and suggested a “collaboration” with her company When she learned of that proposal, “I said, ‘Oh, no. Absolutely not.’” And she ordered her team not to communicate with him.
In a confessional, Whitney says, “This is not about me sending free products from my skin care line. This is about Lisa Barlow trying to prove that I’m not a loyal friend to Jen. Because for whatever reason, she is obsessed with being Jen’s No. 1 friend.”
Lisa doesn’t cook • Mary gifts the other women aprons, and Lisa says it’s the first time in her life she’s ever owned one. “I can think of a million things I’d rather be doing than cooking, like clipping my toenails, picking up dog poop, or, like, scrubbing the toilets,” she says.
Better pray the Mary way • Heather asks Mary if she’s going to bless the food. Mary tells Heather to bless the food. Heather offers a prayer, and Mary corrects her because she forgot to say “bless the hands that prepared it.” It’s the second time this season we’ve seen Mary interrupt someone else’s prayer to correct them.