In an extended and extensively painful-to-watch episode of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” Mary Cosby is called out for her lies and makes yet another racist comment, Heather Gay struggles with her exit from the LDS Church, and Jen Shah declares — again and again and again — that she’s innocent of the federal fraud and money laundering charges she’s facing.
The pho luncheon
Jennie Nguyen brings all the Housewives together for a pho luncheon — featuring Vietnamese dishes — served outdoors at the International Peace Gardens in Salt Lake City. “I want the ladies to understand who I am by getting to know my culture,” Jennie says. “In the Vietnamese culture, when we have conflict, we sit down in a non-threaten[ing] environment and kind of talk it out and listen to each other.”
Meredith Marks is the first to arrive, followed by Lisa Barlow. Heather, Jen and Whitney Rose arrive together, and Meredith is not pleased. “Is that Jen?” she asks. Jennie replies, “I believe so.”
“Didn’t we all have this conversation not to invite me if you invited her?” Meredith asks. (Actually, Meredith made that a demand.)
Jennie says she planned this event at the Peace Gardens because “I don’t want any drama. And if we have any drama …”
“So you invite the one person who starts all the drama,” Meredith interjects, starting some drama. In a confessional, she says, “I’m an adult. I’m not going to leave because Jen’s here.” She greets Jen and they awkwardly hug and air kiss.
Heather says in a confessional, “The tension is palpable just between Meredith and Jen. And Mary is not even here yet.” Mary is unfashionably late. She’s once again talking out loud to herself as she walks through the gardens.
Jen and Mary share an awkward hug of their own. Shortly thereafter, Mary is once again sounding racist. When she’s shown a picture of Jennie in a blonde wig, she says, “I like the slanted eyes.” And then she laughs.
Jennie’s look could kill. “What the hell?” she says in a confessional. “Did Mary just say she likes my slanted eyes? Does she not know it’s inappropriate? That is not even a compliment! If this wasn’t my event. Mary would have been on the ground.”
In Season 1, Mary was accused of — and admitted to — racist behavior. She issued an apology after disparaging Mexicans two episodes earlier. It’s now a pattern.
Mary tells Heather she’s “pleasantly surprised” they can get along after their bitter fight in Vail. Whitney is shooting daggers at Heather and Mary as they make up.
“Mary doesn’t hold on to any grudges,” Heather says in a confessional. “Like, she will pull her stiletto blade from her boot, slice your vital organ, put it back and then be, like, ‘What’s for dinner?’ She’s a silent killer.”
Lisa declares, “Everybody’s friends!” It’s premature. Whitney says to Jen, “Hey, are we in reality or am I tripping on ‘shrooms right now? … Is everyone really being this fake?”
Mary overhears and suggests that Whitney is the only one being fake. Whitney recalls that the last time they were all together (everyone but Jen), things were “very heated and, clearly, we were not OK. … And I think it’s really fascinating that we’re all sitting here like it never happened.” She’s not wrong.
Jen tells the other women she’s innocent of the charges against her. Mary repeatedly presses Jen about that, expressing skepticism that the FBI and police would arrest someone who’s not guilty.
Mary is caught in her lies
There’s all sorts of arguing about who said what about Jen when the other six women were in Vail. And Mary flat out lies to Jen’s face. “I did not talk about you,” she says.
Cut to Heather in a confessional saying, “She said horrible things about Jen in Vail.” And the producers/editors helpfully insert clips of Mary talking about and disparaging Jen.
In a confessional, Mary says, “Do I hope she’s innocent? Yeah. But do I think Jen is innocent? No.” Later, she has what might be a Freudian slip. “I pray to God you’re guilty,” Mary tells Jen, before correcting herself — “... you’re innocent.”
Mary tries to shut Lisa down. In a mind-boggling confessional, she says, “Lisa’s not self-aware of her behavior.” (Lisa has not made reference to anyone’s “slanted eyes,” by the way.)
Lisa will “start something,” Mary says. “Like, she’ll say something because — maybe ‘cause she eats candy and she doesn’t eat food. And maybe her periods are bad. I don’t know.”
Shortly thereafter, Mary says, in reference to Jen, “I care. I don’t judge.” Again, there’s video of her judging Jen harshly. Jennie, who’s kept her cool up to this point, loses it on Mary. “You talked about her as much as we did! Don’t lie, Mary! Don’t lie! … You’re lying!”
In a confessional, Jennie says, “Own up to it. Since you’re a lady of God, be more honest, because you preach to your congregation about honesty.”
Mary wants Jennie to “talk to me with respect.” She says, “You don’t care about me?” Jennie replies, “No, I don’t.” Mary says, “OK, I don’t need to be here.”
“There’s the gate,” Jennie says.
“What I won’t be called is a liar,” Mary says. Meredith, who was there in Vail and knows Mary is lying, says, “I’ve had enough of this [expletive]” and goes off with Mary.
“Oooh, I wanted to backhand her,” Mary says of Jennie in a confessional. To Meredith, she says Jennie “knows nothing about me. ... Don’t you dare call me a liar.”
And then things get really weird
Jen is insulted when Lisa says, “I still probably have PTSD” from the day of Jen’s arrest. Jen walks away.
And in one of the weirdest moments to date in “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” Mary — who has repeatedly maligned Jen behind her back and then lied about it; who has fought with her since Episode 1 — comforts her. “Come on, baby girl. You know me,” Mary says. “I’ma always keep it real with you. ... I told myself I’m willing to be a friend with you.” And “I’m praying that … you come out OK.”
Later, when Jen declares her innocence again, Heather says, “The world may seem to be against you, but it’s not. And you have people in your corner.”
“Well, I wouldn’t say that, Heather,” Mary interjects, completely contradicting everything she’s just been telling Jen.
The fights go on
Back at the table, Meredith returns and berates Lisa, Whitney, Jennie and Heather for not being better friends to Jen. “I’m not going to sit there and rip someone behind their back and play their friend to their face,” Meredith says — not long after she warmly greeted and hugged Jen, who she loathes.
Later, Meredith says that she can criticize the women who say they’re Jen’s friends, but that none of that applies to her because she’s not Jen’s friend.
In a confessional, Lisa says Meredith’s behavior is “super hurtful” — that they’ve been friends for “over 10 years,” and that Meredith comes to the defense of her own family and Mary, “but when it comes to me, it’s like, ‘Hey, fend for yourself.’”
Lisa tells Meredith, “Don’t [expletive] play dumb.” Meredith gets up to leave, ranting about Jennie inviting Jen and, for the umpteenth time, alleging that Jen “traumatized my family for two years.” (That would predate the beginning of “RHOSLC,” and Meredith and Jen certainly acted like friends when the series began filming.)
“Thank you, Jennie. It was lovely. But I told you not to do this to begin with,” Meredith says. And to Lisa, she says, “You have been screaming for a half hour. I can’t anymore.”
Heather cackles with glee. “Mom and Dad are fighting,” she says, “What do we do?”
Lisa questions why Meredith made no attempt to stop Mary from attacking her. “I need you here,” Lisa says, breaking into tears. “Can you please stay for me?” Meredith hugs her and says she’ll stay. Meredith and Lisa return to the table. Jen and Mary return to the table.
Is Heather “a role model and a traitor”?
Heather’s older brother, Tyler, is visiting from Switzerland, where he’s lived with his wife and two sons for 15 years. It’s the first time they’ve seen each other since Heather quit The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — and since Tyler wrote her a letter telling her he did the same.
Heather is shocked, because Tyler has always been “a true-believing Mormon.” He says he decided to “look into” the church after he learned Heather left “because I trust you.” At that point he “looked up some information” about church founder Joseph Smith. Heather interjects that that was Tyler’s “first mistake. The first rule of being Mormon — don’t look up anything.”
Tyler learned that among Smith’s many wives was a 14-year-old. “That’s weird. They don’t teach that at church,” he says. Heather asks Tyler if he feels “duped”; he says he does, and that he feels “trauma. … I’m angry some days and some days I’m just thrilled to be out. ... My problem is, I feel like I raise my kids in a cult. That makes me de facto a bad parent.”
Then he lays a guilt trip on Heather for not calling him after she received his letter. Heather says she couldn’t bring herself to “celebrate this with him” because it was “confirmation of my biggest fears.” She “didn’t want to affect anyone’s faith.”
“It’s really hard to be a role model and be a traitor at the same time,” she says, adding, “I don’t think I’m better off. ... I grieve the life I wanted to have. ... I never once said, ‘Don’t be Mormon. I just said, ‘I can’t be me and be Mormon,’ and it’s making me messed up.”
Amid tears, Heather says, “I wish I could be who I am and still be a good Mormon … just to not screw up everybody.” Tyler tells Heather she “saved” his family, adding, “You haven’t ruined anything.”
More allegations against Mary and her husband
Lisa invites Whitney to the Park City Yoga Adventures. Which is sort of like Joe Biden trying to make nice with Donald Trump.
“There’s no reason Whitney and I should have any problems,” Lisa says. “And I put a lot of effort into trying to make this friendship work. But we take two steps forward and she brings us three paces back. And at this point, I’m like, ‘Well, maybe we can go to a Zen place and actually work this out.’”
They both fall off their paddle boards. Lisa falls off a lot. Afterward, Whitney tells Lisa she called Cameron to talk to him about his allegations against Mary — including that she coerced him to mortgage his home and give her $300,000.
Whitney says she called Cameron to find out about his experience “because I felt like I was starting to finally have the experience that everyone talks about with Mary.” And, she adds, “The thing that scares me is the rumors are that Mary and Robert are predators. … It’s online.”
Asked by a producer if she’s comfortable talking about what she’s read online, Whitney declines. “Yeah, I don’t even know if I’m comfortable saying it,” she says in a confessional, “because if it is true, I don’t want to put my family’s safety at risk.”
“This whole thing is creepy,” Lisa says. Whitney says that Mary and her husband, Robert Sr., use “the fear of God is their power to get what they want.” Lisa says she finds that “interesting … because when I was in Mary’s room, she said something to the effect with Jen, where she’s like, ‘See what happens when you mess with my church? You go to jail.’”
“It’s sounding like they’re rumors about Mary being a cult leader — probably true,” Whitney says.
Lisa vs. Jen
Before the pho luncheon, Lisa finally responds to Jen’s calls and texts (after several days) and agrees to meet her for lunch at Carson Kitchen in Salt Lake City. When they meet, Jen declares her innocence. Lisa says she’s “looking at you as innocent.” She also says she was “thinking through some things” because the last time the spoke, Jen screamed at her and attacked her. (There’s video. That happened.)
In a confessional, Lisa says that “taking this time to process doesn’t make me a bad friend. It makes me real and not a fake.”
Jen says she “never knew your feelings were hurt.” And Jen thinks that her arrest erases any previous bad behavior on her part. “Screw whatever happened before Vail,” she says. “Hello! Like, come on, I think this supersedes and overrides anything that happened before Vail.”
Lisa disagrees. “When you came at me that hard, I felt very broken by you,” she says, breaking into tears. Jen says she understands, but she makes it clear Lisa’s feelings are of no consequence. “This is the lowest point of my life and you go silent?” Jen says.
Lisa says that she showed up today “and I’ve been there for you for the last nine months. More than anybody else has been there for you.” Still, Jen questions whether that was “real.”
“Sometimes it’s unpopular in our friend group” to be friends with Jen, Lisa points out. Jen replies, “If it’s unpopular for you to be friends with me, don’t be friends with me.”
They both insist they’ve had each other’s back. They get increasingly angry and loud with each other. “Do I wish this on Jen? No,” Lisa says in a confessional. “But does Jen have the right to say whatever she wants to whomever she says it to? Absolutely not.”
Jen refuses to acknowledge in a confessional how terrible she was to Lisa, calling her a “fair weather friend. … I never thought Lisa would be the one who wouldn’t pick up my call.”
Ramadan and downsizing
Jen; her husband, Sharrieff; her son, Omar; and two of her nephews pray on the last day of Ramadan. Sharrieff prays to “please bless and protect Jen” against “things that have set against her that crush her soul.” Jen says, “The fact that I’m going through the most difficult time of my entire life and Ramadan is happening, I’m looking at this as a blessing. I need this right now.”
Sharrieff pulls Jen aside and tells her they need to move to “a smaller spot” and leave the expansive, expensive, rented “Shah Chalet” behind because they need money to “to fight for your freedom.” Jen says her legal fees will now be more like $2 million than $1 million.
But she resists the idea of moving to a smaller place because their home is a “hub” for their extended family. Jen says she “wanted to try to go through this without having to change things, not just for me, but for everybody else.”
In a confessional, Jen adds that she employs “the vast majority of my family,” which costs her “probably somewhere upwards of 50k a month. I’ve told them, ‘Move here. … I’ll help you get on your feet, get a better life for you and your family. And then this happens.”
Sharrieff replies, “Right now, none of that matters. We’re going against the behemoth that is the federal government. And they’re wrong, and we have to prove that they’re wrong. We need the resources to do it.”
Jennie tells Meredith that her husband, Duy, has suggested adding a sister wife so they could have more children. Meredith says “there’s no way I could live with another woman co-wifing. … I would be fighting with her all day long.”
Jennie says that, according to Duy, “It’s legal since last year.” It’s not.
Lisa is also shocked by this. “I would never in a million years expect Duy to contemplate that,” Lisa says. “He just seems so in love with you.
“This is like the last thing I expected to come out of his mouth,” Jennie agrees.
In a confessional, Lisa says that if her husband, John, “asked for a sister wife ... he wouldn’t have a first wife.” Later, she says, “Tell Duy I’m going to help you find a brother husband.”
For reasons that are unclear, Meredith and Lisa dress Jennie in provocative clothes and put that blonde wig on her. “Damn!” Jennie says. “I look like a hooker.”
Whitney changes her mind • Whitney says she’s had a change of heart. “Even though I had a lot of strong opinions in Vail, and I had a lot to say about Jen,” she says in a confessional, “after seeing her the other night, my heart kind of softened because I just saw a woman in pain. … I feel like even in our darkest moments, we could all use a little grace sometimes.”
Not booked? • Jen tells the other women, “I didn’t go to jail. I didn’t get booked in jail despite whatever was on the media.”
Mary says she “loved” the outfit Jen was wearing when she went to court. “Well, I thought I was going to Vail, not jail,” Jen replies.
Pho/faux • “I think it’s great that Jennie is trying to get us together for pho,” Lisa says, “because it seems like a lot of our friendships are faux.” (Actually, pho rhymes with “huh.”)
Meredith is tired • “I’m tired of talking about my friends,” Meredith says. If viewers tire of that, too, then the show is over.