The most interesting thing in Part 1 of the Season 3 reunion of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” was the preview for Part 2 — when at least one of the Housewives suggests that Jen Shah pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges to cover for her husband, University of Utah assistant football coach Sharrieff Shah.
And it would appear that we’ll never know how Heather Gay got that black eye. Plus, a “friend” says Jen made fun of her for living in Tooele.
No Jen at the reunion
Host/executive producer Andy Cohen says that Jen was invited, “but, unfortunately, her legal team advised her not to come today as her sentencing has yet to occur.” (The reunion was taped in December; Jen was sentenced to 78 months in prison on Jan. 6.)
“I think it would be great to have Jen here just so we could talk through things and, you know, basically get some closure,” says Lisa Barlow.
Heather says Jen “was a big part of the season. And so I feel like it’ll be a big, big void.”
Whitney Rose says she was “surprised” when Jen changed her plea to guilty because “since she was indicted, she claimed her innocence and screamed it from the rooftops. So I honestly thought she’d go fight the trial to the end.”
Meredith Marks was “shocked.”
Heather says that Jen called her to tell her she was about to plead guilty “right before she walked into the courtroom. … I just felt sadness and grief. … I wasn’t really feeling anything other than sadness for her family.”
Lisa vs. Meredith
Given their behavior at the reunion, Lisa and Meredith don’t appear to be anywhere near rebuilding their friendship.
Weirdly, Meredith says that her ongoing anger toward Lisa has “nothing to do with her childish tantrum” — the hot mic moment in Season 2 in which Lisa ranted about Meredith. Meredith insists that, after the group trip to Arizona early in Season 3, there was “hopefully, positive movement forward” — but then Lisa blocked her on Instagram “and was hiding her stories from me.”
Meredith accuses Lisa of falsely calling her a liar in text messages about circumstances surrounding the death of Meredith’s father.
Lisa says, “That is not true.”
Meredith contends that “the context” behind her continuing conflict with Lisa “was completely cut out” of the show. And, she insists, she was concerned about Lisa because “I didn’t think that the behavior that I saw was normal regular behavior.”
But when Andy asks if she reached out to Lisa “to see if she was OK,” Meredith hesitates and says, “No.” Meredith apologizes to Lisa because she “said that there were rumors out there about you.” Lisa accepts the apology.
As for the rumors about Lisa …
… there remains much disagreement. There were two sets of rumors — one that Lisa performed a sexual act for courtside Utah Jazz tickets; the other that she traded sexual favors to advance her Vida Tequila business.
Whitney insists that she “never said Meredith started the rumors. I said she was the one that started talking about it.” It’s a fine distinction.
Whitney also says she never alleged that she heard that Lisa performed sexual acts for Jazz tickets. “I said those rumors, like, are about this man, because I heard them from Angie Harrington.” And then, on the group’s trip to Arizona, “Heather spun my words and said [sexual acts] for courtside tickets.”
Later in the episode, Angie H. flatly denies telling Whitney that at the Jazz game. Andy asks if she ever talked about those rumors, Angie H. says, “Whitney and I had discussed rumors privately on the phone, because [Lisa’s husband] John was behaving in a way that I didn’t understand at a Jazz game.”
According to Lisa, John told Chris Harrington “to stay away from him.”
Angie H. says John was acting “like a lunatic” and that security threatened to throw him out.
“Don’t talk about my husband’s character,” Lisa says.
Angie H. replies, “Don’t talk about MY husband’s character.”
This is sort of stunning, because we already know that Chris’ character is suspect. He admitted to being behind a fake Instagram account that trolled both Lisa and Jen.
Angie H. says that, in a phone conversation, Whitney asked if she thought there was something going on between Lisa and the man whose seats the Barlows were using at the Jazz game. “And I said, ‘I’ve always wondered,” Angie H. says.
Whitney says that, at the Jazz game, Angie H. said that Heather “should buddy up” to that man (whose name is bleeped out) “like our friend Lisa.” Angie H. shakes her head.
Lisa strongly denies, again, that she has ever been involved with that man. She also vehemently denies Meredith’s accusation that she created fake Instagram accounts to troll Angie H.
Angie H. rolls her eyes and says, “You do it to all of us.” Again, given what her husband did, it’s sort of stunning.
Lisa says, “You’re trying to take away from the fact that your husband trolled me.”
Lisa says she “so glad” that Whitney stopped the rumors.
Heather says, “Stopped it? She started it.” Which is how it appeared on the show.
Lisa says, “I believe Whitney would’ve never said anything if other people in this group were not going to Whitney and talking about it.”
Both Heather and Meredith say that Whitney came and talked to them about the rumors. In flashbacks, we see Meredith bringing up those rumors.
Is Meredith a pill popper?
In a flashback to the group’s trip to San Diego, we hear Lisa say (in reference to Meredith), “No, I don’t pop pills, bitch. You do.”
When Andy asks about that, Lisa says that, on a Season 2 trip to southern Utah, “Jen had said that … Meredith was on something with Heather. … Jen had told me that they popped some pills. … She told me that you two were both [taking] ketamine or something. And that’s why I said it. Maybe it’s a bitchy thing to say, but that’s what I was told.” Whitney says Jen told her the same thing.
Lisa wants to move on, but Andy says “calling someone a pill popper kind of goes beyond being a bitchy.” Meredith says it’s a “vile” accusation.
Lisa urges Meredtih to call Jen. Meredith complies, and when Lisa tells her to confirm that she said Meredith was popping pills, Jen says, “No, that’s a lie.”
Lisa does not like that answer. “Well, you don’t tell the truth all the time. So I wouldn’t expect you to now. … You believe this over me? I’m not going to jail.”
Meredith says she “heard through the grapevine” that Lisa had been “saying that around town.” Lisa says that’s a lie and tells her to name names. Meredith refuses; Lisa says the source must have been Jen: “And it’s funny that you’ll believe someone that’s going to prison ... over me.”
Is the friendship over?
Meredith attempts to rewrite history, alleging that her attempts to cast aspersions on Lisa’s businesses was just idle talk about how crowd-funding for one of those businesses was “just not something I would want to do. ... I wouldn’t want to have to do all the SEC compliance that comes with that. That’s my personal opinion, which I’m entitled to.”
Lisa accurately points out that Meredith talked about “in a denigrating way.”
And Whitney accurately adds, “The point isn’t the SEC filing. The point is the way that Meredith brought it up and talked about it, it was to Lisa look bad.”
Andy asks Meredith and Lisa if “either one of you want to pursue or continue” their friendship.
“I think we have both made very big mistakes,” Meredith says, “and I think it’s really, really sad.” She suggests that “at a minimum, it would be nice to ... treat each other with respect with kindness, and, you know, be cordial and see where it goes. … That’s the best I can do right now.”
Lisa says she was “devastated” after her hot mic moment in Season 2 “because I was, like, we aren’t friends even then. But I have been very, very sad. And I never thought it would get to this point where it was so ugly.”
Lisa holiday album?
Andy points out that a clip of Lisa singing “Away In a Manger” from Season 3 went viral and asks, “Would you ever consider releasing a holiday album?”
“Actually, I would,” Lisa says. “And maybe I’m already working on it. Maybe not an album? Maybe it’s, like, three songs.”
The friends arrive
“Friends” Danna Bui-Negrete, Angie Katsanevas and Angie Harrington join the Housewives, and Danna is the first on the hot seat, asked about her highly combative encounters with Jen.
Danna insists she tried to be friendly with Jen, but got super angry when Jen fought with Angie H. — and when Jen made fun of Danna living in Tooele, which we did not see.
Danna’s explanation for why she told Jen she was friends with an informant against her does not seem believable: “Well, I was hoping that maybe she could be like, I don’t know, maybe own up to it early on. Talk about it. Address it. Take accountability for it.”
Danna says that the reason she blew up at Jen at Heather’s book-cover party was, during the earlier trip to San Diego, Jen “was making fun of where I was living. So, I live on the west side of Salt Lake City. It’s like more of a country town” — Tooele. And because Jen couldn’t remember, or was, perhaps, making fun of Danna’s husband’s name. (It’s Ernesto, BTW.)
Angie K. the co-hostess
Although Jen was, apparently, hosting the trip to San Diego, Angie K. arranged for the house where they stayed and “felt like” she was “the co-hostess.” The other women say they could see trouble coming when Angie K. claimed the primary bedroom. Angie K. says, “To be totally truthful, I feel that Jen wanted me in the group but with conditions, and that I had to always kind of stay down here on a leash.”
Angie K. is still steaming because Jen poured some champagne on her, and she’s angry when Heather says she could see some humor in it.
“We all have different opinions,” Heather tells Angie K. “There’s jokes you make that I don’t think are funny. … I didn’t pour champagne on your head. I wouldn’t pour champagne. If you want to crucify me for saying it was a fun bitch move, you’re going to have a really hard time surviving on this couch.”
More backlash for Angie K.
An email from a viewer questions Angie K. equating Jen not paying her back the $13,000 she spent on Sharrieff’s birthday party with the millions Jen defrauded her victims out of.
Meredith says that was “below the belt,” adding that it was “a little bit much” in reaction to “a little champagne” that Jen poured on Angie K. And Angie K. is livid about that. There’s lots of loud crosstalk, and Angie K. basically shouts Meredith down, insisting her behavior toward Jen was the result of “months and years” of abuse from Jen.
“Why am I responsible to know all that?” Meredith asks. “I didn’t know any of that.”
And then Angie K. talks nonsense. “You should work in a cubicle,” she tells Meredith. (Huh?) “You apparently have zero people skills.”
Meredith replies, “No, I don’t work in a cubicle and ... I have very good people skills, Angie. I haven’t been the one trying to get on this show for three years.”
Embarrassed about the black eye
Heather, who woke up during the San Diego trip with a black eye, scratches and bruises, finally offers an explanation for her various and conflicting statements about what happened:
• She doesn’t know what happened.
• She drank so much she blacked out.
• She’s embarrassed by her drunken blackout, which is why she didn’t immediately (or, even, subsequently) admit to it.
“I blacked out. I don’t know how it happened,” Heather says at the reunion.
And Lisa interjects, “I wish you had said that in the moment, because it caused so much damage. I think that you know an investigation was launched.”
Heather replies, “I wanted that investigation” — because she wanted to find out what happened.
However, not only were other Housewives under suspicion, but so were members of the production crew. According to Andy, the investigation “didn’t find anything and there was no additional footage, by the way, or else it would have been shown.”
He asks Heather why, if she doesn’t know what happened, she said she does on multiple occasions. She replies, “Because I was scared that [the other women] would rewrite the narrative in a way. If I said I didn’t know then they could say anything they wanted.”
Lisa correctly points that Heather’s conflicting statements about the black eye “impacted people that were on production” and their “livelihoods.” Heather says everything “spun out of control,” adding, “I’m really sorry.”
And, Heather says, she couldn’t bring herself to admit she blacked out. “I would’ve choked on the words. It was humiliating. … I have a lot of Mormon shame about drinking. And I’ve already dealt with a lot of it on the show. And now it’s public and I’m waking up with not a friend in the world with a giant black eye.”
And the she contradicts herself again. “I didn’t want an investigation,” Heather says, shortly after saying she did. The other women call her out on that.
Andy clarifies that the seemingly ominous footage of someone jiggling the locked door to Heather’s room was Meredith, Angie K. and Jen at 4:50 a.m. Heather does not remember them coming into her room.
Andy asks Heather why her first call the next morning was to Jen. Heather replies, “Because I trusted her the most … for coming up with a cover story when you black out and you have a black eye.” Lisa interjects, “But it also made her look guilty.” And Whitney adds, “It really seemed like you two got in an altercation.”
Asked if she asked Jen if she did it, Heather says the two of them “joked about it,” and adds, “I would have rather had Jen do that to me than a stranger.” Andy asks Heather, “Do you think Jen punched you in the eye?” Heather replies, “I don’t know.”
Whitney, Angie K. and Danna each speculate that Jen may have hit Heather in the eye, perhaps accidentally. Angie K. says that the next night at dinner, when producers asked Heather what happened, “Jen looked at her quietly and said, ‘What are you going to say happened?’”
Andy asks Angie K. why she said that maybe Heather was injured during a sexual encounter with Jen. “Well,” Angie K. says, “I was talking to some people and they said, ‘Have you ever heard of any sexual relations between Heather and Jen?’”
Next week in Part 2
In the preview clips, Andy says, “There was speculation that [Jen] pled guilty to keep Coach [Sharrieff Shah] from being implicated.” Whitney says, “If that was true, it makes sense.”
“So does that mean you think he possibly had knowledge and is letting her take the fall?” Andy asks. Whitney replies, “Possibly.” (Heather also speculated about Sharrieff’s possible guilt in the previous episode.)
To be clear, there is nothing in the court documents hinting at Sharrieff being involved in Jen’s crimes. And there is every indication that Jen pleaded guilty when she was presented with the mountains of evidence the prosecution had against her.
Part 2 of the Season 3 reunion airs Wednesday, Feb. 1 on Bravo — 6 p.m. on Dish and DirecTV; 9 p.m. on Comcast.
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