The battle between Jen Shah and Lisa Barlow on a shuttle bus takes a remarkable turn in the Jan. 16 episode of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.” And Meredith Marks gets called out for defending Mary Cosby’s bad behavior — and for minimizing and excusing Mary’s racism.
The battle on the shuttle bus
The Jan 16 episode of begins with a replay of the last couple minutes of the previous episode as Jen and Lisa nearly come to blows on a shuttle bus headed to southern Utah.
Jen becomes positively unglued as she shrieks at Lisa and gets in her face. Jen has to be restrained by a producer. Lisa is egging Jen on while Whitney Rose holds her back.
Jen, who instigated and escalated the conflict, quickly rewrites history. “You came at me!” she shouts at Lisa repeatedly. The producer hauls Jen to the front of the shuttle bus. From there, Jen continues to harangue Lisa, blaming her for things that Meredith has said and done.
Lisa replies, “Blame her, not me! [Expletive] you for saying that!” And Jen tries to go after Lisa again, with Jennie Nguyen stepping between them and the producer pulling Jen back again.
Jen says she’s afraid she’s headed for prison. Even though, she says, she’s innocent. And she believes “somebody — Mary Cosby and Meredith — [expletive] did something” to get her arrested.
Rather remarkably, Lisa goes over to Jen, sits down with her, puts her arms around her and comforts her. In a confessional, Lisa says, “Do I like that she almost just ripped my head off? Do I like that she’s asking me to choose friends? Absolutely not. But she’s broken. She’s hurting. And right now, I just feel like Jen really just needs to feel heard and loved.”
Also rather remarkably, Lisa calms Jen down. “I am sorry that I hurt you. I have never wanted to hurt you. And if you have to kick the [expletive] out of me for you to get that, you can.”
Later, Lisa tells her husband, “I literally thought Jen and I were going to go to blows.”
Waiting for Meredith and Mary
There’s a sense of dread as Jen, Lisa, Jennie, Whitney and Heather Gay await the arrival of Meredith and Mary, who flew down to St. George separately. (Their husbands arranged a stay near Zion National Park as a Mother’s Day gift.)
“All of the [expletive] that came up on the bus ride was about Meredith and Mary, who haven’t even shown up yet,” Heather says.
Adding to the sense of foreboding is the fact that Jen has been drinking. A lot. “I haven’t seen her drink this much in a long time,” Heather says. “We’re walking a razor’s edge right now.”
They’re staying at the gorgeous Zion Red Rock Villa, which the graphics tell us is in “Zion, Utah.” There is no city, town or municipality called “Zion” in Utah, of course; the property is in Rockville, near Zion National Park.
When Mary and Meredith arrive, it’s crystal clear neither of them wants to be there. Whitney and Heather lock themselves in a bathroom. “I’m just not ready to face them,” Whitney says. “It just feels easier to hide.”
Heather and Whitney eventually let the two newcomers in and tell them about the fight on the bus.
“The last thing I wanted to do was be trapped in a sprinter van for seven hours with women who are getting into a physical altercation, supposedly somehow pertaining to my friendship with Lisa?” Meredith says with a sour look on her face. “Adios. Not for me.”
Mary has a different reaction: “Man, I missed that fight? I just wish I’d’ve been there,” she says with a big grin.
“I don’t think I brought enough crystals for this [expletive],” Whitney says.
Whitney’s spiritual ceremony
Whitney has organized a “red earth ceremony,” and the women are supposed to wear white to symbolize “purity.” It’s about women finding their “power” and “their connection to Mother Earth,” which Whitney believes will be “super healing.”
Heather questions how Mary, who is the “first lady” of a pentecostal church, will react to all of this.
Whitney is anxious to get everyone back on the shuttle bus for her ceremony, which can only take place as long as the sun is still up. She promises Jen she is going to “bring everything out. All the questions. All of it.”
Whitney, Heather, Jen, Jennie and Lisa are on the shuttle bus, dressed in white, ready to go. Heather frets about where Meredith is. Jen makes a notably crude comment about them and says Meredith is “a piece of [expletive].” In a confessional, Jen refers to Meredith as “the wicked witch of the West.”
Meredith has not gotten ready, and Whitney asks her to come “in whatever you’re wearing.” Which is not white. Meredith gives Whitney a pained look, clearly uninterested in the ceremony, Whitney or both.
Mary is dawdling and talking to herself (as usual) as she tries to get her look just right. The other six women head off for the ceremony, and send the shuttle bus back to pick up Mary. “How would Mary feel if I was late to something that was very sacred and meaningful to her?” Whitney asks.
The women meet with Bettina, a shaman spirit guide. “We need to cleanse our chakras and get rid of all this bad energy — all this bad friendship vibes,” Whitney says. “Find our connection with ourselves, Mother Earth and each other.”
Back at the house, Mary is still getting dressed. In a confessional, she says, “I don’t care if they leave me. I don’t travel this way. I don’t travel and book events the exact same night that I get into a place.”
The other six women take a “gratitude bundle” and start walking through a labyrinth as part of the ceremony. Jen wants to “let go of all of the unnecessary judgment.” Meredith wants to “let go of all of this tension and negative energy I’ve been feeling from the women in the group, especially from Lisa, lately.” Lisa needs to “let go of all of this toxicity that’s constantly around me, and I’m done trying to solve everybody else’s friendship crises.”
Whitney says, “I want to let go of my tension with Mary. I want to let go of my beef with Lisa.” Jennie sums it up: “This group has a lot of resentment. We’re going to be here all night.”
Mary arrives 34 minutes late and she refuses to participate. “Oh Lord, have mercy,” she says. In a confessional, she says, “Yeah, I don’t want to be here right now. I don’t. I’m not feeling this. It’s not that I don’t believe in it or that it’s against my religion. It’s just that I’m loyal to my God. But you know Whitney. Whitney has to have her little spiritual rituals.”
“Quite honestly, it’s disrespectful that she shows up late and just stands there,” Whitney says. “Like, I don’t believe in her religion, but I showed up to her church and honored her and supported her and participated.”
Dinner and drama
The women come back to the guest house and a five-course meal being served outside. Things get off to a bad start. During a toast, Whitney complains that the “very beautiful night” she had planned was ruined because Meredith and Mary were late.
Whitney asks Meredith why she didn’t come on the bus with them, and Meredith says her husband had a doctor’s appointment. In a confessional, Heather says Meredith would do “anything to avoid being trapped with us for eight hours.”
(Eight hours? That trip takes less than five hours. Although, what with Lisa and Jen going at it, it probably seemed like eight. Or 80.)
Asked why she didn’t come on the bus, Mary is unresponsive. “I don’t know if I have to have an excuse why,” she mumbles. Meredith comes to Mary’s defense once again: “She was kind enough to wait for me.”
“I’m just bummed because I just had something really cool and we didn’t get to do it,” Whitney says. Meredith apologizes, but it’s clear she isn’t sorry. In a confessional, she says, “If I decide that I want to take a rocket ship to get to Zion, that’s on me. … And it’s none of anyone else’s business.”
Heather asks Mary if she’s sorry, “because you didn’t apologize.” Mary replies, “No, I didn’t apologize.”
Jen says she thinks Mary is “being honest, and Meredith is just saying what everyone else wants to hear.” Meredith replies, “You don’t know anything about me, Jen.”
“And I don’t think you know anything about me either,” Jen says. And that sets off the tensions between the two, who start sniping at each other openly.
Did Meredith skip the bus because she knew Jen would be on it? “It was not just Jen,” Meredith says. “It was the cumulative nature of all the tension. Even Lisa’s part of it. … I feel a lot of hostility directed at me and I just didn’t want to subject myself to it.”
Lisa and Jennie ask Meredith if it’s OK to invite her and Jen to the same events — something Meredith has repeatedly made clear is not OK with her. And Meredith takes the opportunity to rewrite history and create conflict between Jennie and Jen. She says she was “surprised” when Jennie invited Jen to her luncheon “because you called her a criminal, which was the most aggressive statement anybody made.”
Jennie is understandably upset, because that’s not true. She tries to explain to Jen that what she actually said was that if the criminal charges against her were true, she wouldn’t want to associate with her. But Jennie strongly argued that Jen was innocent until proven guilty.
Not surprisingly, Meredith’s false statement sets Jen off, and she starts yelling at Jennie that she is “not a criminal.” Meredith looks positively pleased with herself.
When Jen gets up and goes in the house, Whitney continues to press Meredith. “Jen has been nasty to you. Mary’s been nasty to me. Why are you standing with Mary?” she asks. Meredith replies, “Mary has been nothing but kind to me. When no one else was there for me.”
When Lisa tells Meredith she was there for her, Meredith replies, “You made choices that hurt me, and that’s the bottom line. And you knew that they would hurt me when you made them.” In other words, Meredith was hurt when Lisa befriended Jen.
Whitney said “we all questioned … why Lisa was so close to Jen all of a sudden when her best friend is Meredith. It didn’t make any sense.”
“I did not ever seek Jen Shah out,” Lisa says. “I was hoping to help Meredith and Jen because I like when people get along.”
Whitney then turns the discussion back to herself, questioning why “everyone” is “trying to resolve Jen and Meredith? What about Mary and I?”
Mary grumbles and mocks Whitney. “I’m glad you make a mockery of my feelings, Mary,” Whitney says.
Jennie points out that several of the women have said that Mary has been mean to them. And Meredith, once again, rushes to defend Mary and attack Jen.
“Oh, please, no one was meaner … to anyone than Jennifer Shah, and you all seek her out. So I don’t want to hear it.” Meredith says.
Whitney tries pointing out Meredith’s hypocrisy. “How do you expect me to feel when the person that’s doing [to me] what Jen did to you — you’re seeking her out?”
Meredith minimizes Mary’s racism
Jennie asks Meredith how she can be supportive when Mary makes “racial comments.” Meredith interrupts, saying, “Mary and I had a conversation about that and I told her that it was wrong.”
If that happened, we didn’t see it. We did see Meredith excuse Mary’s “slanted eyes” comment — the producers helpfully insert the clip of Meredith saying, “I mean, it’s something I wouldn’t say. I don’t know if it would be offensive or not.”
It was wishy-washy and carried no force whatsoever. In a confessional, Jennie says, “If what Mary said was wrong, why didn’t [Meredith] support me? Why didn’t she stand up for me?”
Meredith gets all defensive, but the fact remains — she excused Mary and she did not support Jennie. “I was very clear,” she inaccurately and angrily insists.
“She’s willing to protect Mary, run after Mary, defend Mary and always have Mary’s back. And nobody else,” Jennie says in the confessional.
Having been confronted with the fact that she excused Mary’s racism, Meredith decides it’s time for her to “disengage” and fly home. She gets up and leaves the table.
In a confessional, Whitney says, “I don’t understand how Meredith can stand by Mary with the way she’s treating all of us. I can’t let it go until I get the answer.”
Heather and Whitney tell Mary it’s her job to chase after Meredith and bring her back. Mary doesn’t want to leave the table because she hasn’t finished her steak. Eventually, she goes upstairs and convinces her friend to return, even though Meredith says she is “traumatized” by Jen’s presence.
Jen vs. Meredith
Back at the table, Jen returns and asks “what’s up with” Meredith. Told that Meredith is “overwhelmed,” Jen asks, “Over what, though? ‘Cause she’s lying a lot?”
Meredith returns to the table. Asked if she’s OK, Meredith says, “I have no idea. I’m here. That’s all I know.”
“Why are we here if no one can get along?” Whitney asks. It’s the most disingenuous question of the night — they’re there because they’re being paid to be on “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.” Under normal circumstances, women who loathe each other wouldn’t spend any time together.
Mary says that she just doesn’t have “the mental capacity” to deal with Whitney or the other women. Whitney says she feels it’s “pointless” for her to say anything.
Jen takes this as some sort of cue to ask Meredith why she hired a private investigator “to research about me.” And Meredith clarifies, if not changes, what she told the other Housewives earlier.
“I never hired a private investigators to investigate you. I hired an investigator to investigate why my family was receiving threats,” Meredith says. “I submitted every single one of you to be investigated, not you.”
In previous episodes, Meredith told the other women that a private investigator she hired had told her there was a 90% chance Jen was behind the threats. She did not say she’d had all of them investigated.
Jen lashes out at Jennie, who told her about the private investigator, screaming and cursing at her. In a confessional, Jennie says, “It’s so upsetting to me because I told her the truth. And yet she turned it on me, which is unbelievable. If she’s going to be angry, she should be angry at Meredith.”
It dawns on Jen that she’s being accused of threatening the Marks family. “I didn’t say that,” Meredith says — she just repeated what the P.I. said. “He thought it was you. … You have been awful to my family. Just be honest.”
“Your family’s been awful to my family!” Jen yells, coming unglued again.
This goes back to early in Season 1 when Brooks Marks allegedly saw Jen’s private parts when she kicked her leg up while not wearing underwear. Jen says that’s not true, and that it embarrassed her, her husband and her sons. Meredith also comes unglued, backing up Brooks’ story. “I saw your vagina over and over and over again,” she yells.
Jen shouts back, calling her a liar. Jen gets up out of her chair and approaches Meredith, who tells her repeatedly, “Get out of my face!”
Jen says, “You don’t want me to tell everyone what you’ve done, right?” Meredith replies, “Really? You want me to tell them what you’ve done, baby? Oh, sweetie, you have no idea what I know.”
The implication seems to be that Meredith knows something about the federal fraud and money-laundering charges against Jen, who certainly takes it that way. “I swear to God if you had anything to do with the [expletive] charges against me … You’re disgusting!”
Meredith gets up to leave, saying, “Jen, I would never do that. I’m not revolting like you.”
Jen, under indictment for fraud, says Meredith is a “[expletive] fraudulent” for living “10 lives.” Meredith replies, “Who’s calling who a fraud?”
“Ask your 10 other [expletive] boyfriends,” Jen says — alleging, for the first time, that Meredith didn’t have one affair, she multiple affairs.
The other women look shocked. It’s unbelievably uncomfortable.
The next episode of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” airs Sunday, Jan. 23, on Bravo — 7 p.m. on Dish and DirecTV; 10 p.m. on Comcast.