The Jan. 23 episode of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” just might be the weirdest to date — which is saying something for this show. But after screaming and yelling at each other through the first half of the episode — which takes place in southern Utah near Zion National Park — the seven Housewives pretty much kissed and made up in the second half of the episode.
It was incredibly strange.
The screaming match resumes
The episode picks up right where the last one left off — Jen Shah and Meredith Marks are screaming at each other. Meredith insists that Jen has “terrorized” her family for two years; Jen shouts, “I have never done anything to her or her family,” while Meredith laughs derisively.
“Honey, I am trying to be kind, and you keep going,” Meredith says. (The second half of that statement is true.) And Meredith continues to claim that she’s not disparaging Jen even as she does exactly that. “I said the [private] investigator told me with 90% certainty that he thought it was you” who allegedly “threatened” her family,” Meredith says. “I didn’t say you did it. I don’t know if you did it.”
That’s Meredith being kind and non-accusatory.
And Jen screeches at Jennie Nguyen because she told her that Meredith hired the private investigator. What Jennie told Jen was true. Meredith is twisting the truth, and Jen is falling for it. “What the hell just happened?” Jennie says in a confessional. “Did Meredith put some kind of spell on Jen or something?”
As is her habit, Meredith alludes to things without spelling them out. She knows “a lot more” about Jen, but she is “a kind enough soul not to bring it all up because it’s not going to end well.”
In a confessional, Whitney Rose says she “thinks that Jen may have hooked up with the man that Meredith was seeing when she was separated from [her husband] Seth.” This is all pure speculation.
Did Meredith turn Jen in?
And Whitney continues to speculate. She tells Meredith that because she skipped van rides with the other women, “It looks like you may have had something to do with the fact that Jen was indicted.” (She’s facing federal fraud and money laundering charges. Jen has pleaded not guilty and has repeatedly said she did nothing wrong.)
Meredith laughs and says, “That’s a joke. If that’s what you all believe, goodbye.” And she gets up and leaves the table. Over the next few minutes, Meredith keeps repeating, “Those aren’t my friends,” “I’m done” and “I’m disgusted ... I had nothing to do with her arrest.”
Back out at the table, Jen — who’s been screaming at Lisa Barlow — tells her, “Thank you for being there for me today.” Lisa, stunned into momentary silence, says that she and Meredith have been at odds. “She felt like I was not there for her 100%.”
Jen asks Lisa if Meredith was there for her 100%. “I could’ve used a little more,” Lisa says, breaking into tears.
Meredith, urged on by Whitney, returns to the table and interrupts Lisa to defend herself. “If you guys think that I’m feeding evidence to the FBI, that’s [expletive] insane,” Meredith says. In a confessional, Meredith says, “I’m so flattered that these women think I’m more powerful than the FBI, but I think they could find Jennifer Shah without my help.”
Jen screams at Jennie some more, accusing her of saying Meredith ratted her out to the FBI. Which is not what Jennie said. Jennie said the women were speculating about that in Vail. Which they were. As Heather Gay later points out, “Jennie Nguyen does not deserve this.”
Jen’s moods and loyalties continue to swing wildly. She says Mary Cosby “actually has my back right now,” which is just this side of insane. Lisa tells her that they believe “Meredith knows a lot of information” but that that “wasn’t an accusation.”
Jen gets up and throws something at Lisa on the way out. Lisa follows Jen to explain, and Jen yells at her, calling her an “[expletive] liar.”
Lisa and Heather start arguing, and Whitney interjects: “You two are on the same team!” Lisa replies, “There are no teams. We’re all just friends.”
Really? Meredith certainly doesn’t think it’s true. “These are not my friends,” she repeats.
And then things really get weird. Jen goes to Meredith’s room, and Meredith repeats that she had nothing to do with Jen’s arrest. “I have an immense amount of compassion for you. … I don’t want to see your family suffer,” she says.
Meredith — who has done nothing but express her bitter anger at Jen since the beginning of Season 2 — gives her a big hug and comforts her. And then Mary hugs Jen. It’s an astonishing turn.
In a confessional, Mary says this is “like, a start” to them all being friends. “It’s going to take a minute for her to forgive Jen. Give Meredith five years. … Something might start brewing. Maybe four years.”
The next morning
To start the day, Meredith is once again on a rampage. She’s pacing around the house, yelling at everybody. “You all can spew lies about me all day and night — do not bring my sister or my father into it!” she shouts.
The previous night, Lisa told Meredith that the other women had speculated that Meredith lied about holding a memorial service for her father in Colorado, which was the alleged reason she didn’t ride the shuttle bus to outing in Vail. Although she signed up for “Real Housewives” knowing that cast members’ families get drawn into the drama, Meredith is once again insisting that her family is “off limits.”
Meredith sounds unhinged, and Heather, Whitney and Jen are hiding from her. “Jen, she already hates you,” Heather says, “so you’re the first to go.”
“No, she likes me now,” Jen says. Heather is understandably surprised.
Lisa tries to reason with Meredith. “Nobody said it was a fake memorial,” Lisa says — which is true, to a point. None of the Housewives said it was fake, but they did speculate about whether it was real.
“I don’t want to yell and scream,” Meredith says in the midst of yelling and screaming. In a confessional, she says, “This is complete insanity. And it’s absolutely repugnant. And I am so disgusted with these women right now.”
She also blames her behavior the previous night on the other women “poking and prodding at me until I lost it.” And, she adds, “I don’t know who is the problem, but there’s a lot of conversation going on behind my back.” She’s apparently forgotten that there’s a lot of footage of her talking about the other women behind their backs.
Mary interrupts Meredith and Lisa’s conversation to bring Meredith an omelet. Lisa asks Mary if she can “please” leave so she and Meredith can finish her conversation. Mary stands there, eating an omelet and taking an enormous amount of time exiting the room. It’s weird.
Lisa asks Meredith if she has “hostility” toward her. “Yes,” Meredith replies, “because I feel like you’ve been hostile towards me and it’s making me angry.”
“Meredith — are you kidding me right now?” Lisa says, sounding angry herself. Meredith is not kidding: “I feel like you’ve had growing hostility for me since the end of last summer.”
“I’m totally shocked right now,” Lisa says in a confessional. “I have been [Meredith’s] punching bag. … Every single time we’re together. I’m having her take out her microaggressions on me, and I have hostility? Oh my God, this is, like, [expletive] nuts.”
Lisa tells Meredith she is “fuming mad.” She withdraws, telling Meredith, “When you’re ready to talk, let’s talk.” Meredith replies, “I appreciate the offer.”
Mary is remarkably rude
For not the first time, Mary is super rude. For not the first time, she’s super rude to Jennie. Heather, Whitney, Jen and Jennie are discussing what just happened with Meredith, and when Jennie starts to speak Mary says dismissively, “I can’t take her. I can’t.” And she starts to walk out of the room.
“Is it when Jennie talks that you’re mad?” Heather asks. Mary replies, waving her finger: “I can’t, mm-mmm. I can’t do her.””What, I can’t talk?” Jennie asks. And Heather tells Mary, “It seems like you’re completely dismissing her.”
“I don’t even want to talk to her,” Mary says. When Heather tells her “that’s not acceptable,” Mary says, “It is for me. And it will be. You will accept it. … I care about what matters.”
“I think Jennie matters,” Heather says. Mary responds, “Not to me.”
It’s just the latest display of just downright meanness on the part of Mary, who’s not shy about telling everyone how religious she is.
And then things change
Meredith comes downstairs and immediately confronts the other women. “Who is speculating that I formulated a memorial for my father to avoid riding on a sprinter van, because that is the most absurd, malicious statement that I have ever heard in my life,” she says. “So please clarify because I need to know who my friends are and are not.”
In the midst of more bitter arguing, Jennie says, “I think we should drop it.” Lisa and Heather agree. “Your husbands sent me out here to make sure that you bitches have fun,” Heather sayz. “So let’s go do this.”
(Lisa’s, Whitney’s, Jen’s, Jennie’s and Mary’s husbands have paid for this trip.)
In a confessional, Meredith says she’s “pretty upset” with Lisa, “but I am here. My husband sent me this as a Mother’s Day gift, so I’m going to do my best to let all of this go. To just move forward and have some fun.”
They all get on a shuttle bus and head to East Zion Resort for a hike. They head out on ATVs and Whitney jokes, “We’re going to roll this thing.”
“I don’t want to die a virgin,” Heather jokes. And, in a confessional, she says, “I’d rather risk my life on an ATV in the canyon than the way I risked my life on a party bus just getting here. At this point, I have nothing left to lose. I’ve already faced death, so now I just would like to have some fun.”
They hike around some steep terrain, making their way into slot canyons. “Hey, you guys, if you get lost, just look in Louis Vuitton treads” in the dirt, Lisa says.
“Yeah, that’s how I track all of my hikes,” Heather deadpans.
They use ropes to climb down (with help from the guides). “Listen, I lied about my weight on all of the intake forms. Is that going to be a problem?” Heather asks a guide. He assures her it will not.
And everyone seems to be getting along. “Fortunately, nobody is cutting anyone else’s rope while they’re rappelling yet,” Meredith says.
Mary seems awkward and uncomfortable as she struggles in the ropes. But, she says, “Now this is the area I grew up doing, being raised in Utah. I’m just in the moment. I feel it. I feel a cleansing. I feel a type of surge of exercise that got my blood flowing. But I don’t want to look at Heather’s nipples. … Just cover it up.”
In this case, she’s actually not wrong.
Apologies back at the house
The Housewives return to the fabulous guest house, tired, in pain and in surprisingly accommodating moods. Jen and Whitney tell all the other women they’re going to go to “Club Zion” and they should “dress to impress.” Surprisingly, nobody complains and everybody complies. Even Meredith has done a 180.
“Meredith, in the morning, was so angry, screaming at everybody,” Jennie says in a confessional. “And now, seeing her at dinner, she’s, like, happy. Jolly. What the hell did you just take upstairs? Girl, I want some of that.”
Lisa apologizes to everyone for her part in the fighting that morning. “We’re all on the same team and page,” she says, which seems more than a bit premature. She invites all the women to an upcoming event for her company, Vida Tequila. “When, tonight?” Mary asks, cluelessly. The other women laugh. It’s very chummy.
Mary then apologizes for how rude she was to Jennie. And she offers an excuse. She “shuts the door on … new people in my life. And I don’t mean it personally. It would be anyone.”
It was very specifically and very personally aimed at Jennie, however.
Jennie’s anger issues
Since she joined the cast in Season 2, Jennie has, for the most part, come across as one of the most reasonable of the Housewives — at least before the news broke recently that Jennie posts all sorts of pro-Trump, anti-Black Lives Matter, anti-vaxxer things on social media. She’s being called a racist, and some viewers are calling for her to be fired from the show.
In this episode, Jennie admits that she has “anger issues.” And, apparently, violence issues.
“For a whole year, I went to anger management because I can’t control my temper,” she says in a confessional. “One night I [kept] throwing [expletive] at my husband, and I actually broke his ribs.”
And that caused her to think, “OK, maybe I need to control my anger. The first step in controlling my anger is to forgive and to let go. So, for Mary, I am going to do that and make sure that we get along when we are in the same room.”
Dancing at “Club Zion”
The women go down to the basement to dance and drink. Heather is not impressed. There are no men there, and “the only reason I would go to a club [and] dance with my girlfriends is to meet a man. … I don’t want to dance on a pole unless I’m going to [hook up] at the end of the night.” (Heather is a little more blunt than “hook up.”)
But there’s lots of dancing and lots of drinking. And spirits are high.
“I’m happy that we’re getting along, for the most part,” Meredith says. “We still have a lot of things to figure out. But that’s why this group does actually work. Even with the fighting, even with the drama, even with the craziness, we can have a good time — at least for a night.”
The women take the alcohol out to the pool. Whitney takes off her top and dives in.
The next morning
Lisa wakes up in the same bed with Meredith. Jen wakes up in the same bed with Whitney. They’re all in Lisa’s room. And at least some of them are struggling to remember the night before.
“What the hell happened last night?” Whitney asks. “I remember dancing and drinking. I briefly remember going out to the hot tub. But how the hell did I end up in bed with Jen and Meredith in Lisa’s room?”
In a confessional, Lisa says that, as a rule, she doesn’t do sleepovers and doesn’t share a room. “But if they want to crash in my room and that means we’re not fighting anymore, I’m all in.”
Meredith still seems astonishingly happy and friendly. “I mean, when did this Meredith Marks join the party?” Heather asks. “This is the best girls’ trip ever.”
How long is this going to last? Not long. The previews for the next episode make that very clear.
The next episode of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” airs Sunday, Jan. 30 — 7 p.m. on Dish and DirecTV; 10 p.m. on Comcast.