It is wild — absolutely bonkers — how many uncomfortable conversations take place in this episode of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. And the dynamics of these conversations... they're all over the board! There's Heather attempting to explain sex to her nearly college-aged daughter; there's Lisa and Whitney getting trapped in the most contentious double date you ever did see by the chirpiest restauranteurs you ever did hear deliver a salsa platter; there's Jennie's husband inspiring an entire nation to hunt him down and tie his tube if he doesn't start listening to his wife about her wants and needs…
And, of course, there's Mary: telling absolutely anyone who will listen that she can't stand her husband and that if she moved away to open up a little motel in Fairvale, Calif., with her son to live out the rest of their days alone, and never saw Robert Sr. again, that would be just fine by her. So basically, just more of the domestic trauma and psychological labyrinth we've come to expect from RHOSLC.
As for Meredith, she spends the entire episode with a dawning look of horror splashed across her face while discovering that, somehow, she suddenly has the healthiest marriage of the bunch. Which surely none of us could have seen coming last season when Seth and Meredith spent most of their time pounding mezcal cocktails, implying that the other one was cheating, and begging to see one another's phones before the entrees even arrived, subsequently traumatizing more than one restaurant server for life.
So, perhaps it's the Marks' mended relationship that's inspired Whitney and Lisa to start dating each other, and their first aerial yoga date goes great. Even though Lisa hasn't worked out since she gave birth to her youngest son (note: Lisa saying that she realized she resented her husband for working out because he was freely doing something that she wasn't allowing herself to do was… almost too real for Real Housewives), Whitney is determined to get Lisa upside down and spreading her legs: "things that only fun girls do." They awkwardly giggle together, flip around a little, and try really hard to pretend like they enjoy one another…
But the forced fun can only last so long. First of all, where Lisa is a nervous laugher, Whitney is a nervous blank-starer — two very incompatible forms of awkwardness. These women have exactly zero chemistry, and if this was the real world, someone would be getting a "hey this was really fun, but I think we should just [not] be friends" text in the very near future. But more detrimental is that for their second date, Lisa and John invite Whitney and Justin to the restaurant of the caterers (and close personal friends of Lisa's) who backed out on Angie's casino night party, starting this whole rift in the first place. Whitney realizes what's going on when Marco and Aubrey themselves come be-bopping over to the table with what can only be described as "cool youth pastor energy." And also, tequila shots.
Whitney plays it cool at first, accepting the shot and saying thank you. But when Aubrey comes back to deliver the appetizers and casually starts saying to Lisa, "I cannot believe what Angie is doing to you right now, literally, we didn't do the event because we can't leave on a Friday," Whitney cuts the bullshit. She interrupts Aubrey's spiel, saying, "Are you kidding me? This is so f---ing staged — why would you bring Angie up in front of me?" Aubrey looks terrified — she was not expecting pushback when Lisa told her she'd get her restaurant on the show if she just came on camera and explained that them backing out of the party had nothing to do with Lisa…
Of course, I'm assuming that's what happened. Lisa swears up and down that she had no idea Aubrey was going to start talking about Angie, but later, when Whitney is relitigating the Lisa-incriminating texts the caterers sent Angie, Lisa explodes, "Well then you need to ask them what they meant," indicating toward the kitchen where the Chip and Joanna Gaines of Salt Lake City are surely cowering in fear of what they've gotten themselves into. (For their parts, Justin and John go absolutely catatonic while this whole thing blows up around them.)
The mere fact that Lisa invited Whitney to Aubrey and Marco's restaurant is obviously shady, whether she knew they were going to deliver the carne asada tacos with a side of defending her or not. But, it's also worth noting that there's no chance Whitney didn't know she'd be dining at Aubrey and Marco's restaurant before she arrived there. These people and their text messages are at the center of the Lisa drama — Whitney would know what their restaurant is called, or at the very least, she'd look up the menu ahead of time and figure it out. She may be a Housewife, but she's still a human.
Basically, Whitney and Lisa are both playing a game that they swear they're not playing because their main ammunition against each other is accusing one another of playing the game. And so, despite bringing the fourth wall down to the ground to really accuse one another of producing their own storyline, they just have to, once again, grit through their teeth that it's time to move on and never mention this caterer drama again. Lisa looks like she's about to absolutely explode with rage, but Whitney is so hammered from the free shots served to her by her enemies that she seems sure she's come out on top of this.
However, as far as wildly uncomfortable conversations go, it's pretty fun because the stakes are low — a few bad reviews on Aubrey and Marco's Yelp page — especially in comparison to what's going on at Jen's house. It's a short scene, but Jen comes out to try go get her younger son excited about the fact that she's volunteering at his school this week. He is not excited. In fact, he'll barely look at or speak to her. In her testimonial, Jen says that repairing relationships with her friends is a cakewalk (narrator: no, she's also bad at that) in comparison to repairing the hurt that she's done to her family with her behavior over the last few years (narrator: and also right now, while she commits alleged crimes).
But instead of saying that to Omar, she continues to pester him about how she wants him "to tell mommy, 'I want you to come to the school.'" Sharrieff says Omar isn't being talkative because he doesn't want Jen to feel like she has to come to the school on top of her busy schedule. Which, uh… I think is pretty far off base. I mean, I'm definitely just a third-party perspective here, but uh… I think it might because Omar watched his mom chuck a glass off the roof of a Top Golf at his dad's birthday party last year and is maybe not desperate to bring her around the PTA.
The opposite is true at Heather's house. While I've been a little concerned about how badly she seems to want to live out her lost party years vicariously through her daughter, when Heather talks to Ashley in person, she tells her that her biggest fear is that Ashley will go to college and be overwhelmed by how wild the world can be. "There's a lot of sex in the world, and a lot of partying, and a lot of kids that are wilding out, and I don't want you to feel pressured," she tells Ashley. But Ashley has always seemed like she has a solid head on her shoulders; she doesn't tell Heather she won't party or have sex; she just reassures Heather that she's raised her to be her own person. And then she walks out of the room with an uncommented-upon beer pong set in hand. The world may be wild, but things are also wild within the walls of the Gay house.
And it seems that Mary wishes things were a little wilder within the many walls and many closets of the Cosby house, as well. She spends most of the episode describing how it was actually really nice when Robert Sr. was "stuck" in Florida during lockdown, and she's gotten used to living completely separate lives. "I don't think we actually know each other," Mary says in what you may briefly think is a breakthrough moment considering the ramifications of her marriage's unique origin story…
But then she explains that she means Robert Sr. never cooks her the kind of rice she likes. Later, after playing 10 minutes of tennis while wearing somewhere between five and eight sweaters haphazardly piled atop her body, Mary tells Meredith that she likes the way the Marks' marriage operates. Meredith quickly sorts out that Mary means she likes how Seth has to leave for work all the time, and Meredith is kind of like, yeah, it's nice to have built-in alone time each month, but it also almost broke our marriage, so…
But Mary will not be deterred. She's determined to tell Meredith how she's dreading being alone in a house with Robert Sr. once Robert Jr. moves out, and if she had it her way, their son would stay with them until he's married (and if she had that her way, he'd never marry either). Meredith looks concerned, but also like she knows there's no way she's about to unpack Mary Cosby's marriage right here on this frigid tennis court. Just imagine if she'd had to hear the doozy we got in Mary's testimonial: "I could be wrong for this, but… I would change Robert Sr. I would just, like… change the whole person to what I want, but I don't get. You want them home, you want them to say sorry, you want them to be passionate, you want them to just be alive… and then you have Robert Sr."
And I guess it really is like the old saying goes: marrying the step-grandfather that your grandmother bequeaths you in her will may buy you wealth — but it cannot buy you happiness.
However, no marriage is without its complications. Jennie and Duy have a lovely family, and in most ways seem very happy together — but there is also something dark happening here, and they are surprisingly willing to share it with the cameras. We've already seen Duy insist to Jennie that he wants more children even though Jennie has had nine miscarriages and lost one baby an hour after she was born. So, the fact that Duy continues to pressure her to have more children seems nothing short of heartless.
But it's Jennie who explains to us — and Lisa and Meredith while they get the dead skin sucked off their toes by fish, naturally — that Duy is also attempting to heal from his own trauma. When they lost their daughter, Jennie was unconscious, but Duy was there for it all, and he had to make the final decision to stop trying to revive the baby. When Jennie became coherent later, she saw that Duy had already shaved his head, the way that men in their culture do to mourn the death of a loved one. So even though I was ready to trap Duy in a ski lift and leave him there forever when he continued to tell Jennie that he wanted to have more children even after she cried about "not wanting to feel like something is wrong with me anymore," watching him cry about how losing their daughter was the worst day of his life was also heartbreaking.
But I still don't like the way Duy talks to Jennie! She seems to show a great deal of empathy toward his desire for more children, even though she disagrees with him, but for my liking, he doesn't show nearly enough outward understanding for what Jennie has been through physically and mentally. He just keeps shrugging his shoulders and saying, "I just want more kids." He asks if Jennie would consider a surrogate, and she says that it's not just getting pregnant — she simply can't imagine raising another infant at this point in their lives. "Our life is wonderful right now; why would you want to change it?" Jennie asks.
And Duy responds: "What if we get a sister wife."
To which I wrote: please say just kidding. But he doesn't. Duy is dead serious, saying in his testimonial that "having a sister wife in our family is not uncommon in our culture." He says his grandfather had four wives, "and they all get along." Oh, did your grandfather tell you that, Duy?! Jennie is furious at the suggestion and storms off into the snowy hills. See you back here next week to see if Jennie becomes the next Housewife to (allegedly) commit a felony.