The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City Season-Premiere Recap: Tub-thumping

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City

Fresh Powder, Fresh Start
Season 4 Episode 1
Editor’s Rating 4 stars

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City

Fresh Powder, Fresh Start
Season 4 Episode 1
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Photo: Bravo/Gizelle Hernandez/Bravo

Tom will join the comments section to host an hour-long chat immediately after the episode airs. See below for more information. 

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, both the women and show, have had to navigate difficult, dare I say icy, terrain. Since we last saw them, Jen Shah went to prison, leaving just four returning housewives standing. And when it comes to those four women, the audience has made it abundantly clear that they’re sick of the never-ending Whitney vs. Heather and Lisa vs. Meredith feuds. This new season has no choice but to turn a new leaf, and we finally see how and if they do it.

The premiere opens like a Jason Bourne thriller, with a title card reading “Bermuda, May 10, 2023,” and the camera crew scrambling to capture a hot mic moment. We’re teased with a distraught, trembling, and apparently betrayed Heather on the phone, pushing the camera crew away. “I cannot believe it’s her … how could she do this to us?” she says. We cut to a dramatic montage teasing what’s to come, set to voiceovers of the cast reciting scriptures as they dramatically walk by the Salt Lake City Lululemon before finally flashing back to four months earlier when our season begins.

It’s Sundance season, which means Lisa Barlow, the self-proclaimed Queen of Sundance, is as busy as ever. She readies a space for a party in 30 minutes flat, dishing out orders like “86 those chairs” and “bring the house lighting down about 20 percent.”

From there, she hops in the car with her husband, John, still juggling Sundance calls while discussing their son Jack’s post-graduation plans. You might remember his declaration of “Fudge college” last season, which isn’t Willy Wonka’s alma mater, but rather a sanitized “Fuck college.” That sentiment still stands, with Jack deciding to instead go on a Mormon mission trip. This news rocked Lisa, not only because she’s saying good-bye to her son and Fresh Wolf business partner for two years, but because he kept it a secret from his parents, who he says are “different” than him. All of this has an emotional Lisa questioning her parenting.

It’s the kind of storyline that we can only get on RHOSLC, which is clearly sticking to its religious roots, and after reading about Heather’s own mission trip in Bad Mormon, I can’t wait to see what she makes of this news.

Speaking of Bad Mormon, the memoir made the New York Times bestsellers list. Heather also opened a second Beauty Lab location and bought a brand new house three blocks away from her old one. It’s at these new digs that she tells Meredith all about her meeting with Whitney to try and mend things, which she describes as vague but positive.

But Heather might have chosen the wrong person to share this good news with because it turns out that Meredith herself is furious at Whitney. Why? Because Whitney did an interview where she made fun of Meredith and Seth taking a bath together, calling it creepy and bacteria-filled. Meredith recites the article to Heather, slipping into an airy Betty Boop impression to read Whitney’s quotes, and Heather can’t tell if she’s joking or really mad. But it’s Meredith, so of course, this is real rage! “You don’t go after my marriage. You don’t go after my bathtub. I mean, the only thing she left out was my children!” she says, deadly serious — incredible television.

And the good times keep coming because after a season away from the cameras, we finally get the grand return of Mary M. Cosby, who meets up with Meredith (her sole connection to the cast) for lunch. Mary’s back on the show in a Friend role this year, which might prove to be the perfect fit for her given that she’s always existed on a different plane of reality. Now, she can breeze in and out, delivering eccentric lines that continuously challenge the bounds of the spoken word. For example, in her first scene back alone, Mary says the following:

“I’m, like, in dinosaur mode right now. That’s how much I need to be caught up.”

“Robert Jr. has a girlfriend. But everyone’s telling me it’s his wife. So we’re gonna have to figure that one out.” [PRODUCER: You haven’t asked him?] “I haven’t had a chance.”

“I don’t do spicy. Whenever I do spicy, it comes out the other end spicy.”

In addition to supplying lines like these, it seems that Mary is also on the payroll to ask the women about Jen, which Meredith brushes off. While wearing a fur blazer that looks like they made a zoot suit out of the Country Bears, she tells us that she hasn’t spoken to Jen since she went to prison.

Meanwhile, in what looks like a cast meeting of a regional production of The Cher Show, Angie and Lisa get lunch with newbie Monica. A style note here: Angie has not only been promoted to a full-time Housewife this season but she’s also been upgraded from “Angie K” to simply “Angie.” To paraphrase Justin Timberlake in The Social Network, “Drop the K. Just Angie, it’s cleaner.” Plus, the qualifier is now moot with the superior Angie (Angie Harrington) no longer in the mix.

I don’t yet know what to make of Monica, who seems to be the show’s attempt to simply recast the role of Jen Shah. It’s like when Shannen Doherty was replaced with Rose McGowan on Charmed. Though her own story of cheating on her husband, getting divorced, remarrying him, and now getting divorced again is interesting, Monica instead seems intent on focusing on her connection to Jen, who looms over this premiere like an incarcerated ghost.

The other women seem to know Monica as one of Jen’s many former assistants, a role she says resulted in Jen propositioning her with a shady business opportunity. When Monica brought that up to a friend in the Secret Service, he told her to get away from Jen Shah because she was going to prison, and two months later, she was arrested. “And that was how I became a witness with the federal government in her trial,” Monica says, giving us a lot to unpack.

There’s something Shakespearean about one of Jen Shah’s minions turning on her, testifying against her to send her to prison, and then stealing her job and friends — but it’s unclear if this claim to fame will have legs for Monica or if this party trick will get old fast. She sucks up to her new castmates in person but uses her confessionals to share all of the dirt from Jen. She tells us that Jen would get sick of talking to Lisa, handing Monica the phone while she rambled and that Jen never said anything nice about Heather. “It is so crazy hearing them portray these perfect lives,” Monica cryptically says, “All their dark secrets are very heavy on my mind.”

Normally, when a Housewife shares hearsay — we confront its source. But without a collect call, Jen doesn’t get a chance to push back on Monica’s claims. That puts Monica in an unprecedented position of power, where she can say anything she’d like and cite Jen Shah as the source. There are no checks and balances for her to answer to.

While Monica is clearly intent on continuing the shit-stirring work of Jen Shah, like the Kylo Ren to her Vader, the rest of the cast is ready for a fresh start at Heather’s fresh start brunch. And what better way to bring about a fresh start than to reintroduce a former cast member to the group?

The best response to Mary’s return is Lisa’s. “Mary and I didn’t really leave things bad … but the last text message I got from Mary wasn’t exactly nice,” she tells us in a confessional before reading the message from her phone. “Lisa, you’re the biggest idiot. You’re a black widow. You are the biggest liar in Utah. You’ll kill people with your nasty tequila. You remind me of a witch. You evil person. You’re not interesting. You’re a horrible human being.” Mary, meanwhile, says she feels good about seeing Lisa and loves her coat.

She also wastes no time once again reveling in Jen’s arrest, asking Heather how she’s been handling it. Just as Meredith did, Heather brushes it off, downplaying the ride-or-die title she held for three seasons and saying it was an unhealthy friendship without boundaries. Now that Jen’s gone, she feels a weight has been lifted. Do they get Bravo at the Bryan Federal Prison? If so, there’s going to be hell to pay in five years.

Taking the party’s theme to heart, Meredith pulls Lisa aside to signal that she’s finally ready to make amends. Lisa is visibly thrilled at the prospect of escaping the confines of this endless grudge and tells us, “I would miss me too.”

It seems like part of the reason Meredith is done feuding with Lisa is that she’s found a new target in Whitney, who she pounces on when she and Heather try to make a joke about a ketamine accusation that had been thrown around at the reunion. Even though Whitney wasn’t the one who said it, Meredith claims that she heard that she was the source, which surprises Whitney. “I have never said that you did ketamine.”

True or not, this gives Meredith an opening to segue into what she actually wants to talk about: the bathtub. The following argument should be performed on stages worldwide and features dialogue like: “It was a dig on my marriage and a dig on my bathtub” and “Meredith, I know you won’t get into a bath that’s not immaculate. You could probably eat a dinner off of your bathtub. Okay?”

That last line is an attempt at an apology, though Whitney now fears that Meredith is never really going to let this grudge go, and she’ll be paying for it for years to come. Which, given how long it’s taken Meredith to extend an olive branch to Lisa, is probably correct.

The episode ends with a snowball fight, despite Lisa saying the only snowballs she likes are the snack cakes you buy at the gas station, and Mary watches from inside as the women take advantage of their last chance to get out aggression from seasons past. After this, everybody will get a fresh start — a baptismal rebirth of sorts, but with snow instead of Holy Water.

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City Season-Premiere Recap