WHAT. A. WEEKEND. On the one hand, I’m a bit bummed because I was genuinely excited to whip out the Duke’s and dive back into the Shahrrest fallout using Cynthia Bailey’s potato salad as a framing device. But on the other hand, I am just so full off of juicy bits of Bravo crookery that the mayonnaise-y morsels are going to have to wait. It turns out the hours we’ve spent sitting through the director’s cut of a Vida tequila infomercial was all worth it. The universe has decided to put out a multimedia buffet. I feel like a 14th-century viscountess at a feast so opulent it comes with an elegant li’l barf bag to use between courses to avoid any kind of tummy trouble. Absolutely delicious!
Before we get into this week’s episode, quick moment to note the um, developments. On Friday (November 19), Stuart Smith, a.k.a. Assistant No. 1, a.k.a. Stu-Chainz, a.k.a. Stu, changed his plea from not guilty to guilty on all charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and obstruction. His statement is damning. This goes well beyond my expertise (starting to realize the curriculum at Detective Procedural University left a bit to be desired — and my concentration in Villainelle’s Wardrobe isn’t exactly helping matters), but I also watch Succession. Jen is no Logan Roy. To my knowledge, she simply does not have the money nor the political pull to convince Stu to tuck his tail between his legs, get his push-up form ready, and go full Tom Wambsgans on her behalf. You can watch an extensive conversation between that Ronald lawyer guy from RHOBH and an SLC reporter where they analyze a bunch of possibilities, but my officially unofficial opinion is that barring some wild twist, Jen is catastrophically fucked.
Back in Vail, where it’s still the day of the Shahrrest and the gals are still at the same table watching Mary cut the inside of her mouth with a tortilla chip and Lisa dry-eye sob about oblique nonsense wherein she’s somehow victim patient zero in Jen’s double life. Barlow goes on an extended tangent about how after she and Jen discussed assistant “bleep”’s assault accusations, Jen sent a bunch of rude texts, which is a problem because Lisa’s kids were in the car? That’s not how texts work. Also, I guess Lisa, Whitney, and Heather got other weird texts where “the vernacular was a little bizarre,” which means that since Jen is the only person on Earth who spells because “bcuz,” she must be the one who threatened them with receipts of their racism. It sounds like this is a non-issue if you haven’t done any racist shit in the first place, so maybe Lisa should worry about keeping her side of the street clean. Also, her notifications — 436 unread messages are the exact opposite of mogul behavior. Get it together, boss babe!
Meredith tells the gals that she hired a private investigator during the “bcuz” era (did y’all know Meredith has a law degree from Northwestern?) who believes Jen was the one sending the texts. I still don’t understand what this petty feud has to do with the federal crimes on the table, but whatever. She then asks everyone to raise their hand if they’ve ever been personally victimized by Regina George — I mean Jen Shah — and if they want to be friends with her moving forward. Jennie’s uncomfortable that they’re bashing Jen behind her back without the facts but does nothing to stop it, a smart position to take as a newbie. Heather goes on a monologue about the meaning of friendship, her plans to visit Jen in prison, and how this is Jen’s chance to change into the person she’s meant to be. This feels like an overcorrection on the moral superiority thing to me. In the words of Lisa Barlow, “At what point is it being a good friend or just being, like, fucking stupid?” To all my friends reading this: If I find out you spent almost a decade completely annihilating the lives of working-class elderly folks, all while also treating me like trash, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to find your own mule to smuggle Restylane and Milanos into the slammer for you. <3.
The next morning at breakfast, still high on the dramatic irony of insisting she’s known the entire time Jen was involved in a scandal, Mary saunters down in her Old Navy 4th of July x Balmain PJs to microwave the egg Whitney made her because blessings alone don’t zap food-borne illnesses. Jennie, Whitney, and Heather then strap Whiteclaws into their Gucci fanny packs and bop on over to Rancho Escondido for dogsledding with some bro named Austin who goes by “Guy” because there are already 17 other Austins on staff. Mostly unrelated, but I can’t stop thinking about how a small part of why Utah is prime scammer territory is that old people are more likely to fall for an energetic sweetie on the other end of the line named Austin or Zyrtec or Brynlee.
Instead of dogsledding, Lisa and Meredith burrow into some fur blankets to sit on the deck and talk circles around Cameron’s cryptic comments about Mary. Lisa refuses to give up the dirt, and Meredith decides she’ll just ask Mary herself when they’re all out doing Nancy Kerrigan cosplay later that day. They head out, and we’re left to basically forget about this conversation. But Meredith’s plotting is like a bill from that one time you went to CVS Minute Clinic seven years ago — you can bet your ass it’ll come up later.
Back on the bus (yes, the same bus, complete with the “Would You Rather” book, dregs of Cheetos Flaming Hot Puffs, and stale wafts of trauma bonding), the dogsled ladies talk shit about how Lisa was making everything about her and wouldn’t dish. Whitney slurs a quatrain that rhymes “Barlow” with “sorrow,” Jennie explains Lisa won’t spill unless her facts are bulletproof, then Heather talks about meeting her sister. I know, I know, no one cares about this family reunion right now, but if Bravo doesn’t mix some lower-stakes subplots in here, we’re going to have a collective breakdown. We can’t just keep the volume set to NEFARIOUS SUPERVILLAINS for an extended period without burning out. Then again, we live in America, where that’s already happening every fucking day from the top-down, with considerably bleaker stakes, so on second thought, we can probably handle it.
Speaking of the American Criminal “Justice” System, in Salt Lake City, Jen slinks into her attorney’s office to ask about her charges and if there’s paperwork to do, and then explain that if she has any fault, it’s because she’s too giving. Yeah, okay. She then tries to say that the phone call on the bus showed Sharrieff’s phone number, but it wasn’t his voice, and the person on the other end told her to go home, get Omar, and meet Sharrieff at the University of Utah Hospital. Absolutely not. You’re telling me if you get a phone call from your spouse’s number and it’s not them on the other end, you’re not going to immediately ask, “UM, WHO IS THIS?” instead of “Whitney, can you turn off my mic?” Jen then says she’s still in shock because she worked so hard to get where she is and tried to help so many people along the way and that she doesn’t want to hurt her husband and sons. It’s a little late for that. Side note: It remains completely fucked that Bravo aired the Ring cam footage of Jen’s kids coming out with their hands up. I can think of at least four ways they could have edited together a dramatic moment, and none of them involve footage of innocent Black children at the hands of excessively armed police officers.
Anyway, in Vail, the ladies throw on sexy elf costumes for a Bavarian-village-themed evening so that Whitney’s shotski could have a moment to really shine. Meredith starts telling everyone about her “dietetic s’mores,” and I’m excited that she is about to spread the good word of McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits’ superior performance under campfire conditions, but it turns out to be diet-culture nonsense. Mary cannot hang under any conditions, and Whitney’s hit the Belvedere luge enough times to bring up the cooking-class drama in hopes Mary will apologize. They go back-and-forth, and Mary eventually says she’s glad Whitney’s not her child before leaving the firepit.
With Mary inside untangling the Chanel belt from her dirndl, everyone else tries to get to the bottom of whether or not they have another friend in a powerful position taking advantage of swaths of innocent people. The gals pressure Lisa to spill what she knows by reminding her that just 24 hours before, they saw what happens when they collectively ignore instincts/messages/victims under the guise of friendship. Meredith details the ice-skating confrontation she had earlier wherein Mary said that “it’s not who said it, it’s about who believes it” and “what religion or church do you know that people don’t have negative things to say about?” The ladies are all like, “fair.” Meredith, no!! Use that JD, girl! Ask some follow-up questions! Ugh, what a wasted opportunity for Ms. Marks to enunciate “terrified AND traumatized” in that hypnotizing sludgy-clipped monotone.
Meredith does, however, move her eyebrows for the first time in decades, which is all it takes for Lisa to finally spit out that her friend Cameron MORTGAGED HIS HOUSE AND GAVE MARY $300 GRAND. See ya next week to see how Mary responds to these new details. My money is on “not well!”