The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City is in a state of crisis. The wheels are falling off the sprinter van as it goes full speed and nobody’s in the driver’s seat. The plotlines aren’t making sense, arguments lack any cohesion, and Jen Shah is skipping the reunion (an offense more unforgivable than her real crimes for Bravo fans). Sure, there’s still enjoyment in the chaos or whenever Lisa Barlow says anything. Still, the season is becoming increasingly untethered to the sensible rules of engagement that we’re accustomed to.
It’s our third day in San Diego, but it feels like an eternity. I’m already starting to forget what snow and Angie H. look like. Jen wakes up surrounded by her strewn-about costume and half-finished pizza with a full face of makeup still on from the night before. She’s able to pull herself together just in time to get an urgent text from Heather in her casita: “I have a problem can u come to my room. I’m serious.”
She frantically shows up to find a solemn Heather in her now-famous black sunglasses, which conceal the mysterious black eye that’s been haunting viewers since the trailer dropped. But now, we’ve finally arrived at the moment. Jen is shocked to see Heather’s battle wounds (or is she?) and gets ice to tuck behind her sunglasses. She asks what happened, but Heather says she doesn’t know. “I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, Jen,” Heather ominously tells her. “That’s why I need you to help me figure out if someone wants to talk about what really happened last night. We need a cover story.”
What in God’s name are we watching? Why are we speaking in code? If a cover story is being made, shouldn’t that be happening off-camera? Instead, this dramatic thriller pivots to full farce as Lucy and Ethel start brainstorming a good cover: Spider bite? Peanut allergy? Tinder date gone bad? Bar fight? “We need a good cover story for this eye because I don’t want any of the ladies to get in any trouble,” Heather reiterates before they decide that she’ll say she just doesn’t know what happened.
Our first test subject to see if this cover story flies is Meredith, who they call up to the room to see the damage. She’s especially shocked since they were with her until four in the morning last night, which we see via the room’s security camera. It turns out that menacing doorknob jiggle that we’ve seen for weeks in the coming attractions was Jen, Meredith, and Angie coming by — but we also see them all leave while Heather’s still in one piece. When Jen steps out, Meredith keeps questioning her. “I don’t wanna talk about it,” Heather whispers. “You know what happened,” Meredith says.
We see them craft this cover story, but we aren’t filled in on what exactly they’re covering up — though the suggestion is that one of the women is to blame. Hypothetically … it was obviously Jen, right? That prison yard has a big storm coming.
When all the women gather, ready to start their day, Whitney asks about the topless excitement the night before. “I think we all know what happened; I just think we don’t want to talk about it,” Heather says as she reveals her eye, shocking the women. Take a shot every time Heather dramatically takes off her sunglasses and you’ll wake up with a black eye, too. But when they all ask what happened, Heather says she doesn’t know, which Lisa points out contradicts what she just said about them all knowing.
When Lisa says that it looks like somebody clocked her, Heather says, “Maybe somebody did, and they don’t want to talk about it.” Okay, Heather, this dramatic teasing is only fun if you’re eventually telling us what happened. A whodunit only works when we ultimately find out whodunit. Imagine if Miss Marple said, “I don’t wanna talk about it,” or Sherlock Holmes kept a suspect’s identity to himself because he wanted to protect Jen Shah.
Whitney is horrified that Heather is trying to sweep this under the rug while alluding that someone hit her, but nonetheless, sweeping it under the rug is exactly what happens. Soon enough, we’re go-karting. Heather pairs up with Lisa because she knows she’ll be too busy talking about herself to ask about her eye, and she is quickly proven correct. Meanwhile, all the other women speculate about the injury in their respective karts as they zoom around the streets of San Diego. This is by far the funniest setting imaginable to have such serious conversations about whether and how their castmate was assaulted.
The whimsy continues while Whitney, Danna, and Lisa go roller-skating on the boardwalk, ice-cream cones in hand like they’re in the opening credits of Three’s Company. The other women meanwhile have followed their noses, floating on air like Pepé Le Pew to the nearest charcuterie board (which Heather, the voice of the people, is finally sick and tired of). Both of their conversations naturally circle back to Heather’s eye, which Whitney suspects Jen is responsible for. But Heather is adamant that she doesn’t want to talk about it, even telling us in a confessional that she won’t spew her “theories” until everybody else has — calling it all a game of Texas Hold’em where nobody’s showing their cards. No, Heather, this is a game of Rock’em Sock’em Robots.
Luckily there are other dramas to discuss. We also circle back to a conflict that I had almost forgotten about amid all the hubbub: Meredith seeking revenge for Lisa’s hot-mic moment. After testing the waters with some infidelity rumors and performing favors for Vida, it seems like she’s landed on her SEC filing. Well, technically, Jen is the one who’s bringing it up this time, but Meredith planted the seed and is ready to harvest. “They have to disclose her debts, and they do have a loan from [BLEEP] way below market value,” Meredith tells us. Is BLEEP the same BLEEP from the Utah Jazz tickets?
Danna, the season’s carrier pigeon, is simultaneously telling Lisa about Meredith talking about the very same SEC filing. Very convenient timing; thank you, producers. Lisa understandably starts raging at this act of retaliation, denying it all while furious that Meredith is doing the very thing Lisa got in trouble for. As she rants, a booming score plays like we’re in an Avengers movie, but Thanos is on roller skates. “I don’t pop pills, bitch. You do,” she beautifully concludes.
The women all discuss the SEC filing and Lisa’s finances, as you do when you’re on the Real Housewives. But all I can think about is how much you must hate someone to read a multipage financial document and decipher corporate jargon willingly. Could anything be worth that?
Back at the house, Angie K. is throwing a Greek-themed dinner, and Heather shows up wearing a bedazzled eye patch that Jen just happened to be traveling with. Even if I have to visit that prison myself to ask through a glass wall, I simply have to find out why Jen Shah brought an eye patch on this trip.
Lisa’s on edge after Angie told her all about the SEC conversation, and she and Whitney waste no time confronting the issue head-on. “Who talked about an SEC filing about Lisa?” Whitney asks the table, which gets just as quiet as Heather being asked about her eye. Meredith denies talking about it “other than in passing,” but luckily, Angie is right here to set the record straight, which she has to do when Lisa exposes that she ratted the other ladies out.
According to Lisa, this is all about “the Rant.” We’re sitting in the shit, doing laps in it even, instead of moving forward through it. But Meredith insists that it isn’t just about the Rant and that Lisa has done a multitude of little things that have added up. Like talking about her behind her back, not calling when her dad was sick, and “canceling my makeup artist on me at the eleventh hour in the height of a global pandemic when I couldn’t get somebody else.” Honestly, it seems like Meredith might be madder about that than the “garbage whore” thing, which is fair. When we eventually get into a battle of semantics over whether it was the Rant or the Tirade, Heather has to jump in.
“I think my eye might be a metaphor for our friendships,” she says, and she’s right because neither makes any sense. But this does prompt Whitney to ask once again what happened, but all she gets is a warning: “If you get a secret knock on your door, don’t answer.” This show knows no genre. Heather’s confessional producer doesn’t have much luck trying to get a straight answer either. “First rule of fight club,” Heather says before saying that the person she’s trying to protect … is herself.