The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City Season-Finale Recap: Guilty As Sin

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City

Trials and Tribulations
Season 3 Episode 14
Editor’s Rating 5 stars

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City

Trials and Tribulations
Season 3 Episode 14
Editor’s Rating 5 stars
Photo: Vulture; Photo: Bravo

I find it hard to believe that Bravo isn’t in cahoots with whoever does the scheduling for the Southern District of New York. Because not only did five trial delays buy them a whole extra season with Jen Shah, but now they’ve somehow managed to have their finale align perfectly with her sentencing this past Friday.

But before the episode catches us up to speed on the case, we get a more traditional finale party where Heather unveils the cover of her upcoming book. And just as every Housewife says before throwing a party, she sure does hope that there isn’t going to be any drama there. “And if there is a fight,” she adds, “I would like it to occur right in front of my Bad Mormon cover poster. So if it doesn’t go my way, I’m fully prepared to exploit it.” God bless Heather for always saying the quiet part out loud (unless the quiet part is how she got a black eye).

Against all odds, the prospect of a conflict-free party is actually off to a good start when Jen decides to make peace with Angie and Chris Harrington. Sharrieff tells them that for him to forgive, he needs to hear from them, and the Harringtons proceed to stumble through a half-baked apology, saying that creating the “ShahXposed” account wasn’t personal. That’s apparently good enough for them, and the Shahs and Harringtons awkwardly embrace.

The only way to make sense of this jarring change of heart is that production demanded some closure this season, and if they couldn’t get it from Heather and Whitney or Meredith and Lisa, this was their only shot. Well, this and finally seeing Heather’s infamous choir in action.

That’s right: If you were wondering if we’d ever find out where that random story arc was heading, I’ve got good news for you. The motley crew, dressed in newly unboxed black graduation robes, performs a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace.” Or, as Jen amends it during her confessional: Shah-mazing Grace. The tune is quickly becoming the most important song in the Bravo canon (after “Good As Gold” by Scheana Shay) — lest we forget Porsha Williams standing up to sing it at the RHOA reunion or Melissa Gorga’s bedroom rendition of it where she said “wench” instead of “wretch.”

When the choir finishes up their performance, Heather unveils the cover of Bad Mormon, which she describes as “sacrilegious, blasphemous, and terribly offensive,” but, to be fair, that’s how you could describe any Real Housewife’s memoir.

But even being the “Bad Mormon” that she is, Heather takes a moment to cite Scripture: “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Or, as Heather has been paraphrasing it for two seasons: Ride or die.

So with her cover finally revealed, the scene is set for a fight. First up, Whitney wants to clear the air with Jen because she felt like they hit a bump in San Diego. But when the women see that the action is starting, they swarm, basically forming a line to air their grievances. More eager than anybody else is Angie K., desperate to seize her last opportunity to have a moment this season. She strong-arms her way into the conversation to confront Jen about spreading rumors that she was the one who gave Heather the black eye. Oh God, not this again. If we’re never going to know the truth, can these women just do an “I Am Spartacus” thing where they all take the blame for it?

Jen outright denies saying this, but it’s no use, Angie K. has had it up to her high ponytail with Jen. Especially now that she’s made up with Angie H. like nothing ever happened, making Angie K. horrendously question whether the drama (and thus Jen’s suicide attempt that resulted from it) was even real. A disgusted Sharrieff holds Jen back before she promptly storms out. We can only imagine how different her reaction would have been if she weren’t awaiting trial. Every glass in the building would have been shattered. The fire department would have been called. There wouldn’t be an unbruised eye in the place. But instead, in an uncharacteristically wise move, Jen just calls it a night and goes home.

We’re only halfway through the episode when suddenly there’s the classic Housewives freeze-frame with our finale epilogues for every Housewife. Heather’s book is finished, and the choir is going strong. Lisa hasn’t been to any Jazz games lately. Whitney hasn’t repaired her friendship with Heather, and the same goes for Meredith and Lisa. But there’s one update missing …

The episode then jumps ahead three months to just days before Jen’s trial is set to begin in July. About to head to New York, she sits on her front steps with her mother. “The next time I come home, I’ll either be guilty or innocent,” she tells her. “You’ll be innocent,” her mom says, “We know that, right?”

As Jen and Sharrieff solemnly drive to the airport, a truly haunting montage begins to play, beginning with her fleeing the sprinter van before the feds swarmed it. It feels like we see every instance of Jen ever proclaiming her innocence in this montage, each of which was surely bookmarked by production for this very moment. She arrives at her hotel in New York, and while this is a very serious moment, I am distracted by the fact that she’s wearing the same outfit she left SLC in, but her hair is completely different. Did she have glam waiting for her at baggage claim at La Guardia?

Also staying at the hotel are Heather and Meredith, who are there for moral support. We flashback to a scene from the day before in which Jen asks Heather to check on her family and tell them how much she loves them if she is found guilty. The Jen we see in these scenes feels like a stark departure from the Jen we’re used to seeing, who had once felt confident in her innocence. “I’m scared, Heather, I’m scared,” she says, “It will really kill me if I’m away from my family.”

The pair pay a visit to Jen’s room, and even with the looming threat of jail time, Jen and Heather both manage to rock their Brooks Marks sweatsuits. They chat for a bit before Jen has to go meet with her lawyer, Priya, a name you might recognize if you were following the play-by-play from the courtroom last week.

While Jen does that, Meredith and Heather get lunch with Seth, who asks how Sharrieff is doing during all of this. Heather says he’s not just emotional support but has also been entrenched in the case details, reading every document he can — including the witness list of who in their life is testifying against Jen and what they’re saying.

Just as Jen is now confronting the possibility of guilt, Heather and Meredith seem to be too. “God forbid she is guilty. Are you still a ride-or-die friend?” Seth asks. For Meredith, this would be a really big problem. She says once this is all said and done, she wants answers and clarity from Jen, but not when there’s an open investigation that she can get dragged into. As for Heather? “You believe the people you love.”

They reunite with Jen back at the hotel and ask about her meeting. “The hardest part has been somebody that I trusted, that I made sure didn’t lose his job, made sure that his kids were put through school, made sure he had food on his table … what’s been the hardest for me this week is to learn that that fucking person has turned on me. And now I just read all the shit that he said,” she ominously says before taking a dramatic pause. “Stuart’s a piece of fucking shit.” Once a staple of the show as Jen’s confidant, now, she says, he is the person who played her and got her in this situation.

Heather is blown away by this revelation. She knew Stuart as the guy who’d fetch Jen snacks, schedule her waxing appointments, and buy her tampons — and now he’s apparently masterminding schemes and framing her? This is a cautionary tale. Beware of your TaskRabbits framing you for wire fraud.

“Karma is out there,” Meredith says, “and I always say people who do bad things suffer with their own being every day.” An adage that takes on a new meaning knowing everything we know now. The three women hug, and the scene fades to black-and-white. I hope the editors got paid time and a half for this episode, because it’s a doozy.

As far as we see, Jen never tells Meredith, Heather, or the cameras about her plan to plead guilty — nor do we hear from her again after that. Instead, that twist is disclosed via a title card that reads, “On July 11, 2022, Jen Shah pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She has been sentenced to 6.5 years in prison.”

Days later, Heather gets lunch with Lisa back in Salt Lake City. They’re both completely overwhelmed by the news, but that doesn’t stop Lisa from ordering burrata, crab cakes, and two Vida cocktails. Heather says she’s filled with grief at the situation, the fact that there are victims, and that their friend is being sent away from her kids for up to a decade. They wonder what could have changed in such a short time that made her decide not to fight it.

Heather theorizes that they found something in those documents that they just couldn’t explain away, and the jig was up. They also strangely seem to question if Sharrieff was involved or knew what was going on, which comes completely out of nowhere. But the real focus is still on Jen. “I think she did it,” Heather says as Lisa cries. “I think she did it, and I think she’s choking on the words, and she doesn’t want to say it. It’s too big, and the penalties are too big.”

This season of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City often felt like the wheels were coming off, and that’s because they were. Although repetitive and frustrating, it was unlike anything we’ve ever seen on Housewives. The show, which had one of the strongest starts in the franchise, is now at a massive turning point. The reunion will air without Jen Shah, giving us a glimpse of what our Salt Lake landscape will look like moving forward. We’ll get a look at how this plea reverberates through the cast and impacts the remaining four women and their relationships, but, like a shark, the show has to keep moving forward to survive.

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City Season-Finale Recap