The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City Recap: Battle Hymn
Season 3 Episode 8 Editor’s Rating3 stars ***
Photo: Bravo The episode starts at the Barlow household, where Lisa is doubling down on her mission to reconnect with her faith, telling her family that Heather’s choir inspired her to ease back into weekly Bible study. She wants to be a better example for Jack and Henry and make an effort to get up and go to church with them on Sundays. “I think the great thing about religion is everyone can do it a different way. There isn’t one set way to do it,” Jack says in an artful attempt to not have to get up and go to church on Sundays. He sees exactly where this is going and is already laying the groundwork to get out of it. In other words, fudge church.
But Lisa’s going to need all the prayers she can get because Whitney has ordered her and Jen (the show’s weakest skiers) back to the slopes so they can step up their game and finally retire from the bunny hill. Being the fast-food connoisseur that she is, Lisa is slowly but surely getting the hang of pizza-french-fry. But the real MVPs of these (many) skiing scenes are our camera operators — to paraphrase the quote about Ginger Rogers, everything the Housewives do, the camera operators are doing backward and on skis.
They stop to chat on the side of the mountain with a computer screensaver-esque view, where Whitney and Lisa tell Jen that they were both accepted into Heather’s choir. The call was a bit surprising to Whitney, since the last time she saw Heather she was physically removing her from her house. They must need the numbers to qualify for regionals. Jen, still perturbed over Heather’s handling of ShahXposed, thinks this sounds out of character and wonders what’s going on with her. She doesn’t like living in this “space of ambiguity” and wants to confront this all head-on with Heather.
Following in the footsteps of RHONJ (the only franchise where this works), the show decides to give us a scene of just the husbands hanging out without their wives. “It’s barbeque time, it’s a no-wife zone,” Sharrieff tells us, as all of the husbands arrive (sans notorious cyberbully Chris Harrington, obviously, who’s probably busy yelling at a middle-schooler on Xbox Live). Remember earlier in the episode when Henry said that Jack wasn’t meditating but just daydreaming about women? That’s me during this whole scene except the women are Lisa Barlow and Jen Shah.
But as resistant as I am to seeing the husbands alone without their better halves, it’s still a delight for Sharrieff to have a scene of his own to shine. Coach Shah just might be the best person on all of Bravo, if not all of television, and if you need convincing, just look at how he greets Angie K.’s husband when he walks in carrying desserts: “What d’ya got, some sweet treats? Get on in here!”
After eating catered barbeque in complete silence, Seth decides to pull John aside so they can hash out the awkwardness between them given the hot-mic feud between Lisa and Meredith. “I definitely feel the tension between Seth and John right now,” Justin says in a confessional, delivering a solid Real Housewife audition now that he lost his day job. The pair step outside to chat, and the conversation sounds like two robots that were programmed to speak to each other. Essentially Seth says, Hey, it sucks that your wife talked bad about my wife. And then John says, It sucks that your wife talked bad about my wife, too. And then they hug.
Back inside, Sharrieff opens up to the guys about everything he and his family are going through with the trial. “Some days it’s hard and I cry. I cry because I can’t control the outcome, I can’t fix it, I can’t do what most men want to do for their wives and make it better. I can’t do that, and some days I feel absolutely helpless,” he says, making up for Seth and John’s lack of articulation by more than a hundredfold.
As a reward for sitting through an all-husband scene, we get to meet Meredith’s sister Myra, who sounds exactly like her. And funnily enough, “Myra” is how Meredith and her slurred drawl pronounces her own name, too. The pair, plus Meredith’s niece and nephew, make a white-bean salad and attempt to cut a lemon. How many of them does it take to cut this lemon? Would you believe me if I told you three? One operating the knife, one holding the left side of the lemon, and one holding the right. They give Kendall Jenner’s cucumber a run for its money. I would gladly watch if the next 30 minutes of this episode were just these three chopping various fruits — I’m entranced.
Together, the family is planning the mental-health awareness event in support of the facilities that helped Meredith’s nephew after his suicide attempt, and Myra says this event is a celebration of how far he’s come. “He’s doing so well, Mer,” Myra tells her, adding that the event is so special to them but urging Meredith to maintain a positive energy with the people she invites. Sounds like Myra isn’t a fan of Meredith’s castmates.
If you thought that after two episodes we’d be done with Heather’s choir, you were sorely mistaken because final selections have been made, and our first rehearsal is underway. Angie K. and Jen are en route, and Jen has brought her megaphone for some inexplicable reason, determined to get her money’s worth out of that thing. And she might actually need it because it sounds like Jen has lost her voice — something that comes with the territory when you mostly scream. Angie K. tells Jen that Danna called her a bully for going after Angie H. at the auditions, which naturally enrages the easily enraged Jen. “Fuck Danna,” she says, right to the point. But luckily it seems like Danna didn’t make the cut for the choir anyway.
But that doesn’t mean we won’t get conflict at this rehearsal, lest we forget that Heather’s current rivals, Whitney and Lisa, are there and ready to sing. When Whitney walks in Heather squeals with delight, as if she didn’t forcibly remove her from her house just days ago. Huh? The amazing thing about Salt Lake City is that there need not be any logic, sense, or reason in sight. There are no rules of engagement, and they always keep you on your toes, struggling to make sense of their every interaction.
What happens next is one of the most interesting fights that I’ve ever seen on Housewives, and it should be studied in academia. Not because of the actual content of the argument, which is old news: Lisa and Heather fighting about the obituary tweet, once again. Instead, what sets this fight apart is that it is fully happening in the middle of the choir’s vocal warm-ups. And by “in the middle,” I mean that literally. The choir director is teaching the group to hum in harmony as Lisa and Heather have this deep, quickly escalating conversation. The warm-ups get louder, and so does the fighting. The sound mixers deserve hundreds if not thousands of Emmys for this scene alone.
Seeing that we’re not letting choir practice stop us from conflict resolution, Angie H. figures this is as good a time as any to pull Jen aside to apologize for ShahXposed. “You were a casualty in this,” she tells her, seemingly admitting that the real target was Lisa Barlow. That’s okay with Jen, and she tells her that if they honor Sharrieff’s request for a public apology, she’ll be able to move past it.
Heather and Lisa, meanwhile, haven’t had similar success in their discussion, and now Whitney’s getting dragged into it to relitigate the rumors once again. Suddenly we’re talking about Heather’s memory and how she forgets the details of conflicts. But honestly, who can blame her? It’s nearly impossible to keep up with all of this nonsense, I’d black out too. Enough is finally enough and Heather storms off (her favorite pastime).
Despite completely arguing over the warm-ups, the whole choir gets their act together to sing a Mormon hymn called “God Be With You Till We Meet Again,” which is what I say to these women at the end of every episode. Speaking of God, if he cares about us, he will leak Lisa Barlow’s isolated vocals.
Later, Jen and Angie K. meet at one of Salt Lake City’s favorite hangout spots, a deserted outdoor public pool, where Angie is hard at work blowing up inflatable palm trees and pouring drinks into plastic Party City coconuts. Why is she going to such lengths to deck out this abandoned YMCA? Well, naturally every cast trip announcement needs a little flair. But how do you top Scottsdale? Based on the décor, you might think Hawaii? Fiji? Nope, we’re going to sunny San Diego. These women should file a class-action lawsuit against Bravo for these cast trips.
Jen obviously can’t go out of the country, so Angie K. has this bright idea: “Girl, I have got a friend with a house in San Diego.” Okay, there is no way in hell that Angie K. knows anybody in San Diego. Nonetheless, they call up the women to invite them to a trip that production already told them all about. And first on the contact list is Meredith Marks, who has apparently been assigned to be Danna’s Housewives mentor, a role that should come with a stipend.
The two of them are at Meredith’s house when she gets the San Diego FaceTime call. “Look who I have here,” she says, showing them Danna and making Jen’s face drop. They list off everybody who’s going, before Jen adds, “Danna, I would invite you except I heard you were talking shit.” They start to go back and forth over what Danna said until Jen gets so worked up that she hangs up and storms out of the pool. These women have never met a location that they can’t dramatically storm out of.
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