Fresh Powder, Fresh Start



Pull up a chair, this is going to take a minute.  The ladies of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City have had to navigate through some icy terrain, but giving credit where credit is due, had it not been for Jen Shah getting pinched my the Feds, it's doubtful that RHOSLC would have seen a third season.  BTW, knowing what we now know about the Dept. of Injustice, I'm wondering if we weren't all a little premature in passing judgement on Jen Shah, the Giudices, Todd Chrisley, and maybe even Martha Stewart.  Well anyway, back to the show.  Leaving just four housewives standing, the viewers made it abundantly clear that we are sick of the Whitney/Shrek and Meredith/Lisa feuds, so this season was wise to turn a new leaf.  So the time has come for the remaining four to lip sync ... for their (((LIVES))!


Last week's premiere opened with a blurb across our screens reading “Bermuda, May 10, 2023" as a distraught Heather on the phone, pushes the camera crew away. and then says in a panic,  “I cannot believe it’s her … how could she do this to us?” They then cut to a series of dramatic scenes of what’s to come as the cast recites various scriptures before finally flashing back to four months earlier when the season begins.


Robert Redford's whacky Sundance Film Festival is in town which means Lisa Barlow, the  self-proclaimed Queen of Sundance, is busier than ever.  Even though she "hasn't slept in five days", Lisa knocks out 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.”  Still juggling Sundance calls, she then hops in the car with her husband, John, and then starts discussing their son Jack’s post-graduation plans. You might remember his declaration of “Fudge college” last season which was a sanitized “Fuck college.”  That sentiment still stands, with Jack deciding on a Mormon mission trip, instead of college. This news rocks Lisa; not only because she’s saying goodbye to her son (and Fresh Wolf business partner for two years), but mainly because he kept it a secret from her, proclaiming that they are “different” than him.  All of this leaves 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, it will be interesting to see what she makes of this news.  Speaking of Bad Mormon, the memoir made the New York Slime's bestsellers list,  go figure. Heather also opened a second Beauty Lab location and bought a brand new gigantic house three blocks away from her old one.   Heather has Meredith over for a little snow shoveling and catch up.  She tells Meredith all about her meeting with cousin Whitney to try and mend things, but oddly leaves out their Ultimate Girl's Trip to Thailand.  Apparently, Heather wants to forget about that trip like the rest of us.  All in all, she describes their meeting as vague but positive.


But it turns out that Meredith herself is furious at Whitney because Whitney did an interview where she made fun of that awkward scene of Meredith toe-fucking Seth in the bath tub.  Whitney called it creepy and bacteria-filled (she wouldn't be wrong).  Heather can’t tell if she’s joking or really mad, but we are talking Meredith here, so of course, it's real rage!  She says, “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!"


The Blessed Mary M. Cosby returns this season in a "friend of" role.  Expecting us to believe that she and Meredith are friends, they meet up for lunch where they awkwardly catch up, not even pretending like they have even spoken, let alone seen each other in 2 years.  Mary is as annoying and fake as ever, probably even more so, as demonstrated when she shoves her salad plate away in disgust because she "doesn't do spicy", because when she does do spicy, it comes out on the other end "spicy" ... whatever the F that means. 


Mary shares that her son now has a girlfriend "who people are calling his wife", but she hasn't been able to ask him about it (even though he still lives at home).  Mary also gleefully shares that Robert Sr., her step grand dad huzbin', has been living in Las Vegas for the last six months.  Everything about Mary is vague, cryptic, and guarded, and she knows we know it, and I'm guessing this is why she is always so visibly nervous on camera.  Mary makes for good TV, but it really annoys me that a proven racist remains employed while the woman she racially bullied remains fired because she didn't bow at the altar of the BLM racists.  Also, how many HW's have been canned for bailing on the reunion ... oh wait, those HW's weren't black.


Meanwhile, in what looks like a Cher drag show, Lisa Barlow, newly promoted Angie Katsanevas, and newbie Monica Garcia get together for a lunch of their own.  I don’t know what to make of this Monica person yet, but her casting seems like an attempt to simply recast the role of Jen Shah. Though her story is interesting, Monica instead seems intent on focusing on her connection to Jen, who looms over this premier like an incarcerated ghost.


The other women seem to know Monica just 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.  Now that's a lot to unpack!


But so far I like her, because there’s something to be said for one of Jen Shah’s minions turning on her, testifying against her, sending her to prison, and then stealing her job and friends, but it’s unclear if this claim to fame will have legs.   What I DON'T like so far, is that she sucks up to her new castmates in person, and then trashes them in her confessionals. 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 says, “... but all their dark secrets are very heavy on my mind.”


Normally, when a HW shares hearsay, we can confront its source, but no one is calling Jen Shah in the slammer, so she doesn’t get a chance to push back on Monica’s claims.  This puts Monica in an unfair position of power; where she can say anything she wants, and then cite Jen Shah as the source.  Her lunch with Angie and Lisa goes well, but it felt like Lisa was definitely left with a feeling of "Was that bitch coming for me?"


Lisa serves up the best response to Mary’s return when she says, “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.”  But meanwhile, Mary says she feels good about seeing Lisa and loves her coat.  This is what we will be dealing with folks. 


Mary asks Heather how she’s been handling it, but like Meredith, she brushes it off, downplaying the ride-or-die title she held for three seasons.  However, now she's saying that it was an unhealthy friendship without "boundaries" and feels like a giant weight has been lifted.  At this point, I'm imagining Jen screaming "Fuck you bitch!" with a room full of convicts throwing various coveted commissary items at the community TV screen.  Suffice to say, there’s going to be hell to pay in five years, give or take.


Taking Heather's party’s theme to heart, Meredith pulls Lisa aside to inform her that SHE is finally ready to "move forward". Lisa is visibly thrilled at the prospect of escaping the confines of this endless grudge and tells us, “I would miss me too.”  But of course in the HW world, everything is done for a reason, and I have a feeling the ONLY reason Meredith is done feuding with Lisa is because she needs an ally against Whitney, who she feels is always trashing her. 


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?”


The premier ends with a snowball fight with Lisa saying the only snowballs she likes are of the Hostess variety (I'm with ya girl).  Wet blanket Mary watches from inside as the women take advantage of their last chance to get out aggression from seasons past.  This is where I would normally stop, but I may as well keep going and merge the first two eps together.  But let's take a break. 


                                     * * * * *   TO BE CONTINUED ... * * * * *


Episode two begins with Meredith and Lisa meeting up for a walk in the snow to begin their healing journey.  Never one to disappoint, Meredith shows up wearing metallic-blue pants, high heel boots, and a fur coat that at least a dozen Cookie Monsters had to die for.  Ironically, this would have been the time to wear a full sequined face mask, because you could tell they were freezing their @'s off.  They catch up on their kids, and Lisa fills Meredith in on Jack’s plan to forgo college to serve a mission, noting that if he gets sent to Milan, there would be lots of great shopping for her.  Some progress was made, but Lisa is proceeding with caution.  The scene ends with both apologizing for their respective bad behaviors, Meredith insisting on a hug.


Next up are the battling cousins, who continue their long history of hot tub scenes by meeting in a hot spring to kabitz about Heather’s "fresh start" party. We find out that although Heather and Angie aren’t on good terms now, they actually go all the way back to high school, where they were friends, despite Heather being in the Mormon group and Angie being with the Greeks.  In a catty confessional, Heather says, “I do remember that she won best sense of humor … I always feel bad for the girls that peak in high school.”


Turns out Heather overheard Lisa talking about Jack’s post-graduation mission at the party, and is curious about his motivation, because as with Lisa, Heather doesn’t consider Jack to be a true Mormon.  “What I don’t think she’s prepared for is who he might be when he comes home, and I think she’s in for a rude awakening.”  I think Heather comes from a place of genuine concern, but suffice to say, Lisa surely isn't going to take it that way.


We finally see Angie in her in a solo scene, at home with her husband Shawn, daughter Elektra, and a dyed pink poodle named Celia.  For me, Angie checks all the boxes and makes a terrific housewife.  She's interesting, has a hot husband, and lest we forget that gorgeous massive house that played host to Coach Shah’s birfday party last year.  Those grand digs are a far cry from our next stop: Monica’s at home.


When we cut to the exterior of her home, there's a noticeable change.  No stylish drone shots here; just your average Google street view of a tiny mid-century modern track house with not even a garage, but a carport. Compared to the multi-million dollar spreads we’re used to seeing on this show (whether rentals or not), the Socialist Marxists running our country at the moment must be outraged, because there is obviously some serious financial disparity at play here.


Monica has an interesting story.  She was born in Boston, but is half Columbian and half Portuguese, and moved to SLC when she was just 5 yrs. oldis proving not to be the trick pony I feared she was.  She remembers her mom and dad getting into a fight, and her dad leaving the house and never coming back.  She doesn't even know what he looks like, or if she has any siblings ... all she knows is that he's gay and moved to Florida.


She and her mother, Linda, sit at the table preparing orders for Brea Baby, her baby-product company, and we get to hear some more backstory on our newest housewife outside of her Jen Shah connection. She moved to Salt Lake ten years ago and grew up in the Mormon Church after her mother converted to LDS when she was five, but she struggles with that experience. As for her father, he left when she was four, and she doesn’t even know what he looks like. All she knows is that he's gay and lives in Florida with his boyfriend and/or husband.  Something tells me we haven't seen the last of that story line. 


Monica tells her mom and daughter that she going on a girl's trip and asks (ok, tells) Linda that she's going to have to watch the kids.  Linda's reaction is hilarious and real; especially when she finds out that she will be getting up at 6am to get the kids off to school.  Things then turn serious when she tells her mom and oldest daughter that she’s nervous about joining this new group of women, because she knows she can't compete, to which I would say, "Girl, don't be fooled".  She then tearfully admits that she bought a Louie bag to impress the women, to which her daughter tells her that she shouldn’t base her worth on how much money she has.  Housewives 101: Have a voice-of-reason daughter! It was actually a very poignant and effective scene, because she now has most of the entire viewing audience relating to her, and rooting for her. The only thing that bugs me is that she certainly has had the re$ource$ for a new rack and trout lips, and a black Range Rover.   


Witless Rose and house hubby Justin go to dinner withAngie and Shawn.  It feels like an awkward scene to me, but I dunno ... maybe this is how hetero couples socialize.  The takeaway from this scene is Angie finds out that Meredith didn’t invite her on the girls’ trip to Palm Springs. The snub is a surprise, especially after their salon did the hair for Meredith’s fashion show last year. Luckily for Angie, Whitney loves stirring shit up, so she invites her as her plus-one on the trip, because these girls have a television show to make.


Ahead of the trip, Monica continues to making the rounds to fully integrate herself into the cast, this time going shopping with Heather.  Even though she’s friends with Angie (who Heather says is catty, jealous, and accused her of having sex with Jen Shah), she’s willing to give Monica a chance. But it’s only when Monica brings up her connection to the Mormon Church that Heather seems to warm up to her.


Monica tells Heather that she was married in the temple before she was excommunicated “for fucking my brother-in-law for 18 months.” It’s moments like this where we can practically see Heather forget that she’s on the show and not just watching it because she lights up at this revelation like only a Bravo viewer could. Monica explains that she was excommunicated after finally coming clean about the affair, while the man she was involved with wasn’t excommunicated — a detail that doesn’t surprise Heather. It was a difficult, isolating time in her life, but she ditched her Mormon undergarments and went straight to Victoria’s Secret.


It’s finally time for their trip to the famed dumpy Trixie Motel in Palm Springs.  We get all the usual scenes with the women packing for the trip as their respective children, husband, and/or pets watching them pack.  When Brooks suggests Meredith bring her surfing suit, Meredith dryly says to Brooks, "Palm Springs is the desert sweetie" (not the coast).


Meanwhile, over in Mary’s closet, she's calling the Trixie Hotel herself.  When she’s corrected that it’s actually a “Motel,” she delivers one of her trademark looks of fear and disgust.  “Do you guys have 2003 Dom Pérignon?” she asks.  Of course, the answer is no, which then prompts another look of horror.  Whatever.


It’s off to the airport, where the ladies find out that Whitney is taking a different flight, though they don’t yet know the mystery reason.  Nobody in the world exhibits such unbridled professionalism as a Real Housewife who takes it upon herself to start recording on her cell phone when drama goes down sans camera crew. This week, that hero was Heather Gay, who began recording from within a bathroom stall the second Lisa Barlow realized she had lost a $60,000 ring while pulling up her jeans a few stalls over. Amongst the sound of Heather's whispers (and flushes), we can hear a frantic Lisa begin her 45-minute search for the bling. “Does anybody see a ring on the floor!? I’m freaking out! Monica, do you see it?  Help me!”


“I don’t think that ring was worth that; first off, I don’t think it’s worth 60,000,” Mary says in a confessional, never missing an opportunity to casually attack. After Lisa files a report (even though there isn’t a doubt in my mind that she flushed that bad boy down the toilet), they all load up into yet another sprinter van. This is where the magic happens, historically, as we all know. It’s also where Mary tells a still bereft Lisa, “At some point, you gotta let it go,” mere minutes (okay, probably hours) after losing the ring. But she says it has sentimental value, at which point Heather astutely adds, “I mean, I feel very sentimental about anything over $10,000.” The most expensive thing Heather’s ever lost, a producer asks? “My dignity.”


While the ladies are busy ransacking an airport bathroom for Lisa’s ring, Whitney and Angie are making themselves comfortable at the Trixie Motel, and none other than the owner herself, who greets them in the Palm Springs 110 degree heat, wearing full clown makeup and her best 20-lb. Lady Bunny wig.  Although I barely remember his stint on Drag Race, Trixie Matel is one of those RuPaul drag queens who has hitched his wagon to Bravo, Andy, and the HW's; in this case, Witless Rose.  He'a also one of those "political" queens who is always lying.  Case in point; in response to one of Whitney's random requests for the ladies, Trixie replies, "Girl, if Tennessee is arresting us for doing drag, you know anything is possible."  Of course what he's leaving out is the performing "IN FRONT OF CHILDREN" part of the ban.