I tip my hat to Shed Media, because this finale was a real "gotcha" that I truly didn't see coming. After all my bitching about a pointless and redundant season due to unforeseen trial delays and Jen Shah's ultimate change of plea, they cleverly managed to time the finale perfectly with Shah's sentencing just a few days ago. Hindsight is 20/20, but I would have had the cameras rolling the minute Jen Shah changed her plea to "guilty" back in July. Not only would it have bought them an entire new season, but they would have gotten all the riveting content of Shah preparing for prison.
But before the juicy second half of the finale, it's business as usual with the proverbial finale party where one of the ladies are hosting some kind of charity event, or launching their latest project. This time, it's a launch party for Heather's memoir, Bad Mormon. Like every other nervous housewife before her event, Heather says, "Please don't let there be any drama at my party", but adds, "... and if there is (a fight), I hope it occurs right in front of my Bad Mormon cover poster ... and if it doesn’t go my way, I’m fully prepared to exploit it.” I love her honesty; too bad she couldn't be as transparen
t about someone (likeJen Shah?) giving her a black eye.
Against all odds, the prospect of a drama-free party looks like a real possibility as Jen and
the rat who got her pinched Coach Shahreefer graciously accepts Angie and Chris Harrington's apology. Coach tells them that for him to forgive, he needs to hear from them, so the Harringtons proceed to stumble through a half-baked, apology. Choking back the fake tears, Chris says that creating the "ShahXposed" SM account wasn’t personal. That’s apparently good enough for them, and the two couples awkwardly embrace.
Dressed in graduation robes, Heather's choir performs a hilariously off key rendition of Amazing Grace (cheap royaltie$) ... or as Jen calls it in a confessional, Shah-mazing Grace. BTW, for someone who told the judge that this show is so fake that even her "Sha-Mazing shtick was forced on her, she sure does enjoy using it.
After the choir wraps their performance, Heather unveils the cover of Bad Mormon, which she describes as “sacrilegious, blasphemous, and terribly offensive.” No arguments here. But even being the bad Mormon that she is, Heather takes a moment to quote some scripture: “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Translation: Heather is a "ride or die" friend.
Now that the choir has performed, and the book cover has been revealed, the scene is set for the housewife finale brawl. In this corner, we have Witless Rose, and in the other corner, we have Jen Shah. Whitney feels like the progress they were making in becoming friends hit a bump in San Diego.
The other women see that the action is starting, so they swarm, basically forming a line to air their grievances. Thirstiest of the bunch, Angie K. seizes what is probably her last opportunity of the season to snatch Jen Shah's snowflake (for next season). So 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. For the love of all things holy, please let someone, anyone! come clean.
Of course Jen denies saying it, and Angie K. says that she has officially had it with Jen, especially after making up with Angie H. so easily. In fact, now she's wondering if Jen and Angie H's fight was even real, let alone Jen's suicide attempt. Sheriff holds Jen back before she promptly storms out. I can only imagine how different Jen's reaction would have been had she not been (on her good behavior) awaiting trial.
We’re only halfway through the episode when suddenly, the episode jumps ahead to July, just a few days before the trial is set to begin. Whoa ... huh? As she's about to leave for New York, Jen visits her mother. On her mom's front steps, Jen says, “The next time I come home, I’ll either be guilty or innocent." Fighting back tears and obviously trying to convince herself, her mom replies, “You’ll be innocent ... we know that ... right?” This shit just got very real.
As Jen and Coach quietly drive to the airport, a truly haunting montage begins to play, beginning with that fateful day back in season 2 when Jen fled the sprinter van before the feds swarmed it. They then play every scene of Jen tearfully, and sometimes hysterically, proclaiming her innocence. Something is definitely going on here, and I'm really wishing I hadn't already taken my melatonin.
Suddenly we see Heather and Meredith, who are there for moral support. They pay a visit to Jen's hotel room as Jen and Coach prepare for the trial. As they all embrace, they flashback to a scene from the day before with Jen asking Heather to check on her family and tell them how much she loves and and is going to miss them. She tells Heather, “I’m scared, Heather, I’m scared ... it will really kill me if I’m away from my family.” This is a completely different Jen than what we’re used to seeing, and you really can't help but to feel bad for her. With the threat of jail time looming, the terror that she's feeling is palpable.
Meredith and Heather leave to have get lunch Seth, who apparently made the trip as well. He asks how Coach is doing and Heather reminds us that Coach is a former lawyer ... huh? She says he’s not just emotional support for Jen, but has has been entrenched in the details of the case, reading every document he can, including the list of witnesses who are testifying against Jen.
As the three of them face the possibility of guilt, Seth asks Heather, “God forbid she is guilty, are you still a ride-or-die friend?” Heather responds, “You believe the people you love.”. However, for Meredith, this would be a really big problem. She says once this is all said and done, she's going to want answers from Jen, but not when there’s an open investigation that she can get dragged into.
They reunite with Jen back at the hotel and ask about the Shah's meeting with all the lawyers. “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." Jen takes a pause, and then concludes, “Stuart’s a piece of fucking shit!", adding that HE is the person who played her and got her in this situation.
Heather in particular, is blown away by this revelation. She knew Stuart as the guy fetched Jen snacks, scheduled her waxing appointments, and bought her tampons. Now he’s masterminding schemes and framing her? Meredith says, “Karma is out there ... and I always say people who do bad things suffer with their own being every day.” All I know is that they killed it in this episode, and it's a real doozy.
Apparently Jen never told Meredith or Heather about her plans to plead guilty, but in the first mic drop scene of the episode (if not the season), we hear one of the producers asking Jen if she's ready to "tell the truth" (about what she did). We don't see Jen's response; instead a disclosure on the screen 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.”
A few days later back in Salt Lake City, Heather and Lisa Barlow have lunch. They are both completely shocked, but moreover just saddened by the news; however, this doesn't stop Lisa from ordering crab cakes, burrata, and God knows how many Vida cocktails. Heather is filled with grief over her friend being sent away from her boys which then causes Lisa to completely break down. To Heather's credit, she is finally acknowledges that there are victims. Together the frenemies wonder what could have changed in such a short time that made Jen decide not to fight it.
Heather theorizes that they must have found something in those documents that just couldn’t be explained away. Providing the second mic drop moment of the episode, out of nowhere, Heather suggests that Jen's loving huzbin' might have not only known what was going on, but may have even been involved ... and if that's not enought, through his wife under the bus! “I think she did it,” Heather says as Lisa continues to sob. Heather continues, “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.”
As frustrating as this season was, they made up for it by giving us arguably, the most compelling finale that the HW series has ever known. But there is a caveat ... the reunion will air without Jen Shah. But more importantly, how is the show going to go on without the woman responsible for the success of the show? Only time will tell, but regardless, the entire cast (along with the two Angies) will be asked back, each of them several hundred thousand dollars richer.