We’re three months away from Jen’s trial, and what better way to paint a rich portrait of her inner turmoil than the editors splicing together flashbacks of her arrest as she puts in her contacts? Jen tells us about how antidepressants helped her after her father died, but just when she thought she was in a better place, the SWAT team showed up. We’ve watched her deal with this saga for a season and a half now, but it feels like this opening scene foreshadows Jen hitting a real breaking point.
Something that Jen has been able to turn to is her relationship with Allah, and as she tells Meredith, it’s currently Ramadan — which means it’s a time of reflection and forgiveness for her. “This is a great month if anyone wants to talk to me about anything,” she says, determined to be Zen Jen, which is great news for Meredith, who just so happens to want to talk to her about something. She brings up Jen’s fight with Danna and tries to secure Danna an invite to the cast trip so the pair can smooth things over. Against all odds, Jen agrees.
As a side note: I don’t think anybody has ever had a more productive day of work than Jen Shah had the day she wore this ridiculous little Hamburglar outfit to film confessionals. Usually we get a good balance of outfits, but every time they cut to a Jen confessional, there she is in that jazzy little hat. She was churning out the one-liners that day.
While Meredith is securing an invite, Danna is getting lunch with Heather and Angie H. across town. This is how you know things are bad for Heather. She’s on such an island with no alliances left that she’s stuck doing group scenes with the B-Team — particularly Danna, who feels so out of place on this show it’s like she’s a contest-winner.
Danna tells them about her plan to go on the cast trip as a guest of a guest, which is more than poor Angie H. can say, having not gotten any invite at all. But all this talk about the trip gives Heather anxiety given her conflict with Jen. Unlike Danna, who wants to air out all of her issues, Heather says that when she has big feelings, she’s learned to push them down and suppress them until they just go away. Alexa, play “Turn It Off” from The Book of Mormon.
The episode’s pre-trip montage is action-packed. We have Lisa bringing three suitcases for a three-day trip, Jen and Angie planning a Greek/Tongan party as Jen sips from a “Shah Thah Fah Up” mug (gibberish), and Justin asking Whitney what she thinks she’ll get out of the trip. “A migraine,” she deadpans.
The chaos continues at the airport: Seth says goodbye to Meredith by whispering, “Watch out for the schadenfreude,” like she’s in a mob movie, Heather drops her three suitcases down an escalator, and Jen somehow manages to take control of the plane intercom to make an inflight announcement. But finally, we’re California-bound. “Yay, another domestic trip because of someone’s court-ordered travel restrictions,” Whitney says.
They arrive at their San Diego vacation house, a sentence I never fathomed I would have to write about the Real Housewives. “Wow, this place is so good, it’s like a little Santorini,” Lisa Barlow lies, clearly vying for an Oscar to add to her shelf of Grammys for Away in a Manger. But as soon as they get there, a power struggle instantly emerges, with Angie K. leading the house tour and giving out rooms even though Jen planned the trip.
The Real Housewives franchise has been on the air for 16 years, but to this day, its foolproof conflict-generator is cast trip room assignments. And I, for one, even after all these years, will never tire of it. It’s a rich tradition that should be respected as an ode to all of our foremothers who’ve come before and who’ve baselessly demanded master bedrooms year after year.
This time around, Angie, having been the one to find the house, helps herself to the biggest room. Naturally, this doesn’t sit right with Jen. After all, the one silver lining of her indictment has been getting the biggest room for every cast trip out of pity. Who is Angie to take that away from her? Even Whitney agrees that the room should go to Jen, given the circumstances, since “there is a big possibility that she might be spending the next couple years in a six-by-nine-foot jail cell.”
But as annoyed as she is over her room demotion, Jen is just as annoyed at Angie leading the charge when she was the one who planned the trip. Sure, we all know that production really planned it, but let’s just play along. So after a tense, very passive-aggressive house tour, they try to address the group before getting into it over who’s a “pro” at this. The subtext here is glaring: Jen is a Housewife with a capital H, and Angie is a measly Friend Of. And there’s no better way to remind someone of your Real Housewife status than pouring a glass of champagne on them, which is exactly what Jen does with a theatrical flourish, sending the bubbly running down Angie’s freshly blown out hair.
The room is hilariously unfazed by this, mostly just watching on as if Jen did something as normal as coughing. But Jen very quickly realizes that this might not have played out the way she wanted it to, and what she thought was a “fun bitch” move was maybe just a “bitch” move. So in an attempt to get ahead of it, she encourages Angie to join in on the fun and pour her champagne on her now. Angie has no desire to do this, so Jen grabs it and pours it on herself. Absolute chaos.
The group splits up to dry off, and Lisa checks in on Angie. “Sorry you got dumped on,” Lisa says — an incredible arrangement of words. Angie, getting over the initial shock, is starting to get angry, especially because she apparently bankrolled Sharrieff’s party earlier in the season. “I not only planned Sharrieff’s birthday party, I paid for the entire party,” she says, running through a list of receipts totaling $15,000. “I could have bought my daughter a horse with the amount of money I spent! And I did do that,” she says, and we cut to a photo of Angie’s 10-year-old daughter Elektra with a gorgeously expensive horse. And to think little Elektra had to sacrifice a second horse for this party.
Meredith and Whitney meanwhile are trying to encourage Jen to apologize for what she calls “trying to lighten the mood.” She really doesn’t see what she did wrong. “It’s not like I threw her in the pool or ripped her weave out,” Jen says, invoking other iconic Housewives offenses. “I honestly don’t even think she’s really angry,” Meredith says, trying to minimize the dispute, just as Angie is upstairs literally telling Lisa, “I’m so mad right now.” It’s poetic. For Heather’s part, she’s absolutely thrilled to see this new conflict take shape because it takes some of the heat off of her.
It’s time for everybody to head out to the yacht, so they load back up into Ol’ Reliable, a.k.a. the sprinter van. At this point, I think it makes more fiscal sense for Bravo to buy these vans rather than rent them, especially since they, without fail, bring out the crazy. Angie, having had time to collect herself and re-blow dry her hair, gets into it with Jen about the pour, which Jen insists was a joke. “Should we do a ‘raise your hand’ moment?” Angie asks, invoking what has become a bizarrely specific trope on RHOSLC. “Raise your hand; who thought it was funny?” Nobody raises their hand except me alone in my apartment, and Angie uses this fight to pivot to her other grievance with Jen.
In front of everyone, Angie accuses Jen of not paying for any of Sharrieff’s party and sticking her with the bill, but Jen outright denies the accusation (her MO). According to her, Angie was the one who wanted to host the party in the first place. The subtext here is that Angie wanted her house to be on the show, and Jen agreed as a favor to her friend. And what a great favor it ended up being: It gave Angie and her home a great showcase at a big cast event, and now it’s even giving her her first conflict as a cast member. The party was worth every penny when you think about it.
Jen also pushes back on the idea that she didn’t give Angie anything for the party, having just given her a $5,000 necklace the other day. “The last thing I wanna do is keep this necklace, and be out in public and have the Southern District of New York find me and take the necklace off my neck,” Angie says. She also says that she didn’t hear from Jen for three days after the party while she was on her knees scrubbing the floor. Now we all know that’s a bald-faced lie. I’m sure someone was cleaning her floors, but it wasn’t Angie. You bought your ten-year-old a horse, you do not know what PineSol is.
As they board their yacht, fittingly named Champagne, Meredith tells us that she’s failed miserably as CEO of Fun, a title bestowed upon her by Jen before the trip. But now the fun is taking a backseat while Jen vents about Angie, and Meredith is concerned. Jen’s mental state was already fragile from the case, and that’s now being exacerbated by unsupportive friends. “I feel like she is hitting a breaking point,” Meredith says, and while we might have thought we’ve seen Jen unravel dozens of times before, these new special circumstances could make for a rough rest of the season.