‘Sister Wives’ Premiere Recap: Kody Brown Says the Family Is in a ‘Civil War’ as More Wives Pull Away

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t seen the season 18 premiere of Sister Wives, proceed with caution. 

And we’re back with a whole new season of Kody Brown‘s perm, fragile feelings, and Ken-esque idolization of the patriarchy! Sister Wives premiered season 18 on Sunday and the Brown family is more at odds than ever before. 

In fact, Kody starts off the episode by saying it feels like the Browns are in the middle of a “civil war.” Yikes! 

Still reeling (yes, still) from Christine Brown‘s decision to leave Kody and relocate to Utah, Robyn Brown and Meri Brown continue to hash and rehash the fractured family dynamics for the umpteenth time. Robyn continues to seem bewildered by the fraught state of the family and Meri continues to essentially jump up and down waving her hand in the air and internally shouting, “Pick me! Pick me!” 

The only person not in a spiral? Christine. Kody’s newly relocated ex couldn’t be more thrilled to be out of his curly haired clutches. She’s a whole new woman with a whole new setup at her home in Utah and she has the beaming smile to prove it. 

Christine Brown

TLC

She’s still close with her bestie, Janelle Brown, and the two share that they still call one another “sister wife,” despite no longer technically being sister wives in the traditional sense. 

“Yeah, I still consider Janelle my sister wife. It’s super weird, I think,” Christine admits, noting that she thinks of Janelle as, “more than just a friend.” 

But when it comes to Kody and the rest of the Brown clan, Christine is done with things that no longer serve her. She meets up with her ex to discuss the family’s holiday plans, and though he certainly isn’t in a friendly mood, the mother of six does her best to keep the conversation pleasant. 

Describing himself as “tender from a divorce,” Kody admits in his confessional interview about Christine, “I kind of feel like I just never want to see her again, and I want to spend some time hating her.”

That’s one way to handle it. 

Kody goes on about his difficult bout with COVID, and Christine can’t hold in her laughter. Noting that she’s not the best with her reactions around her ex, Christine says in her confessional interview, “I was married to that guy for 27 years. Every time that guy got sick, it was like the whole world revolved around his being sick.”

Kody and Christine

TLC

Kody tells Christine she’s “mean that way,” and goes on to once again bring up his case of COVID. 

“COVID was overwhelming for me — not being able to sleep and not being able to breathe,” he says. 

But Christine is not deterred. In fact, she finds her ex’s frustrations delightful, laughing and declaring in her aside interview, “I’m not married to him anymore. It’s so freaking awesome.” 

Meanwhile, Janelle is packing up her fifth-wheel RV for storage, admitting that she feels like she’s failed after her last-ditch effort to build on the Coyote Pass property didn’t pan out. 

Kody admits that things are “pretty strained” with Janelle and the exes are struggling to come to an agreement on holiday plans after their explosive fight last season. 

Kody Brown

TLC

But perhaps most tragic of all is Meri’s insistence on clinging to her non-existent relationship with Kody. Kody notes that they haven’t “functioned in a marriage-like relationship for seven or eight years.”

“I’ve heard him refer to us as friends, which is kind of weird to me because I think friends talk to each other more than Kody and I talk to each other,” Meri admits, noting to Robyn that she speaks to Kody about every other week. 

In fact, when Meri goes over to Robyn’s home, she borrows one of Kody’s jackets, and in perhaps the most painful moment of the series thus far, she has Robyn put the jacket on her and hug her as if Kody is giving her a hug. 

Meri also makes some uncomfortable puns about Kody’s preference for Robyn’s holiday turkey that we won’t even get into here. 

Basically, Meri is feeling isolated not only from Kody but from her other sister wives as well. 

“I feel, like, just completely rejected. I know what our relationship used to be. It was good and it was fun and we laughed a lot,” Meri says, cutting to throwback footage of herself and Christine goofing off with the kids. 

Meri goes on to deny that she’s staying in her spiritual marriage to Kody for religious reasons, saying, “People tell me all the time, ‘Oh, you’re only staying there because you’re forced to and you think that you can’t go to heaven without it.’ It’s like, bull, you don’t know me. When I married Kody, I made a commitment to him and I loved him and I still love him and I still honor that commitment… I made the decision because I loved Kody and I wanted to spend my eternities with him.”

Meri Brown

TLC

Robyn notes that Kody is “going through some major weird stuff” as he grapples with his divorce and says she wants Meri and Janelle to band together with her to “pick up the torch” of plural marriage. 

And while Meri seems willing, it’s clear that Robyn wants Janelle’s support. 

“He’s so discouraged and I feel like Janelle and Meri and I should be giving our teammate a break,” Robyn says through tears. “If somebody doesn’t pick up that torch, then it’s going to go out.”

Meri shows her support of Robyn saying, “I have her back. Do I agree with everything that she does or says or thinks? No.” 

And as for Meri’s take on her relationship with Kody, she says, “I think there’s work we’d have to do, but I think we could do it if we put the effort in.”

Of course, fans know that things between Meri and Kody do not ultimately work out. In January 2023, she announced that she was “permanently terminating” their marriage after years of estrangement. 

New episodes of Sister Wives air Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on TLC. 

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