Message boards, blogs, and even newspapers — including USA Today and the Chicago Tribune — have been a buzz about how America’s favorite guilty pleasure has gone downhill since its critically acclaimed first season. In her Transamerica Oscar press junket, Felicity Huffman has said in response to Housewives‘ sophomore slump, “We were riding so high that there’s no place else to go but sort of down for a while, and God willing, up again.”
And she’s absolutely right.
As I’ve stated before, most shows kind of struggle to find themselves in the first season, as they progress and find out who they are and what they want to say, then become great shows. But Desperate Housewives is one exception: a case where the series has always known exactly what it was straight from the beginning, giving us one of the best first seasons of a show in recent memory. But of course, as Felicity said, once you’re so high up, there’s almost nowhere else to go but down – at least for a little while.
Most of this season — and by most, I mean everything after the first few episodes — has been pretty lackluster. The Applewhites’ story did not deliver the same mystery and hook that the Mary Alice Young suicide did the first season, the at first lovable and relatable Susan became as annoying as Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy, the one-liners weren’t as funny, and frankly most of the storylines were just plain boring.
But Sunday night’s episode marked Desperate Housewives’ return to full form. It was funny, it was dramatic, it was mysterious, it was authentic. This show finally got back to everything it was supposed to be, and for once, it was actually better than the following Grey’s Anatomy.
Marcia Cross delivered what was an Emmy-worthy performance: the last scene where she came out of the house, hair down, no make-up, worn and tattered and on what we thought was a trip to visit Andrew’s college, dropped him off at a gas station with a bag and some money was truly one of the best this show has ever seen. This woman killed that scene like it was a sex offender who lived next door.
Finally, the excellent Alfre Woodard (who has been underused the entire season), was finally given something to work with. And the moment she grabbed Caleb’s arm when he told her Matthew had sent him to Danielle’s, you knew something was going down. Betty Applewhite locking the other son in the basement was priceless. For all the evil that goes on on this show, it’s great to see two people get what they deserve.
Gabby and Carlos convince their maid Xiao Mei to carry their baby, which would also allow her to stay in the U.S. since she’s been getting deportation letters that she’s hidden from the Solises. This storyline provided a bit of comedy in a night of dramatic stories as Xiao Mei doesn’t quite understand that she’s just getting the sperm and egg put into her uterus — not actually having sex with Carlos — so she ends up naked in their bed.
And a way to finally leave us desperately wanting to come back next week to find out what exactly Tom’s secret is: sending him to Atlantic City with flowers and show tickets. I was wondering when that “secret” Tom told his dad about would finally surface. Maybe he has a secret family in Atlantic City Lynette doesn’t know about. Maybe he’s still seeing his ex. We’ll just have to wait and find out.
To cap this amazing episode off was the torching of Susan’s house. I swear, the sight of Edie in that fur jacket slowly inching over to Susan’s with a flower pot of gasoline with that look of vengeance in her eyes was priceless. And quite reminiscent of the flawless series premiere where Edie’s house is burned down instead.
Some questions remain. Will Bree continue to be with Peter? She knew he was a sex addict, and it’s obvious Andrew seduced him. But that’s statutory rape: Andrew is 17. What is Lynette going to do about Tom, and did Ed just plant that information to have a reason to fire him? Which Housewife will die in the season finale and which is pregnant? My prediction is Edie on the latter.
And with no suspect as to who burned down Susan’s house (the previews told us the police could tell it was arson), will Susan be investigated for trying to get insurance money? She did just have major surgery.
Also, I’ve been hearing through the grapevine, that we learn some interesting things about Xiao Mei’s past in the coming weeks. One of the Housewives is getting married — or at least proposed to — and we have not seen the last of Ms. Tillman.
I’ve also gotten word of another interesting storyline involving Bree Van De Kamp, laid out by this picture.
It’s too bad Desperate Housewives waited until the end of the season to finally get good, but later is better than never. And from the juicy details I’ve been hearing about next season’s mystery, there’s no doubt season three will live up to the hype.
Marc Cherry, bravo on finally coming up with an amazing hour of television. And Marcia Cross, I bow to your majesty.