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TV Review: Desperate Housewives – “Searching”

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With the Oscars last weekend, several Sunday night shows aired their final episode before a month of reruns a week later than other series. ABC’s Desperate Housewives entry was less shocking than some of their previous cliffhangers, but still contained quite a bit of good drama, especially in finding purpose, a theme for the episode appropriately titled “Searching”.

Susan (Teri Hatcher) collapses in the episode before this, and this week her doctor does not have good news. Dialysis isn’t working, and she needs a donor soon. She and Mike (James Denton) go on a picnic to celebrate their anniversary a few months early, as Susan worries she may not be up to it, if she is even still around, when the real date rolls around. Everything that can go wrong does, and Mike gets angrier and angrier. His anger isn’t merely at the comedy of errors, which always follows Susan around, but at the disease, and what he perceives as Susan’s give-up attitude. She the convinces him she intends to keep fighting.

I like that we finally get to see what Mike is feeling. So far, as with most guys until you really get to know them, Mike has kept a strong front throughout. He surely has been struggling internally, and his private scenes with Susan finally allowed him to let some steam out. They are a very compatible couple, and while it feels a little voyeuristic to watch them interact this way, it is also darn good writing and acting, and a side of the issue that we really need to see. Good job!

I’ve honestly found Susan’s kidney disease arc a little exhausting. Susan’s character is better suited to comedy than drama, and this season has brought her more of the latter than before. How many scenes can we take of seeing Susan being strong for her loved ones while a disease eats away at her? That being said, since the writers chose to go down this route, it’s been handled as well as it can be. While perhaps sped up a bit to confine it to one television season, the twists and turns have been realistic, and there is emotion to be felt for her.

My favorite story this week was the end of Beth’s (Emily Bergl) tenure on the lane. Beth is clearly a weak personality, easily manipulated and led to do others’ bidding. It happens with her mother, Felicia (Harriet Sansom Harris), and it happens again with her husband, Paul (Mark Moses). What makes Beth such a tragedy is that she has no one in her life to support her. After failing both Felicia and Paul, they cast her aside, with no concern whatsoever for her once she is past her usefulness to their schemes.

Beth’s struggle to find who she is is great storytelling, of the sort that crops up now and again on Desperate Housewives when you least expect it. The show has shown genius at throwing curveballs, and Beth’s realization of her place in life was one that should have been seen coming from a mile away, and yet I haven’t really realized it until it happened. Having Beth choose to fill out the kidney donation paperwork for Susan and then end her own life is brilliant. Beth still serves another person, even in death, but this time by her own free choice. She makes the ultimate sacrifice. My only regret is that I adore Bergl and wish the actress could have stuck around, though her character is being given a perfect finale.

I was also surprised when Gaby’s (Eva Longoria) plot took a turn late in this episode. For most of the hour, it is easy to believe Gaby is back to her old, selfish self. This is not unwelcome after a long, spectacular run at some of the best acting of Longoria’s career, as she has coped with hurdle after hurdle this season, allowing her some wonderful range and showcase for her talent. So I had no complaints about Gaby hiding Juanita’s (Madison De La Garza) tap shoes when it was clear the young girl’s routine might have embarrassed her mother, even though it is a pretty low thing to do.

Then, suddenly, Gaby’s selfish woman routine gives way to her selfless mother. It’s a role Gaby embraces more and more these days, and is the reason I believe she has been the most dynamic of all the series’s leads. Gaby learns from watching a new father that pride in child is the greatest joy she can find in life, so she embraces it. Gaby does a bad thing, but she makes it right in the end. That is not something she would have done a couple of years ago.

Rather than let Bree (Marcia Cross) tread water for an episode after her romance story ended last week, Bree has a crisis of faith. She feels useless, and needs a new mission. It is suggested to her that she pursue helping others, and so she goes on a tear down the street looking for a donor for Susan. The neighbors are surprisingly reticent to be tested, so in true Bree fashion, she locks them in at a brunch and forces it upon them. Two donors are found, including herself.

I guess I was a bit confused as to why Bree hasn’t already been tested prior to her mission. I would think she would have done that first and foremost, before beginning her crusade. Other than that, though, I like her independent, forceful spirit. Despite no longer having her business, Bree continues to have the capacity to get things done. I hope that is the focus on Bree moving forward. She should be starting a new entrepreneurial experiment, perhaps something in the charity field.

The final plot this week involved Renee (Vanessa Williams) wanting a baby. Lynette (Felicity Huffman) lets her babysit, and then publicly humiliates her into accepting she is not cut out to be a mother. Cruel? Yes, but then, that is probably the only way Lynette can get through to Renee. Renee is a stubborn woman not used to being told no, and so she doesn’t readily accept a negative answer.

Williams has meshed magically with the long-time cast this season. She is a more complex version of a few former characters merged together. Renee can be a diva, and often is, but she also has a compassionate heart. She was an old friend of Lynette’s, and I enjoy their scenes together, but I also really love the dynamics of the Renee and Susan pairing, as has been done a few times already. I look forward next to a good Renee-Bree or Renee-Gaby story, and hope she sticks around long enough to work her way into the lives of all of our characters.

Desperate Housewives is taking a break, but will soon return Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for and, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website,