After a heck of a mid-season finale, though the show is known for those, ABC’s Desperate Housewives came back strong (and earlier than usual) last night. I don’t think there was much suspense for long-time fans over if anyone actually died. I never thought either character in peril would, but it’s very satisfying to get a few answers, and be left with a few new mysteries.
The biggest plot this year is the return of Paul Young (Mark Moses). Paul was a main character for the first two seasons, and returned for three episodes in January 2007, before showing up in last year’s season finale. As he is back in the opening credits as a main character for season seven, and his plot for revenge on his neighbors has still gone unfulfilled, I found it likely he would survive the gunshot wound from the fall finale. He did. The first half of the season, we wondered what Paul was up to, and that was revealed a few weeks ago with his halfway house for released convicts. Now, going forward, the mystery is, who shot JR, er, Paul Young? Every single resident of Wisteria Lane has a motive, but the cops say they also all have alibis. The police outed arch-nemesis Felicia Tillman (Harriet Sansom Harris) to Paul, who wasn’t aware that she was his mother-in-law, but she seems just as clueless as we are.
It’s an exciting mystery, taking Housewives back to its roots. The series has been consistently good for many years, but the murder committed by Paul in season one, and Felicia’s framing of Paul for her own murder in return, was one of the best stories of the show. Returning to it now, taking viewers back to just how good it was, is brilliant. It reminds people that show has always been strong, and it’s cool to dredge up the past if there’s a fresh twist on it, which there is here. The blend has resulted in a very satisfying mix of nostalgia and new suspense.
Less predictable was the return of Orson (Kyle MacLachlan). I thought when Bree’s (Marcia Cross) second husband left at the onset of the season, we had seen the last of him, at least for awhile. His unexpected arrival on her doorstep last night, and her letting him (temporarily) move in with herself and her new boyfriend, was very surprising. Though Orson’s last name did not do Bree justice, and despite their issues and secrets from each other, they had seemed a perfect pairing. I enjoy Bree’s hair coming down now that she’s with Keith (Brian Austin Green), but Watson would make an even less satisfying last name for her than Hodge. I was shocked that she chose to stay with Keith, despite her obvious remaining feelings for Orson. As much as I like Green as an actor, I wish she’d reconsider. And no matter what her decision, she should keep her first husband’s last name of Van de Kamp.
Hands down, the best acting on the show this year is being done by Eva Longoria (sans Parker once more). This is probably because she is getting the most affecting story. Gabi (Longoria) discovered that her eldest daughter, Juanita (Madison De La Garza), is not her biological child, the hospital having made a mistake. Gabi found her ‘real’ daughter, Grace (Cecilia Balagot), but Grace’s illegal immigrant parents took her away. Now Gabi is struggling to make Juanita feel loved, but not let go of Grace. It’s a delicate tightrope. Her husband, Carlos (Ricardo Chavira), has no problem forgetting all about Grace if it helps Juanita’s pain, but Gabi is torn. While Gabi surely talks plenty, Parker’s best moments this year have been acted completely in her grieving face. It’s a situation few women will ever have to imagine, but heart breaking for anyone to even witness. If Parker doesn’t at least get nominated for an Emmy for this season, there is little justice.
Another brilliant move by the show this year was the addition of Renee (Vanessa Williams). Much more sympathetic than the previous resident of the house, Renee is more than just a replacement. Her guilt over sleeping with best friend Lynette’s (Felicity Huffman) husband, Tom (Doug Savant), was beautiful. Though, thankfully, Tom and Lynette had been broken up at the time, which was twenty years ago, the betrayal is no less fresh, especially as it just came to Lynette’s attention. Renee has also tried to form friendships with the other women on the Lane, and her scenes with Susan (Teri Hatcher) have been particularly good. Despite a prickly personality, Renee is no Wilhelmina Slater. She’s staking her place on the show and in viewer’s hearts legitimately, already earning her keep. I think rather than Edie’s substitute, Renee is more a Katherine, meaning she has a true chance at being the real, equal fifth housewife in the group. Something many women have tried (Katherine came closest), but no one has yet managed to achieve.
Speaking of Susan, can her year possibly get any worse? First, she lost her house. Then her husband, Mike (James Denton), went to Alaska to make the family some much-needed money. I know the economic story hit home to millions of Americans, but it’s time to get past it. I believe it’s gone as far as it can being entertaining in this instance. Susan’s health problems, stemming from her recent trampling experience, may be a step in the right direction, though I’m not optimistic it will provide long legs either. As bumbling as Susan has always been, it’s hard to watch such a likable character go through so many harrowing ordeals in such a short span of time. Please give her a break!
Lastly, it’s been hell to watch Lee (Kevin Rahm) and Bob (Tuc Watkins) be so ostracized by their neighbors. It isn’t clear if their deal to sell the house to Paul went through, as Lee was still shown on the Lane this week, but I sure hope it doesn’t. Wisteria’s resident gays provide more than just comic relief. Their marital problems were hard enough without everyone else hating them, too. I personally adore both men, and love almost every moment of screen time they’ve gotten. Like Susan, I want to see skies get a little bluer for the couple, and the hostility to ease.
All said, it has been one of the best seasons in memory, and that’s saying something, because the show has rarely had a mediocre one, with one possible exception while creator Marc Cherry was gone. If the second half of this season can live up to the first, the series has nothing to worry about. After seven years, there’s still no clear end in sight for one of TV’s best dramas. Desperate Housewives airs Sunday nights at 9pm on ABC.
If you’ve missed any episodes this year, right now Amazon is charging a mere 99 cents an episode for the HD versions! It’s a steal, as they usually go for $2.99. I highly recommend you check it out.