A well-constructed episode, and probably as good a finale as we could reasonably have hoped for, with – as anticipated – a birth, a marriage, and a death, on top of everything else. Taking them in reverse order: Mrs McCluskey’s death was touching and dignified, and given an extra poignancy by the knowledge that Kathryn Joosten died herself before this episode was broadcast in the UK (and not that long after American broadcast). Renee’s wedding was played as farce, and although it wasn’t brilliant it probably made the best use of Vanessa Williams in weeks; if there’s anything particularly to regret about this final season, it’s that Williams’s talents weren’t properly engaged. And Julie gave birth, although Susan did her best to distract her by trying to hook her up with her ob/gyn. From anyone else – on this or any other show – that would merit a “ew” at the very least, but Susan has set the bar spectacularly high over the past eight years, so I did little more than roll my eyes.
I had hoped, of course, for a lingering and painful death for Susan as a final-season treat, but it wasn’t to be; in fact, she got the key job of driving past the series’s ghosts on her way out of the Lane. The other Wives all got, more or less, the happy endings I would have wanted for them. Lynette’s reconciliation with Tom is threatened by the return of Katherine Mayfair (the ever-welcome Dana Delany), who offers her a lucrative job in New York. For a moment I thought the show was going to cop out by implying that the best possible outcome for Lynette would be for her to accept that she could be happy and fulfilled as a homemaker – I’m sure there are some for whom that is true, but it would have struck me as entirely contrary to Lynette’s eight-season arc. Fortunately, the writers knew better, and off the two of them go. Bree ends up involved in politics and married to Trip.
As for Gaby and Carlos – the writers have a lot of fun at the start of the episode with their role-reversal – I loved Carlos’s new gardener. But I wouldn’t have wanted it to end that way, and we see the two of them contentedly bickering their way into a Californian future. This also provided a final reminder that the real surprise of the show has, perhaps, been Eva Longoria’s development from season 1 eye-candy into a performer with razor-sharp comic timing and no little acting ability.
Mary Alice herself had a lot to do – she appeared in the opening scenes, and provided what I took to be the show’s mission statement near the end – that “even the most desperate life is oh, so wonderful”. However, the series itself ended with a new neighbour buying Susan’s house and moving into Wisteria Lane, bringing with her a dreadful secret – for the first time, though, we aren’t going to find out what that secret is. It was a smart and self-referential way to close the Lane down, and in an episode which had more than enough callbacks to earlier episodes to keep loyal viewers happy, it was perhaps the only way to finish.
And, with that, one of Unpopcult’s two most-written-about shows comes to an end, following closely behind our other most-written-about show, House. In its first season Housewives hinted at being something modestly radical – a suburban drama with David Lynchian undertones – but then settled for being a superior soap. Its last two seasons were the best for years, and I’m glad that it therefore gets to end on something of a creative high, leaving me regretful at its passing rather than glad to see it go. Voice-over: “Yes. We saw them every week, for half a year, and we got to find out what went on in their surprisingly opulent houses. We’ll miss them.”