Desperate Housewives s8 ep 23

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.”

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Desperate Housewives s8 ep 22

Bree’s trial is still the biggest game in town, and it’s looking bad for her as certain inconvenient truths start to emerge: after all, she did help to bury the body. Trip’s still needing to find a new defence strategy every day, and none of it’s working: fortunately Karen McClusky’s ready to take the rap, and no-one really wants to jail her. It was, perhaps, the least plausible trial I’ve ever seen in a TV drama, but I’m prepared to cut them all a little bit of slack as I didn’t want any of the Housewives to end up in jail. Might we now, finally, have Papi closure?

Susan and Gaby don’t have much to do this week, so the real payoff for those of us who have been watching from the start of the first season comes towards the end, when Lynette and Tom finally reconcile. The scene’s already been set by a conversation between Tom and Roy, during which the older man admonishes the younger that you have to say shit while you still can. (I paraphrase.) So Tom goes off to find Lynette, and it’s all rather lovely – yes, it might be a little over-the-top, but at this stage in the show’s life I think they’re allowed to be, and at least one viewer might have had a bit of a lump in his throat.

Great stuff: and with one episode to go, ever, the two biggest story arcs of the season have, essentially, been resolved, leaving the Housewives just enough time to do a lap of honour, perhaps with a special guest Mary Alice.

Desperate Housewives s8 ep 21

A better episode. Not surprisingly Bree’s trial is top of the bill this week. She’s falling for Sam Beckett, and there’s some tiresome business with a women who she thinks is Sam’s ho, but we get that out of the way quickly enough for an innovative trial in which the defence witnesses (Lynette, Gaby, Susan) are called first. Faced with the very real prospect that Bree might go to jail for murder, Susan and Lynette can’t sleep; Gaby, meantime, seems relatively untroubled. There’s a clunky bit of storytelling towards the end when Gaby is giving Juanita a row for allowing her sister to take the rap for something she was responsible for… duh. But Gaby gets Bree a nice scarf, so all’s well.

Meantime Lynette’s now seeing where her dumbass use of Gregg, Tom’s boss, has been leading, decides that enough’s enough, and asks Gregg to back off from sending Tom to Mumbai. Gregg discovers he’s been played – “Unbelievable”, he bellows at Lynette. Actually all too believable for us seasoned Lynette-watchers. There’s a clunky end to this one as well: just as Tom’s about to seal the reunion deal with Lynette, he looks in her window, sees her being undressed by a man, and leaves. But it’s Lee, Tom! Psych! With only that “comic” misunderstanding in the way, Jane out of the picture, and two episodes to go, I’d say the Scavos are good for the finale. And Susan’s going to move away from the Lane, to help Julie bring up her baby. Wouldn’t being a single mom be better than having Susan hanging round?

Two episodes to go, and everything but the Papi storyline seems to be just about sorted out: Renee’s going to get married; the Scavos are going to reconcile; Mrs McClusky’s going to die; and Susan’s going to leave, although I’d have preferred that to happen a few seasons ago. Still can’t imagine Bree will be convicted, but I don’t want Gaby or Carlos to end the series in jail either.

 

Desperate Housewives s8 ep 20

With only three episodes to go after this one, I would have expected a little more urgency; it felt to me as if most of what happened did little to advance the plot. Susan and MJ do something so tedious that I can’t be bothered to recall it, the point of which was that the men of Wisteria Lane will rally round to fill the Mike gap. Given that most of them have criminal convictions, Susan might be well advised to get a quick disclosure check done. Bree is falling for Sam Beckett off of Quantum Leap. And Gaby and Carlos have a proxy fight using a rich old woman who might give them money.

The only plot which felt as if it might be going somewhere was Lynette’s, even if it was going in the wrong direction. After a brief flirtation with appropriate behaviour, Lynette’s back to being mean-spirited, because she sees Tom kissing his girlfriend. Really, Tom. How dare you. So Lynette takes up with Tom’s boss, who’s evidently unhinged from the get-go, as he’s prepared to manipulate Tom’s schedule in whatever way will make Lynette happy. This culminates in a threat to move Tom to Mumbai, where at least he could get on with seeing any new partner without psycho-Lynette getting in the way, although he probably won’t see it that way. Improvement needed, stat.

Desperate Housewives s8 ep 19

Everyone gets a decent share of screen time this week – everyone apart from Renee, that is, which is something of a waste. I suppose, though, as the show reaches its end the writers will want to focus on the original Housewives.

Two of their arcs are clearly meant to see us through to the finale: Lynette is now determined to win Tom back, and (as speculated on here a couple of episodes ago) Jane has now very firmly been repositioned as the evil home-wrecker. In fact, it was of course Lynette who destroyed the Scavo marriage, but I suspect that detail won’t be troubling us much over the next few weeks. And Bree has been arrested for the Papi killing, leaving everyone else with a dilemma – do they tell the truth, or let Bree face the charge alone? Scott Bakula, as her defence attorney, has turned up to do his thing, which is always welcome.

Gaby’s making a success of her personal shopper gig by being all Gaby with the male customers. This is, of course, entertaining, but Carlos’s reaction less so – he’s bitter because she’s making the money. Rather like with Lynette, though, this is a situation of his own making, so it’s difficult to see what right he has to make a fuss.

As for Susan – she discovers that Mike had a secret, locked box. To start with it’s agreed that Lee will open it and tell her what the contents are if she needs to know. She concedes that she won’t be too bothered if Mike had a bit of porn stashed away; frankly, I would have thought that if you were married to Susan you’d need a shipping container stuffed with porn, as a bare minimum, to get through the week. It turns out, though, that Mike was even more heroic than marriage to Susan made him appear: he had a sister with autism for whom he was providing partial financial support. Susan storylines rarely stop on the right side of mawkish, though, and after a little conversation about the irresponsibility of women who don’t bring up their children, the sluts, Julie decides to keep her baby. Very little filler this week in a pretty good episode.

Desperate Housewives s8 ep 18

The cracks are just starting to appear in Tom’s new relationship: last week Lynette decided it was time to try and win her husband back, and while her attempt – lots of nostalgia and candles – goes horribly wrong when Tom sets fire to himself, he later turns down the offer of coitus from Jane. Which is as clear as indication as you could find that it’s essentially over. Ben kind of proposes to Renee, who at the moment, unfortunately, is really little more than a high-maintenance babe of a certain age, and we’ve already got one of them in Housewives: Gaby is still coming to terms with Carlos’s decision to leave his job, but a frantic bout of stress-release shopping leads her to what might be her dream job.

It’s a busy week for Bree: as well as inadvertently confessing her part in the death of Papi to the po-po, Andrew turns up (for, I think,the first time this season) with his fiancée in tow. Understandably surprised that the very gay Andrew should be getting married to a woman, Bree is even more disconcerted to discover that the future Mrs Gay Son is a wealthy heiress. And a bit weird. Although this storyline kind of ends up where I thought it would, it takes an unexpected twist or two to get there.

As for Susan (who, it turns out, the rest of the cast dislike as much as I do) I really, really wanted to hate her this week for being such a deplorably bad parent to MJ, and such a graceless, thuggish presence at his school. But, yeah, they’re angry and coming to terms with their loss, and had it been anyone but Susan and MJ I would have been moved. Which meant that she didn’t pull the episode down, and I liked it.

Desperate Housewives s8 ep 17

Funeral week. I don’t like feeling sorry for Susan, so it’s something of a relief that the inevitable flashbacks (to incidents we’ve never seen before) were as much about the other Housewives as her: as Susan misses Mike, so the others reflect on their own relationships.

Thus Gaby realises just how good a husband Carlos has been, and decides to let him change job if that would make him happy. Lynette finally decides that Tom might be worth fighting for – we’re definitely seeing a repositioning of Jane as an evil marriage-wrecker, so I think we’ll be fine for a Scavo reconciliation by the series end. And Bree remembers being told by her mother about “The Mask” – that being the expressionless face you wear when you don’t want people to know what you’re thinking. Of course, nowadays we call it “Botox”, eh Bree? And it comes in handy when she’s interviewed, yet again, about Papi.

As for Susan – it comes as no surprise to discover that she’s as capable of being annoying on her wedding night as at any other time. Still, she almost moved me by the end. Not quite, though. Could have been better; could have been worse.