Annie Barrett
November 27, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

”Desperate Housewives”: Holiday chill

It’s a good thing Desperate Housewives beat us all to the punch and pulled out the Christmas decorations last night, because there won’t be another new episode until 2007.

Not to worry. Mistletoe, check! Bad Santa, check! Deep-dish pizza, check! Elf in a wheelchair who dies because the neighborhood thought her brother was a pedophile, check! All the staples of the holidays were accounted for, nestled amongst the dusty religious figures in Edie’s hilariously labeled box of ”Winter Crap.” I loved how awesomely, absurdly lavish that block party was. The only thing missing was Zach Young standing off to the side with a guilty expression, because he’d sneaked in and set up the whole thing without Bree’s permission.

Instead, last night’s drama peaked when Art, Wisteria Lane’s creepy swim-coach neighbor, confronted Lynette with what was almost definitely a real confession of his child-molesting predilection. Of course, it’s possible Art just wanted to torture Lynette in return for indirectly offing his sister and forcing him to leave, but that’d be a very unwise move on his part. I won’t go so far as to say, ”I love where they went with this pedophile story line” (whoops, too late), but I thought what happened was a reasonable and unexpected wrap-up to a tough subplot. Matt Roth’s delivery was slow and chilling, and his departure will give Lynette some serious emotional baggage to deal with this winter.

But no one actually enjoys listening to thinly veiled threats against ”that beautiful family” of Lynette’s, so I’ll offer some different pleasure points of the night. We got a glimpse of Orson as a possibly not-so-bad guy when he confided in Bree about his marriage with Alma and his issues with his mother. I loved the combination of Orson’s snippets of dialogue and shots of Susan rifling through Orson’s ”Spare Room” box (conveniently stored right where she was forced to hide in his office). I’d also like to personally thank whoever decided that said box should not topple onto Susan’s head, in typical Susan’s-physical-comedy-disasters form.

Orson said that he married a pregnant Alma at his mother’s urgings but never loved his wife. He didn’t tell Bree about his affair with Monique (the first woman he truly loved) because he knew Rex had cheated on Bree and Orson wanted Bree to feel safe with him. Meanwhile, Susan uncovered Orson’s eighth-grade report card from a private boys’ school (he’d earned all As and Bs) and documentation of his institutionalization at age 17, for ”psychological depression.” She found that file right as Orson told Bree, ”You don’t know how manipulative [his mother, Gloria] can be,” so I’m guessing Gloria had Orson committed against his will and has been obsessed with controlling him ever since.

Plus, big news: Alma’s alive, and looks to be plotting against Orson with Gloria. She only had one line, but it was basically ”shut up and get in the car,” so I’m interested in just why and how this little Southern-drawling spitfire gets to push Dixie Carter around.

The rest of the ladies worked through different levels of boy trouble. Edie certainly suffered the least, dumping Mike as soon as he landed himself in jail (as the suspected murderer of Monique) with a million-dollar bail. As Mike’s ever-loyal friend/lover/companion/whatevs, Susan had to jump in to help. This might have actually been kind of cute, but it was so hopeless and chock full o’ Ian that it ended up just seeming tragic. No way can poor Susan avoid Mike forever, even if that means Ian will hire him a good lawyer. She doesn’t seem to have much of a choice at this point — just as she didn’t have a choice in the matter of dinner with Ian’s visiting parents. Since when does ”I wondered if you might be free to join us for dinner” mean ”Cook for us!” Ew! Gloria wasn’t the only manipulative weasel up in this joint last night.

Same goes for Gaby, to an extent — the way she turned those little girls against each other was evil, but we’re used to stunts like this from her in order to get what she wants. (Men to devour.) The girls will probably make up within a few days, and that single dad was almost as yummy as the dinner he was cooking (combined with the fact that he was cooking), so I definitely want their little flirtation to progress. Speaking of which, I should start a…

Desperate Housewives Holiday Wish List

Spicy Edie-Carlos interaction

A homemade potpourri of creative ways to hide Baby Marcia Cross

The grand revisiting of Pizzeria Oh-no

More evidence of (1) Julie’s existence, (2) Gaby having feelings, (3) Orson being a dentist, (4) Mike actually being out of his coma

What would you add to the list? Were you satisfied with the way Art’s story line ended? And did Alma and Gloria kill Monique? Could it be that easy?

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