''Desperate Housewives'': Gabrielle says goodbye
First, the good news. Susan's excruciatingly annoying mother, Sophie Bremmer, is headed on a four-month around-the-world honeymoon cruise. Translated into TV time, that could mean that master scenery masticator Lesley Ann Warren won't be going anywhere near Wisteria Lane till, say, somewhere around May sweeps.
Even better, Lynette and Gabrielle's plotlines continue to glide along the riveting-ridiculous track that can make Desperate Housewives, in its finest moments, such a wicked thrill ride. Sure, there's something a little (or maybe even a lot) perverse about having Lynette employ an office underling to attempt a dry-run kidnapping of her hellion twins, and when you sit down and think about it, the whole idea doesn't really make sense. I mean, what's Lynette's goal, really? To teach Tom (Doug Savant) the obvious: that young children can't be left unsupervised in a cul-de-sac that in the last year alone has provided the stage for a deadly hit-and-run accident, a murder, arson, and multiple cases of breaking-and-entering and assault? Or, rather, is it…oh, heh, hold on for just a second. The image of a sadistic Mrs. McCluskey overpowering hapless Stu with a Taser just popped into my head again. Tell me I'm not the only one who, once the howls of laughter subsided, had to hit the rewind button to catch Tom's casually tossed-off final line: ''Clearly, our sons are idiots.'' (Matt Fielding, you've come a long way!)
Indeed, as much as Felicity Huffman deserves the praise she gets for making Lynette the most likable control freak on TV, it certainly doesn't hurt that she gets backup from pros like fellow Emmy-winner Kathryn Joosten (Mrs. McCluskey) and the underappreciated Savant.
Speaking of praiseworthy, can we talk about Eva Longoria? No, I'm not specifically referring to the stylist responsible for the cascading fan of raven tresses Gaby rocked during the scene with the red balloon (although even the ex-con dude couldn't help noticing 'em). Rather, props go out to Longoria herself for managing to wring both pathos and belly laughs from a line as tricky as ''How can you name something the size of a walnut?'' Delivering dialogue that, on first glance, makes Gaby sound as if she were cracking jokes about her recently lost fetus, Longoria offered just the briefest flash of the pain beneath her character's comic mask.
And while I know there are a lot of folks who would've preferred to see Gabrielle's fellow housewives and not some ponytailed dude from ''the inside'' help draw out her true feelings about the miscarriage, in a way, the far-fetched scenario made sense. Proud as Gabrielle is, perhaps spilling her heartache to three happy and experienced mothers wasn't the kind of therapy she was seeking so soon after her loss.
I wouldn't argue, however, with anyone who pointed out that, held under a microscope, Gaby's story line strained credibility in other ways. After just having been surprised by an intruder in her home and suffering a miscarriage as a result, wouldn't she be more vigilant in checking out ex-con dude's back story, especially before climbing into his rusty car? And, speaking of said vehicle, what was with the Ted Bundy-esque lack of the passenger-side locks and door handle?
The only thing creepier this week was the continued courtship of Bree and George, a story arc that's quickly running out of gas. Come on now. I know the Widow Van De Kamp is reeling from her husband's death, but there's no way that the woman who so famously hovered over Rex's hospital bed last season and threatened to eviscerate him is going to get pushed around by some milquetoast pharmacist. I don't care how many therapists he murders or how many cars he sets on fire: Bree will always be the more terrifying presence, as anyone who caught sight of her garden-visor-and-pigtails getup this week can attest.
I'm just hoping that George's rapidly deteriorating mental state means this whole silly story arc is about to reach its unsavory peak. And if Cross is, well, cross, about a recent decline in acid-dipped zingers this week found her down to only one, when she told George's bitter ex, ''I'd say, given your overall demeanor, and your freewheeling use of epithets, I'm willing to bet that he was provoked!'' she can comfort herself by comparing scripts with poor Alfre Woodard, whose Betty Applewhite has so little to say that I tend to forget she's on the show in the first place. That's a shame, really, considering what a first-rate actress Woodard is. I mean, look at the menacingly maternal ''shhhh'' she gave to deranged Caleb as he was driven away in that squad car in tonight's closing scene.
That wordless moment had far more emotional impact than all of Susan's scenes with Sophie tonight. (To be honest, the revelation that Susan's dad is alive and well and managing the local feed store was like a shot of emotional novocaine for me.)
Which gives me an idea for the Housewives writers. Maybe they can find some way for Caleb to send Sophie on a permanent vacation. Heck, I'd settle for Paul Young doing the honors. Or even convicted killer Mike, who doesn't seem to have any outlet for his rage other than performing household chores and shooting brooding looks at Susan. It's okay to admit you like the idea. After all, in the Housewives universe, it's often the bad that's good.
What did you think of this week's episode? Are the Applewhites going to waste? Are there any characters who need to be wasted? What happened to this week's opening credits? And more important, where in the world is Edie?