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''Desperate Housewives'': Solving Mike's mystery

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Teri Hatcher
Desperate Housewives: Bob D'Amico

”Desperate Housewives”: Solving Mike’s mystery

”Yes,” Mary Alice coos, ”life can be hard on reviewers. When they find fault with a TV show, readers tend to forget that what’s usually being criticized is the show’s writers, not its characters. The characters, like the show itself, are fictional; they are not our real-life friends. The show’s writers are the real people here — and when they don’t do their job, it must be noted.”

There. Now that Mary Alice has gotten that off her chest, let’s look at a few writerly inconsistencies in tonight’s episode that would have been easy to fix. But let me hasten to say that tonight’s was a good episode apart from these bits and pieces. It was smoothly plotted; you didn’t have the feeling the writers were trying to choke you with wrap-ups. And it stood on its own; it didn’t feel like a mere conveyance to sweep us toward the season finale. Plus, Sophie’s gone and Susan found out what we always knew — Mike’s not an evil murderer.

First, why did Gabrielle tell John the baby might be his? Isn’t she too self-centered to seek out such a complication? Gabby knows the nature of John’s pure, idealistic love. His sudden fit of chivalry — ”I’ve got to tell Mr. Solis about this!” — shouldn’t surprise her. She does earn back a point back for telling John, ”Nobody wants you to do the right thing”; a second point for keeping hot sauce on hand so that she can conveniently dash it into John’s eyes; and a bajillion points for telling Carlos that she plans to get fat during this pregnancy. Moreover, her remark about not wanting her child to grow up poor is probably meant to indicate a slight thawing of her maternal instincts. (At some point I hope there’s a DH prequel episode that reveals the housewives’ childhoods.)

”Try one of these clams!” Bree murmurs to George, offering him a bite from her fork in a restaurant. Hot dogs last week, clams this week — I’m fanning myself! I tell you, there is no way Bree doesn’t realize at some level that she’s committing adultery. Why else would she be so upset when Edie spots her and George? (”You’ve got the wrong idea. That man is my pharmacist!”) Kudos to Edie for saying, ”Sex aside, it sounds like you’re pretty intimate with this guy.” Another moment of grace from an unsympathetic character! This would be a great time for Bree to realize how long it’s been since she’s had a meaningful conversation with any of her female friends — who might supply some of the deep emotional talk she yearns for, or at least offer her a cup of coffee — but apparently that’s out of the question. Each main character seems to have forgotten that the others exist.

With Sophie out of Susan’s life and Mike gloriously back in it, we can finally relax. But I missed something: When did Susan get to know Kendra so well? How can she be so sure that Kendra will be able to set her straight about Mike’s past? How does she know where Kendra lives? On top of that, why does Kendra feel such a compulsion to tell Susan the truth? Not that I’m not grateful that the Deirdre mystery is being cleared up, but still.

And then poor Lynette. Whether Tom is cheating on Lynette or not, everything she’s doing to get him back is wrong. That self-pitying conversation with him, that frantic attempt to seduce him while she’s covered with baby vomit, the equally doomed attempt to seduce him in a French maid’s outfit — how can a woman as intelligent and worldly as Lynette not realize that naked neediness is one of the least effective relationship tactics? Here, again, it would be nice if she turned to any of the other housewives for support, but I’m not holding my breath. Still, if they’re not going to put the four main women into any more scenes together, maybe they should write an explanation into the script.

Then there’s the Mystery of the Kidnapped Children. I’ve gotten used to the fact that Lynette’s kids never put in an appearance unless they’re needed underfoot, but where have Bree’s children gone? We should at least see Andrew occasionally. The revelation of his diabolical plans — which I’m guessing will come in the season’s last episode — will have a lot less impact if we’ve forgotten what he looks like.

And speaking of kidnapping: Felicia Tilman certainly rises to the occasion in this episode. As I’ve said before, one of the charms of this show comes when a character suddenly emerges from caricature into reality, and Mrs. Tilman does that this time. Her steely protectiveness of Zach — and that knife she’s hiding — turn her from a poor man’s Mrs. Huber into a major player. I’m so impressed by her that I’ll ask only one teeny, tiny question: Why does she care about Zach so much?

Also, how did she find those tranquilizers so fast?

What do you think? Is it a relief to finally get some answers to the mysteries, or do you have new questions? Are the housewives acting out of character? Weigh in! And if you can help explain the inconsistencies and plot holes, please do.

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