On ''Desperate Housewives,'' the husbands are unemployed, jailed, and hospitalized. Meanwhile, new neighbors might shake things up even more
Marcia Cross
Credit: Desperate Housewives: Bob D'Amico

”Desperate Housewives”: The husbands’ bad week

Welcome to the neighborhood, Alfre! I can see from your expression that you have some doubts about what you’re getting into. You may already have realized that in relocating to Wisteria Lane, you were going to be living with murderers, spouse abusers, liars, blackmailers, and cheats. I mean, Edie was your realtor — that should have given you an idea. Maybe you’re moving in at midnight so you won’t have to meet any of your new neighbors.

But did you also realize that the mere fact of your setting foot on Wisteria Lane would be presented to the American public as the last straw in a series of unfortunate events? The episode’s closing sequence is an increasingly dire parade of losses. Tom packs up his office after learning that Lynette’s treachery cost him his promotion and, ultimately, his job. Carlos, behind bars at last, stares morosely at Gabrielle’s picture. Rex is wheeled off to the operating room after suffering a major heart attack during which Bree delayed taking him to the hospital while she made the bed. Tonight the Wisteria Lane-ites are losing jobs, freedom, perhaps even life. But that’s just a buildup to the real death blow: A black family is moving in!

Which is the only context the writers offer us. As a huge corporation, however, ABC presumably prefers to avoid the appearance of racism. Maybe all the writers mean to suggest is that this new family has a few mysterious secrets of its own — hence the midnight arrival and Ms. Woodard’s odd expression — and I’m being oversensitive. Let’s hope so. Because there’s more than enough to cope with in tonight’s episode without adding the issue of race.

Lynette, Lynette, I knew you were making trouble for yourself! Your insecurities have driven you to violate the primary rule for single-income couples: Do Not Cause Your Spouse to Lose His/Her Job. When you brought that cake to Tom’s office ”to welcome back Mr. Dugan,” I was certain you’d end up hurling it at Annabel, but cake-throwing turned out to be unnecessary. Your insecurities about Tom and Annabel have wrought more trouble for your family than their affair — if they were even having one — could possibly have done. Clearly there’s nothing left for you to do but to return to work while Tom plays Mr. Mom for a while. That’s why, although the writers allowed you to take the baby to your business lunch, they didn’t let her throw any cake either. She couldn’t be allowed to interfere while we heard what a stellar executive you used to be.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I expressed longing for a DH scene that would make me scream out loud? I didn’t know how quickly, and how lavishly, my prayer would be answered. But then, I also didn’t know what could happen to men like George when they play miniature golf with gals like Bree. Only Bree could make a line like ”George! Do you have an erection?” sound so righteously indignant. (I’m screaming out loud as I type this, too.) Of course George is way too creepy to have a body that functions normally, but let’s move on. Let’s move right into Bree’s house along with him as he combs through her underwear for photo ops, pausing only to sniff her stockings. His discovery of Rex’s box of S&M toys — and his subsequent lie to Bree that Rex has been bragging about his kinky sex life — is a cleverly seamless way to turn Bree against her husband once again. Bree’s fear of public humiliation is her driving emotion, and it’s hard to think of a more compelling reason for her to refuse to take Rex to the hospital.

And remember a couple of weeks ago when I was longing for another poker game? That prayer was answered too, though a little halfheartedly. Instead of settling down to play, Edie carries a bowl of grapes around and around the table while she persuades the other housewives to ”intervene” with Susan about Mike. Although Susan’s nose gets redder than usual as they speak, she blithely refuses to listen to her friends. But she almost immediately begins to re-suspect Mike when she finds Mrs. Huber’s diary in his truck — thus rendering the first collective-housewife scene in recent memory completely unnecessary. Never mind. At least they started to play poker.

Speaking of Mrs. Huber, it’s gratifying to see that her sister, Mrs. Tilman, will finally get the chance to learn what Zach is really like. Her devotion to Zach has always been a mystery. Let’s see how it stands up to his psychotic breaks! If he gets too wild, perhaps she can brain him with one of the flowerpot-size coffee cups she uses in this episode. (Note that Mrs. Tilman is the only one of the characters who snacks a lot, another sign of her greatness.) Some DH fans have suggested that she might be Zach’s real mother, which seems unlikely in view of her age — but she certainly matches him in bizarre behavior. The scene where she discusses the death penalty with Mike at her kitchen table is wonderfully odd. ”We had it in Utah. Not in this state, though. A shame, don’t you agree?” she asks, twinkling over the rim of one of those massive coffee cups.

Seeing Gabrielle walk out on Carlos is also most welcome, though it doesn’t last long enough. The minute Carlos is arrested (for violating house arrest and for beating up Justin), Gabby rushes to visit him in prison. But I’m too relieved that Carlos is finally behind bars to point out any inconsistencies this week.

In any case, most of the important points have been cleared up — or cleared out of the way in time for next week’s finale. By the way, Justin, welcome back! I was afraid we’d never see you again, but I shouldn’t have lost faith. And if you’re around, can the Little Shoe That Wouldn’t Drop — Andrew — be far behind?

What do you think? How much are the wives to blame for their husbands’ predicaments? How long can Carlos survive in prison? How long can Tom survive taking care of his kids? And how long can Rex survive? And how were we supposed to interpret the arrival of the new family to Wisteria Lane?

Desperate Housewives (TV Show)
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