On ''Desperate Housewives,'' Susan doesn't tell Mike she's found Zach, and Lynette fakes an imaginary nanny's death; meanwhile, George and Andrew manipulate Bree
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”Desperate Housewives”: Their cheating hearts

Much as I appreciate the helpful summations that Mary Alice provides at the end of every episode of Desperate Housewives, the overarching themes that she finds sometimes make me wonder if she and I have been watching the same show. (Do they get TV in Dead Narrator Purgatory?) This week, Mary Alice somehow found in every subplot an example of good fathering.

(Speaking of unreliable narrators, your usual Desperate Housewives TV Watch commentator, Michael Slezak, is on vacation, but he’ll be back in two weeks.)

According to Mary Alice’s closing comments, dead Rex Van De Camp was a good father because his family misses him. (I miss Club MTV. Does that mean it was a good show?) Mike Delfino, who fathered Zach out of wedlock, is good because he’s trying to find him now. (Let’s see how that works out when he actually confronts the reality of having a child.) Carlos is good because he already loves his unborn baby. (Ditto.) And Tom is good because he makes Lynette feel like a good mother (when he briefly takes a break from passive-aggressively guilt-tripping her about working full time). We can assume that Betty Applewhite was missing in action this week because the producers couldn’t figure out a way for her mysterious prisoner to demonstrate good parenting skills while wearing handcuffs.

The real overarching theme this week was basically the same as every week: how people are willing to deceive others for love, or at least a little affection. And each deceptive character provided a choice moment or two.

First, it was good to see Susan take some decisive steps to win Mike’s undivided attention, first by revising the rules of their ”casual” relationship (”no conditions — except neither of us is allowed to date anybody else”), then by withholding the information that she had found Zach (which would also help keep the creepy teen away from daughter Julie). Her guilt over the latter choice led to a rare meeting of the wives (props to the writers for realistically leaving working-mom Lynette out); I had almost forgotten that they live in the same neighborhood. Susan’s unpredictable deceptiveness allowed us to enjoy the fully predictable moment when those sundaes wound up all over her white tank top.

Gabrielle’s willingness to hire the slimy lawyer played by Adrian Pasdar (who hasn’t lost a bit of sleaziness since the cancellation of his cult fave Profit) just to get a conjugal visit almost made us believe in the sexual attraction that’s supposedly keeping her and husband Carlos together. Watching her previous lawyer take a beating during the brief prison riot was satisfying, even if did seem unlikely that guards distribute broom handles to inmates before recess.

Bree got double-team deceived in the quasi-Oedipal battle between son Andrew and suitor George. Just when we were wondering where Andrew’s evil side had gone, he tormented George with dinner-table chat about the noise his mother makes when sexually satisfied, a squirm-inducing moment that led to a hilarious payoff when she made the same sound after taking a bite of cobbler. George’s sneak counterattack, which sent Andrew back to troubled-teen camp, left me eager to see the next escalation in the war.

Finally, Lynette’s desperate attempt to win back the affection of son Parker from his imaginary nanny, Mrs. Mulberry, led to two classic scenes. Anyone who has ever tried to provide a special moment for a child could tell you that Parker would melt down before the mommy-and-me trip to the doughnut shop. And Felicity Huffman let you share Lynette’s barely repressed joy when Mrs. Mulberry’s umbrella got run over by the truck. Tom’s unhelpful suggestion to call imaginary-nanny 911 only proved that, despite what Mary Alice may say, on Desperate Housewives, every day is Mother’s Day.

What do you think? Which was the best and worst subplot? Which character is most likely to come back first: Zach, Andrew, or Mrs. Applewhite?

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