In a temptation-filled episode of ''Desperate Housewives,'' Susan and Karl nearly ruin Edie's engagement party, Gaby steals a baby, and Bree substitutes love for booze
Nicollette Sheridan
Credit: Nicolette Sheridan: Andrew Eccles/ABC

”Desperate Housewives”: Giving in to temptation

After fixating on the horrifying TiVoed evidence that Bree wore the same argyle sweater only four days apart during her scenes with sponsor Peter before Desperate Housewives‘ opening titles, I almost missed this week’s thematic agenda, as introduced by Mary Alice. The word of the day: temptation, brought to you by the letters SAA.

Almost everyone succumbed to temptation: Bree couldn’t help pursuing a romance with Sex Addicts Anonymous member Peter; Gaby couldn’t help stealing a baby; Edie, finally given enough airtime, couldn’t help stealing the show; and Felicia Tillman couldn’t help ruining the mood of a perfectly typical engagement party by calling out the cold-blooded killer in the corner.

With all of that succumbing to temptation, though, came some welcome manipulative plot twists. I might just be paranoid, but I really think Stripper and her ”boyfriend,” Frank, are only pretending to be dimwitted and have been scheming this whole time. Some of their lines — like Stripper’s ”Oh, come on, Frank, you know you’d be a lousy father” — seemed too rehearsed, as did Stripper’s casual mention of Frank’s basement pot farm, not to mention Frank’s threat in the hospital to torch himself with coffee liqueur and a lighter.

Even Frank’s first line to Gaby and Carlos in the strip club — ”What’s that, a present for our baby?” — seemed fake. Yes, Frank, your baby asked for a digital camera. All the other fetuses had one and she was jealous. But you already knew that…didn’t you? Gaby and Carlos played the much more convincing couple, and got the baby in the end to prove it. Got, stole, whatever. Carlos’ facial reactions tonight were priceless, as was the couple’s banter about the ”sticker price on a child.” (It’s $12,000, give or take a kidney.) Also convincing: Gaby holding a child! Yay, temporary motherhood.

Susan and Karl also toyed with temptation, as they’re wont to do every so often these days. I could have lived without Susan’s waving her hand in front of a fire and then touching her lips during the sappy final montage, but that’s just me. I’m kind of insensitive. For example, I enjoyed seeing Karl hurl Susan over his bed. I had to rewind it a few times (or twenty) to get the full effect, because I am that serious as a critic. My well-researched verdict: It was awesome. I also loved that cane Susan never really used except as a prop for gesturing. Dr. House could learn a lesson here: Canes are hilarious!

Bree struggled with her inner demons while trying unsuccessfully to stifle her feelings for Peter. I’m not sure which of Bree’s reactions to alternative lifestyles was better — asking Peter, ”And that’s a real thing?” after he told her he was a sex addict, or saying, ”Oh! Well, good for you!” after her new sponsor, Donna, assured her she wasn’t gay.

Regardless, Bree managed to manipulate her way back into Peter’s life by ordering a barkeep to get her ”stinking drunk” and then passing out until Peter arrived to save her. The music, Supertramp’s ”Give a Little Bit,” was fitting here: When Peter lifted her up and out of the bar, we heard the line ”Take his hand, you’ll be surprised.” As in, surprised to find yourself waking up in a room with a festering ficus. Aww. I love that song.

Even though Edie had the most jokes this week and smashed a vase for extra credit, Lynette emerged as Wisteria Lane’s MVP for Impressive Conduct. She manipulated Andrew into showing just how unaffected he was by all of Bree’s alleged abuse, and just how hungry he was for his own set of hot wheels. (That was a Nissan Xterra, in case you missed the giant logos and Lynette’s expert MVP assurance that it has ”all the bells and whistles.” Go out and buy this car.)

Lynette also prompted the tearjerker of the evening. Bree’s face after Lynette stood up for her during the deposition was even more heartbreaking to me than her repeat sweater. And Lynette delivered the night’s best zinger, saying, ”Welcome to parenthood,” after Gaby complained that the premature birth of Stripper’s baby was ”a total inconvenience.” Score one for F-Huff. It’s amazing what one character can do when she’s not bogged down by her needy little family for an entire episode.

Speaking of families, practically the only people who didn’t submit to temptation this week were the Applewhites. Bravo to them! Weren’t they great?

What do you think? What medical prop should Susan play with next? Should Bree continue to pursue Peter, even if it means a less varied wardrobe? And who will ultimately win the Stripper-Solis baby battle?

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