In the flashback-filled season finale of ''Desperate Housewives,'' we see how the four wacky neighbors moved in, and say goodbye to some less lovable characters

By Annie Barrett
May 22, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Alfre Woodard: RON TOM/ABC

”Desperate Housewives”: Arrivals and departures

Whew! Two hours, three deaths (none of whom will be missed…well, maybe Ralph), a Kyle MacLachlan plot twist, and an impressive triple axel by Mike before he hit the ground, unconscious. Not too shabby!

With all of its flashbacks, ”Huh?” moments, and old-cast-member cameos, last night’s season finale of Desperate Housewives reminded me of a reunion special for a reality show. (Edie was like the fan favorite who was too cool to show up.) I loved seeing Mary Alice again — those scenes of her meeting her four friends for the first time were my favorites by far, even though they somewhat distracted me from whatever was going on in real-time. More of those, please, for next season. (They should consider making that young version of Andrew a recurring character — the resemblance in appearance and behavior was uncanny, and the kid even mastered the ugly but effective Andrew Sneer!)

The episode finally wrapped up some story lines in dire need of some closure. Thanks to a convenient police marksman who gunned down Matthew before he could do the same to Bree, the Applewhites are history. I’ll miss watching the underused Alfre Woodard’s facial expressions, but I won’t miss pretending to care what the hell was ever going on with them. Note to self: Just say no to hanging out in Chicago lumberyards after dark, no matter how cool it seems at the time.

Noah (Zach’s bedridden grandfather, who was quite articulate for someone with a tube in his neck), also got written off. By accusing Zach of having ”no balls,” he basically dared the boy to kill him, so Zach did. Pretty fair trade-off: having a grandfather vs. having balls. Besides, Noah so asked for it with all the talk about an ”iron fist” and ”the key to the empire.” I’d have wanted him to shut up, too.

By the way, I enjoyed the prominent focus on the on-off switch on that life-support machine. It added a Lost-ish ”push the button” quality to the scene — a subtle hint for us to watch that finale too, perhaps?

A few of the other plot developments were a bit disappointing. Carlos and Xiao Mei’s fling seemed excessive, considering that the Solises’ home life was complicated enough. The promise of a second roast beef sandwich, or perhaps the realization that his wife resembled Minnie Mouse in her golf outfit and pigtails, probably pushed Carlos over the edge. Thumbs-down to no hymen! The twist does make Gaby’s maid/oven/doormat a more worthy adversary, which is always welcome.

Tom’s big Atlantic City mystery — he has a child from a one-night stand, pre-Lynette — seemed a little too predictable and easy, which is to say I’m not so sure we should buy it. The woman in the house on Tom’s mini-vacay wore a minuscule dress, poured wine, and led the man upstairs…why? To look at the 11-year-old in her crib? Something’s fishy there, and we also can’t be sure this was the same woman as Nora. (If Nora looked familiar, it’s because the actress who played her was on Saved by the Bell: The College Years as Alex, the melodramatic theater major who loved puffy shirts and A.C. Slater. Tom Scavo is a big step up.)

Speaking of big steps, after about a year of arguing with each other and not dating, Mike and Susan decided they needed to get married. Obviously. We’ll let that one slide because we were so invested in the idea of Susan living in an RV. She really went to town on that thing — washing it on the street, transforming it into a well-lit bed and breakfast, and generally treating it like the giant joke that it was. (Trailers were quite the rage this TV season — just ask Addison from Grey’s Anatomy and Julie Cooper from The O.C., both of whom faced their forced residence in a mobile home with a sense of irony similar to Susan’s. Stars: They’re just like each other!)

I can’t decide which moment was my favorite: Bree hurling the sand-and-rake game at her ”quack doctor,” or the chilling close-up of Orson the dentist right after he deliberately rammed his car into Mike. Bree might win that round, thanks to timing and her scene’s subtle allusion to a certain Melrose Place episode involving a shrink and a pencil, but I’m loving the ambiguous direction they’re taking with Orson (who I really need to stop calling ”Trey” in my notes). His scenes with the mysterious woman at the hospital window, as well as his apparent romantic (though it doesn’t have to be) interest in Bree, ensured that we’ll be seeing much more of him next fall. He’s already psychotic and creepy, two of Bree’s most valued qualities in new friends.

I know I’ll be back watching next season, but what do you think? Will Carlos and Gaby make up? Why are dentists so scary? And what do you want to see happen in season 3?