Deaths, injuries, and reconciliations follow in the wake of the Lane's plane crash, along with lots of wondering about what might have been
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Credit: Ron Tom/ABC

Despite the somewhat gimmicky nature of last night’s plane-crash-resolving, flash-forward episode of Desperate Housewives, this was one hour of television that was more than worth the nearly month-long wait through the holidays. The alternately dreamy and scary and, at least in once case, tear-jerking (you did it to me again, Lynette!) ”what if” structure of the episode more than made up for the bloated, messy plane-crash hour that was dropped before us like a lump of coal right before Christmas.

To begin, however, let’s talk about the actual damage that the plane crash caused — because that’s how the episode itself took off. ”The truth is,” intoned Mary Alice is her usual saccharine tone, ”No one knows who survived that tragic plane crash. Or more importantly, who didn’t.” Right away, at least, there were no causalities. We found out that Orson and Karl, the pair who’d been fighting over Bree in Santa’s workshop when the disaster happened, were both in surgery. And lots of blood had been lost, so things weren’t looking particularly good for them. Bree was banged up but fine. Mona Clark, that crazy nurse lady who was blackmailing the Bolens right before she got hit by the plane, somehow made it to the hospital alive and was also under the knife. Celia Solis, who Lynette managed to get out of the way of the plane in just the nick of time, suffered only a concussion and would be fine. Everyone else, it seemed — at least at that moment — was well and accounted for.

It was after those initial updates that the episode descended into its gimmick of focusing on each of the housewives and a particular ”what if” scenario that dovetailed with the actual outcomes from the plane crash. First up was Susan, who wondered what would have happened if she’d stayed with Karl. And — shocker! — her dream made her realize that, despite everything, Karl would have continued to cheat on her. And, the best part (for us viewers at least!): She would have gained a whole bunch of weight after channeling her rage about the situation into cookie dough and other baked goods. Simply seeing Teri Hatcher in a fat suit — and oh my, that double chin of hers especially! — was worthy of a few knee slaps. In some weird way, Susan’s dream made me like her character a bit more — mostly because the producers sort of stuck it to the always-annoying klutz for 10 minutes. She’s fat now! That’s funny stuff.

NEXT: Farewell to KarlOf course, Susan’s dream sequence set the tone for the four to follow, in the sense that at the end, all the ladies would realize that their particular ”what if” was not a good situation. In Susan’s case, she saw Mike with another woman and realized that, if she’d stayed with Karl, she would never have been with Mike. (And, she didn’t vocalize this, but she wouldn’t have had cute-as-a-button M.J., either!) Finally, after Susan came back to reality, it was revealed that Karl had indeed died. Which, truly, is a sad thing. But I didn’t feel too awful about it. Karl’s always been a peripheral character at best, and this gives Bree the chance to delve into a better story line with Orson. That is, if she can reconcile with him.

The news about Karl, of course, led right into Bree’s dream. After finding out that Karl had died, Bree had to be sedated and in her slumber, she imagined what would have happened had Karl actually survived. And shocker: Karl continued cheating! And they divorced. Karl, naturally, had little remorse for the situation. And, again, I never cared about Karl much, but he was really put through the ringer in the first 20 minutes of this episode! The man’s dead. Give him a tad bit of respect!

But Bree’s divorce from Karl was only the set-up for the real, Orson-less future she would have faced. At the end of her dream, we saw Bree walking into Orson’s sparse abode, 10 years after their divorce and only days after his death of a heart attack. Turns out Bree was Orson’s emergency contact after all those years and that he’d never really moved on from her. According to the landlady, he’d talked about her all the time — and the landlady even hypothesized that he actually died of a broken heart. Orson, Bree discovered, kept a little shrine of photos to her and their family on a table. Needless to say, Bree awoke with what appeared to be a renewed passion for Orson — only to find out that his injuries from the plane crash might leave him paralyzed. And from that, I honestly couldn’t tell whether that news made her more or less in love about Orson. Is she going to go back to him and take care of him? Or be a rather heartless bitch and kick him to the curb in his hour of need? Remains to be seen.

Angie and Nick Bolen, meanwhile, were clinging to their hope that blackmailer Mona Clark would bite the dust. But, the doctors told them, she was holding on quite well. Which led Angie to dream up what would have happened to her if Mona survived and told the police what she knows. In short, Angie saw Nick being taken away and never speaking to him again. And then she saw herself being sentenced to life in prison without parole. Son Danny shouted as the court bailiff dragged her away to start her sentence.

NEXT: Gaby’s special little girlAs per usual, a few little tidbits about the Bolens’ situation were sprinkled throughout the sequence. Seems like Angie — whose real name is Angela DeLuca — worked for a man named Patrick Logan, and rather than running from the police, she was actually hiding from this mysterious man, who, it seems, was involved in the death of this man, Shawn, who Angie referenced in a speech to the court right before she was sentenced. ”No one was supposed to get hurt,” she told the court. ”We just believed in something and wanted to make other people believe in it, too. But someone did get hurt. A man died. I read every newspaper article about your husband, about Shawn. How he coached little league, that the whole neighborhood came to his funeral. I never lived in a world like that until we moved to Fairview, and then we felt like a part of a community, which made it so much clearer to me how horrible it is that I brought so much pain to yours.”

The funny thing is, though, that right after this impassioned, dreamed speech of Angie’s, she found out that Mona had died and, thus, wouldn’t be coming after her. Angie couldn’t have been happier. What?! So I’m not quite getting whether she really felt the things she said in her dream or what. Of course she doesn’t want to get caught, so that must be what motivated her to continue the ruse, but she clearly has a lot of guilt over what happened. What that is, we still don’t know. When I heard her say they ”believed in something,” I had the flash idea of a cult. Could be, I suppose. But, then again, it could be a lot of things.

When it came to Gaby, of course, her ”what if” dream was a little bit more frivolous — but, naturally, very hilarious. Before she’d dozed into her dream, Gaby had convinced herself that Celia was saved because she was special, that the little girl had some hidden talent. Gaby’s imagination ran wild and she saw Celia becoming an actress with herself as the overzealous stage mom. But an unintended side effect was that Carlos left her and Juanita never called. And, as we saw in the dream, Celia was never actually very good at acting. The funniest part of Gaby’s story line was the clear parallels that the producers and writers drew to Grey Gardens, the famous documentary about crazy shut-ins ”Little Edie” and ”Big Edie” Bouvier Beale, who also had Hollywood dreams. (Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore starred in an HBO movie version last year, too.) The scene of Gaby in a housecoat, amongst a falling-apart house strewn with trash, was simply priceless. And her white wig wasn’t half bad, either. In the end, Gaby, naturally, realized from her dream that her precious little four-year-old Celia didn’t need to do anything to be special besides just be herself.

NEXT: Lynette’s tearjerker of a scenarioLast up on the dream train was Lynette, whose screen time made me cry — no lie. Before Lynette went to dream land, we viewers found out that one of her twin babies still in utero was in danger because Lynette fell in the chaos after the crash. Turned out that one of the twins needed surgery to prevent possible physical or mental disabilities, which caused Lynette to think about what life would be like with a disabled son. The answer: very, very difficult. We saw her struggling with physical therapy for the 14-month-old version of her future son, Patrick. We saw her forcing his adolescent version to make his own sandwich, despite his protests that she do it for him because he was handicapped. Then, in a twist, we saw him graduate from law school and give a tingle-inducing speech at the ceremony about how Lynette had been the one who’d inspired him to overcome his disability. He was there on graduation day, he said, because of her.

And that’s where it was just too much! In the best way, of course. I thought, here, this might be the one ”what if” dream that actually came true. But come to find out, as you might expect, there were more tears: During surgery, little baby Patrick actually died. So despite everything Lynette dreamed, she’d never get to raise her son Patrick, whether or not he actually would have been born with disabilities. The saddest part about the whole situation, too, was that Lynette basically lost Patrick to save Celia. Awwww! Which caused Gaby and Lynette to totally reconcile, albeit it under terrible circumstances. But, as we all know, sometimes the worst of times bring out the best in people. It certainly did here.

Overall, I sort of loved the episode. I found myself riveted by everything that was happening on screen for once! Why? Mostly because it was a totally different type of episode for Desperate Housewives — one that didn’t just focus on the trite day-to-day happenings on Wisteria Lane. The hour winked at everything currently happening, obviously, but pushed things forward, had a little fun, and got serious where needed. Bravo to the producers of this episode.

But what did you think, Desperate watchers? Did you like the episode? A little too A Christmas Carol for you? Did you revel in seeing Teri Hatcher in a fat suit, too? Did you also notice the notes of Grey Gardens in Gaby’s story line? What do you think is gonna happen with Bree and Orson now that Karl is out of the picture?

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