Lynette stashes a stiff, Paul Young confronts Zach, and Gaby dishes on her romantic escapades with Mick Jagger

By Christian Blauvelt
February 14, 2011 at 09:23 AM EST
Ron Tom/ABC
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Desperate Housewives may be well past its prime, and yet Marc Cherry and his crack team of suburban snarkologists still find ways of channeling glimmers of Wisteria Lane’s former glory. Look no further than last night’s episode, “Flashback,” which featured one of the most hilarious tributes to Weekend at Bernie’s this side of The Office. I mean, this show has given us a lot of great images over the years: Gaby cutting her lawn wearing Versace; Paul Young killing Mrs. Huber with a blender; Felicia Tillman leaving two severed fingers at a faux crime scene; John Slattery’s Victor getting impaled on a picket fence. And right up there is the macabre sight of Lynette keeping the corpse of Larry Hagman’s Frank in her house overnight, so that her mother could inherit his fortune. Actually, “Flashback” was a solid episode.

Your usual chronicler of all things Wisteria, Tanner Stransky, was off partying with Lady Gaga at the Grammys last night, so I, Christian Blauvelt, am covering the Housewives beat this week. Let’s back up to the beginning. Lynette’s cantankerous ma, Stella (played with ornery glee by Polly Bergen), finally married Larry Hagman’s rude, unapologetically racist Frank for his money. I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold digger, but she ain’t messin’ wit no broke geezers. (Stella may be an octogenarian, but Kanye’s lyrics still apply.) Frank wanted to take a family photo with Stella, Lynette, Tom and the kids that he could then send, gloating, to his former families. Of course, not content with the Scavo living room as it was, he demanded that Porter and Preston rearrange the furniture for the shoot shouting, “Cagney and Lacey, grab the end of this couch.” A TV icon referencing other TV icons!

Of course, the moment the camera shutter opened, Grandpa Frank dropped dead. (Maybe Australia’s aborigines are right for thinking a camera can take your soul.) It shouldn’t surprise, I guess. Considering that Hagman’s J.R. Ewing is the most famous gunshot victim in the history of TV (and set to appear in TNT’s Dallas reboot!), issues of mortality are always present whenever he shows up on screen, but I would have loved it if he could have stuck around for just a few more episodes. A little Major Nelson makes everything better. How adorably kid-appropriate was Penny’s response to her would-be Grandpa’s demise? “Is his ghost going to be trapped in our house? Is he going to haunt us?” she asked.

Stella wasn’t concerned about that. She had other worries—namely, that Frank’s new will, declaring her his sole inheritor, wouldn’t go into effect until tomorrow. There was only one solution, creepy—and possibly illegal—though it may have been. Yes, they had to keep Frank’s body in Casa Scavo overnight and only in the morning report his death. Lynette hesitated at first, but the idea that her mother would not only be financially set for the rest of her life but be able to provide for Parker, Penny, and Paige’s college tuitions settled it. In the morning, the paramedics declared his time of death to be 3:00am, so the Scavo family was in the money.

Unfortunately, now that Stella had a few pennies to rub together, she felt she could exert a little bit more pull on her daughter. When she invited Lynette over for dinner on Sunday, Lynette said she couldn’t make it. “I’ll see you on Sunday,” Stella said. She suggested to Lynette that she should consider whether crossing her is a good idea now that she has money. “Are you blackmailing me?” Lynette asked. “No, I’m inviting you to dinner,” Stella replied. The greatest Desperate Housewives lines always mix malice with politeness, and that one was no exception.

NEXT: Bree and Susan try — and fail — to get out of their unbelievably lame circumstances. Plus, a Requiem for Zach.In the previous episode, Bree found out that Keith had a secret son named Charlie but told Charlie’s mom, Amber, that Keith had no interest in being with him. Of course, she hadn’t told Keith about his son at all. It was a move that very likely could have been the seed of destruction for their nascent relationship. But tonight, Bree met Amber at a pizza place to give her some money. When Amber stepped out for a moment, Keith showed up and instantly bonded with Charlie, shooting hoops with him at an arcade basketball game. One of those serendipitous encounters that could only happen on TV. Obviously, he didn’t know this was his son, but Bree was touched by their instant connection and decided to spill all. Of all the plot threads  in tonight’s episode, this riveted me the least. I mean, where can this go? How many more manufactured crises can this relationship endure before it finally flames out? I’m sorry, Keith is no Orson, and Bree’s too interesting of a character to constantly be shoehorned into storylines about her failed relationships with inadequate men.

Speaking of disappointing storylines, how about that of dialysis-patient Susan? Again, where could this possibly go? Inevitably she’ll get a kidney transplant. End of story. Last night’s situation was rather interesting, though. She got reacquainted with an old friend from high school, Monroe, kind of a stalker-ish, more sexually obsessive Needlenose Ned Ryerson, who apparently had tried to friend her on Facebook, like, a dozen times. Susan’s response was, “Sorry, I must not have gotten them.” Smooth. When he learned she needed a kidney, he immediately offered to donate one. They got to be friendly, and she got a glimpse of his fixation on her in the form of a glittery scrapbook full of Susan-related memorabilia. Still, Renee (remember her?) was shocked that Susan had actually given him so little attention: “Here’s the part I can’t get over. You never even put out for this guy?” Susan finally came to realize that Monroe only wanted to give her his kidney because, as Lee so delicately put it, “that’s not the only organ he wants to share with you.” So she told him that they would never be more than friends, and he backed off but withdrew the offer of his kidney as well. So Susan’s back to her blood-scrubbing square one.

Meanwhile, Mike was busy checking in on Zach, who Paul believed must have been the one to shoot him. If we think back to the way we first met Zach Young way back in the fall of 2004, it’s hard to believe he’s come to this dark, drug-addled place, isn’t it? Quite a journey he’s been on, though, from geeky outsider, to rebellious playboy, to strung-out junkie. Apparently, he squandered all his grandfather’s money to the point he couldn’t even keep up the mortgage on his family’s estate, so he moved in to a small apartment in a tough neighborhood. Quite a comedown from when we  saw him as the idiot bon vivant who tried to seduce Gaby. But what poetic justice that he’d shoot his “father,” Paul, with the same gun Mary Alice used to kill herself! Clearly, Paul wanted—nay, needed—to confront Zach about this, so he pressed Mike to take him to the boy he had once called son. Mike first said he didn’t know where he was, but, as with everybody in Fairview, he was lying. He checked in on Zach, who brandished a knife at him, thinking he was breaking in. Mike could clearly tell that Zach was using, as he’d once been an addict himself. But that didn’t stop him from bringing Paul to see him. Is there any way Zach and Paul could patch things up? Should they? I mean, this man was a child snatcher…but he was also the only father Zach ever knew.

NEXT: Gaby finally becomes a human being again.Finally, Gaby’s thread turned out to be the most unexpectedly poignant of the night. She’s started to see a shrink to deal with her many issues regarding her loss of Grace and her growing Edgar Bergen Syndrome. By which I mean the unhealthy attachment she developed for Princess Valerie, the Daughter of Chucky doll that briefly took over her life. Above all, Gaby did not want to talk to the psychiatrist about her childhood. Instead she regaled her with stories about Mick Jagger’s psychic powers—that he had predicted they would have sex below deck on Yves Saint Laurent’s yacht. She was resolute in admitting that she didn’t have depth: “I’m just skin, a little blood, and stories about Keith Richards drinking champagne out of my shoes.” Damn. Mick and Keith. Carlos found out that she wasn’t making her appointments and was instead taking day-trips to the spa, where he ambushed her lying face-down on a massage table.

It’s not that Gaby just wanted a day of beauty instead of having her head shrunk. She really didn’t want to have to tell the psychiatrist about how she was molested as a child. She claimed that’s resulted in her being over-protective of children…although you would never know that from the way she’s parented Juanita and Celia. Still, “Flashback” went a long way toward us finally being able to see Gaby as a human being again, after months of her identifying with Grace (and the doll) over the daughter she’s raised, Juanita.

All in all, not a bad episode. What did you think? Is Lynette’s mother going to keep blackmailing her? How many episodes before Susan finds another donor? Is Keith going to resent Bree for hiding his son from him? Will Gaby finally be able to heal? And will Zach be able to kick his habit and patch things up with Paul? Should he even want to?

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Eva Longoria Parker, Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, and Felicity Huffman star in the soap set on the dangerous Wisteria Lane
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