Desperate Housewives recap: Suicide Isn't Painless
In the aftermath of Beth's suicide, Paul Young grieves, Renee parties, and Susan finally gets her kidney.
“We never know the moment our lives will change forever.”
That was Mary Alice’s fortune-cookie insight last night during “Everything’s Different, Nothing’s Changed.” A fittingly-titled episode considering that Paul Young just suffered through having a second wife kill herself. Seriously, he’s the Scottie Ferguson of primetime soaps. Like Jimmy Stewart’s haunted private dick in Vertigo, he’s lost the woman he loved twice. Or rather…women. And he didn’t even realize he loved Beth! Such is the poetic irony of Marc Cherry.
Actually, though it’s easy to pick apart Desperate Housewives these days, that beginning still bore the scent of freshly cut Wisteria: Susan receiving the joyous news that she had a kidney donor, while Paul learned about Beth taking her own life. That’s the kind of borderline sadistic juxtaposition that defined DH before the paint started to peel off the ol’ picket fence, so to speak.
The women of Fairview were shocked—shocked!—by the latest suicide in their midst. Truth be told, though, none of the housewives had really reached out to The Second Mrs. Young in any meaningful way, so I’m not certain why they should be surprised she had no one to turn to. Anyway, people react to tragedy in very different ways. Bree was full of regret that she wasn’t there for her: “She seemed off, but she always seemed a little off, so I left.” Susan understood Paul’s grief and his reason for not wanting to sign over Beth’s kidney. And Renee? Well Renee was upset that any perfunctory mourning for Beth would interfere with plans for her “Spring Fling” party.
Paul was adamant that he would not give Susan his wife’s kidney, even though Beth had arranged for the donation before her death. As he put it, Susan had never given anything to Beth during her life—no invitations to poker night!—so why should Beth give anything to Susan after her death? Okay, Susan did rent Paul and Beth her, um, house to stay in for the duration of their marriage when there weren’t any other properties available on Wisteria Lane, so a little gratitude would be nice. But Susan did see it from Paul’s point of view, even if Mike wanted to sue. After all, why would she want Beth’s kidney when she felt that Beth killed herself just so she could give it to her. I mean, it’s wasting a perfectly fine kidney, but it’s how you get the organ that counts.
NEXT: Renee’s not going to let a little thing like suicide ruin her Spring Fling.
Paul visited Felicia in the prison chapel. The eight-fingered wonder seemed genuinely grief-stricken about her daughter. So much so that she gave in and told Paul that Beth really did love him, and that’s why she rejected her. Of course, it may have really been another turn of the screw, since she added that he rejected Beth because he thought she didn’t love him, when in fact she did. Paul realized that he had done to Beth the very thing of which he had accused Susan. And so, finally, he agreed to let Susan have her kidney. Susan lives! Teri Hatcher’s future on TV is secure! Whew. The most suspenseful arc on TV comes to a close. Right.
Beth’s death did have one other, slightly more unexpected, side effect. It resulted in Felicia getting parole. There she stared into the camera, grinning like an orange jump-suited Cheshire Cat, knowing that her daughter did die for a reason.
So Susan and Felicia both benefited from Beth’s death. To paraphrase Barbara Bush, this worked out rather well for them.
The only other storyline to directly confront Beth’s suicide was, unexpectedly, Renee’s. If ever a Desperate Housewife acts in a particularly callous, unfeeling way, you know, you just know, that it’s to mask a long pent-up inner reservoir of pain. Such was the case with Renee, who was determined to continue her plans for her Spring Fling party, despite her neighbors’ post-suicide apathy. She made the distinction that Beth wasn’t really dead, just braindead. “Besides she seems like a clinger. Bet she’ll be around for months.” Fearing that she’d finally met someone with a heart a few degrees colder than her own, Gaby joined in on the party-planning with gusto. Still, she did insist on toasting Beth with champagne. Of course, Renee instantly amended that to “Instead of champagne, let’s do mojitos. And instead of Beth, let’s toast us.” Renee is altering the party plans. Pray she doesn’t alter them further.
Needless to say, Gaby couldn’t inspire much conviviality in her neighbors. When Mrs. McCluskey pointed out that a neighbor was on life support, her only reply was, “Exactly. She’s not dead. It’s like you’re making my argument for me!” McCluskey snarked that she would RSVP her Hurricane Katrina pool party, though.
So the party began, with Renee wearing a one-shouldered gown better suited to the Real Housewives franchise. Of course, the only people who were in attendance were sundry workmen and handy-people. So why was she so determined to still pull this off? Because her own mother had committed suicide when she was a kid, and this was her way of saying she “chooses life over death.” You know, callous as that may seem, there’s quite a bit of emotional truth to that.
NEXT: Like mother, like son. Andrew has a drinking problem. And Tom has a self-confidence problem.
Meanwhile, Mrs. McCluskey found a drunken Andrew on her couch, spawning the two best lines of the night. Her initial phone call to Bree: “Little hint. It reeks of mai tais, and you gave birth to it.” And, “If I wanted a drunk homo on my couch, I would have married my college boyfriend.” Seriously, who died and left McCluskey to be the best character on this show. Oh, right. No one.
Bree was aghast. Her son’s not only responsible for vehicular manslaughter, but now breaking and entering! Feeling guilty about giving him his genetic predisposition to alcoholism, she tricked him to an AA meeting by acting like they were going to be catering an event. “Lying to your son? Which step is that?” Not that he got much out of it. Andrew adopted the name Elvis—“Another reason to hate my mother!”—and rattled off a laundry list of grievances against his mom. Well, not everybody’s willing to change.
But then Alex moved out, and, suddenly, Andrew was alone. Bree told him that she wouldn’t abandon him and leave him to face this alone like she did Beth. Or at least not abandon him again, like she did way back in season 2 when she drove him to the edge of town and left him after he slept with her boyfriend. Rather, she decided that together they’d have their own AA meeting right in his living room. I’m not certain if having your own one-on-one meeting is part of the 12-step plan, but there you go.
You may have noticed a progression in this recap. Each storyline I describe sounds sillier and sillier. Well, I’ve saved the best for last. A friend and golfing buddy of Carlos, Glenn, offered Tom the position of CFO at his company. He’d get a huge salary, use of the company jet, the works. Only problem was that Tom didn’t want to abandon his friend Carlos right before the start of their busy season. Lynette thought, rightly, that Tom was crazy. I mean, Carlos didn’t get to run a company because he placed friendship before his career opportunities, right? So she put on a sexy stewardess act to attract him to the Bacchanalian lifestyle had by most CFOs. (That “You’re already in the upright and locked position” line was beyond creepy.)
Tom decided he’d ask Carlos if he could match Glenn’s proposal. Times are tight, so the best Carlos could offer was a car allowance, the title of Chief Marketing Officer, and a share of the profits at the end of their yearly statement. What a deal! Except that Lynette knew that Carlos pockets all the profits for himself and “Chief Marketing Officer” is a bogus, made-up title.
Tom still wouldn’t take the new job. So, to convince him that Carlos could be more generous, she took a $76,000 Lotus out for a test drive and parked it at Casa Solis. (This is the best product placement Lotus has received since The Spy Who Loved Me.) It worked at first, but she quickly had to spill the beans to Tom about her trick—after he’d already called and accepted Glenn’s offer. But taking that Lotus for a spin was all the convincing Tom ever needed. He felt the raw power of British engineering, and knew that this too could be his, if only he’d take the job. Bye bye, Carlos.
What did you Wisteria-philes think of “Everything’s Different, Nothing’s Changed”? Standard, post-trauma aftermath episode? Do you agree with me that Beth should have only been referred to as The Second Mrs. Young a la Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca? Is Felicia Tillman going to fill the crazy void in Fairview? And can mile-high jokes be far off now that Tom has access to the company jet? Like Melissa Leo, consider.