Bree and Renee wage ugly war for Keith's affections, while Gaby and Lynette each grapple with daughter issues

By Tanner Stransky
October 18, 2010 at 06:07 AM EDT
Craig Sjodin/ABC
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If Bree Van de Kamp were to give a victory speech thanking those who helped her prevail over cougar-y new neighbor Renee Perry in the fight for the affection of Wisteria Lane’s current hottie, ab-licious contractor Keith, part of it might go a little something like this: “Of course, I wouldn’t be here without the help of the little people. No, really—an actual little person helped me to this glorious winner’s circle today.” Yes, folks, it happened: Last night, the always-ridiculous storylines of Desperate Housewives crossed over into the territory of midget exploitation.

Alright, so no actual little people were oppressed in the making of last night’s episode (as far as we know!), but Bree did employ one such height-challenged person—a friend she’d met at church, of all places—to help make Renee look crazy during a date with Keith. Although we didn’t exactly get the full story, apparently Renee is terrified of little people because of a childhood incident at the circus. So when Bree’s pint-sized helper showed up unannounced at Renee and Keith’s dinner, Wisteria Lane’s newest housewife went nuts, clawing to get away from the man and acting a complete fool in front of Keith in the process.

Natch, the whole thing was just payback for Renee’s earlier sabotage, which saw her fly in Bree’s daughter—and grandson, who kept repeatedly calling Bree “grandma”—in an attempt to make our fiery-haired friend look ancient right before her own date with the youthful Keith. In the end, though, the advantage resoundingly went to The Lady Van de Kamp.

In fact, Renee conceded the war over Keith based solely on Bree’s genius stunt. You might say that, um, the little man played a big role. “Based on my dinner under the rainbow last night,” Renee said, making a reference to the fearsome munchkins of The Wizard of Oz, “I’d rather have you as a friend than an enemy.” Smart move, lady. Despite the brilliance of Bree and Renee being at odds, this white flag is a good thing: Seeing the pair work their cunning magic together might be ever better than seeing them constantly at each other’s throats.

Still, we all know that Vanessa Williams is best when her characters possess a little nasty edge. So my question at this juncture is: Which housewife is Renee going to terrorize starting next week? Because you just know her sassy self will be up in someone else’s grill before long. She’s already messed with Lynette and Bree, so Gaby, Susan, Karen and Beth, you’re on notice.

Elsewhere on Wisteria Lane, Gaby and Carlos dealt with the continued fallout from the baby switch eight years ago that gave their biological daughter to another family. Early in the episode, the storyline painted Gaby as heartbroken about the whole situation, as she looked forlorn while en route to meeting her biological daughter’s parents.

NEXT: Does Felicity Huffman deserve to get back in Emmy’s good graces?

But it wasn’t long before Gaby had taken things to her usual shallow—and always hilarious—level. “There’s this one thing that she did that was incredibly moving,” Gaby told her poker pals after meeting her biological daughter, Grace. “She came up to me, and within two seconds of touching my bag, she knew it was expensive.” (Shockingly, only Renee–who outrageously declared she thought Gaby’s name was actually Juanita–was moved by this heartfelt display of consumerism/motherhood.) Wow. I must say, it’s amazing how Eva Longoria is able to simultaneously imbue Gaby with the stripes of a complex, deep character and streaks of the most shallow person ever. It’s truly a gift.

Of course, there’s likely a huge debacle brewing for Gaby. She’s quickly become obsessed with Grace, after realizing how much they have in common. Plus, Gaby connects to her small doppelganger because she wants to give the little girl everything she never had as a child. The storyline is moving and interesting—and unexpected—but what good could possibly come out of knowing the biological daughter that you can never really have? Seems beyond a recipe for disaster. Which isn’t to say it won’t make for good television.

Also in the good television category? Lynette’s storyline, which found the ever-frazzled mother pawning her two-month-old daughter Paige off on her 11-year-old daughter Penny so that she could take a shower, go for a jog, and play poker with her gal pals. “Babies having babies—bad,” Lynette comically explained to Bree. “Babies raising babies—good!”

It wasn’t long before the situation took a turn toward Mommie Dearest, though, as a too-too earnest Penny eventually toted Paige all the way to elementary school, which got Lynette into major trouble (aka a trip to the principal’s office)! She quickly realized her mistake (but not before a little bitchy repartee with the World’s Greatest Mom). “Your job is to watch television and eat way too much candy,” Lynette eventually explained to Penny, “and my job is to make sure that’s all your job is.” Awww, melt my heart. As usual, Lynette wins for having the most touching, pulling-on-mother’s-heartstrings storyline. Maybe it’s time to go ahead and consider her for an Emmy this season? The Academy could never go wrong with throwing some kudos in Felicity Huffman’s direction, especially since they’ve seemingly forgotten her existence the last couple of years.

NEXT: Susan — not in a negligee, but still pretty much humiliated.

Across town, in the decidedly un-tony apartments that the Delfinos live in, Susan’s trainwreck of a storyline — working as on-camera “talent” for a naughty website focused on sexy housecleaners — continued its offensive trek through Desperate Housewives. But at least this week, there was a bit of a reprieve: We didn’t have to see Teri Hatcher slink around her pad  wearing nothing but a teddy and toting a feather duster. (Lainie Kazan, too, didn’t do anything physically offensive, either, like the time she cleaned a glass dinner table with her breasts—although she did manage to ickily hit on Mike by saying that if she were 15 years younger, she’d ride him “like a hobo rides a box car.”) Susan’s storyline instead focused on how she was going to get out of the mess known as Va-Va-Va-Broom.com after she saw that she’d become the face of the website through a fast-mounting campaign of billboards.

Susan succeeded in getting the billboards taken down, but only after agreeing to do interactions of a racier—and, lucky for her continued deceit, more private nature—for her website madam/landlord Maxine. So I guess we can’t raise our glasses to the end of the Va-Va-Va-Broom story arc, since Susan’s annoying foray into adult entertainment apparently has no end date in sight—and actually, it may just be getting worse! The crux of the Susan mess, though, seems to be coming into view, as the episode concluded with a mysterious figure discovering Susan’s (rather carelessly) discarded billboard in a dumspter and walking away with it. Could that possibly have been Paul who found it? Or a random stalker? Either way, creepy alert!

Lastly, Paul and Beth’s storyline continued to unfold at a sloth-like pace, with the couple fighting over secrets (his) and unwillingness to have sex (hers); Beth finding out that Paul had purchased back his old house; and Paul making a weird inquiry into buying Mrs. McCluskey’s residence, too. (Does he want to own all of Wisteria Lane so he can exact his revenge by bulldozing it and replacing it with a mega-mall?) In an unexpected emotional development, I found myself feeling sympathy for Paul during the scene where he was reminiscing sadly in his the house he once shared with Mary Alice. Sure, the whole thing was creepy as usual, but for once, we were reminded of some of the pain that this guy is carrying around. Despite what he did, Paul’s old—and happy?—life is gone forever. That can’t be easy.

Desperate viewers, what’d you think of last night’s episode? Did you like Bree’s cunning move with the little person, or did that bit go too far? Just how do you think Gaby’s situation is going to blow up in her face? And what do you think Paul has up his sleeve?

THINK OF YOUR TELEVISION AS A VITAL MEMBER OF THE FAMILY? Then don’t miss this week’s TV Insiders podcast! Michael Ausiello, Michael Slezak, Annie Barrett, Dalton Ross, and Jeff Jensen weigh in on the returning series that are hitting creative peaks this season, and dish the latest happenings on Mad Men, Survivor, and Dancing With the Stars. Click here to download the podcast to your MP3 player, or listen to a YouTube embed below!

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