Keith's parents split over turkey dinner, Susan criticizes Lynette's parenting, and Mrs. Tillman becomes a mother scorned

By Christian Blauvelt
November 15, 2010 at 12:28 PM EST
Danny Feld/ABC
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Welcome back, Wisteria-philes! Last week I said that the season officially started the moment Felicia Tillman grinned back at the ever stupefied Beth, and it was confirmed at last that she is the mother of Mrs. Paul Young. Well, maybe it was a false start. Tonight, Felicia, crazy as a caged cat, discovered that her daughter had developed feelings for her new husband and was none too pleased about it. Funny that this was a Thanksgiving episode because none of our Housewives seemed particularly thankful. Actually, most of them seemed downright miserable. Is it just me, or have the holiday episodes on Desperate Housewives been depressing of late?

Let’s start off with the most joyous storyline first and work our way down. And, yes that means the one with Keith’s parents breaking up over the Thanksgiving dinner. (How fitting that this week’s Stephen Sondheim-inspired episode title, “Sorry Grateful” comes from his musical Company, which is all about upper middle class types drinking and venting about their failed or failing relationships.) Well, Keith’s mom Mary (Nancy Travis), stopped by to visit Bree and apologize for her drunken antics at last week’s dinner, when she all but announced to the entire restaurant that her son’s girlfriend is now menopausal. She suggested that she was sad she wouldn’t be spending Thanksgiving with her son this year, since he’d be with Bree, and since it had been some time since she, her husband, and Keith had shared the holiday together. You see, Mary’s spouse Richard served in the military and spent most of his time far, far away from his wife. A sucker for the idea of the perfect Thanksgiving family reunion, Bree invited Keith’s parents to her feast. To seal the deal, Mary said she’d be on her best behavior, prompting Bree to reply, “I know you will, because, as Keith told you, I have guns.”

Of course, Bree had to find just the right moment to inform her beau of their extra dinner companions. While practically still in the throes of passion in bed with Keith, Bree added as a post-coital aside, “Oh, that reminds me, I invited your parents to Thanksgiving dinner.” Keith wondered what about his technique could have “reminded” her, but Bree revealed that she does some of her most profound thinking during the heat of the act (“I thought of a new recipe for chestnut stuffing with pancetta!”).

Throughout the episode, we saw Keith secretively pull out an engagement ring. But when his parents began arguing at Thanksgiving dinner—“Oh, yeah? What’s one thing I like to do?” Mary sneered at Richard. “Bitch?” her husband shot back—and even called their marriage quits, he had second thoughts about proposing. But what about those sheepish glances John Schneider’s Richard kept sending Bree’s way? Could he provide some age-appropriate competition to his son for Mrs. Hodge’s affections?

Oh, poor Mrs. McCluskey and Roy, uninvited guests though they may have been. (No, I’ll never refer to Mrs. McCluskey by her first name.) Like the first Native Americans to Bree’s pilgrim’s table, they arrived in the spirit of the day, but found themselves in for not just a dinner but a show. Roy’s attempts at deflecting the conversation away from marital strife (“I knew a stripper in Baltimore named Cinnamon.”) were laughably awful. Actually, he should probably try to use Bree’s cornucopia as an ear horn.

NEXT: Susan gets a little bit Hand That Rocks the Cradle.

Actually, Renee’s Thanksgiving feast was scarcely more enjoyable. When a perky Susan showed up, grumpy Renee fired back “Okay, you live in an apartment. Take it down a notch!” And she put the kids’ table outside on the driveway. And only after the cops made her move it off the street. Susan, of course, scurried out as quickly as she could to look after perpetual crying-machine Paige. Susan had strongly disagreed with Lynette when it came to Paige’s sleep training. She believed you should coddle a newborn, while Lynette felt that if you leave a baby alone, she will learn to self-comfort. So Mrs. Delfino intercepted MJ’s football, then kicked it back down the street to Lynette’s house, so that she could pacify Paige. Not that Preston and Porter noticed, completely absorbed by their football game as they were. (They. Love. Football on TV. Shots of Gina Lee. Ignoring Mom’s friends. And they’re twins!)

Lynette followed Susan back to the house and reiterated her approach to parenting. “I think it’s a crappy system for lazy moms,” Susan countered, which was way harsh, even on the Tai Scale of Harshness. She told Lynette she was just fed up with hearing the people in her life cry, especially because she hears MJ cry himself to sleep every night because his Dad’s up in Alaska. Lynette immediately relented. But, come on, I’m sorry for Susan and all, but would you want a woman this emotionally unstable looking after your kids? I feel for Lynette. She didn’t deserve Susan’s implication that she’s a “lazy mom.” If anything, I think it’s a shame that we’re in the seventh season of this show and Lynette’s defining characteristic is still that she’s an overworked mom…just like she was in September 2004.

And now her husband is being flirted with by a man-hungry Renee. Could you believe she greeted Tom wearing just a bath towel? Renee’s tactics are diabolically clever, even if they’re just another version of the Homewreckers’ 101 Plan of Primetime Soaps: first, greet him in a bath-towel and make him think you’re sexier than his wife; second, remind him of the crush he once had on her; third, elicit his sympathy by saying something like “People used to say I’m a beautiful woman, now they say I’m a beautiful woman for my age.” Look out, Lynette!

Okay, so now we get into the really heavy plotlines. You know, the ones with possible legal ramifications. Gaby invited Carmen and Hector Sanchez, Grace’s parents, over for a Thanksgiving dinner, Mexican style. Of course, her assistance in creating the feast was invaluable, or as Carlos put it, “She did her hair for two hours and told me where the can opener was.” Then Gaby offered her guests margaritas, because she loves her culture. Next…well, there really wasn’t a “next.” Gaby forgot to pick up the pies for dessert. So Hector volunteered to drive her to the store so she could placate Carlos—“If we come back empty-handed, Carlos is going to go all Ricky Ricardo on my ass.” Traffic was murder, though, so Gaby insisted Hector drive up onto the shoulder. Yeah, if ever you do that in life, you’ll be pulled over by John Law within 30 seconds—and that’s exactly what happened.

NEXT: Mary Alice’s voiceover suggests Beth might pay the price for turning on Felicia.

But Gaby didn’t realize that Hector’s an illegal immigrant. For him, getting pulled over meant getting deported. Carmen freaked out, planned on moving out of her house immediately, Grace in tow, and hoped to stay with some relatives in Texas. But Gaby and Carlos arranged for a lawyer to investigate Hector’s case and offered for Carmen and Grace to come and stay with them.

It quickly became clear, though, that Gaby just wanted them to stay at Casa Solis so Grace could be around. This whole “swapped at birth” storyline has depressed me all season, or more specifically, the idea that Gaby connects more with a girl who merely shares 50% of her genetic structure over the child she’s raised for almost 10 years. It proves definitively what a shallow bee-yotch Gaby really is. She likes Grace, above all, because she’s prettier than Juanita, and thus a reminder of her own beauty. With Gaby, everything comes back to herself.

Last week I started with the Paul and Beth Young storyline. This week I finish with it. Before Felicia could proceed to the next part of her diabolical plan to ruin Paul, it stopped dead in its tracks. When Beth told her husband a story about how her mother didn’t allow her to invite a boy over for Thanksgiving when she was a little girl because “boys are only after one thing,” even Paul, coming from as dysfunctional a family background as anyone on this show, thought that was extreme. Beth came to realize that her mother might be missing a few marbles along with her fingers. Add to it Felicia calling her “defiled” for having slept with Paul and her own growing feelings for her husband, and Beth turned coat, all but telling her mom that she couldn’t go through with it. Felicia started screaming at the top of her lungs, and, needless to say, visiting time was over. Mary Alice suggested that Felicia may have a plan to deal with her daughter too, so if I were Beth, I would watch my back.

Well, that’s just about all folks. What did you think of “Sorry Grateful”? Do you think Gaby is secretly thankful that Hector was deported so she can keep his (and her) American citizen daughter by her side? Is Bo Duke going to make a play for Bree? And what kind of plot is Felicia going to unleash now? Sound off below.

EVER WISH EW.COM HAD A RADIO STATION? Quit living in the past, man or lady! In this week’s TV Insiders podcast, Annie Barrett, Dalton Ross, and Michael Slezak grade the first week of Conan, pick the funniest Modern Family character, and discuss the trouble with the Survivor: Nicaragua cast and Bristol Palin’s improbable run on Dancing With the Stars. Click here to download the TV Insiders podcast to your MP3 player, or listen to an embedded version 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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