Paul unveils his prison-centric plan to destroy the neighborhood, while Gaby gets in disguise to protect her biological daughter

By Tanner Stransky
December 06, 2010 at 06:00 AM EST
Ron Tom/ABC
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Is it possible that Desperate Housewives has turned into the Most Predictable Show on Television? After last night, that designation certainly isn’t a gross exaggeration. All of the storylines — save from maybe Gaby’s — packed no twist that you couldn’t see coming a mile away. Lynette and Tom got in a huge fight and sweetly made up; Paul planned to move ex-convicts onto Wisteria Lane; Keith wanted to propose to Bree, but his recently separated father got in the way and fell for her instead; and Renee revealed to Susan that she loves Tom and they had a weekend love affair years ago. What, exactly, is surprising about any of this?

Truly, none of it — most of it seems like what you’d expect. It’s sort of disheartening to watch a series where everything is so spoon-fed to you. Do the producers assume we viewers are all simpletons who couldn’t handle a bit more nuance to the show? A good twist here and there? Something we haven’t seen before? Well, I suppose there was one shocking thing about the aforementioned storylines — apparently, Tom Scavo is packing some heat, if you know what I mean! Or as Lynette put it: “I’m a very lucky woman.” Or, alternately, as Susan put it: “How come you never told us you were sleeping with Tommy Tripod?”

I have to admit that I didn’t see that one coming! I’ve always found Doug Savant super attractive (ever since he played Matt on Melrose Place!), and this only makes him more enticing. But, alas, the fight the big revelation produced between Tom and Lynette — he claimed she emasculates him, while she says she doesn’t deserve him — is one that feels sadly similar to so many of their boring domestic disputes over the past six seasons. At least Lynette’s rant — where she revealed the Good News about Tom to the neighborhood — was hilarious: “Tom’s packing!” she screamed. “We’re talking big — circus big! So big that he can drive in the carpool lane when he’s alone! If it falls in the forest, believe me: It makes a sound. The Washington Monument looks at it and says, ‘I want to be you when I grow up!’”

And why, exactly, did Lynette have the opportunity to address the whole neighborhood together? Because the Homeowners’ Association gathered to try to fend off their new mutual enemy, Paul, who announced plans to turn one of the many homes he recently purchased on Wisteria Lane into a halfway house for released convicts. Shocking? Not really, considering even I — the worst person at predicting storylines eversaw this coming several weeks ago.

NEXT: Paul continues his plan of neighborhood destruction; Cynthia Watros brings the funny; and Renee reveals what’s supposed to be a “secret.”

It’s predictable mostly because it’s the most obvious way that Paul could punish all the residents on Wisteria Lane. But Paul’s plan is sort of perfect, actually: He controls seven houses on the Lane; there are 15 houses total; each owner gets one vote in the Homeowners’ Association, which can vote to block the halfway house from the street. Right now, Paul doesn’t have enough votes to shut it down — he’s one away. So the push and pull of the situation is now that Paul has offers out to buy several of the houses. If someone sells, he or she escapes the pending fall in property value the halfway house would bring — but everyone else is screwed. “I don’t have to,” he said about devastating the neighborhood at the end of the episode. “You’re going to do it yourselves.”

My only question in the whole Paul storyline is: Where did he get seven houses? Whose were they? I remember him buying a couple and offering to buy a couple others…but seven? Huh? Where did they come from? How did no one (hello, Lee!) sniff him out doing this before when he bought House No. 4, House No. 5, and House No. 6? Wouldn’t something have been fishy before now? I know it’s TV, so it doesn’t really have to make sense, but I’m just sayin’.

The level of non-surprise in the storylines for Bree, Susan, and Renee was almost insulting. You know what was going to happen with Bree as soon as you saw her sit down with Keith’s father Richard (who’s rather age-appropriate for her) and comfort him. Was he going to fall for her? Duh. If this little line from Bree didn’t tip you off — “Take a look in the mirror, after you take a shower,” she complimented the dashing Richard during a comfort session — then, honestly, nothing would. Thank goodness the always brilliant Cynthia Watros was around to inject the storyline with a little bit of life, although I can’t help but feel like her playing the insane-o dinner guest/bad date for Richard was a waste of her rather vast talent.

And with Renee, I also predicted that she and Tom were involved in the past. I wrote in my recap of the season’s second episode: “Turns out that Tom and Renee — Lynette’s best friend from college played by Vanessa Williams, who was introduced last week — are hiding a past indiscretion from the ever-suspicious Lynette. With the way this is being played, it seems we’re supposed to believe Renee and Tom previously hooked up or somesuch, but my hunch tells me to never trust my first instinct when it comes to Desperate.” Well, I brushed it off as too easy. I guess I should revise that last statement in the past recap going forward: Always trust my first instinct when it comes to Desperate.

NEXT: Best soundbite of the night: “I haven’t celebrated my birthday since the third time I turned 28!”

At least Renee’s storyline provided one of the best sound bites of the evening: “I haven’t celebrated my birthday since the third time I turned 28!” Renee shot at Susan, when she asked why she wasn’t excited about her birthday. No one delivers a line like Vanessa Williams! I’m using that going forward. I loved, too, when Susan brought Renee home from the bar. “And that is how you get out of paying for a taxi!” the very drunk Renee said. “Well, we weren’t in a taxi — we were in my car,” Susan replied. “But now I know why you showed me your boobs.” The other thing that was fun with Renee last night was getting a glimpse inside her house. It’s chic! And certainly, amongst the Wisteria Lane ladies, the most interestingly decorated. I loved it, too, when Renee showed up at her door to greet Susan in that fabulous turban/head wrap, too. This lady is just the coolest. Always.

The one storyline that didn’t go exactly the way I expected, as I mentioned at the beginning of this recap, was Gaby’s. I honestly thought Gaby was going to get to keep Grace while shipping Carmen out of Fairview for good. But, as we all saw at the end of the episode last night, Carmen left town to meet her husband Hector with little Grace in tow. Gaby had a change of heart and helped them get away — rather offensively/hilariously, I might add, posing as an illegal immigrant to divert officials from Carmen. Something tells me, however, that the fat lady hasn’t sung when it comes to Hector, Carmen, and Grace yet. Gaby is too attached to Grace to just let her go that easily. Something along the lines of Hector and Carmen dying and Gaby becoming Grace’s legal guardian seems likely for the second half of the season.

As much as this was a super-predictable episode, it was by no means the worst in Desperate history. It had a nice flow and cohesion, for the most part, and brought the residents of Wisteria Lane together a couple of times in different ways — which is always a plus in my book. Good/interesting things tend to happen on Desperate Housewives when there are lots of bodies in one place, hence some of the hilarity at the Homeowners’ Association meetings. And that, too, is actually why next week’s mid-season finale looks especially enticing. It looks like Wisteria Lane is taken over by a riot! Lots of people together! And lots of people getting hurt! It’s disaster time! Wisteria Lane loves a disaster in December: A tornado befell the neighborhood during the month in a 2007 episode, and last year, a plane crashed down on the street. Next week should be good in a bad way!

But what’d you think of last night’s episode, Desperate Housewives fans? Did you find it as predictable as I did? If not, what did surprise you? How do you think the development with Paul’s master plan will play out? Who’s gonna sell their house first — or will the residents ultimately defeat Paul?

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

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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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