SPRING CLEANING Bree's life will be a little less complicated
I can't wait for the Desperate Housewives season finale, can you? The May 22 cliffhanger set it up perfectly: Momentum is building; the majority of the loose ends have been tied up; and since the producers have allotted only one hour to the finale, there won't be a single wasted second.
Wait a minute. You mean that was the season finale I just saw? Then . . . um . . . why did it feel like a plateful of warmed-up leftovers?
It's hard to imagine why the writers thought it would be a good idea to let Mary Alice hijack this week's crucial opening segment, thereby derailing most of the suspense that built up last week. We've all been wondering who was going to die, whether Tom would dump Lynette, where Andrew's been hiding his cute bad self, what would happen as Carlos nosed closer and closer to John. Yes, it's interesting to learn that Mary Alice is the one who killed Deirdre and that she couldn't live with the guilt — but who has ever been that concerned about the precise details of Mary Alice's back story? Why open the episode by addressing questions whose answers aren't that surprising?
Speaking of unsurprising, it was always likely that Rex would be the answer to the question ''Who will die?'' Just as a TV or movie cop is inevitably shot after he announces that he's about to retire, we know it's over for Rex the minute Bree rests her head on his feeble chest and promises him he'll make it. True, it twists the knife to know Rex dies believing that Bree has poisoned him. And it's heartbreaking to see Bree carefully finish polishing the silver, carefully tuck the box back into place, and then shatter into tears alone at the dining-room table. But even in Television Land, is it likely that Dr. Craig — a co-worker of Rex's — would content himself with phoning Bree to tell her that her husband was dead? I'm going to need to see Rex's actual corpse before I can ''pronounce him.''
Another character whose comings and goings are mysterious, Bongo the German shepherd, makes a return appearance. Feeding him is the excuse that gets Susan into Mike's house, where Zach — who has just finished beating up Mrs. Tilman — is waiting, gun in hand. Once she's trapped, Susan has so little to do that she finally asks, ''Can I at least get you something to eat?'' She's clearly in no danger. As a major character, she's bulletproof. But keeping her at gunpoint seems to be the only way to prevent her from leaving endless messages on Mike's cell phone, which is how she spent her time earlier in the episode.
Gabrielle and Carlos are whiling their own time away in a broad, sitcom-y courtroom scene where the judge all but bangs his gavel and shouts, ''First one to speak is a monkey for a week!'' Any suspense as to whether Carlos will discover John and Gabby's affair clatters to the ground when John waltzes into the courtroom and tells Carlos the truth flat out. Nor is it particularly worrisome to see a foaming Carlos thrashing around and threatening to kill John. We've already seen him beat up two guys he suspected of messing around with his wife, and they're both okay. Besides, he's about to go to jail — at some point, anyway; doesn't it seem he should have left ages ago? — so John is safe for at least eight more months.
Lynette's and Tom's story is wrapped up almost as perfunctorily, or maybe it only seems that way because it's long been so obvious that they were heading toward one of those folktales where the husband and wife switch places and the husband ends up finding out how hard it is to run a house. (It will be nice to have a househusband on Wisteria Lane, and I bet he plays poker.) But I wouldn't exactly rate this development as a cliffhanger.
Why does Edie, a real-estate agent, pronounce realtor ''real-a-tor''?
And what the hell happened to Andrew? We get to see everyone else's kids in this episode before they vanish into summer-hiatus camp. Shouldn't Andrew have put in an appearance at some point, especially since he and his father were so close? Perhaps the writers were worried that if they showed Andrew and Danielle at the hospital, we'd suddenly remember Andrew's threat to rock Bree's world and get confused, thinking he had killed Rex. Or else they still have no idea how Andrew's going to make good on his threat and are hoping that if he stays away, we'll forget he ever existed.
Mike, meanwhile, has driven Paul up into some kind of generic desert-mountain Trekscape to shoot a truck commercial — oh, no, wait, to shoot Paul himself. What emerges is an odd parallel to the Zach-Susan scene, except that Mike and Paul walk for miles instead of sitting for hours. Finally, Paul appears to tire of life. ''You're kinda taking your time,'' he comments. ''Walkin' a lot.'' Perhaps realizing that the landscape is so featureless he can bury Paul anywhere, Mike cocks the gun. We sit calmly, knowing that this is merely the cue for Paul to finish the story Mary Alice began. As soon as Mike says, ''Deirdre had a baby?'' we know it's okay to go get a snack. No one on TV ever asks that kind of question and then shoots someone.
Nor will Zach kill Mike when Mike gets home, though he might shoot him in the arm or something. And Mrs. Tilman won't die, because we all love her too much. And now that most of the suspense has leaked out of the story like helium from a balloon, we can all have a nice relaxing summer. But I'm still worried about Bongo. The whole time that Zach's holding Susan hostage, the poor dog never gets fed — or let outside, come to think of it. Mike may have more than one nasty surprise awaiting him as he steps through his front door.