This past season, danger came to Wisteria Lane. You didn’t actually have to watch Desperate Housewives to know that, as ABC was screaming it in promos for weeks. The threats took multiple forms, from a serial killer to an eco-terrorist to a stalker employee. Did the ladies live through it? Did the bad guys get what was coming to them? Was another minor character get bumped off? You didn’t actually have to watch the season finale on 16 May to know the answers.
The problem with today’s TV cliffhangers is that we all know too much about contract negotiations. This means there’s really no reason to worry whether the grand dames of Wisteria Lane — all contracted — will survive the current emergencies (unless, as former Wisteria babe Nicolette Sheridan alleges, producer Marc Cherry takes a sudden disliking to one of them). That said, there may be some question about Andrea De Matteo, who was only signed for one year, and Lynette’s (Felicity Huffman) unborn baby, who, we can assume, has yet to sign a contract.
Housewives has made a regular practice of offering sensational cliffhangers, with episodes involving a plane crash, tornado, and supermarket hostage crisis. But the Season Six Finale went for overkill (pardon the pun). “I Guess This is Goodbye” found three of the cul-de-sac’s ladies in peril: Angie (De Matteo), whose ex, Patrick Logan (John Barrowman), came to find her and their son, was making her construct a bomb for nefarious purposes; Bree (Marcia Cross), whose late husband’s illegitimate son Sam (Sam Page, sneering menacingly) was blackmailing her for control of her business; and Lynnette, trapped in a house with serial killer Eddie (Josh Zuckerman) was also in labor. Not to be forgotten, Gaby (Eva Longoria Parker) was sucked into Angie’s drama, and Susan (Terry Hatcher) was being forced to sell her house and leave the neighborhood.
Housewives has long relied on melodramatic excess as well as self-knowing comedy. This past season was more of that, partly rejuvenated, and partly reduced to lazy storytelling that led to a somber and anticlimactic ending. With two major storylines played out, the third was on its way to being resolved, and next year’s new intrigue appeared in the form of a long forgotten character, returned.
Lynnette’s fate was the least surprising, as she was menaced by someone who spent much of the last few weeks beating the crap out of anyone who spoke ill of her. It’s difficult to buy into the idea that Eddie, who adored Lynnette (as a mother figure), would harm her, and, in fact, he not only let her live, he delivered her baby and saved the baby’s life. He then turned himself in to the police. Baby alive and well, bad but adorably sweet guy in custody: check off Happy Ending One.
At the same time, Angie was double-crossed by her captor. Only after Patrick tied up her son Danny (Beau Mirchoff) and dragged her out to the car did he reveal that the bomb he forced her to make was for Danny. This led Angie race back to the house to save him. No fool, she had actually put the bomb in the detonator, so when Patrick pressed it, he was the one blown up. Angie and Danny safe, Gaby heroic (she pulled Danny from the house before the explosion), bad guy killed: this would be Happy Ending Two.
Only Bree’s dilemma appears to be carried over into next season. She turned over her company to Sam, but also had to deal with husband Orson’s (Kyle McLachlan) disappointment at this decision, as well as his departure. Ever the trouper, Bree regrouped by episode’s end and told Gaby the 10-years-old truth that allowed the blackmailing to begin with (that is, Bree’s son Andrew [Shawn Pyfrom] ran over and killed Gaby’s son). No happy ending here, as there will still be ramifications for Andrew, and Bree has to reclaim both company and, perhaps, husband.
This leaves Susan’s problem. We’re can’t be worried whether she will get back on Wisteria Lane, as money seems to fall into and out of everyone’s laps on this show. Wasn’t it just a few months ago that Susan was floating in money, thanks to the will of her dead ex-husband? Of course, she’ll be back, and the margarita klatch will rise again. While she’s gone, though, Paul Young (Mark Moses) is renting her house. The widower of Mary Alice Young, the show’s narrator and the housewife whose death introduced the series in 1994, he had few friends on Wisteria Lane when he left. And so it’s doubtful he’s come back to reinvigorate old friendships.
Despite the mostly happy endings, the finale disappointed. It featured little of the show’s trademark humor, surprising because Parker Longoria proved an exceptional comedienne this season, despite the lack of a compelling storyline. The formulaic episode cut between crises so quickly that it failed to build tension in any of them. Only Eddie’s destiny was uncertain, due in large part to the exceptional episode “Epiphany,” which traced his journey from abused and neglected child to serial killer. Emerging as one of the most sympathetic evil-doers in TV history, he was left with limited options in the final episode: would he turn himself in or split town?
The sixth season was a mixed bag, displaying the goofy, playful side of the housewives and their spouses alongside dramas focused on everyday issues rather than outrageous subterfuge and unlikely events (how many neighborhoods have been hit by natural disasters, terrorists, freak accidents, and multiple killers?). Angie’s storyline never quite hooked viewers, but then, few of the “housewife for a season” storylines have resonated in the same manner as the tribulations of the core cast. The best episode was the tenth, “Boom Crunch,” which included comic relief along with a plane crash that not only developed some genuine “Who lived?” drama, but propelled later storylines. “I Guess This is Goodbye” could have taken some lessons from that episode.