Desperate Housewives: Season Finale: "One Wonderful Day" Episode: #1.23 (2005)

(Original Air Date: May 22, 2005)

4 stars... that's STILL good, lady!4 stars... that's STILL good, lady!4 stars... that's STILL good, lady!4 stars... that's STILL good, lady!1/2

It took Desperate to save ABC from Desperation!

J.C. Mašek III... Your Grandmother's Favorite Critic!
J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

Seven months ago (or so) I raved about the new show Desperate Housewives, and was raving mad about the fact that it, like every other edgy show in the last 13 years, has been compared to David Lynch's Twin Peaks. As unfair a comparison as that is I was surprised to find the first season finale worrying me madly about a very Twin Peaks-like mistake, namely, the steady wrap-up of the most compelling mystery of the season... one that keeps us watching each week.

At the end of Twin Peaks' excellent first season, Lynch and partner Mark Frost handily wrapped up the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer (leaving just enough mystery for a filmed Prequel to come along later). However, as good as the second season was, and it was, viewers felt the story had been told and didn't give a flying pie about who the eff-you-see-kay "Windom Earle" was.

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And though Desperate Housewives is a decidedly un-Twin Peaks-like show, it would appear that we've at last been given what Paul Harvey might call "The Rest Of The Story" as to why sweet Mary Alice Young killed herself in the first episode.

Could this be, as I've indicated, a "Mistake"? Well, only next season can tell us for sure, however, the death of Mary Alice (Brenda Strong) has woven a tangled web through the lives of just about everyone on Wisteria Lane, and the ripple effects of her suicide have splashed all over the gosh darned place to the point that the after effects almost outgrew the original shocking action, and seem now like a puzzle piece in an overall larger plot structure with no hints of collapsing under its own weight.

This year we've discovered that Zach (Mary Alice's son as played by Cody Kasch) is so crazed because of the half-remembered murder of his baby sister Dana, and the secret was so big that it might... just might... have caused Mary Alice to have been blackmailed by a certain gadfly neighbor, leading to her suicide. But hark! Is this true? The revelations continued all season in their well-paced and mysterious grain-by-grain approach, coming to a head with the appearance of old "Eve 6" herself, Harriet Sansom Harris' Felicia Tilman, who makes her meddling sister Martha Huber (Christine Estabrook) look like a merely helpful good neighbor... and brother, she wasn't!

"Wasn't" because Mary Alice's husband Paul (Mark Moses) put her decidedly in the Past Tense one episode this season and tried to frame poor old Mike (James Denton) for it. Why? Old Mike was getting a little too close to the truth, and while his appearance in Fairview was not quite the "accident" that Paul and Mary Alice's was, his falling for Teri Hatcher's Susan Mayer most certainly was accidental. But just how and why Mike has ended up embroiled into the lives of the Youngs is a developing mystery that we just find out about this very episode. Could Mike be as bad as Paul? We know that the family of his dead girlfriend Dierdre Taylor is paying him to find out what really happened to her. But the mystery of what, how and why doesn't come to a head until now... though the true identity of "Dana", as well as that of "Angela Forrest" and her family... only Eve 6 knows for sure... well her and a certain Black Private Dick that's a Sex Machine for all the Chicks. Shut Yo' Mouth... Talkin' 'bout Richard Roundtree! To say that the failed romance between Julie Mayer (Andrea Bowen) and Young Zach Young just got a skosh more complicated would be an understatement!

However, no matter what ends up happening to this main plot upon which so very much hinges, the show has the potential to keep going, in part because the ratings are incredibly strong (Lo and Behold, ABC has a Hit), and in part because creator Marc Cherry has kept the story growing like Topsy in just about every direction. Marcia Cross' Bree Van De Kamp's male friend wants to be so much more than friends with her, so, as the Van De Kamps' pharmacist, he is able to slowly poison hubby Rex (Steven Culp) over time, hoping to be the next one to ease on in! As Bree herself was suspected of poisoning her husband in the first episode, she's the natural suspect, and the brunt of the pain and blame at Rex's apparent demise.

Meanwhile, Bree and Rex's gay son Andrew (Shawn Pyfrom) somewhere along the way ran over Juanita Solis (Lupe Ontiveros), which ultimately led to her death. While this is tragic for her son Carlos (Ricardo Chavira), it couldn't be more fortunate for daughter-in-law Gabrielle (the incredibly hot Eva Longoria) seeing as how Juanita was just about to blow the lid off of Gabby's affair with the lawn-boy John (Jesse Metcalfe). But since Carlos is about to go to jail for Enron-style white collar crimes, and possibly for confusion-inspired "Hate Crimes" (against a gay cable guy, and Andrew's erstwhile gay lover, both of whom he assumes are sleeping with his wife at different times), Gabby herself is going to get a little lonely. Or is she? Turns out she's pregnant, and doesn't know if the baby is John's or Carlos'! If she names it "Dana", I'm changing the channel, damn it!

Then, across the street, as Nicolette Sheridan's Edie Britt tries to steal Mike from Susan to get over the destruction of her home and the death of her only friend Martha, Felicity Huffman's Lynette Scavo is alternating between having her husband Tom (Doug "Idiot" Savant) skipped over for promotions, being jealous of the naked live-in nanny, being even MORE jealous of her husband's former lover and current assistant, and chasing four quite psychotic and kleptomaniacal children from room to room and house to house! And that's all before Tom finds out about Lynette's machinations and quits his job to play air hockey all day!

Confused? Imagine being my own dumb ass and typing this from memory! And brother, the appearance of a new family known as the Applewhites (led by Alfre "Captain Ahab has to go hunt his whale" Woodard) can only mix it up even more!

Yep, this might have a shot at maintaining the streak it's been on, and believe me, this episode hardly ties it all up, and in fact leaves us with a very dangerous Cliffhanger as Zach (Zack?) plays insane Luke to Mike's possible Vader! So am I personally going to keep watching this? Oh, but yes! Sure, it's essentially a night time soap, but it's got all the plot and intrigue of the greats out there, all without a trace of derived storylines. This "Dramedy" gives us more of the old Ironic and Black Comedy that keep our too-too cynical times laughing, and when they get into the "Drama", it can be really dramatic! It's all a credit to a great cast that all of these varying moods can be handled without every single one of them going as mad as Zach himself! All the brilliance, suspicion and promise of a great sci-fi/ fantasy saga... without a trace of fantasy or science fiction anywhere in the mix. The fact that it's so unbelievably believable is what keeps even this Urban Straight Male coming back Sunday after Sunday. Well, that, and the fact that Desperate Housewives rivals the WB's Charmed in the Cleavage Category. It's a breasticamamical boobicalagical clevicological joy! I'm really not offended by it.

ABC has managed to take a risk (twice now) and it's paid off without them dropping the ball. And because this final episode of the first season is such a brilliant cap to such a surprising season, I'm giving it Four and One Half Stars out of Five! We'll get another One Wonderful Day next season, and we'll just have to see where the surprises take us! So until Marc Cherry runs out of ideas and reveals that the whole time the real Dana was actually Windom Earle, I'll see you in the next reel. Man, the summer wait is gonna suck!

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Desperate Housewives: Season Finale: "One Wonderful Day" Episode: #1.23 (2005) Reviewed by J.C. Mašek III who is solely responsible for his own views and for the well-worn DVD copy of Heaven's Prisoners he keeps under his pillow for lonely nights!
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