Monday, November 17, 2008

'Desperate' Mondays: City on Fire

The latest episode of Desperate Housewives featured two obviously ill-fated relationships, one count of brutal spousal battery, one murder, one case of arson that killed a half-dozen more people, and one thinly veiled threat to an unconscious Mike Delfino (how much time has this guy spent unconscious on this show?). Too much for one episode? I can't decide, though I'm leaning toward a "Yes." While on the one hand, DH is known for its over-the-topness, sometimes too much over-the-topness can poison the glorious satirical effect it's trying to achieve.

It's one thing to continue to deepen the mystery behind the menacing Dave Williams, but it's another to have him kill a renowned psychiatrist with his bare hands in a supply closet and then intentionally set a fire to cover up the murder, thus killing more people. (How many fires does this make for DH over the years? Edie Britt's house. Susan Mayer's house. Am I missing any?) I do, however, like the notion of turning Dave into an anti-hero after he went into the burning nightclub to save people.

But the fire scene disturbed me because I live in New England and still clearly remember the fatal nightclub fire in Rhode Island that killed 100 people in 2003, many of whom became trapped inside after emergency exits were locked, as they were in the fictional DH nightclub in the recent episode. I wished the DH fire hadn't been located inside a nightclub while a band was playing, but maybe that's just me.

Meanwhile, May-December romances were curiously rampant along Wisteria Lane. Twentysomething Julie Mayer brought home a thrice-divorced fortysomething professor with a penchant for bedding young women. (Mom Susan Mayer tried to thwart his wedding proposal, but Julie did that on her own, saying that she was never getting married because marriage never led to happiness for the twice-divorced Susan, so the institution was pointless.)
Teenager Porter Scavo and fortysomething mom Anne Schilling continue to be a couple, plus Schilling's still pregnant with his child and now in the hospital recovering after being beaten by her husband, the nightclub owner, after he learned about the affair. However if Porter, who was seen toting a pistol, actually shoots Anne's husband, I'll be disappointed. A shooting would be too easy an out for this situation. There'd be a trial, Lynette Scavo would mount a mama bear defense, etc. It could easily become unbearable.

I continue to admire the evolution of the Bree Van de Kamp Hodge character, a blend of brittle perfectionism covering for a deeply vulnerable, wounded inner soul. It was a great touch to have Bree be interviewed by a hard-hitting reporter who dug up info on the sordid turns in Bree's life (such as Bree's alcoholism, her deceased husband's unfaithful dedication to bondage with someone else's wife, her gay son who previously lived on the streets, her current husband's incarceration). My favorite moment of the episode arrived close to the end, when Bree said that her old fashioned homemaking/cookbook wasn't meant to make other women feel inadequate, as the reporter had suggested, but was meant to offer them the chance to control some part of their lives (cooking, homemaking) and make it good when everything else is crumbling around them. The scene, along with last week's with Bree and Orson on the test kitchen counter, humanize her.

Your favorite moments from the recent episode? Love or hate the use of the nightclub fire as a plot point? Predictions?

Image credit: ABC.

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