With Season 2 being a bit flawed and slightly stumbling in comparison to the fabulous first season, Season 3 had a lot riding on it. Thankfully it is a splendid return to form with razor-sharp wit, emotional drama and mystery that made us love Desperate Housewives in the first place. Trust me, Season 3 brings the show back with a bang. Spoilers will follow in this review.
The deceased Mary Alice Young(Brenda Strong) continues to narrate the daily events of the women on Wisteria Lane. Six months have passed since the events of the Season 2 finale. Mike(James Denton), after being run over by the mysterious Orson Hodge(Kyle MacLachlan), is in a coma and is showing no responsive signs. Girlfriend Susan(Teri Hatcher) is by his bedside most days and trying to keep faith that he will come out of it. Susan though finds herself tempted by charming Ian(Dougray Scott), a man whose wife is also in a coma. Yet despite her passion for Ian, Susan can’t help but feel guilty as if she’s cheating on Mike with a stranger. But when Mike does wake up, he is suffering from amnesia. Edie(Nicollette Sheridan), who has always been Susan’s rival, uses this opportunity to make her move and poison Mike away from Susan. It is then down to Susan to choose between Mike and Ian, but her heart tells her it’s Mike that is the one for her despite caring for Ian deeply. She must then attempt to get through to Mike in the hope he remembers that they were in a relationship before his accident. Yet while Mike slowly regains his memory, he begins to remember other things from his past that tie in with Orson. Add to this Edie’s bad boy nephew Austin(Josh Henderson) turning up and catching the eye of Julie(Andrea Bowen) and thinks are going to get interesting for Susan. Gabrielle(Eva Longoria) is filing for divorce from Carlos(Ricardo Antonio Chavira) after discovering his affair with their maid, who is also carrying a surrogate baby. Yet because of a mix up during the surrogacy, the baby born is not theirs which further puts a wall up between them. Gabrielle then endures loneliness and does in fact misses Carlos, yet finds company and later nuptials in the form of campaigning politician and secretly slimy Victor Lang(John Slattery) after discovering that Carlos has unexpectedly begun dating the saucy Edie. Meanwhile, the charming but sinister Orson has charmed Bree(Marcia Cross) off her feet and the two marry. But all is not well, as Orson has a few incidents in his past(primarily the disappearance of his ex-wife Alma, running over Mike and a woman named Monique) that are very dark and form the backbone of the mystery this season. As much as Bree loves Orson, there is something about him that worries her and with what is slowly shown and revealed to us, she has every right to be worried. And rounding out the women is Lynette(Felicity Huffman), trying to adjust to the fact that her husband Tom(Doug Savant) had a child with another woman and the other woman Nora constantly being around causing rifts in marriage. Yet all that changes after a tragic hostage situation that results in Nora’s death and Lynette promising to raise her daughter as her own. Lynette also quits her advertising job to open a pizza place with Tom so they can pursue their dream and provide for five children, but as always, trouble awaits. All in all, it’s another eventful trip through the lives of the interesting ladies of Wisteria Lane.
I was so happy that the mystery angle was better than ever this season. The whole circumstances surrounding Orson are enthralling as we slowly see the danger that this man may be to those around him. The dark edge to Desperate Housewives always intrigues me so the return to the superior mystery was a major plus for me. Once more the deliciously wicked wit is on hand for laughs and many enjoyable moments. There is an excellent balance held between comedy and drama, which was somewhat lacking in Season 2. And speaking of drama, I can’t discuss Season 3 without mentioning “Bang” which has to be one of the best episodes so far in the show. In it, Carolyn Bigsby(played amazingly by a scene-stealing Laurie Metcalf) discovers her husband’s infidelity and completely snaps by holding up the supermarket. The tension drips from the episode as we wonder who will survive and emotions are stunningly observed. And Felicity Huffman is a powerhouse in the episode, evolving from fear, pain to anger as she witnesses Nora’s unexpected death and confronts the unstable Carolyn with a speech about how everyone carries pain, but acts about it behind closed doors. In short, it is an outstanding episode that shows Desperate Housewives at its most effective and dramatic.
If Season 3 had a nickname, it would probably be the love, divorce and wedding season because of the marital events and tribulations on show. From Bree’s marriage to Orson which raises many questions to Gabrielle trying to get a divorce while finding company with Victor that doesn’t go to plan, marriage and union are integral and lead to many fantastic moments in this splendid season. Relationships of a romantic nature have been featured throughout the show, but this is the season when they are most prominent. The most enjoyable part of the these is Gabrielle and Carlos, whose bickering and resorting to extreme measures to make the other jealous are comedic highlights. There is an obvious passion between them that often leads to destructiveness and heartbreak. And it’s fun to watch the usually respectable and mindful Julie fall for bad boy Austin( who is cheating on her with Bree’s daughter Danielle), especially considering the tense situation between members of each of their families. It’s safe to say Season 3 has a lot going on in it, but none of it feel rushed or half-baked due to spectacular writing and performances.
The main cast is engaging as always. The two main stand outs this season are Eva Longoria and Felicity Huffman. Longoria has such excellent comic timing but also knows when to rein it in and shows off considerable dramatic chops as Gabrielle. We get to see that she is gregarious and never really wants to be alone, and although she loves Carlos, their relationship is extremely complicated. Gabrielle could easily have been a character that was hard to like, but because of the writing and performance from Eva Longoria, we do feel sympathy for her. Felicity Huffman once again shines as Lynette, bringing a whole load of emotion to the role. This is the season so far that Lynette goes through the most in terms of emotional baggage, marital problems and personal drama and Huffman just shows all of this with her stunning work. No matter if it’s the comedy or the drama, Huffman brings her A game to both with equal aplomb. Marcia Cross is as always wonderful as Bree, having made the character her own. Bree must go through many more struggles this season and stay afloat in an ocean of uncertainty, mainly courtesy of the mystery provided by her new husband. Cross is excellent at displaying Bree’s concern and confusion while trying to stop her bubble of being a perfect neighbour from bursting. While humour has always been the main selling point of Susan, Teri Hatcher manages to also project poignant emotion to the part and the writing thankfully doesn’t make her slip into ridiculousness. Yes Susan is as romantic as ever by being caught between her loyalty and passion, but Hatcher exudes a relatability and warmth that captures your attention. You can’t help but root for Susan to get Mike back, as it is very obvious the two are meant to be together. Nicollette Sheridan is delightfully scheming and sultry as Edie, who may poison Mike against Susan but drops him when he is arrested for murder. This leads her unexpectedly into the arms of Carlos, which may jeopardize friendship with Gabrielle. Sheridan brings some more emotion to Edie than before as we see that she does have a heart underneath the trashy exterior. It’s nice to see the writer’s attempt something different with Edie this season that actually pays off and shows another side to her.
The rest of the cast, old and new, continue to explore their characters and bring them to life. Mike Denton brings out the confused state of Mike’s mind well, as he recalls some events that he really doesn’t want to remember. As the cause of this season’s mystery, Kyle MacLachlan is strangely charming yet full of hidden danger as the enigmatic Orson. MacLachlan has this ability to set your nerves on edge which he uses a lot during this season to menacing effect that also leaves you questioning whether or not he’s as bad as some of the hints make him out to be. Series stalwarts Doug Savant and Ricardo Antonio Chavira provide a considerable amount of laughs as Tom and Carlos, two of the husbands on the lane. Chavira in particular raises many laughs as Carlos, who still deeply loves Gabrielle and amusingly teases her about the string of dates she’s been on, hoping that she will see that the two of them are meant to be. I’m not the biggest fan of the character of Ian, who falls for Susan but sees that her heart belongs to Mike. None of this is to do with Dougray Scott, but as Susan is meant to be with Mike, the character of Ian feels a bit needless. Josh Henderson has the right look and swagger as Edie’s nephew Austin, who is always up to something troublesome. Plus, he provides eye candy for all the ladies watching as he’s almost constantly shirtless. Andrea Bowen charts Julie’s occasional rebellious streak after being the model daughter for so long very well. John Slattery oozes oily and smarmy charm as mayor candidate Victor Lang, who soon becomes engaged to Gabrielle, but is really using her to make his image look good. Brenda Strong lends her mellifluous voice once again to narration as Mary Alice with a mix of adroit humour, grave warnings and otherworldly warmth.
- Listen to the Rain on the Roof – A
- It Takes Two – B+
- A Weekend in the Country – B+
- Like It Was – A
- Nice She Ain’t – B
- Sweetheart, I Have to Confess – B
- Bang – A+
- Children and Art – C
- Beautiful Girls – A
- The Miracle Song – C
- No Fits, No Fights, No Feuds – B+
- Not While I’m Around – A
- Come Play Wiz Me – A-
- I Remember That – B
- The Little Things You Do Together – A+
- My Husband, the Pig – B+
- Dress Big – A
- Liaisons – B
- God, That’s Good – A
- Gossip – A
- Into the Woods – B+
- What Would We Do Without You? – B+
- Getting Married Today – A
Season 3 of Desperate Housewives brings the show back to its best in style with wit, mystery and emotional drama to enjoy.