It may be shorter than past seasons, mainly due to the Writer’s Strike at the time, but Season 4 of Desperate Housewives is a treat of wit, drama and underlying mystery that is delicious from the get go. Spoilers will be following in this review.
Following on from the Season 3 finale, we’re back in full swing with the dramas and dilemmas of Wisteria Lane as narrated by Mary Alice(Brenda Strong). Edie(Nicollette Sheridan), having been dumped by Carlos(Ricardo Antonio Chavira), faked a suicide attempt to keep him with her. Sinking her claws into him, she blackmails him into staying with her because if he doesn’t she will inform the authorities of his off shore bank account. Carlos on the other hand is conducting an affair with ex-wife Gabrielle(Eva Longoria), who realised that she still loved him and that her new husband Mayor Victor Lang (John Slattery) is just using her to make his image look good. Although they are planning to run away together to rekindle their relationship, manipulative Edie has thrown a spanner in the works with her scheming plan to keep Carlos all for herself. There’s also the fact that the very influential Victor hints that if he ever caught Gabrielle cheating, the person who she conducted the affair with would ominously disappear. Lynette(Felicity Huffman) is having treatment for her cancer, but has kept it secret from her friends for fear of pity and is managing to reconnect with husband Tom(Doug Savant) again. Yet seeing that there is only so much longer she can lie, she reveals it to them and they rally to support her in this difficult time. Thankfully, Lynette manages to beat her cancer, but still has to deal with her troublesome mother and adopted daughter Kayla creating animosity with her twisted little ways. Bree(Marcia Cross) is faking a pregnancy so that the neighbours won’t be suspicious, as her teenage daughter Danielle is at a convent having discovered her pregnancy. Bree, along with her husband Orson(Kyle MacLachlan) begins to find it harder and harder to lie about the pregnancy and keep it a secret. When the baby is born, there are complications for Bree as she starts to consider whether pretending to carry the baby was really a good idea or not/ Bree must also contend with her marriage to Orson beginning to crumble, especially after she finds out it was him who ran Mike over at the end of Season 2. Susan(Teri Hatcher) and Mike(James Denton) are finally married after a tumultuous relationship and discover that they have a baby on the way. But Mike has developed an addiction to prescription drugs that started with his back being injured and has now grown into something more desperate. And providing the dark mystery this season is the icy new neighbour Katherine Mayfair(Dana Delany) along with her husband Adam(Nathan Fillion) and daughter Dylan(Lyndsy Fonseca). Katherine had previously lived on Wisteria Lane years before, but mysteriously left. A cold woman who rubs people up the wrong way and challenges those around her, she is guarding many secrets regarding her past that she plans on keeping under wraps. Her daughter Dylan, despite having lived on Wisteria Lane as a child, doesn’t remember anything at all about it, which arouses the suspicions of former best friend Julie(Andrea Bowen), whose convinced that there is something sinister behind it. Add to that a devastating tornado that changes everyone’s lives, and its high drama and high stakes viewing.
While Season 4 is short in terms of what we usually expect, it actually gives more immediacy to the story lines present. The acerbic wit and subversive tone are here and captured splendidly during the course of Season 4. And while the humour is still here and as great as ever, there is a lot more drama this season. we have Lynette bravely battling her cancer, Bree attempting to protect her family through her lies and the affair between Carlos and Gabrielle. Lynette’s battle with cancer is the most moving to watch as she fights through the pain. The moment when she finds out she has beaten it and a whole host of emotions pass across her face is such a beautifully acted moment that is excellently done. And when it comes to the mystery, this season is a high point of creeping suspense over what Katherine’s secret is. Little by little, her past comes sneaking back and we get to see the true Katherine Mayfair.This is why I love Desperate Housewives; it can balance all of these genres so well and bring something new to the table. That is one thing about this show that keeps me so riveted to it, it just has this ability to be so effortlessly and consistently entertaining.
The major disaster of the tornado and what it spells for the characters was an ambitious move but it produces some of the most wrenching and dramatic scenes so far in the show. From the changing relationships that occur as the storm rages, to Victor’s death by impaling and Carlos losing his sight, its high drama that is entertaining and nail-biting. We are left on the edge of our seats as the residents of Wisteria Lane attempt to survive the tragedy. And then we watch as they try to literally and metaphorically rebuild their lives once more through their friendships and acquaintances. As I said earlier, Desperate Housewives really knows how to pull it out the bag when it comes to tragedy and drama. And I can’t forget to mention the teasing ending to the season that has me super excited for Season 5.
The excellent cast is once more on hand to flesh out their characters through the comedy, drama and mystery of Season 4. I continue to be super impressed with the work of Felicity Huffman as Lynette, who has more than one battle to contend with here. Huffman has this great ability to convey so much emotion in her face that you can see everything she is feeling. From her determination to survive for her children, to her horror at discovering that Kayla has launched a vendetta, Huffman just owns every minute of it with class and grace. I was impressed with Teri Hatcher’s work as Susan this season. She may have been mainly used for the cute comedy in the past, but here we get a maturation in her story lines. Hatcher manages to sell this with humanity and dignity as she goes through her pregnancy, while attempting to support Mike with his drug problem. I liked this maturation and found it quite refreshing in the scheme of things as we got to see another test for them both that they slowly overcame because of their love for one another. Marcia Cross provides humour and pathos for Bree, undergoing a tense time with Orson and bringing up a baby in the hopes that she can have a second chance as a mother. On the funny side, it’s great to see her clash with Katherine, who attempts to be the queen bee of the circle much to the chagrin of Bree, who eventually warms to her. Watching Bree try to be respectful while secretly feeling challenged is a hoot, though I was glad the writers decided to have the two women become friends because of their similarities. Eva Longoria is still as flamboyant as ever as Gabrielle, but there is that added love and care to her this time around. I was glad to see her get back with Carlos again, and despite the fact that money is tight and Carlos has been blinded, Gabrielle doesn’t resort to her selfish ways. Rather, she slowly but surely gets to grips with things and sees that having Carlos is much more important than finery. Eva Longoria is a dab hand at showing these sides to Gabrielle and still provides that sassy edge we all know and love. Nicollette Sheridan is on spectacular form once again as queen bitch and husband stealer Edie Britt. She may have softened a little last season, but it is great to see her back at her bitchy and scheming best as she makes it so delightful. Yet Edie goes one step too far this time and though the other ladies have tried to put up with her, they now disown her as she has crossed the line for the last time.
As the newest housewife Katherine, Dana Delany fits the role like a glove. Seeming to be organised and standoffish, Delany lets us venture deeper into the confines of the character as we sense the terrified woman beneath, hidden by an ice maiden facade that slowly thaws as her past comes back to haunt her. Lyndsy Fonseca has the right amount of curiosity and naivety as Dylan, who senses that something is really wrong and that her mother is not being honest about the past. But by searching for the truth, she soon uncovers something very sinister. Unfortunately, I found that Nathan Fillion was underused as Katherine’s husband Adam, who has a roving eye. Kyle MacLachlan continued to flesh Orson out, showing us that while he is attempting to be good he can’t escape the bad things he has done in the past. Ricardo Antonio Chavira is immensely convincing as Carlos, who must adjust to being blind which becomes harder as he doesn’t want to feel like a burden. Doug Savant is also very good as Tom, having to see that his daughter Kayla is indeed trying to split the family apart. James Denton was very convincing showing Mike descend into addiction but having the strength and support to fight back and be a good father to his baby son. And while not used as much as she has been, Andrea Bowen still plays Julie well with her maturity and charm. John Slattery is given a hell of a send off as the corrupt Victor, who gets impaled during the tornado after fighting Carlos for Gabrielle’s affections. And Brenda Strong’s beautiful voice is still really effective in its observations of the comings and goings of Wisteria Lane.
- Now You Know – A
- Smiles of a Summer Night – A
- The Game – B
- If There’s Anything I Can’t Stand – B+
- Art Isn’t Easy – B
- Now I Know, Don’t Be Scared – A+
- You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover – C
- Distant Past – B+
- Something’s Coming – A+
- Welcome to Kanagawa – A
- Sunday – B+
- In Buddy’s Eyes – C+
- Hello, Little Girl – B
- Opening Doors – B+
- Mother Said – B
- The Gun Song – A
- Free – A
So although it’s short in length, Season 4 of Desperate Housewives provides us with another very strong bunch of episodes to be entertained by.