Yes, I'm still a little frustrated about how one of the show's major characters was carelessly killed off, in what so far has proven to be nothing more than a pretty cheap gimmick. And judging by the reaction to the previous instalment, it would appear that I'm not alone. But, to be fair, the emotional clout of this twist was always going to be in Mike's funeral service and if you were hoping to have a little weep, then you will not be disappointed.
Like with the death of Edie all those years ago, the episode takes the form of flashbacks as the women are snapped out their petty home disasters by the sound of Mike's fatal gunshot and recall on the day of his funeral how he touched their lives.
Gabby still isn't on board with Carlos's plan to quit his job for something more rewarding, even when he points out that his career prevented him from getting to know Mike better. At the service, Gabby starts to think about "the love of her life", and when this is followed by a scene of her younger self swooning over her $12,000 wedding dress, the cynical viewers (such as yours truly) may feel a little disheartened at the suggestion that even after everything, the only thing she's ever cared about is wealth.
Thankfully it's a bluff, as Gabby begins to realise just how much Carlos has done for her throughout the years, such as standing up to his mother (great to see her back, by the way) when she rightly accuses her of being a gold digger and ditching his work to look after the kids so that she can get a massage.
The final retrospective scene features Gabby going to meet Carlos in rehab, only to discover that Mike is already there. Peeved that Carlos would choose to confide in a friend, rather than his wife, Gabby storms out - but Mike comes to the rescue in what will understandably become a recurring theme throughout the episode.
He reveals that Carlos is deliberately pushing her away because he's ashamed of being unable to provide for the family and fears that Gabby will leave him as a result. Back in the present day, and determined to show Carlos that he's more to her than just a bread winner, Gabby gives her blessing to him quitting his job. I've really grown to like Gabby in recent times, won over by how much her character has developed since the show launched. Of course she'll always be just a little bit selfish and devious, but the recap of her and Carlos together - especially that glimpse of her circa season one, twiddling her hair and manipulating the poor schmuck - just rammed it all home. This was a big moment for her and I'm glad it was able to come out of a storyline that honestly seemed like filler until now.
Lynette, meanwhile, is probably the housewife (other than Susan, naturally) who is the most grief stricken over Mike's death. Her extremely brief break down in Tom's arms was something of a surprise, but kudos to Felicity Huffman for making that slightest of sobs really resonate.
As you may have guessed, Lynette's flashback focuses on the breakdown of her relationship with Tom, speeding through a first date absolutely crackling with chemistry to a scene where a pregnant Lynette is sat on the porch of their marital home, which it turns out was secretly purchased by Tom based on the specifications of her dream house.
Like I said, those scenes are vintage Tom and Lynette and it's a shame to see them give way to footage of Tom packing up after their split. Mike has come along to help him, and when Tom goes to retrieve something from the house he asks the question that, if you're anything like me, you've been screaming at the TV since season eight kicked off...why is Lynette not fighting for her marriage?
She insists that the separation will make them happy, but guru Mike predicts otherwise - that they'll grow further apart waiting for each other to admit it was their fault. She's snapped around by Karen, who implores her to ignore Jane's presence at the funeral. Lynette says she's not worried because she's convinced they will split soon. "Why have you heard something?" Karen asks. "No, I've decided something," the housewife replies. Eep, right?! How much of a tease is that? I mean, there was a good chance some form of attempted reconciliation would occur this season, but at least the question of whether or not they'll get back together is up in the air. And it's nice to have a little glimmer of optimism offered up in what could risk being quite a depressing episode.
Bree, meanwhile, spends the morning of the funeral in a police station after officers discover Alejandro's body with a little help from Orson's note. She puts on her best poker face as they question her about Orson's accusation that she was responsible for his death, and thinks back to how her mother first taught her as a child to put on "a mask" around men.
Said flashback is a rather disturbing affair, in which her mother tells her that cookery and a fake smile are all that's needed to hide "the devastation in her eye", her voice dripping with contagious poison as she slops whipped cream onto a pie for Bree's cheating father.
In a subsequent sequence, she offers first husband Rex (remember him) his favourite meal of Belgian waffles when he calls her "dumb" for being hurt by an overly zealous compliment he paid to Gabby. That Bree, as a grown woman, chooses to blindly obey the parasitic idea implanted by her mother is pretty terrifying, and while the other flashbacks seem to complement Mike's swan song, this one seems a little jarring. It was an interesting move to explore the makings of Bree, but perhaps it would have been better suited to another episode.
Eventually though, Bree manages to convince the officers that she's innocent and makes it to the funeral. Here, of course, is where Susan takes centre stage. It goes without saying that she's devastated by his passing, but the absolute anguish on Teri Hatcher's face throughout this episode is astonishingly believable. It barely feels like she's breathing.
Susan initially shuns the idea of speaking at Mike's funeral, unsure of what she would say other than that she wants her husband back. But sitting in the church, replaying memories in her head such as Mike opening up to her with a love poem about beans and rice after their wedding and discussing heaven with him and MJ at their favourite restaurant.
As the service comes to a close, she stands up and recites Mike's words that heaven is "a diner eating cheeseburgers with his family and fishing at a waterfall", before bidding farewell with the same, silly poem he recited to her once upon a time. I suppose that this might be disappointing for viewers expecting a big TV send-off with a carefully crafted speech, but actually it's perfectly fitting. Susan's last words to her husband were not showy, because as the episode goes out of its way to point out neither was Mike. It's appropriate, real, and personal - and therefore strikes deeper than fancy words so obviously from the pen of a scriptwriter ever could.
But if you do demand theatrics there are still a few beautiful shots of Susan, the family and the Wisteria Lane gang standing at the foot of Mike's coffin, while Renee/Vanessa Williams sings that old tear-jerker 'Amazing Grace', that are sure to get you going.
Plus, there's one more heartbreaking little moment as Susan starts worrying about cancelling Mike's cell phone contract and finding the "little thingy" that Mike used to check their tyres - it's so sincere and again, realistic. And I'm glad that somebody acknowledged that something subtle was required in order to keep Mike's passing in line with the character and set it apart from the sensationalism of previous Housewives deaths.
So, while not the most action packed of Desperate Housewives instalments, 'Women and Death' was one that was certainly needed after the sudden, senseless killing of Mike last week and somehow still served its purpose in managing to keep the season going forward. The flashbacks have set up some intriguing possibilities, the uplifting message of the episode - that there will always be people around to love you - will stop the series from hitting an emotional roadblock and the final scene where the police match Bree's fingerprints to those found on Alejandro's body would suggest that next week it's business as normal.
- Congratulations to Renee for continuing to be pointless. Her conflict about not wanting to go to Mike's funeral literally lasted about 30 seconds. Ridiculous.
- Oh little MJ, must you be so cute in such a tragic episode. We're welling up as it is.
- The housewives all eating Mike's burgers at the end of the episode was wonderful.
- "It's a royal wedding with just a hint of slut."
- Loving the blasts from the pasts we're getting this final season. Carlos's mother and Rex brought a nice touch of nostalgia.
- Tom's hair on his and Lynette's first date was amazing. I'm thinking of getting me one of those do's.
- On Bree could respond to an accusation of murder with "good heavens, that's just silly".
- If surprise taco visit doesn't catch on as a euphemism, I'll be disappointed.