Sunday's "Desperate Housewives" series finale was promoted as a two-hour finale, but really it was two separate episodes airing back-to-back. The first, "Give Me The Blame", was centered around wrapping up this season's main story: the fallout from the murder of Gaby's stepfather Alejandro at the end of last season. The second, "Finishing the Hat", took care of the lingering subplots from the season in a way that also wrapped up the series as a whole. And by splitting up the conclusions this way, the show created a satisfying final trip to Wisteria Lane.
The twist in the first hour, in which Karen McClusky "confessed" to the murder to save both Bree and Gaby, was unexpected in its execution if not its theme. While the past few episodes have tried to tease the possibility that either Bree, Gaby or Carlos could end up in prison at the end of the series, that seemed both too depressing and too "Seinfeld"-ian to actually happen. When the episode opened with the touching scene at Karen's house, where she finally realized the core four saw her as a friend, the outcome became inevitable. That isn't to say it was bad, far from it, it just wasn't a "shocking" twist like we've seen with previous "Desperate Housewives" season finales.
But this wasn't just a "season" finale, it was a "series" finale, and that's not really the appropriate setting for a shocking twist. If anything, the series ended with a bit more of a muted twist, one that was more grounded in real life than anything it's done before. Toward the end of the episode, the girls are playing poker one last time before Susan moves away with Julie (and the baby, who was born earlier in the episode simultaneously with Renee's wedding and Karen's death, in one of the cooler scenes the show has done in years). They say they'll make sure it's not the last time they're all together, but as we see in a coda, it is. Eventually Lynette, Bree and Gaby all leave the Lane, all going their separate ways, living their separate, successful lives.
The coda itself was narrated by Mary Alice, as most of the show has been for eight years, and was incredibly touching, particularly in the way it ended. Susan driving off, past the "ghosts" of Wisteria Lane -- and at some point in the scene I couldn't help but think "holy crap, this show has killed off a TON of people" -- wasn't designed to make us sad, but to drive home the message that though people come and go in our lives, the people who impact us are always with us in some way.
I'd been down on the last few seasons of "Desperate Housewives", including this one, because they weren't as strong as the early ones (the Season 2 misstep excepted). But this finale was as good an episode as the show has had in years, and a fitting way to say goodbye. I even loved the hint at a "secret" the woman moving in to Susan's home was hiding, as a way of saying even if "Desperate Housewives" is gone, Wisteria Lane will live on.