Apparently flawlessly executed underhandedness doesn’t just run in blood, it runs through streets too. Suburban life is a constant flexing of power whose balance changes by the moment. A prefix isn’t the only thing subterfuge and suburbia have in common (well, at least on Wisteria Lane). Twisty soapiness is what Marc Cherry does best, and, though many moments from his latest episode felt very familiar (Danielle’s plate throwing tantrum was totally stolen from “American Beauty”), it was certainly the plottiest of the season, yet. If you’re living on Wisteria Lane, you’re either doing the manipulating or getting manipulated (or you think you’re only on one side of the struggle, when you’re actually on both).

Gaby walked in on a sultry setup, confusing the candles and roses Carlos had prepared for some random get-even hook-up for an attempt to win her back. After confessing his true vengeful intentions and obvious desire to win Gaby back, Gaby retorted by making a spectacle of her effort to bed the guy who beat Carlos (two years in a row) for the Latino Businessman of the Year Award. Carlos caught Gaby in the act (of making noise to fabricate lovemaking) and told her that it would take a lot more to get him to stop trying to win her back. Carlos, bringing breakfast to what he thought would be just Gaby, proved himself wrong, as he heartbrokenly discovered Gaby waking up with another man.

Tom unveiled his dreams to a more-than-skeptical Lynette, who could only open another bottle of wine at the mention of his idea to open a pizza restaurant. Goaded by Nora (who had some pretty ingenious machinations of her own) to get Tom to put an end to his plans, Lynette suggested Tom start with a small catering business. Tom, affronted by Lynette’s lack of faith, later found some inspiration in Nora, whose plan to get Tom moved in with them became apparent as she calculatedly put equally scheming Kayla (it looks like that girl will do anything to get her father to live with her) to sleep.

In some pretty half-hearted attempts at suicide (the girl tried to slit her wrist with a spoon), Danielle managed to get Bree’s attention and (briefly) switch the power balance. Family therapy encouraged Danielle to declare her independence and threaten Bree with the possibility of having another child living on the streets. Gladly moving her daughter’s things to Mr. Falati’s place, Bree knew he wouldn’t want to move the relationship that far (though she ensured a “glowing college recommendation” for Danielle from him). Danielle skillfully took a page out of her mother’s warped book to exact revenge on her traitorous lover by sending some evidence to the school principal and to his soon-to-be ex-wife. Bree was, for the first time in a while, pleasantly proud.

Susan, awoken to the fact that Edie has been secretly visiting Mike and peppering his memory with anti-Susan anecdotes, kidnapped Mike in a last-ditch effort to make him remember correctly. Susan’s endearing clumsiness (not her awful rendition of “Car Wash”) sparked some short-lived recognition in Mike (kudos to James Denton for pitch-perfectly playing the whole amnesia bit), who alluded to her unfaithful behavior with Ian. Edie, appearing to rescue Mike from his abduction, claimed that Susan’s getting hurt would only be gravy compared to the sating of her desire for Mike. Julie proved herself to be both the most cunning and vulnerable resident of Wisteria: she fell victim to Austin’s flirty lying (Edie must’ve warned her for a good reason), but paid him back with a failing grade in English, only to deceive herself of her subconscious attraction to the bad boy. The ultimate Machiavellian expert here, however, is Marc Cherry himself: he’s still got us stumped with (even if it does feel boringly similar to the mystery of the first season) this season’s corpse (who, for some reason, had Mike’s phone number written on it) storyline, and more amazingly, he manipulated us (well, at least me) into finally having respect for nails-on-a-chalkboard annoying (but resourceful) Nora.

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SPOILERS: Halloween Ending | What Happens, And What It Means

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