Lost isn't the only ABC show this season to disrupt the conventional timeline. In the closing sequence of last night's series finale of Desperate Housewives, the suburban drama's leading female characters are thrown five years forward. Former model Gaby—despite preferring shoes to children—is a frump with two overweight kids. And annoyingly ditzy Susan comes home to her honey—but it's not Mike, the recovering Vicodin addict and plumber with whom she's just had a baby.

The flash forward is an intriguing way give impetus to a show which has lost viewers in its fourth outing, and provide something of a trailer for its return in the autumn. But the writers will have a hard time maintaining suspense when Desperate Housewives comes back on the air.

It is one thing to start a plot with the conclusion, in the manner of The Usual Suspects, and then work back. But Desperate Housewives has given away the fate of its main characters in much more detail; the disintegration of Susan's marriage is the only mystery that remains; and that may not be enough to sustain the series for more than another season.