Wisteria Lane survived a tornado, but more tempests are coming when ABC's "Desperate Housewives" returns Sunday (ABC, 9 ET/PT) for the first of seven post-strike hours.
Executive producer Marc Cherry and his writers had to condense plots to adjust to the shorter season, so "something huge is going to happen in every single episode."
The ABC hit, which is enjoying strong ratings (18.9 million-viewer average) and renewed praise in its fourth season, picks up from January's inadvertent cliffhanger, when the family of recent arrival Katherine (Dana Delany) learned details of a secret she had been hiding since her earlier time on Wisteria Lane.
Viewers will "start getting a sense of what it was Katherine did 12 years ago," says Cherry, who promises to resolve that mystery by the end of the two-hour season finale.
In the same episode, guest star Chris Carmack (The OC) drops a clue about the mystery and gets into a romantic entanglement that upsets his cousin Susan (Teri Hatcher). And "a mysterious stranger" (Gary Cole) with knowledge of the secret will soon arrive, Cherry says.
Delany delights at her role. "They've given me so many fun things to play. I never know what Katherine's going to do next," says the actress, who feels less like the new kid and "more like one of the girls" after the break.
Other residents will be busy, too. What Cherry is telling:
Mike (James Denton) discovering that Orson (Kyle MacLachlan) ran him down in Season 2. Orson, staying with wife Bree (Marcia Cross) at Susan's house, has a nude sleepwalking problem as well.
Gabrielle (Eva Longoria Parker) finding out Carlos (Ricardo Chavira) is blind "in a very funny way" after they remarry. Facing money problems, they take in a boarder (Justine Bateman) who (of course) has a secret.
Lynette (Felicity Huffman) surprising Bree with her behavior at the latter's church. Lynette also deals with the return of the tempting Rick (Jason Gedrick) as a competing restaurateur.
Competitive homemakers Bree and Katherine clashing when they oversee the town's Founders Day Ball. "Let's just say there's some poison involved," Delany says.
Edie (Nicollette Sheridan), in Cherry's most ominous pronouncement, crossing "a huge moral boundary (that) will lead to a shocking conclusion to her time on Wisteria Lane."
Cherry says the break allowed him to look beyond this season to his planned endpoint: a seven-year "Housewives" run. "You want to leave when they want you to stay. You don't want them to say, 'Hey, it's time for you guys to get out.' "