Take one fake pregnancy, add two sets of newlyweds. Sprinkle in a love quadrilateral and a possible suicide, then borrow a cup of sugar from the new neighbors. Let that sizzle for an hour and voila! Desperate Housewives returns with a bang on Sept. 30, answering questions from last season's finale and introducing a host of fresh mysteries. "There is a huge foreboding disaster coming Wisteria Lane's way," says Nicollette Sheridan—seen here, along with her costars, in photos that hint at their characters' plotlines. New on the block are China Beach star Dana Delany, Waitress's Nathan Fillion and a gay couple played by Kevin Rahm and Tuc Watkins. And Marcia Cross is back after her real-life pregnancy. Says Teri Hatcher: "There is such a powerful chemistry when we are all together."

EVA LONGORIA
Gabrielle Solis
She married the mayor, but watch those exes

ON THE SHOW
The two shadows looming behind Longoria? "[Gabrielle] is torn between two men," says Longoria, 32. Those would be her new husband, Victor (John Slattery), and her old one, Carlos (Ricardo Antonio Chavira). Also in the running for Gabby's heart? Her former landscaper John, played by Jesse Metcalfe, returns this season.

OFFSCREEN
Actors beware: There's a tall shadow that could loom over you if you get too close to Longoria. San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker, 25—whom Longoria wed on July 7 in a lavish French affair—has stopped by the set.

TERI HATCHER
Susan Mayer
She got her happily ever after—but is that enough?

ON THE SHOW
The four seasons surrounding Hatcher, 42, mean that Susan's marriage to the plumber of her dreams is "the culmination of her whole life," says show creator Marc Cherry. But, he says, "she's trying to figure out if she's really happy now that she's got everything she wanted." And Hatcher promises Susan is clumsy as ever: "She puts both feet in her well-intended mouth when dealing with the new gay neighbors."

OFFSCREEN
In addition to boyfriend Stephen Kay, there are two new men in Hatcher's life: designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka. She's the new face in their fall ads.

FELICITY HUFFMAN
Lynette Scavo
She faces off against cancer

ON THE SHOW
Huffman is the first to admit it: "It's not an attractive season for me," says the actress, 44, who dons an array of wigs as Lynette battles lymphoma. "Not everyone rallies to her defense," says Cherry. "Some can't handle her sickness." The upshot to her somber plotline? "I can't tell you what a pleasure it is to just put my hair under a wig cap and slap on a wig that's already done," says Huffman. "It's dress up for your hair!"

OFFSCREEN
Over the summer the Emmy nominee filmed a movie on New York's Long Island, while husband William H. Macy, 57, played stay-at-home dad in L.A. with their kids Sofia, 7, and Georgia, 5.

NICOLLETTE SHERIDAN
Edie Britt
She left the neighborhood hanging about her fate

ON THE SHOW
In last season's finale, Edie appeared to hang herself after Carlos spurned her. Everyone's still mum about the future of Wisteria's resident vamp. "Edie returns to the show," says Cherry. But "in an unexpected way." "Maybe she's dead," Sheridan coyly says. "Maybe she's a ghost. Maybe she's a voice from beyond—or maybe it's the ultimate manipulation."

OFFSCREEN
In June Sheridan, 43, snuck off on a European jaunt with her fiancé of more than a year, Michael Bolton, 54—touring Corsica and yachting in the south of France. The next month Sheridan headed off to France to toast Longoria at her wedding.

MARCIA CROSS
Bree Van de Kamp
She's behind the mother of all ruses

ON THE SHOW
To cover up her daughter's pregnancy, Bree mixed Shakespeare's solution ("get thee to a nunnery!") with some 21st-century deception, wearing a fake belly herself. When the child arrives, "there will be a tug of war for custody from an unexpected source," says Cherry. Adds Cross, 45, of her alter ego: "Deep down she's very attached to this baby. Bree is going to try to be a better mother this time and get it right."

OFFSCREEN
Now a new mom to twins Eden and Savannah, 6 months, Cross says, "My biggest dilemma is getting home for bath time!" Solution? Take the twins to work. "If I have two long work days in a row, it's too long for us to be apart," says Cross. "When they come, a hush falls over the room, and everybody lights up. It's amazing."

  • Contributors:
  • Reported by Lisa Ingrassia/Los Angeles,
  • Kristen Mascia/Los Angeles.