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When Jesse Metcalfe returned to Desperate Housewives Sunday, it wasn't Gabrielle (Eva Longoria Parker) he was after. It was Ana, Gaby's 16-year-old niece. Sure, he just wants Ana to be the hostess in his restaurant, but the arrangement had a certain familiarity to it, all these many years after Metcalfe's John Rowland was Gaby's gardener — and underage lover.

Metcalfe promises the stakes will be raised this week between Ana, Gaby and John. "That love triangle is explored and the tension of that love triangle is heightened in the next episode," says the 30-year-old actor. "There's sort of a red herring there and a reveal as to what John's intentions are, and that really reveals a lot about who John has become as a man."

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Metcalfe's two-episode return is his first appearance since Housewives' five-year time jump. He claims the passing of time has added exciting new dimensions to the character. "John Rowland was a very naive, wide-eyed boy ... in a very complex, adult affair," he says. "But now, coming back five years later, being 28, divorced, a restaurateur and a businessman, [he has] different motivations and a different thought process. [He is] slightly more manipulative, which makes him more interesting."

Metcalfe reveals that Ana's hostess job is short-lived, but remains optimistic that he'll return to Wisteria Lane again. "The character is wide open to go in any direction and possibly be a stronger part of the show again, if Marc [Cherry] sees fit," he says. "Like most Desperate Housewives episodes, there's a little ambiguity at the end, so I don't think the closure is definitive."

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Since leaving Housewives, Metcalfe has turned his attention to movies, with roles in 2006's John Tucker Must Die and the recent release Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. But he still embraces his TV roots with open arms. "Every time there's talk of me coming back [to Housewives], there's really such an outpouring of support," Metcalfe says. "It's like coming home ... Why wouldn't I come back?"

Catch Desperate Housewives Sunday at 9/8c on ABC.