The last Desperate Housewives will be on this coming Sunday. Last year, when Smallville was ending, I wrote a post that discussed my fifteen favorite Smallville episodes. This year, I’ll talk about my twenty favorite Desperate Housewives episodes.
“The Pilot” (Episode 1): I fell in love with the show from the start. There is so much to praise about the pilot episode, but I’ll focus on what I particularly liked. I enjoyed the part when Mike Delfino first met Susan Meier at the reception for Mary Alice’s funeral, tasted Susan’s macaroni and cheese, and remarked to Susan that it tasted burnt and undercooked at the same time. It was hard not to like Mike, but (like most viewers) I was wondering what exactly he was up to. And then there was the end, when the ladies read the note that Mary Alice received shortly before her suicide: “I know what you did, it makes me sick, I am going to tell.” Mary Alice narrates beyond the grave that she did not want to burden her friends with this, and one of the ladies says, “Oh Mary Alice, what did you do?”
“Running to Stand Still” (Episode 6): My favorite part of this episode was when it showed Carlos and Gaby signing their prenup, as Carlos’ mother (or, as Carlos called her, his “Ma-MA) looked on. Savvy woman!
“Your Fault” (Episode 13): Bree tells the pharmacist, George, about how she met her husband Rex. She met Rex at the Young Republicans Club, and after meeting him she talked late into the night with him about big government and other issues. (Incidentally, the actor who plays Rex was the Republican Speaker of the House in episodes of The West Wing.) This stands out to me because I like it when television touches on politics. And, although I am more liberal nowadays, I enjoy watching Republican TV characters, such as Archie Bunker and Alex P. Keaton. As an honorable mention, I’ll refer to the opening scene of Episode 15, where we see that Bree has a huge picture of Ronald Reagan with a cowboy hat hanging on her wall.
“Sunday in the Park with George” (Episode 21): Susan is estranged from her boyfriend, Mike Delfino, because she has learned that Mike has a criminal record for killing a cop. Susan goes to Noah Taylor’s house to question him about what happened. Noah Taylor (played by Bob Gunton) is the wealthy father of Deirdre, who was Mike’s girlfriend (and Deirdre is now missing and dead). Noah does not answer Susan’s questions, but Deirdre’s sister Kendra privately tells Susan what happened. According to Kendra, Deirdre was a drug addict who had been in and out of jail, and an undercover cop caught her using and made her have sex with him in exchange for her freedom. When Mike found out about this, he was furious and tried to put a stop to it. When the cop pulled a gun on Mike, the two of them struggled and fell over the balcony. Mike got up, whereas the cop died. When Susan learns that Mike killed out of self-defense and went to jail for trying to save Deirdre, she cries and says “I knew he was good.”
“One Wonderful Day” (Episode 23): This was the final episode of Season 1. In it, the mystery of why Mary Alice killed herself, what Paul Young was hiding, and why Mike Delfino was in Wysteria Lane is solved. Essentially, Deirdre (a drug addict) sold Angela (a nurse) her baby, and Angela then changed her name to Mary Alice and moved to Wysteria Lane with her husband and her new child, whom the Youngs named Zach. After Deirdre uses her rich father’s money to track Mary Alice down, she comes to Wysteria Lane and wants her child back. Mary Alice thinks that Deirdre is still on drugs and does not want to give Zach up, so Mary Alice kills Deirdre. But Mary Alice then looks at Deirdre’s arms and realizes that Deirdre had quit using drugs. Mary Alice and Paul dismember Deirdre’s body, place its parts in a toy-chest, and bury the chest underneath what would later become their pool. Mary Alice kills herself years later because Martha Huber, whose sister was a nurse who worked with Mary Alice back when Mary Alice’s name was Angela, knows that Mary Alice bought the baby, and Martha sought to blackmail Mary Alice in an attempt to solve her own financial problems. In this last episode of Season 1, Mike Delfino takes Paul Young into the desert, points a gun at him, and demands to know what happened to his girlfriend Deirdre, but Mike does not shoot Paul after learning the truth; rather, Mike leaves Paul in the desert. Mary Alice’s closing narration is inspiring, for Mary Alice says that she roots for her friends, even if she’s not sure that all of them will make it.
“I Wish I Could Forget You” (Episode 6): Zach Young was the biological son of Deirdre and Mike Delfino, and the adopted son (if you will) of Paul and Mary Alice Young. Susan pays Zach to go to Utah in search of Paul, since Susan wants to keep Zach away from her daughter, Julie. Mike finds out about this and is upset with Susan, and he confronts her when she is trying on a wedding gown, hoping that Mike will propose to her. Susan runs after Mike into the streets, crying and begging him not to leave. After Mike drives away, the other ladies rush to the street to comfort Susan. I love this scene because, a lot of times, we try to keep our pain private and hidden from our friends, and it’s beautiful when our friends can support us, even when we show our sadness in public. You can watch the scene here.
“Coming Home” (Episode 10): Carlos has found religion, and the insidious Sister Mary wants him to go with her on a mission trip to Botswana, to Gaby’s chagrin. When Carlos tells Gaby inside of a church that there are a lot of suffering people in the world, Gaby responds, “And there will be a lot of suffering people in this church if you don’t wipe that patronizing look off your face!”
“One More Kiss” (Episode 11): Betty Applewhite and her sons, Matthew and Caleb (who is developmentally-delayed), have moved to Wysteria Lane. Nobody else in Wysteria Lane knows about Caleb at this point because his Mom keeps him locked up in the basement. This is because Betty thinks that Caleb killed Matthew’s girlfriend Melanie in Chicago, after Melanie rebuffed Caleb’s request to be her boyfriend. The residents of Wysteria Lane think that the Applewhites are hiding something, but they’re not sure what. Melanie’s family hires a private investigator, Curtis Monroe (played by Michael Ironside), to track down Caleb. Curtis enters the Applewhites’ residence to take Caleb hostage, and he falls through the stairs to the basement while his gun goes off. Curtis dies. When Betty and Matthew come home, they see Curtis’ corpse and decide to put it in his car. The corpse is accidentally discovered by Susan, and the residents of Wysteria Lane gather to see what’s going on. Betty at first says to Matthew that she is not worried, but, when she sees the ladies looking at her with suspicion, she says, “Now I’m worried.” Betty was a mother who knew how to keep her cool, but she was worried that her secret would be exposed once the ladies started to talk.
“Silly People” (Episode 14): After Bree sneaks into the Applewhite’s home and sees Caleb in the basement, she demands that Betty tell her what is going on. Betty tells Bree the story, and I’ll quote from wikipedia’s summary of it: “Melanie Foster was Matthew’s on-and-off girlfriend in Chicago. After one of their feuds, Caleb called Melanie and asked to meet her at the lumber yard. Melanie saw this as harmless and agreed to meet him. Caleb told Melanie that if he was her boyfriend he would never break up with her or fight. Melanie laughed in his face. Caleb tried to kiss her, but this made Melanie uncomfortable and she slapped him. This angered Caleb who picked up an axe and killed her. This, Betty believes, is the reason why she felt it was her fault and not his for not protecting him ‘from himself’ since she is his mother and could not see him going through imprisonment or even death.” After hearing this story, Bree puts her hand over Betty’s hand to show compassion.
“Thank You So Much” (Episode 15): Bree has a drinking problem, and Lynette suspects that something is wrong after Bree babysits Lynette’s children and falls asleep, during which time the kids leave the house and go to town. Lynette learns from Mrs. McCluskey that Bree was drunk, but Bree brushes off the accusation when Lynette confronts her. Lynette looks through Bree’s garbage and finds a bunch of wine bottles, and she lines them up in front of Bree’s house (which would make an impression on the socially-conscious Bree!), leaving a note that says “Do you still think you don’t have a problem.” Bree and Lynette then look at each other in silence.
“Bang” (Episode 7): I’d say that this is my favorite episode of the series. Laurie Metcalf plays Carolyn Bigsby, a former neighbor of Orson Hodge, who has recently married Bree. Carolyn thinks that Orson abused and killed his first wife, Alma, and so Carolyn tries to warn Bree about Orson. Bree then informs Carolyn that Carolyn’s husband, Harvey, is having an affair. Carolyn is outraged, and she goes to Harvey’s supermarket and holds it up with a gun. Lynette is in the supermarket with Nora, with whom Lynette’s husband Tom had a one-night stand (before he met and married Lynette) and a child. Nora recently tried to seduce Tom, and so Lynette is upset with Nora (not that she liked Nora in the first place). When Carolyn learns about this, she shoots Nora, who then asks Lynette to take care of her daughter. After Nora dies, Lynette gives Carolyn a sermon about how life is hard, but we should deal with it. When the hostages finally make it out of the supermarket safely, we see Lynette lying on a bed, having her recurring nightmare about the time that she saw Mary Alice shortly before Mary Alice’s suicide. Lynette sees Mary Alice reading the note, “I know what you did, it makes me sick, I am going to tell”, but this time Lynette does something different. She puts down her shopping bags, goes up to Mary Alice, and asks her what is wrong. Mary Alice tells Lynette that she cannot save her, but that she should enjoy each beautiful day. Mary Alice narrates that this was the last time that Lynette dreamed about her.
“Sunday” (Episode 11): I wrote about this episode here. It gets into such issues as going to church and the Bible to find answers, and the difference between ritual confession and genuine repentance.
“Free” (Episode 17): Season 4 introduced Katherine Mayfair into the series. I will not describe her story in detail, but what happens in this final episode of the season is that her abusive ex-husband (a cop) finds her and threatens her, and he is killed. Bree quickly gets her friends together to coordinate their stories so they can lie to the cops and protect Katherine. I found this to be a beautiful scene because the ladies did not get along with Katherine before, but they came to have compassion for her.
“Home Is the Place” (Episode 11): I talk about this episode here. What I liked about this episode was that it highlighted how much Gaby had to give up to take care of her husband Carlos while he was blind. Gaby (a former model) loved jewelry and beautiful clothes, but she had to give those up to meet the family’s expenses. And Carlos had to decide whether to take a job working with the blind, which he felt would nourish his soul, or take a six-figure job in which he could be the shark he didn’t want to be. For Gaby, he picked the latter. I had to admire Gaby for the sacrifices she made, since she can easily come across as a shallow character. But there’s depth there!
“The Best Thing That Ever Could Have Happened” (Episode 13): I talk about this episode here. Beau Bridges plays Eli Scruggs, a handyman who helped people. We learn that he did so because Mary Alice helped him when he was dirt poor, and he felt awful after she killed herself.
“Mama Spent Money When She Had None” (Episode 14): I talk about this episode here. Gaby joins a boot camp to lose weight and fit into a dress. When she does not show up one morning, the Israeli drill sergeant of the camp brings boot camp to her front door! This episode is also noteworthy because Eedie gives Gaby a lecture about humility. Eedie was good at giving convicting lectures, even though she herself was far from perfect.
“Down the Block There Is a Riot” (Episode 10): Paul Young is exacting his revenge on Wysteria Lane because the residents abandoned him during his legal problems. His revenge is to construct a halfway house for released convicts, which troubles the inhabitants of Wysteria Lane. A disturbing riot erupts in protest, and Paul gloats to Lynette that the residents of Wysteria Lane are obviously no better than he is. Lynette is sorry about her role in causing the riot. This episode was disturbing rather than enjoyable, on account of the riot, but my favorite episodes are the ones that stood out to me, not always the ones that I enjoyed.
“Always in Control” (Episode 7): The ladies are covering up that Carlos killed Gaby’s step-father (who raped her when she was younger and came back into her life to threaten her) and that they buried the body in the woods. But Susan is in an art class, and her instructor (played by Miguel Ferrer, whom I know from The Stand) wants Susan to create honest art. And Ben Faulkner, a construction man who has hired Mike, has learned from Bree about what she did to Gaby’s step-father (since Ben is using the land where the guy was buried). Ben asks Mike to bury the body under the concrete of their construction project, and he is surprised that Mike agrees to do so without question (for, unknown to Ben, Mike is protecting Susan). As dramatic music plays, Susan paints a picture in which she and the ladies bury Gaby’s step-father. And Mike is supervising as concrete is poured over the place where he buried the body.
“Suspicion Song” (Episode 8): Carlos is drinking heavily because he feels guilty about killing Gaby’s step-father, and his work suffers. When a rich client learns about this from Gaby, he demands to see Carlos right away. Right when you think that the client is about to chew Carlos out, the client pulls out his sobriety chip and strongly recommends that Carlos get help. You never know who is in AA!
“Any Moment” (Episode 18): Mike Delfino has just been killed, and his and Susan’s son, MJ, is acting out at school. Susan figures out a way that she and MJ can release their anger over Mike’s death—-they throw jars of jam (which were given to them as a gift) against the wall. MJ throws the jars against the wall, and then he just drops a jar to the ground, with a look of dejection on his face. This was a very sad scene. At first, MJ was mad; but then he was just sad.
This series has made me laugh, cry, and think. I picked my favorite episodes based on the ones that made the greatest impression on me. I’ll miss Desperate Housewives, and I wish those involved with the show the best.