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Oh, Mary Alice, what did you do?
Mary Alice Young (formerly Angela Forrest) is the omniscient narrator of Desperate Housewives, as well as one of its titular characters and occasional protagonists. A warm, seemingly happy suburban housewife, Mary Alice broke the thin layer of perfection covering Wisteria Lane the day she put a gun to her head and shot herself. From then on, and from her elevated state of point of view, Mary Alice has been waxing poetic on the not-so-perfect lives of all of her friends, neighbors and family members, as well as other residents of Wisteria Lane. No one there is safe from Mary Alice's insightful observations and intimate knowledge.
Mary Alice's sudden death inspires her circle of best friends to try and figure out the secrets she was keeping that constituted reasons for her suicide, which triggered the events of the series. Meanwhile, Mary Alice serves as the narrator and commenter for their lives, sharing with us all the juicy tidbits. Some secrets need to be told, and nobody dishes the dirt in a more comforting, neighborly way than Mary Alice Young.
There was a time when my husband and I were very happy. I remember warm summer afternoons. And backyard barbecues. And laughter with friends. Our life was like some kind of suburban dream. But the day comes when we all must wake up...
Mary Alice Young reminds us of the dark story of her family, and we are treated to a sequence of images depicting her narration. Mary Alice and her husband Paul are shown as the typical, seemingly happy suburban couple, the kind that hosts barbecue parties for the neighbors. Their veil of happiness is ripped, however, when Mary Alice receives a threatening letter in the mail, and decides to commit suicide by gunshot in order to protect her family's secrets. Her widower found out who wrote the letter, neighbor Martha Huber, and murdered her in a fit of rage. Martha's wicked sister, Felicia Tilman, figured out he did it, and got her revenge by faking her own death and framing him for her murder. However, many years later, Felicia was caught speeding and driving without identification, and the world came to know that she was very much alive, so Paul was released from prison and given a nice settlement to make up for the time he spent being wrongly incarcerated. Paul then decides to move back to Wisteria Lane, the street he once lived in with his family, all with the intent of setting out against his neighbors and former friends, who all abandoned him during his time of need. The housewives are all shocked to find out he's back, and feel sort of bad knowing that he was wrongly convicted, but that doesn't diminish the fact that they're creeped out by his return. Mary Alice tells us that there are many ways to deliver bad news, but sometimes bad news can be good ones in disguise. Felicia herself is jailed, but that doesn't stop her from pursuing a plan for revenge of her own... ("Remember Paul?")
Gabrielle wonders if maybe she cheated on her husband, because their daughter's blood type isn't compatible with theirs. Mary Alice then tells us that this leads her to come up with a plan to maybe later on justify her treason: she pretends to have sexomnia. Mary Alice's widower tries his best to keep up a façade of the 'perfect neighbor', and manages to catch everyone off-guard when he introduces the lane's residents to his second wife, Beth, whom he met while in prison. Beth, a 30-year-old pretty blonde, seems to be a somewhat insecure young woman, and rather reluctant to find herself in a fleshed-out marriage, seeing as how up until that point her relationship with Paul was based mostly on love letters and conversations through the plexiglas. However, Paul, having been alone for many years, is excited over starting a new chapter in his life, with his second wife. However, he is soon discouraged once he learns that Beth isn't keen on engaging in sexual intercourse with him for the time being. When she continually turns him down, Paul rubs her love letters in her face, and they are rather saucy, a characteristic that Beth herself doesn't seem to have in her anymore. Beth eventually lets out that she thought Paul was gonna stay in jail, and her husband is frustrated by this. However, he tells her that he knows she has issues and he will be patient, but he can't be patient forever. Mary Alice then tells us of how people try to soothe their personal pains, but how it is often a very hard task to accomplish, because very often there is only more pain to come. ("You Must Meet My Wife")
The narrator tells us about how we all search for happiness in some way, which relates to Tom's ongoing problem with post-partum depression. She also tells us that sometimes happiness is right in front of us, we were just unable to see it. Also, the ladies come over to invite Beth Young to a game of poker with them, and Paul is suspicious that they might have an ulterior agenda: digging for dirt. During the game, Beth tells them about how she met Paul, after seeing his picture on the newspaper. She just knew he was innocent, and then they met in prison and fell in love. The ladies don't seem to believe that he's innocent, and Beth can't quite figure out why, until elderly busybody Mrs. McCluskey tells her that everyone believes that Paul killed Felicia Tilman's sister Martha - Mary Alice's blackmailer. Later, while serving Paul his meal, Beth tells him that she knows now that his neighbors think he killed Martha. Paul assures her that Felicia spread her poison well before framing him, and Beth believes him, and says that she fell in love with him before all the murder stories, so even if it all turned out to be true, she would still side by him, and he should never forget that. ("Truly Content")
Mary Alice tells us that Carlos could immediately tell that his biological daughter is theirs, because she shares many similarities with Gabrielle. Meanwhile, Beth is surprised and confused to find out that Paul has bought the old house that he once shared with his first wife, Mary Alice, and their son, and Paul won't disclose of the motives why. He then tries to poach Mrs. McCluskey into selling him her home too. That night, Beth notices a light in the old Young home, and heads there, wherein she spots Paul alone in the dark. She asks him what he's doing there, and why he would wanna purchase a place that is probably filled with so many bad memories. He claims he doesn't have bad memories from that place: mostly, he remembers sitting in the couch with his wife, drinking coffee, or in a chair, reading to his son, or decorating the Christmas tree in a corner with his family. He tells Beth he was happy there. He was in a real marriage. She asserts that their marriage is real, she just has to adapt to living with him first, and he doesn't make it any easier on her by keeping secrets. Paul says she is right, and, when he proceeds to leave, finishes off by saying "Secrets are why this house is empty right now". However, Karen later tells Beth that Paul tried to buy her house, and the young blonde is further frustrated to find that her husband is still keeping things from her. Mary Alice tells us about the importance of purses to women, and what they say about their owners, whether they themselves know it or not. ("The Thing That Counts is What's Inside")
We are introduced to Emma Graham, an ordinary housewife with an extraordinary dream: to perform at a cabaret show. Emma makes her dream come true, only to see it interrupted by a major catfight between Gabrielle Solis and Renee Perry. The narrator also tells us about the trying times her best friend Susan Delfino is going through, finding herself forced to strip for the Internet in order to afford moving back into her house. Later, her widower, Paul, attempts to get his realtor, Lee, to convince Mike and Susan to sell him their house, the one he's currently living in, but the Delfinos don't want that. Mary Alice also tells us that Bree, who has been feeling strained from all the sexual intercourse performed with her younger boyfriend, comes up with the idea to make sure he himself is strained - by giving him a lot of chores to perform around the house. After being fired, Susan is re-hired by her landlady and 'madam', Maxine, because a man keeps calling her, demanding to have a session with Susan. Susan has the session indeed, and it turns out that the man is Paul, revealing that he's become aware of her secret occupation, and blackmailing her into selling him her house. Should she not do that, he'll tell everyone, including her husband and son, about her Internet stripping. Susan is horrified, and Paul's deceased first wife tells us that he knew what he was doing was wrong and dangerous, but he wanted to punish the people who had betrayed him, so he had a plan that would set neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend - a plan that was going to succeed... ("Let Me Entertain You")
We are told that Paul Young is frustrated with his new wife, Beth, who refuses to give up her virginity to him. Halloween comes to Wisteria Lane, and Mary Alice tells us that the only thing Renee Perry, the newest housewife on the lane, is afraid of, is not being the center of attention. Renee invites everyone over for a Halloween-themed party, and almost everyone on the street dresses up, excluding her widower, who is far more occupied with getting Susan Delfino fired from her teaching job after his previous blackmail scheme falls through. Susan finds out that Paul had something to do with her getting fired, and attacks him in their house with her son's plastic caveman club. Paul's second wife, Beth, shows up to defend Paul, aiming her gun at Susan, and the latter leaves. The narrator then tells us that the time comes when we all must face our fears, and it's terrifying to do it alone, referring to how Mike must leave his family to go make some money in Alaska. ("Excited and Scared")
Beth is surprised when her husband invites a fellow ex-con to stay at his old place, to do a job for him, a job Paul won't give her the details of. Beth then confronts Derek, the ex-con, and threatens to call the cops on him - for allegedly trying to rape her, which he didn't - should he not tell her the truth. Beth is therefore clued in on Paul's big plan for revenge and tells him this, whilst standing by him. Paul therefore starts thinking of her as the perfect wife, but Beth proves otherwise when we are shown that she is in fact that the daughter of Paul Young's arch-nemesis, Felicia Tilman... and a pawn in Felicia's own plan for revenge. ("A Humiliating Business")
Felicia advises her daughter Beth to try and get some more info from Paul after they've had sex, because men tend to loosen up more afterwards. Mary Alice tells us that Felicia is growing concerned that Beth might be falling in love with Paul. Beth abides by her mother's advice, and brings up the death of Martha Huber to her husband after sex. Paul convinces Beth that he didn't kill Martha despite what Felicia Tilman might say to others, and that Martha herself had said Felicia was unstable and a liar and thus no one should believe what she says. Paul proves his point by reminding Beth that Felicia cut off her own two fingers to frame Paul. During Thanksgiving, Beth tells Paul a sad story about one of her past Thanksgiving meals with her mother, and Paul, still unaware that Felicia is Beth's mother, tells her that her mother sounds like a woman who isn't very happy. Beth agrees with this. The latter then has a talk with her mother and seems sure that Paul didn't kill Martha, and Felicia can see that Beth has really fallen for Paul, so she lashes out at her daughter, and scares her. Felicia is then taken away by the police officers, as her startled daughter looks on. ("Sorry Grateful")
Paul's malevolent plan is finally revealed: he intends to get permission to open a halfway house for ex-convicts on Wisteria Lane, something that could bring great misfortune to the street's residents. For that to happen, he needs the approval of half the households in the neighborhood, which is why he's been buying so many houses lately. He only needs one more house to get half the votes, and thus puts his neighbors in an awkward position, for if none of them sells their house, Paul's plan falls through, but if one does, everyone else is harmed. Mary Alice tells us that we can't always trust our neighbors, and when we find that the neighbors might be up to no good, maybe the time has come for us to move. ("Pleasant Little Kingdom")
The narrator tells us that we can all recognize the wrong kind of people, and when we see them coming we do what we can to protect ourselves. With this said, her friends, Susan, Lynette, Bree and Gabrielle, rush out to convince the fellow residents of Wisteria Lane not to sell their homes to Paul Young. The latter, however, isn't too preoccupied, as indicated by his first wife. He then tricks Lee McDermott and Bob Hunter into selling him their home, thus turning the rest of the neighborhood against the resident gay couple. Afterwards, during the opening ceremony for the halfway house, the residents of several neighboring streets show up to protest, and a riot ensues, which reaches a catastrophic outcome when Bree shoots her gun into the air to come to her boyfriend's aid and the mob panics. Susan falls victim to a stampede, the halfway house is partially destroyed, and Bob and Lee are attacked by angry rioters. Following the riot, Paul Young takes pride in what happened and leaves his house at night to look at the ravaged street. Mary Alice's widower is then shot in the chest whilst picking up his medallion, given to him for opening the halfway house, and is left for dead on the street, albeit with a smile on his face... ("Down the Block There's a Riot")
Following the mysterious shooting of Mary Alice's widower, she tells us that basically everyone is a suspect in the shooting, because everyone had a motive to do it. However, Paul's second wife, Beth, had only one suspect: her mother, Felicia Tilman. Beth visits her in prison, but Felicia seems surprised to hear about the shooting incident, and admits to not having an idea about it. Beth is still suspicious, and Felicia calls her ally... Mike Delfino. However, Mike himself didn't do it either. Following the riot and the shooting, life must go on for those living on the lane, but the narrator tells us that life doesn't always get better for everyone following a disaster, referring to Susan's newfound kidney problems. Meanwhile, the detectives wonder if maybe Beth shot Paul, and do some digging, only to discover that she is Felicia's daughter. They share this news with Paul, who, despite being shocked, pretends to know everything. ("Assassins")
Following some encouragement from Reverend Sikes to be more inclusive towards Beth, Bree forges a relationship with Paul's second wife, who explains to her that Paul was not a bad person, he's just someone who's been through a hard life, having been arrested for a crime he didn't commit, having lost his first wife to suicide, and having a son who hates him. Bree is moved by this, and asks Beth to come over one night, when she is entertaining for her friends. The remaining women are not happy about this, and Beth realizes that she should go, but Bree tells her not to, then asking for a sidebar with the other gals. In the kitchen, Bree brings up Mary Alice's story, a woman whose pain they neglected to notice and they all can recall her story didn't have a happy ending. She asks them whether they want the same thing to happen to Beth. The girls decide to give it another go, and decide to become friendlier towards Beth. However, Beth soon discovers a gun planted in Bree's living room - a gun similar to the one Paul was shot with. Beth thinks that the women did it and are trying to frame her, but the ladies think that Beth did it and is trying to frame them. However, we learn that the gun had been planted there by the flower delivery guy, who is none other than Mary Alice and Paul's foster son, Zach Young... ("Where Do I Belong?")
Mary Alice reveals to us that Paul has been trying to figure out how to punish Beth for her betrayal. The latter arrives at the hospital to pick him up, and he suggests that they take a vacation, and head to a secluded cabin in the woods. She loves the idea. One night, Paul is unable to sleep, and Beth notices this. He tells her that he has so much hatred inside of him, for his neighbors who forsaked him, for his son who disowned him, and for whoever tried to kill him. He admits that he is tired of hating people but doesn't know how to stop. Beth tells him to focus on the good things in life, like his marriage to her. He admits that all he wanted was for her to love him, and she makes it clear to him that she does. Paul feels further aggravated by this, unable to believe that she actually loves him, and keeps talking about their vacation plans, as it becomes clear to us that he wishes to murder Beth in the woods. However, the detectives handling his shooting case show up with the gun Bree gave to the police, the one planted in her living room, and Paul recognizes it instantly - it's the gun Mary Alice used to kill herself... He then seems to know who shot him and calls off his plans with Beth, then focusing on something else: finding his son. ("I'm Still Here")
Zach's mother reveals to us that, over the year, Zach gradually lost his fortune by giving in to bad habits, such as drug abuse, gambling and loose behavior with women. His foster father, Paul, goes to the mansion that Noah Taylor left his biological grandson, only to find that it's gone into foreclosure. Paul then consults with Mike Delfino, Zach's biological father, hoping to find out where their shared son is. Mike, reluctant to help Paul because of his hatred towards him, tells him he doesn't know where Zach is. However, we find out that Mike recently met with Zach to ask him for money, due to his recent financial problems, but Zach didn't have much money left to loan him. Mike picks up on the fact that Zach isn't doing very well. He then visits him again, and finds out that he's both on drugs and shot Paul. Mike comes clean to Paul, and the two team up to try and help their son. ("Flashback")
The narrator later tells us that Lynette Scavo had grown accostumed to being woken up in the middle of the night to perform her motherly duties. However, when she is one night suddenly awakened because her twins can't tend to simple tasks, she grows tired of it and decides that the time has come for them to move out. Meanwhile, Paul and Mike take an uncooperative Zach to rehab, and it gets ugly when Paul finally confronts his son regarding the shooting incident. Later, at his house, Paul confronts his second wife, Beth, asking her why she felt the need to bring a gun into their home. Beth doesn't have a proper response, and puts the gun away, but the tension is still present. Paul visits his son in rehab, and demands him to tell his father why he shot him. Zach says he wanted his father to die, because he hated him all his life. Paul says that isn't true. Zach says the hate was always a part of him, and it started getting bigger, and one day he realized that such hate was all he was. Paul says that was the drugs' fault, but Zach explains that it was his father's fault, because that's what he does best, he turns people against him, he's evil. Paul says Zach has no idea what he is, how he feels or what he's been through. He then refers to the day Mary Alice shot herself, but Zach says he can't use that as an excuse for what he is, because he is the reason his mom committed suicide. Paul tells him that isn't true. Zach realizes he really hurt Paul. He then tells him trying to kill him was stupid, because him being alive and knowing the truth is way better. Paul tells him his mother loved him, to which he replies no one could ever love Paul. That night, Paul kicks his wife out of his house, revealing to her that he knows her secret. He gives her back her gun and Beth is left all alone with nowhere to go, torn apart from the man she loved but who didn't believe her love. ("Farewell Letter")
The narrator tells us about parents who are judgmental towards other parents, because they disagree with the others' disciplinary techniques. This relates to how Gabrielle feels Lee is being too pushy with his adopted daughter, Jenny. Lee then challenges Gaby to see whose daughter does better at the school talent show, and Gaby accepts the challenge... only to learn that her daughter Juanita isn't good at anything other than armpit farts. Meanwhile, Beth attempts to move back in with her husband, as though nothing ever happened, but Paul dissuades her when he finally confesses to her that he did in fact kill her aunt Martha. All the while, Susan is told by her doctor that her kidney malfunctions have reached a new low, and she might be close to dying. This prompts the ladies of the lane to do a blood drive and search for possible donors, and Bree finds out that she is a match... as is Beth. Bree meets with the depressed young woman, after learning that she and Mary Alice's widower are no longer a couple, and tells her that, even though Beth's a match, Bree herself would like to donate the kidney, because she's been feeling disconnected from God lately and she feels this good deed would help both Susan and her. Beth, having just been disowned by her own mother, doesn't reply at all. However, and as Mary Alice tells us about how we are all always on the lookout for meaning in our brief lives, Beth does later on walk into the hospital, deliver the forms for her kidney transplant... and go on to pull out a gun and put it up to her head, much like Mary Alice did, and shoot herself, after the narrator reveals that some people give their lives meaning by making a great sacrifice. ("Searching")
Bree receives a rather familiar note... ("Secrets That I Never Want to Know")
Following the manslaughter of Alejandro Perez, perpetrated by Carlos, the women find themselves co-conspirators in a murder cover-up. Shortly after the burial of the cadaver, Mary Alice lets us know that the women and Carlos are all overcome with guilt and fear, as they try to carry on with their lives. A month later, they're still desperate, and Bree tries her best to hide the crime from her detective boyfriend, Chuck Vance, and to help her friends deal with their sorrow. Once they all reach an understanding that they will never be able to truly move on or to even tell anyone, a small wave of relief still manages to surface, but the wave is splashed to inexistence when Bree opens up her mailbox one night to find a letter sent by an anonymous individual... with the exact same message Mary Alice got before she committed suicide. Bree's world falls apart at the sight of the iconic phrases that drove her best friend to death. ("Secrets That I Never Want to Know")
Mary Alice considers telling her secrets to her friends, but decides against it. ("Making the Connection")
Following this harrowing discovery, Mary Alice informs us that she and her friend Bree had always led similar lives, striving to uphold a perfect façade that would help conceal a dark interior, filled with secrets and regrets. The newly received letter proved to be the cherry on top of the cake in that comparison game, as Bree's life was turning more and more uncannily like Mary Alice's, and thus she was now filled with a horrifying fear that it might one day end the same way as well. In a flashback, Mary Alice is shown receiving the letter, and then contemplating telling the girls about her deepest, darkest secret. However, she decides against it, so as to not burden them. Later, she's seen loading up the barrel of her gun, about to use it for the first time.
Bree shows her note to Mary Alice's widower. ("Making the Connection")
In the present, Bree tries to keep the letter from her boyfriend, and only tells of it to her friend Gabrielle, who agrees with Bree that Susan, Lynette and Carlos shouldn't be told of it, so as to not add to their list of worries. In prison, Bree has a talk with Mary Alice's widower, Paul Young, trying to know if he's behind the sending of the note, which upsets him a lot, considering how that same message contributed to the ruining of his life. Paul then advises Bree to share her note with the girls, because he can't help but wonder how different things would had turned out had Mary Alice shared hers with them. Later, Bree finds out from Paul that Detective Chuck Vance, the man she is currently in a romantic relationship with, is the man Paul confessed the murder of Martha Huber to, and therefore he knows about the letter. Bree worries that Chuck may have sent it, and Mary Alice tells us that, while some people can often find themselves desperate to reach out to others and make connections with them, through common aspects, others, such as Bree, might find themselves trying to escape from connections they've already made - referring to Chuck. ("Making the Connection")
Mary Alice informs us that the murder cover-up has taken a bigger toll on its perpertrator, Carlos Solis, and the most vulnerable of the housewives, Susan Delfino. The two start meeting frequently and discussing what happened and how they are dealing with their feelings about the matter, and try to help each other mutually, which has repercussions. Meanwhile, Bree tries to find out if her boyfriend Chuck did indeed send her the note that mimicked the one that drove Mary Alice to suicide. However, she discovers otherwise, and later breaks up with Chuck just as he is about to propose to her, which makes him get really mad, and vindictive. ("Watch While I Revise the World")
A jumpy Bree is startled when going through the mail. ("School of Hard Knocks")
Bree is seen by her mailbox, building up the courage to look inside. She does so, sorts through the mail, cautiously, and Gabrielle sneaks up behind her and tells her that doesn't look too suspicious, prompting Bree to be startled. She apologizes to her friend, saying she's been jumpy lately because of the letter they received. Gaby reminds her that it has been three weeks, so maybe they are out of the woods, so if someone was trying to blackmail them, they're not very good at it. Bree wonders what happened to them, if they just disappeared, and Gaby says "If we're lucky." She adds that now that now that Chuck is gone and that Susan is acting normal again, they may be in the clear. However, Detective Chuck Vance is later given a missing person's report with the picture of Alejandro on it... ("School of Hard Knocks")
Mary Alice tells us about the roles people play everyday, just as Carlos gives in to alcoholism to deal with his guilt, and Bree is told by new neighbor Ben that his housing project will develop in Chapman Woods, where Alejandro was buried. ("The Art of Making Art") The narrator then describes to us the meaning of 'paranoia', and lets us know it applies to the housewives on a certain Halloween night, when they return to the woods to unearth Alejandro's corpse, only to find that it's already been somehow dug up. ("Witch's Lament")
Mike is seen disposing of Alejandro's body. ("Always in Control")
Bree later finds out that it was Ben's employees who dug up the body, and Ben agrees to help cover it up after thinking about it for a while. He hires Mike Delfino to dispose of the cadaver properly, under the site of the construction, and Mike does so, in a manner akin to how Deirdre Taylor, his former girlfriend and Mary Alice's victim, was buried. Meanwhile, Chuck Vance, on the trail of Ramon Sanchez, the missing person he once saw hanging about on Wisteria Lane - who happens to be Alejandro, grills and intimidates Bree, and comes to realize that she is lying about not knowing who Ramon is. ("Always in Control") Mary Alice then tells us about the peacefulness that usually reigns on Wisteria Lane at night, one that is disrupted one particular evening when Detective Chuck Vance shows up on Bree's house, allegedly after a break-in has occurred. Bree feels more and more shaken by his presence, and, after being shunned by her friends, gives back in to her alcoholism. ("Suspicion Song")
When Chuck finally discovers that Ramon Sanchez was actually Alejandro Perez, Gabrielle's stepfather, he decides to open up an official investigation and bring down Bree and her friends. However, he is suddenly run over by an unseen driver. Bree's life spirals out of control as she gives in to despair, losing all grip. She checks into a motel, staying in the same room where she used to consort with Karl Mayer, and brings with her a bottle of chardonnay and a gun.
Mary Alice appears before Bree... ("Putting It Together")
After she puts them both down on the room's table, an inebriated Bree has a brief chat with none other than Mary Alice, who has appeared before her. Bree asks her if she remembers how wonderful life was on the lane; Mary Alice slightly nods. Bree smiles as she remembers her perfect life, complete with a doctor husband, two beautiful children and amazing friends. She begins to cry and asks what happened to her life, so the vision of Mary Alice says "Things change, Bree". Bree tells Mary Alice that she's so unhappy, and after a moment of silence, she asks if Mary Alice is happy now. After a moment of thinking, Mary Alice says "I'm not unhappy". Bree gives her a blue smile. With that, the vision disappears and Bree is left alone, confused and distressed. She then picks up the gun with both her hands as she contemplates suicide. ("Putting It Together")
Mary Alice tells us about Bree's plans to commit suicide, and thankfully Bree is interrupted by her neighbor Renee Perry, who had come to the motel under suspicion that Bree was there with Renee's boyfriend, Ben. The black woman is horrified to find that Bree had planned to kill herself. Bree breaks down and Renee decides to care for her neighbor, going so far as staying at Bree's housefor a while. The following morning, Bree tries to convince her neighbor that she is alright, and that she feels much better and non-suicidal, but Renee won't budge, and Bree soon learns that this is in part thanks to the fact that suicide hits home for Renee.
Bree and Renee bond over the topic of suicide. ("What's to Discuss, Old Friend?")
During Chuck'sfuneral, Renee and Bree are sitting side by side in one of the pews, silently. Bree breaks the silence by asking Renee, "So, who was it?"; "Who was what?", asks Renee, to which Bree replies, "The person you knew, who committed suicide." Renee tells her that's something she only discusses with friends. After a short period of further silence, Renee finally says, "It was my mother." Bree turns her face back to her, with surprise, as Renee goes on to say, "She tried it once before... pills. But I found her in time. And then, one morning, I saw that look in her eyes again... not sad, just... empty. She swore to me she'd be fine, so I... I went to school. And by the time I got back... well, how was I supposed to know she was gonna pull it off this time?". Renee gets emotional as she tries to fight back the tears, and so does Bree, as she sympathizes with her story. Bree tells her she's so sorry, and Renee sighs and says, "Yeah. That's what the note said, "I'm sorry". That's it. I don't have a mom for the rest of my life and she thinks those two little words are gonna make up for that." Bree is then silent for a while longer, and then says "Many years ago, a neighbor and a good friend of ours... took her life." By this point, Bree is clearly referring to Mary Alice. "And that lefts us all heartbroken and perplexed. But somehow, when I was alone in that hotel room... I forgot about all the pain she caused." Renee is still trying to keep from crying, and Bree adds, "In those awful moments, I thought maybe she had the answer."; Bree then turns back to Renee and says, "But then you showed up. Thank God."
Bree receives a second letter... ("What's to Discuss, Old Friend?")
Renee faces her as well, and Bree continues: "You will always be the person who saved my life. And now that I've had time to think about it, I realize that makes you the best friend I'll ever have." They both exchange emotional smiles, and then Bree puts her hand on Renee's, as they turn to the front to witness the memorial. Some time later, Bree is horrified to receive in the mail something Mary Alice herself never got: a follow-up letter... one that reads "You're welcome" - referring to Chuck having been run over. ("What's to Discuss, Old Friend?")
Mary Alice looks on as her best friends become more and more bitter towards Bree, blaming her for the unfortunate unfolding of events following the murder cover-up, including the receiving of the two cryptic letters. The amplitude of her vast sight then moves to cover Oklahoma, wherein a guilt-ridden Susan Delfino plans to send the message across to Ramon Sanchez's family - his wife Claudia and stepdaughter Marisa - that he is dead. Susan gets the impression that Alejandro abused Marisa as well, and reassures the young girl that he won't be getting back home. When Bree starts spiraling further and further out of control as she gives in to booze and a looser conduct, Mary Alice is revealed not to be the only one watching over her, as someone else is shown to spend their time looking at the redhead... ("Who Can Say What's True?") Claudia then tracks down Susan and comes down to Wisteria Lane, where Gabrielle finally tells her the truth about Ramon. ("What's the Good of Being Good?")
Mary Alice's best friends are still kind of divided amongst themselves following the streak of unfortunate events they'd undergone recently. Susan, Lynette and Gabrielle are somewhat disgusted by Bree's recent loose conduct, and they later decid to host an intervention, in which they reach out to their former friend and offer her their help. Bree, inebriated, reveals to the three gals that she was so desperately miserable after they abandoned her that she actually considered suicide, and even checked into a motel with nothing but a bottle of chardonnay and a gun. Her friends are alarmed by this, but Bree chooses to forego the intervention. Later, Bree is attacked by a possibly rapist outside her regular club, and her ex-husband, Orson, shows up to defend her, with Mary Alice then telling us that love can sometimes bring back people into our lives, much to our surprise.. ("Is This What You Call Love?") It is revealed that he was indeed the one behind the letters and the murder of Chuck, as part of a major plan to make Bree miserable and lonely so that he could sweep in and play the part of the hero who turned her life around. Orson had witnessed the major events related to the murder of Alejandro, and thus sent Bree the note that drove her best friend to suicide, knowing the effect it'd have on her, and later killed Chuck when he vowed to ruin Bree's life, sending her a second letter afterwards. Orson then decides to complicate Bree's life even further by sending the Fairview police documents telling them she was involved in the disappearance of Ramon Sanchez. ("Get Out of My Life"/"She Needs Me")
"...Before you know it... the gift is gone." ("You Take for Granted")
The matriarch of Wisteria Lane tells us that everyday there are people we see regularly but whom we often take for granted, and adds that, in a short time, one person on the lane will be dead. In the following days, several people go through life-threatening experiences: suicidal Karen McCluskey is almost run over, Bree Van de Kamp eats a poisoned pie, Jane Carlson chokes on a cheese puff and Juanita Solis almost falls from her rooftop. However, Mike Delfino, Susan's husband and long-time Prince Charming, winds up being the one to bite the dust, when he is tragically shot in the heart by a loan shark he'd feuded with. Mary Alice caps off the moment by telling us that we all take the gift of life for granted, and it's a pity that we can't stop time, because before we know it, the gift is gone. Mary Alice's first great friend on the lane, Susan, then mourns the sudden passing of the love of her life. ("You Take for Granted")
Following Mike's tragic demise, Mary Alice tells us about the affairs the loved ones must tend to in order to prepare for the honoring of the dearly departed. A devastated Susan is shown selecting a coffin, a headstone and the outfit Mike wears to his grave. Afterwards, the day of the funeral, the narrator tells us what is going on inside the minds of her best friends as they all grieve the death of their friend and neighbor, and learn something from it. Seeing Susan lose the love of her life makes Gabrielle think about the love of hers, which leads her to accept his decision to become a counselor. The ending of Susan's marriage gets Lynette thinking about the beginning of hers, which leads her to decide to get her husband back. Bree is forced to take a detour from the funeral to be questioned by a detective, and she is reminded of how she'd handled powerful men in the past. And Susan is reminded of key moments in her marriage to Mike, and delivers a heartfelt, heart-wrenching speech before her friends and family members, dedicated to her beloved late spouse. Following the funeral, Mary Alice tells us that even though death takes so much from us, it also gives us something of value, for it teaches us what is truly important in life. ("Women and Death")
The narrator tells us about the upcoming nuptials of Renee Perry and Ben Faulkner, about Bree Van de Kamp finding out that the cops have found the corpse of Alejandro Perez/Ramon Sanchez, and then reveals to us that Gabrielle Solis hopes to water down the fact that she is basically unemployable by engaging in serial-shopping. ("Any Moment") Later, Mary Alice looks on as her friend Bree is arrested during Renee's bridal shower for the murder of Ramon Sanchez, and comments that her reputation is being tarnished by this ordeal. ("With So Little to Be Sure Of") Mary Alice's other themes of narration include the loss of one's power over themselves ("Lost My Power"), and the intense emotions stirred up in her friends during Bree's trial. ("The People Will Hear") Mary Alice then comments on the sensationalist trial, which comes to an end when the heroic Mrs. McCluskey takes the stand and falsely confesses to having killed Gaby's evil stepfather. Both Bree and Karen are cleared of all charges, and thus the cover-up finally reaches its happy ending. ("Give Me the Blame")
Mary Alice, arriving on Wisteria Lane, ready for a new start. ("Finishing the Hat")
In a flashback, we are treated to the day Mary Alice Young moved to Wisteria Lane. Martha Huber, wearing her well known multi-colored squared shirt, gets out of her house. Mary Alice Young gets out of the moving van, looking excited. Martha rushes over to her and gives her a big welcome to the neighborhood. She introduces herself and extends her hand to Mary Alice, who shakes it and introduces herself as well. "So,...", Martha says, "you got a husband? Mine's dead." The bluntness and the rapidity with which the phrase was uttered surprises and confuses Mary Alice, who simply says "Oh, I'm sorry." "Me too.", says Martha, before adding, "In theory." Mary Alice chuckles and tells her she has a husband and a son, who are in a second van and will be there soon. Martha notices one of the movers bringing in a patio chair, and comments that she used to have a chair just like that, but it kept breaking so she threw it away. "I hate cheap furniture.", she says. A dazed Mary Alice tries to excuse herself, saying that she should go help the movers, and tells Martha it was nice to meet her. Mary Alice enters her property and Mrs. Huber follows her, saying she hardly knows anything about her.
Martha Huber annoys Mary Alice. ("Finishing the Hat")
Mary Alice is clearly slightly annoyed, and when Martha asks her where she and her family are from, she is caught off-guard. She dismissively tells her "Up North.", but Martha stops her, claiming that that doesn't tell her anything. Mary Alice tells her it's a small town and she wouldn't know it, to which Huber responds: "Try me." Mary Alice turns to her and asks why she needs to know that, and Martha wonders why she doesn't want to tell her. Mary Alice says, "Well, it's no big deal, it's just..."... and stops, unable to respond. Martha then realizes her neighbor is hiding something, and makes it her mission to figure out what that is. We are then re-treated to Mary Alice's suicide, intertwined with a shot of some of the series' most notable moments.
Mary Alice's ghost. ("Finishing the Hat")
When Susan Delfino leaves the street, she is watched by several ghosts of people who had been a part of Wisteria Lane, including Mary Alice herself, the final ghost shown, who smiles as she looks at her best friend, leaving the lane, ready to take on whatever challenges life has lined up for her next. She then provides her final narration, commenting about how people go about life the wrong way, trying to hide secrets that will refuse to stay hidden, whilst referring to the new resident of Susan's house, Jennifer, a new housewife, with a big secret... ("Finishing the Hat")
- Mary Alice Young typically serves as the narrator of the series, except for two episodes: "My Husband, the Pig" (3.16), which is narrated by Rex Van de Kamp (Steven Culp) and is more male-oriented; and "Look Into Their Eyes and You See What They Know" (5.19), which is narrated by Edie Britt (Nicollette Sheridan), and centers around that character. Considering that Mary Alice provided original narration for the "Previously on..." segment of 3.16, but no such segment was featured in 5.19, the character only actually has one absence over the course of the entire series.
- Despite her record of appearances over the course of the show as a narrator, Mary Alice has only actually been physically seen, on-screen, in a total of 17 episodes: "Pilot", "Pretty Little Picture", "Guilty", "The Ladies Who Lunch", "One Wonderful Day" (season 1); "There is No Other Way", "Remember, Part 1", "Remember, Part 2" (season 2); "Bang" (season 3); "Smiles of a Summer Night", "Free" (season 4); "The Best Thing That Ever Could Have Happened" (season 5); "Epiphany" (season 6); "Remember Paul?" (season 7); "Making the Connection", "Putting It Together" and "Finishing the Hat" (season 8).
Behind Closed Doors
The character is played by actress Brenda Strong, and narrates the series from beyond the grave; the character's suicide in the pilot episode served as the catalyst of the series. Marcia Cross originally auditioned for the role, but was given the part of Bree Van de Kamp instead. In the original pilot episode, she was portrayed by Sheryl Lee. Her narration technique is akin in style to Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology.
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the character.
- Mary Alice and Edie's relationship has never been explored in flashbacks, and neither have ever been seen together in any sort of backstory. However, Edie referred to Mary Alice as her "friend" in "Back in Business".
- All the members of the original Young family have killed someone: Mary Alice killed Deirdre Taylor, Paul killed Martha Huber, and Zach killed his biological grandfather Noah Taylor.