Desperate Housewives Series Finale Recap: A Trial, Then Tribulations

Spoilerphobes beware: The following recap spells out exactly how Desperate Housewives tied up all its loose ends, so if the episode is still on deck on your DVR lineup, don’t say you haven’t been warned!

And they all lived…well, not exactly.

Desperate Housewives wrapped its eight-season run with a two-hour finale that featured a death, a birth, a wedding, a reconciliation, a dramatic courtroom confession, and (rather surprisingly) all the members of the original poker-playing quartet exiting Wisteria Lane for good. There were at least two guaranteed tearjerker moments (Tom and Lynette admitting they were still in love; Karen succumbing to cancer as a 45 of her favorite song, Johnny Mathis’ “Wonderful Wonderful,” spun on the record player) and plenty of laughs (thanks mostly to Gaby, Carlos, Lee, and Renee).

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And after a “happy endings” montage peeking into the futures of Bree, Gaby, and Lynette, we got an ominous denouement: Susan taking one final drive down her street, with the (many!) ghosts of all those who died over the past eight seasons watching over her, and then a new housewife moving into the Delfino residence, frantically hiding a box in a cabinet.

That last burst of creepy, with Mary Alice reminding us all that “most people just go on, day after day, trying in vain to keep secrets that will never stay hidden,” was the perfect tonal tonic to her prior platitude (“these ghosts watch, wanting people to remember that even the most desperate life is oh so wonderful”). Because indeed, as much as Desperate Housewives will rightfully be remembered as a frothy suburban comedy, it was its seedy (if not always consistent) underbelly that made it a nervier, more interesting series than it might have been coming from a less puckish mind than Marc Cherry’s.

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Anyhow, here’s how the Wisteria Four’s stories (and others) came to an end:

* Susan, meddling to the end, tried to fix up Julie with her hot obstetrician, but while sparks did indeed fly, we didn’t see if they turned into a fire. Instead, the recently widowed housewife packed up her daughter, son MJ, and grandchild and moved north to help support Julie’s dream to get her Ph.D.

* Bree saw the murder charges against her get dropped when Mrs. McCluskey confessed to the killing of Gabrielle’s stepdad, and eventually wound up pursuing a new romance with her defense attorney Quantum Leap Trip Weston. The epilogue featured the duo getting married and moving to Kentucky, where the most conservative of the housewives got elected to the Kentucky state legislature. (Sadly, no final appearance by son Andrew, whose prickly chemistry with Bree frequently resulted in her best zingers.)

* Gabrielle decided to protect Carlos (and Bree) and confess to the murder of her stepfather, until she got beaten to the punch by Mrs. McCluskey. Eventually, she got promoted to head of VIP sales at her department store, and wound up finding herself and Carlos in a reversal of their Season 1 dynamic: Gaby, job-obsessed breadwinner using gifts to placate neglected Carlos; Carlos, petulant spouse, hiring a hot lady gardener (Without a Trace‘s Roselyn Sanchez, in a sly, wordless cameo) to make his wife jealous. Of course these crazy kids worked it out, and the epilogue showed Gaby opening her own personal shopping site, then scoring a show on QVC. (One complaint: Not enough Juanita!)

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* Lynette finally reconciled with Tom — after a few more silly obstacles — in a very romantic scene in the middle of the lane. But then she questioned everything when Dana Delany’s Katherine Mayfair returned from Paris with an offer to launch the US operations of her booming frozen French food business. One problem: The job required a move to New York. Tom accused Lynette of never being satisfied, but in her matron-of-honor toast at Renee and Ben’s wedding, Lynette realized the hole in her heart she was always looking to fill wasn’t really empty at all. She and Tom made up, and then he encouraged her to take the job. The epilogue showed them in a Manhattan penthouse overlooking Central Park, and later playing in that great green space with their six grandkids.

* Renee married Ben after a ridiculous/hilarious snafu where Julie’s water broke — directly on her wedding gown, Gaby brought her to the department store where they pilfered a $6,000 wedding gown, and the duo walked/ran to the wedding after Susan hijacked the limo to bring Julie to the hospital.

* Mrs. McCluskey passed away at home — but only after Lynette, Gaby, Bree, and Susan intervened: Agreeing to help with around-the-clock care for their ailing neighbor so she didn’t have to go to a Hospice facility.

Quotes of the Night
“Wow! It kind of smacked me back!” –Susan, after spanking Lee’s surgically enhanced rear end

“Correctional facility isn’t exactly my dream venue.” –Renee, lamenting Ben’s trip to jail on the eve of their wedding

“Don’t touch me.” –Bree, surreptitiously hissing at Trip after faking a fainting spell during Gaby’s explosive testimony

“I’m wearing a wig and toting an oxygen tank: Does it look like I’m gonna make it to Monday?” –Mrs. McCluskey, nudging Trip not to delay her testimony

“Honey, I’ve always been in charge.” –Gaby, responding to Carlos’ plea that she tell the girls that she’s in charge once their daddy winds up in prison

“I followed him in, I picked up the candlestick, and I killed that son of a bitch.” –McCluskey, making a dramatic courtroom confession and exonerating Bree (Seriously, though, the prosecution just let the old woman off without a slap on the wrist?)

“The women don’t shave and the men carry purses.” –Katherine, describing her confusion over who’s a man and who’s a woman in France

“Carlos, you help the poor and downtrodden, a group of people with a very flexible schedule.” –Gaby, trumping her husband’s calendar

“Mom, I just felt the baby tap out ‘make her stop’ in Morse code.” –Julie, trying to get her mother to stop setting her up with her OBGYN

“You had nine months, and this is the moment you picked?” –Renee, reacting to Julie’s water breaking on her wedding gown

“That’s easy: You and me are doing a tango.” –Carlos, responding to Gaby’s question why other people seem to waltz through life without arguments and drama

“That hole in your heart that you’re trying to fill is already filled: You just forgot. Don’t ever forget. Always rememember how much you wanted to be loved, and are loved.” –Lynette, apologizing to Tom through her wedding toast to Renee

And now it’s your turn: Hit the comments with your own opinions on how Housewives ended! And for all my TV recaps and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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150 Comments
  1. dlrose51 says:

    When you think about it, Wisteria Lane had quite the body count! There were 36 people who died on the Lane or in Fairview, most not of natural causes! More than 2 dozen characters committed felonies! Makes you wonder how the housewives were able to sell their houses to move?? Would you want to live there??? Here’s a list of the body count:
    Mary Alice Young
    Noah Taylor, Zach Young’s maternal grandfather
    Martha Huber
    Felicia Tillman, Martha’s sister & Beth’s mother
    Beth Young, Paul Young’s 2nd wife & Felicia’s daughter
    Edie Britt
    Dr Samuel Heller, Dave Williams’ (Edie’s 3rd husband) psychiatrist
    Mrs McCluskey, her husband, & son
    Ida Greenberg
    Mona Clarke
    Eddie Orlofsky’s victims: Unknown woman, Emily Portsmith, Irina, & his mother Barbara
    Karl Mayer, Susan’s 1st husband, Edie’s ex-finance, & Bree’s lover
    Mike Delfino, Susan’s 2nd husband
    Juanita “Mama” Solis, Carlos’ mother
    Alejandro Perez, Gaby’s stepfather & abuser
    Victor Lang, Gaby’s 2nd husband
    Ellie Leonard, Gaby’s tenant
    Bradley Scott, Carlos’ boss
    Nora Huntington, Tom Scavo’s lover & mother of Tom’s illegitimate daughter, Kayla
    Rex Van de Kamp, Bree’s 1st husband
    George Williams, Bree’s obsessed ex-fiance
    Chuck Vance, Bree’s boyfriend
    Alma Hodge, Orson’s 1st wife
    Monique Polier, Orson’s and Harvey Bigsby’s lover
    Caroline Bigsby, Orson’s former neighbor & wife of Harvey Bigsby
    Dylan Davis, Katherine’s biological daughter
    Wayne Davis, Katherine’s 1st abusive husband
    Lillian Simms, Katherine’s aunt
    Matthew Applewhite, Betty’s son
    Curtis Monroe, Hitman hired to kill Caleb Applewhite
    Patrick Logan, Angie’s ex-lover & biological father of Danny

  2. Bad Cats Mom says:

    No one cares that Gaby never found Grace again?

  3. D Sharma says:

    wait, so what was the whole deal at the end with the girl moving into susan’s house? is there going to be a new tv show based on that?

  4. Harline says:

    Liked all but the very end, in which it implied that these dear friends, after all they’d been through together, never saw each other again. My life experience has taught me that the deep friendships women develop often continue despite moves and changes. Would have loved to have seen them agree to meet regularly to catch up with each other and play some poker, rather than imply “Well, that’s that, we used to be friends, but too busy now”. That didn’t seem in character, even, for these women who had sacrificed and done so much for each other for 8 years. Would have been typical of them to have met each other regularly even if it meant making kids, hubbands, etc. mad at them. Never bothered them before…. So that part was very disappointing, never mind serving as a poor example of friendship.

  5. Judie Wille says:

    So sad to hear Karen (Mrs. McCluskey) passed away yesterday from lung cancer. She must have been really sick when she performed the last show and how brave it was of her to play the part that she was dying of cancer when in real life she really was. To me that takes great acting ability. I thought she made the season finale really memorable and sad. RIP Karen.

  6. regine says:

    NO ONE mentioned Mrs. McCluskey who was by far the most interesting character in the whole lot AND the very best actress!.. shame on you.

    • dlrose51 says:

      Actually MANY posters mentioned how poignant the scenes with Mrs McCluskey were and how they were the best part of the finale, although very sad. It was particularly touching knowing that the actress who portrayed her, Kathryn Joosten, was battling cancer herself. It is even sadder knowing that she had to have known that her own days were numbered when she did those scenes. She was one of the few realistic characters on the show and totally relatable. A great deal of the credit for that goes to Joosten, who is gone too soon.

  7. abcdefghijklmnop1rstuvwxyz now i know my abc's wont you sing along with me says:

    its funny how unrealistic drama’s are looking at how many people died in the show, still love it though :)

  8. Amanda says:

    Watched since the very first episode. This was a awesome tv series wish they would have another season. I will miss this show.

    • Nicola says:

      I loved this show so much too. I will really miss it!
      It was SO well written, well cast and well acted. Lots of different stories packed in every episode. Funny, sad, serious, mysterious……LOVED IT!
      I never wanted it to end……ever! (Like sex & the city!) : (
      I am torn with my feelings towards the ending.

      1.I wanted to see them all stay on W. lane and grow old together. It made sense that for all this time, thats what the show had been about. As i was upset form Mrs. Mc.Cluskeys death, i was praying for a perfect happy ending.

      (Agreeing with another comment, it never had some of the character’s future endings.
      Also could have done with being 3 hrs long so they could throw in a brief reminder of previous episodes,as couldnt remember alot of the dead people. Ha!
      Yes where was Bree’s son & daughter & all the other women’s kids in the future?
      Where was Edie & Orson with the dead? Ooh and the weird & annoying policeman! (Bree’s b.f)

      2. I use to watch this with my Dad who passed away 2 yrs ago. It was hard letting go to something associated with him, but then seeing the characters move on, felt almost like a message to myself that life and people move on. Maybe a more realistic ending.

      (As i was just googling info on last show, i just read about Mrs. Mc.Cluskey)
      Very very sad. What a brave lady. What brilliant acting……………… R.I.P.

      Think my Dad would agree: An excellent show that went out on a high!

  9. Beccy m says:

    Crying so much! Watched all 8 seasons about 3times in a row now and love them! Was disappointed about the lack of ghosts, over 30 people died in desperate housewifes and some of my favs weren’t there :( most missed character Eli Scruggs(the handyman) <3

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