"Pretty Little Picture" is the 3rd episode of Desperate Housewives.
Mary Alice Young's face is shown, inside her cremation coffin. The lid of the coffin is moved, and it covers her face entirely. A label reads her name. Someone's hand turns on the incinerator. The pyre opens up and its fire is seen, flailing about.
The coffin makes its way to the fire. Back on Wisteria Lane, smoke is coming out of some chimnee before the camera pans to reveal the idyllic neighborhood.
The camera then focuses on the window of Bree Van de Kamp's bedroom, wherein some light is on. Bree is lying in bed, all alone, all awake.
Bree taps her fingers, rather anxiously. A flashback ensues, and we are treated to a normal dinner party night over at the Van de Kamp household, in which they have invited Paul and Mary Alice Young over. Mary Alice is engaging in a conversation when Bree shows up with a tray of exquisite appetizers.
Later, Paul, Rex and Mary Alice are all sat at the dining table, and Bree, being the ever-perfect hostess, lights up a flambé with brandy, with confident dexterity.
Once the lovely gathering is over with, and the Young couple bid farewell, Bree says "Bye", gently, and closes the door behind them.
Bree turns to her husband, and starts to ask his opinion on the previous well-spent evening, but he is already headed off, seemingly ignoring her.
The camera pans to Bree, who, as indicated, has fear reflected in her eyes. Once the flashback is over, Bree is still seen lying in her bed, tapping her fingers.
Bree checks the clock on her nightstand and then gets out of bed. Shortly afterwards, she is seen coming down the stairs into the living room, where Rex is sleeping on the folded out sofa. Bree whispers his name and taps him, which wakes him up. Rex tells her it's not even light out, and Bree turns on a lamp, and then proceeds to remove the cover from him, telling him to hurry because if the kids see him down there they'll start asking questions. Rex tells her they can ask because he doesn't care anymore, and Bree lets him know that she does care, as she removes the pillow from under his head. Bree tells him the least they can is try to keep up appearances, and Rex, rather sarcastically, tells her he keeps forgetting about 'appearances'. Bree sits down next to him and tells him he looks so tired, and Rex reveals that he couldn't sleep, because the sofa bed is too uncomfortable. He gets up and so does she, suggesting in the meantime that he move back upstairs and sleep in their bed. Rex tells her he thinks that'd confuse things, since they're in marriage counseling. Bree comes out with the truth that she misses him, and Rex says he knows she does; he then says that if he doesn't get some sleep soon he'll be forced to move back upstairs out of sheer exhaustion. He then heads upstairs, and Bree reveals a rather wicked grin. Once Rex is surely gone, she reaches for a pair of pliers hidden in a drawer, lifts up the mattress from the sofa bed's frame, and we can see several metal springs have been cut and are jutting straight up, so as to provide discomfort to the person utilizing the mattress.
Bree proceeds to cut one more spring and aim it up. She then taps the end with her finger to make sure it's really prickly. She then puts the mattress back down over the jutted up springs.
The morning dawns on Wisteria Lane, as a paper distributor strolls down the lane in his bicycle, throwing newspapers (The Fairview Herald) onto people's lawns.
Lynette is reading the business section of the newspaper, sat at her kitchen table, while Parker fishes for some cereal in a bowl and Preston and Porter fight with their toy swords.
Gabrielle is seen reading the fashion section, while Yao Lin, her maid, pours her some coffee.
Bree is reading the domestic section, but she pauses to rearrange a flower that was sticking out of her centerpiece vase.
Susan is eating a pastry while reading the front page of the newspaper, and Julie, eating a bowl of cereal, stops what she's doing to whipe down her mother's mouth. Susan is then alarmed by something she sees: the date - October 15, 2004. Susan appears to have been overcome by a sudden realization, so she gets up and heads towards her calendar. There she finds a yellow post-it note, glued over days 15 and 16, that says "Mary Alice's dinner". Shortly afterwards, Susan walks on over to Lynette's house, trying to avoid all the scattered toys. She knocks on the door and holds. The door opens and Mary Alice answers, saying "It's about time." It's a flashback. Susan, looking different, with her hair tied, begs of her, jokingly so, to be nice, because she's come bearing snacks - she lifts up two bags of chips. Mary Alice opens way for her and we hear Bree telling Lynette that the cards are sticky, to which she responds that Preston used the three of diamonds to scoop jam out of the jar. Gaby jokes that they're thankful to have 49 cards left to play with. Susan greets the rest of the ladies and, as she sits down, Mary Alice tells her she was just telling the girls she wants to throw a dinner party. Mary Alice says they've never done a big group thing, and Bree agrees that it's a great idea. Gaby nods affirmatively, and Mary Alice says, as they all reach for cards and arrange their hands, that Paul never likes to have people over, but they're gonna do it anyway. Susan asks when the 'shindig' will take place, and Mary Alice suggests a month from that night, which would fall on the 16th. The girls agree, and Bree asks if they should all make something. Mary Alice says 'no', because this is her party, and she's been wanting to have everyone over for years. "Oh, I'm so happy we're finally doing this. It's gonna be so much fun.", Mary Alice says, cheerfully. The flashback suddenly ends and Susan is, back in the present, still holding by the door, which Lynette opens. She greets Susan, who simply lifts up her post-it note to her face. Lynette says "I know... the dinner." Moments later, the four remaining best friends are all together outside Lynette's property, and Susan asks how they could all have forgotten about it. Lynette says they didn't exactly forget, it's just when the hostess dies, the party is off. Bree is shocked by her candure, and Lynette explains that she's not being flip, she's just pointing out a reality. Gabrielle points out of the sadness of the situation, considering Mary Alice's excitement about the event. Susan says she thinks they should go through with it. Bree wonders if that'd be in poor taste, and Susan says it's a way to honor Mary Alice, as the party was so important to her. Gabrielle says they could all use a fun night, and Bree takes the opportunity to say that she's got some new flatwear that she's dying to show off. Susan asks Lynette, who says she's in, and Bree adds that she'll be making glazed lamb shanks, to which Lynette promptly replies that she's still in - the ladies smile. Bree asks how many she shall be cooking for, to which Gaby says "Seven. Three couples and Susan, does that sound right?" - Susan says, "No, it sounds very, very wrong." The girls sympathize with her, and Bree asks if there's someone she'd like to bring. This said, Mike Delfino, the hunky new neighbor, jogs by, and Susan smiles and waves at him. Mike waves and smiles too, happy to see her, and jogs away. Susan says she 'has an idea', and the girls all catch on and smile. Over at the Solis household, Carlos has just been told about the dinner party by his wife, and he tells her he might be working late that night. He explains that the Dillman proposal is a complete mess, and Gabrielle reminds him that he promised to be home every night that week. As he grabs his briefcase and prepares to leave, he says he'll try but he can't guarantee anything, since this is business. "Yeah, says the prince as he rides off into the sunset.", says Gaby, adding, "Boy, did the movies ever get that wrong." Carlos tells her, while grabbing his keys, that her problem is that she's very tense, and suggests that she should find a way to relax. This said, he leaves and Gaby promptly picks up the cell phone, and calls John Rowland, her teenage gardener and lover, who's in school. He picks up, and after they're done with the 'hellos', Gaby asks where he is - he's in Algebra class. She asks if he's free at 4, and he says he's not sure as he's got track after school. Gaby tells him to get there as fast as he can, as her husband tells her she needs to find a way to relax. He asks if she'd like him to keep his gym clothes on like the last time, and she says "If you would... please."
Switching quickly over to the Scavo Household, a stressed Tom is also told about the dinner party plans by Lynette who explains that "everybody will be cooking something." Complaining that he hasn't had time to unpack yet, Tom states that he just wants to chill out for the next few days. A determined Lynette tries to entice him with promises of alcohol and no children but he doesn't budge, moaning about how hard he has worked and how rest is the best thing for him. Taking a final stab at trying to win him over, Lynette sadly proclaims that she was "really looking forward to a night out." Making a quick apology and using flattery to end the discussion, Tom throws an empty banana skin into the washing basket Lynette is holding and remarks "I mean, do you remember what it is like to work a 60 hour week?" Lynette watches her husband walk off with a dazed look on her face.
Another quick switch to the Van De Kamp house reveals a less than enthusiastic Rex being told of the dinner party by Bree . Before being told all of the details he asks if he has to go, only to be told by his wife that they are the ones who are hosting it. He sighs and begins packing his bag. The torture doesn't end there though as he is sternly told not to drink any alcohol at the party as he gets "chatty" when he has a drink and Bree is concerned that he will "let slip" the fact they are in marriage counselling. Getting ready to leave for work, Rex points out to Bree that "If you spent half as much time working on our problems as you do covering them up..." but is briskly cut off by Bree. He then finally shares his opinion that Bree's excuse of them attending tennis lessons is ridiculous but his wife points out that it is a "plausible alibi" as the nurses at his work will need to know where he is going three times a week. As he walks out the door, Rex jokingly asks "So, these tennis lessons we're taking. How are we doin'?" to which Bree replies that her "backhand is improving immensely" but Rex is still having problems with his serve. Rex nods resignedly and sacastically states "Of course!" before walking out the door.
Outside of Susans House we see a baffled Karl Mayer asking the famous question "A dinner party" while grotesquely scratching his back. In the middle of cleaning her windows, Susan asks if Karl could keep Julie another day to which he agrees to but only for one day as he and Brandi, his secretary and dirty mistress, are going up to their newly bought cabin for a week. A shocked Susan looks over at Brandi who teasingly waves at her. As Karl knocks on the door to signal Julie to come down, Susan resentedly asks "You can afford a cabin but you can't scrape up child support?" A dismissive Karl says that the check is in the mail and an obviously annoyed Susan opens the mailbox and exclaims "No it's not!" Julie walks out the door and sees her parents avoiding eye contact and tells them to stop fighting to whci Susan replies "We are being as nice as we can to one another." As Julie hugs her mother as she walks off, Brandi attempts to throw her empty soda can into the bin but ultimately fails as the can falls onto the grass below.
Zach Young asks his father why he has not put an obituary notice in the paper. Paul tells Zach that he had completely forgotten and asks why. An angered Zach then says to Paul "that when you die, maybe I won't put an obituary in the paper". Paul tells Zach that it is his choice if that is what he decides to do. That evening, Zach finds the gun Mary Alice used to kill herself in the garage which is still in fact loaded. Zach then sits in the dark playing with the gun as Paul comes in. Zach then confronts Paul about why he kept the gun. Paul asks Zach if he has taken his medication today but the question is not answered as the doorbell suddenly rings. Bree Van De Kamp greets Zach as she invites him and Paul to her dinner party. Paul then comes from behind Zach and tells her that they have already made plans. Zach quietly hands Paul the gun. Zach thanks Bree for remembering his mother as she walks away from their home. The following day while Zach is asleep, Paul watches a news report about a mysterious toy chest that was found in the lake days prior. Paul quickly turns the television off and walks away as Zach opens his eyes and becomes suspicious. During the middle of the night, Paul puts a "for sale" sign in front of his house.
Susan reunites with her ex-husband Karl when Julie goes to stay with him for the weekend. Before leaving however, Brandi, Karl's girlfriend attempts to throw a soda can in the trash but it misses and lands instead near Susan's feet. Karl tells Susan to pick it up since she is in the nearest proximity which she ultimately refuses. Susan angered then kicks the can near the sidewalk where Mike and Bongo are walking. Mike asks Susan if she would like him to pick up the can. Later, Karl visits Susan (who has just gotten out of the shower) and asks why she does not like Brandi and for her harsh treatment of him. Susan tells Karl that she is still reeling in from the divorce and not to expect her to be nice to the new girlfriend. Karl tells her that it is not an excuse. Susan is clearly finished talking and shows Karl the door. Susan follows Karl to his car where her towel gets stuck in his car door. Susan is shockingly stripped of her towel and is now naked. Susan panics and runs toward her house which is locked and secretly tries to get back in before someone catches her. She holds a potted plant in front of her body and tries the back door, which is locked as well. She then tries to climb to the window. Susan then falls into her bushes and is discovered by Mike. Mike helps her out and manages to get her back into the house by jimmying a window. Susan then asks Mike if she would like to go with her to Bree's dinner party. Mike accepts and the two end up having a very good evening despite the tension caused by Bree. The following day when Karl brings Julie home, Susan apologizes to Brandi for being immature and that she will try to be more accepting. Brandi accepts her apology and also apologizes to Susan about her behavior as well.
Lynette is happy that Tom has finally returned home from work but becomes angered over a photo taken a few months prior. When Lynette asks Tom if he would come to the dinner party with her, he informs her that he is tired and would rather skip it. Lynette is obviously upset since this party is probably the only social dinner for a while since most of her time is spent with "children under the age of 6" who do not talk as maturely as adults do. Lynette decides to go to the party without Tom who volunteers to stay home with the kids. To give Tom the experience of what it is like to be her, she gives the kids sugar and snacks beforehand which gives Tom quite a night. When Lynette arrives home, he thanks her for giving them sugar as part of her revenge and that they are really raising "little terrorists". The following day, Tom makes it up to Lynette by wearing a sombrero and makes mimosa which leads the two to dance.
As Bree and Rex's marital problems continue to surface, Bree tries to cover up the fact that she and Rex are in counseling since she does not want to be seen as weak or to be mocked for her "failed" marriage. When Rex asks what is their cover, Bree replies that they will be taking tennis lessons as Bree hands him a racket which they will both use as decoys before and after the sessions. However Bree's plans quickly backfire as Rex tells everyone at the dinner party that he and Bree are in marriage counseling. Suddenly, Bree drops a plate but quickly changes her tone as dinner is about to be served. The following day, Bree packs Rex's bags as he tells her that he has checked into a motel and they discuss how they are going to tell the kids about their separation. Bree jokes that she can say that he "went to tennis camp" which Rex does not find in the least funny. Later, Bree visits Dr. Goldfine's office in the hopes that she can talk to him about what happened the evening prior. Dr. Goldfine tells Bree he is in between clients and that she will have to wait until tomorrow's appointment. As Dr. Goldfine walks into the hallway, Bree snoops around and find Rex's tape from his private session. Instead of taking it, she suspiciously comes across a tape labeled "Young, Mary Alice". Bree decides to take the tape for herself to see if it can shed light on Mary Alice's mysterious suicide.
During the dinner, there is awkwardness however Susan manages to "break the ice" by telling her embarrassing story of how earlier that day she was locked out of her house naked and Mike came to her rescue by helping her out of the bush. Gabrielle then says how she and Carlos broke a waterbed in a hotel room and Lynette tells the group that she and Tom were accused of lewd conduct while on Main Street, USA in Disneyland. Bree ends the conversation by telling everyone that, "Rex cries after he ejaculates". At that moment, Rex embarrassed leaves the table, grabs his car keys and leaves as everyone quietly finishes eating.
When Carlos tells Gabrielle that she needs to relax, she calls up John to invite him to come over and "help her" feel better. John comes after school in his gym sweats and begins to take them off as the two make out. Their kissing is interrupted however when a little girl catches them from Gabrielle's door. Gabrielle quickly runs after the little girl and continues to search for her throughout the afternoon. When she finally finds her, she is shaking hands with Carlos who he tells Gabrielle that Ashley and her mom are new neighbors. The following day, Gabrielle visits Ashley who is playing with sidewalk chalk and gives her a new doll as a "bribe". Gabrielle then explains to Ashley that many people can kiss as friends even if they are not married. Ashley nods but tells her that she wants a bicycle if she does not want Carlos to find out. Later on, Gabrielle gives Ashley a top of the line bike which leads her to ask Gabrielle if she will teach her how to ride. Gabrielle tells her some other time but Ashley wants to learn now. Gabrielle, fearing she has no other choice helps her ride (in her heels) until Ashley gets tired. Ashley says that she would like to do it again tomorrow. Gabrielle quickly interrupts saying that she has school tomorrow. Ashley then tells her that she is home-schooled and that she is home all the time. Gabrielle gives a nervous smile as she walks away.
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
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