"One Wonderful Day" is the 23rd episode of Desperate Housewives, as well as its 1st season finale.
In the first season finale, Bree and Rex make amends but tragedy hits the Van de Kamp family again, Zach learns what happened to his father, Edie meets the new residents of Wisteria Lane, Gabrielle testifies for Carlos, Tom decides what to do with his life... and his wife's, Susan is held hostage and the reasons to why Mary Alice Young committed suicide are finally revealed.
One night, Deirdre Taylor, a patient at a rehabiliation clinic where Mary Alice works, comes up to her and asks her for money in order to buy drugs. The Forrests refuse to give her any money, so she sells them her baby, Dana, because she knows they can't have children. A little later, she is admitted into the Dorothy Drake rehabilitation center after she O.D.'ed, and Angela realizes it is time for her to go. She and her family change their names and move to Wisteria Lane, in the lovely town of Fairview.
Back in present day Fairview, Zach Young tries to return to his house and Felicia Tilman tries to persuade him to return home with her. Felicia convinces Zach his father is not coming back, and in a fit of rage, he attacks her with a hockey stick, demanding to know where his father is.
Elsewhere, Susan tries to reach out to Mike over the phone about finding Mrs. Huber's journal among his stuff. Mike finally answers after a while and Susan tells him she thinks Paul Young is guilty for all of it. Mike says they shouldn't jump to conclusions, and hangs up. It is revealed that in the back seat of his truck, Paul Young is lying, all tied up. Julie is being taken by her father for the weekend. Karl tells Susan that he doesn't like the idea of having an ex-con around his daughter, but Julie ends their talk. She reminds her mother to feed Bongo. Susan heads for Mike's to do so after they leave, and learns that Zach Young is there with a gun.
Edie drops in unannounced. Zach lets Susan open the door after Edie has already seen she's inside, and Edie tells her Felicia Tilman has been attacked at the Young house. She is feeling scared and wants to stay there for a while, but Susan tells her to go away. Susan asks Zach why he attacked Felicia, and he replies by saying that he wanted to know what happened to her father, and now he knows: Mr. Delfino took his father away to kill him; now, he's going to kill Mr. Delfino.
Mike leads Paul into the middle of a desert, puts down a shovel, and holds him at gunpoint. Paul asks Mike why he's doing what he's doing, and Mike shows him a picture of him and Deirdre. Mike asks what she did to deserve her death at his hands, and Paul tells him what happened that night she tracked them down.
Deirdre wanted her child back, but the Youngs refused to let her have him, so Deirdre knocked Paul unconscious with a fire iron. Mary Alice then grabs a knife and stabs Deirdre, ultimately killing her, cuts her up to bits and placed her in a toy chest, planning to bury it under the pool. Young Zach (guest star Tanner Maguire) watched his biological mother's dead body as his foster parents decided what to do with it.
In the present, Mike asks "Deirdre... had a baby?" Paul nods affirmatively and says "Let's just get this over with." Mike aims his gun at him, but then turns his back on him and leaves. Later that night, as the women think about the turns of events that took place the day, Mike arrives home, with Zach waiting there to kill him.
Bree is at the hospital waiting for news of Rex's health. The gals arrive, and she tells them that Rex is being operated on and being given a pacemaker to help his failing heart. Later on, Bree talks to Rex after he wakes up about how she needs to start spring cleaning, and Rex makes her realize that he knows she always finishes spring cleaning by dusting off their wedding silverwear. Bree tells him she always saves that for last because the day of their wedding her aunt Fern told her that during bad times one should always keep in mind that the best is yet to come. Bree assures Rex that he is going to come through his operation just fine because the best is indeed yet to come. They finally make amends.
Rex learns from Dr. Craig that someone must have been poisoning him, and he suspects his wife did it. Shortly after, Rex is having another heart attack, and writes a note to Bree saying: "Bree, I understand and I forgive you." Bree receives a phone call from Dr. Craig while she is cleaning her silverwear, and he tells her that Rex had passed away ten minutes before. Bree resumes her cleaning, she puts away the silverwear, she seats at the dining table, she stares at the empty seat in front of her, and breaks out crying, while the camera zooms in on her wedding picture of her and Rex.
Gabrielle testifies at Carlos's hate crime hearing in order to save him from eight long years of prison. She tells the jury that her husband is a very jealous man and that whenever she would go out, he would worry. Gabrielle then tells the jury that because of Carlos's ongoing jealousy she made him think that she was having an affair when in reality she was not. The judge then decides that the case is simply a misunderstanding and not a hate crime as the court had originally thought. However, when John shows up in court, he whispers in Carlos's ear that he was the man Gabrielle was cheating with. He also said: "Didn't you think it was strange that you had the only lawn on Wisteria Lane that needed to be mowed three times a week?". Several seconds later, Carlos jumps out of his chair and onto Justin, who was the man he attacked. The judge calls for order and Carlos is restrained by court officers, screaming: "I AM GOING TO KILL YOU!!" to John.
Lynette spots Tom (guest star Doug Savant) at the pizzeria playing games with kids and learns he has quit/been fired because of her ruining his promotion. Tom is very furious at her, and tells her to leave before he says something he might later regret. Tom arrives home and tells Lynette that she will be going back to work, and he will be staying home and taking care of the kids.
Edie welcomes new neighbor Betty Applewhite to the neighborhood. She becomes a little curious when Betty and her son, Matthew, appear to be standoffish when she asks to give them a tour of the house because they purchased it sight unseen. Betty tells Edie that everything is fine and she walks off as the mysterious Applewhites look on.
"One Wonderful Day" was directed by Larry Shaw and written by John Pardee, Joey Murphy, series creator Marc Cherry, Tom Spezialy, and Kevin Murphy. The episode was filmed from April 22 - May 3, 2005. The writers were still working on the script when filming began; as a result, the ending narration was written based on the visuals that had been filmed. The episode focused largely on the conclusion of the Mary Alice mystery storyline. Cherry had wanted there to be a "definite end" to the mystery, hoping to avoid similar viewer fatigue that Twin Peaks suffered after drawing out its central mystery past the first season. The storyline relied on two flashback sequences, which featured Jolie Jenkins as Dierdre Taylor. Though "One Wonderful Day" was her first onscreen appearance in the series, Jenkins was cast in the role in the fall of 2004, as scenes earlier in the season required photographs of the Dierdre character. Because no material had been written for the character at the time, Jenkins did not have to audition for the role. ABC executives initially protested the writers' decision to have Mary Alice purposefully kill Dierdre, prompting the writers to make Dierdre violent in order to justify Mary Alice's actions. The desert scenes with Mike and Paul were filmed at a gravel pit composed of old sea bed in Simi Valley. The writers struggled with whether or not to include a gunshot at the end of the episode when Mike returns to his house where Zach is holding Susan hostage. Ultimately, Spezialy convinced the other writers not to include it.
The episode also introduced the second season mystery, which surrounded around the Betty Applewhite (Alfre Woodard) and Matthew Applewhite (Mehcad Brooks). Cherry revealed, "they come on the street; they seem like nice people - but they've got a secret. And it's pretty gothic. It's real and human and awful all at the same time." An additional scene featuring the Applewhite family in which Betty brings food to a prisoner in their basement was cut; however it was used for the second season premiere, "Next". Cherry's inspiration for the Lynette storyline came from his own childhood experience when his mother returned to work. He commented: "The predicament of any working woman is that you can love your career, but there is something ... to be said for getting to stay home every day with your kids, and you don't want anyone else to be better at it than you are. Felicity Huffman expressed satisfaction with how her storyline was handled, explaining that Lynette "didn't deal with [Tom's potential promotion] in the most straightforward way, but she was fighting for her family. They were noble motives." While discussing the courtroom scene in which Carlos attacks John, Ricardo Antonio Chavira commented: "People can see the full rage that is in my character. I'm yelling at him, 'I'm gonna kill you' ... Then I broke into Spanish: "Yo voy a matar!" ... I just went for it ... Then I looked, and Jesse [Metcalfe] had the most honest look of sheer terror. I think I scared the living shit out of him."
The scene in which Susan, Lynette, and Gabrielle comfort Bree at the hospital was the last scene of the season involving the four principle characters. Teri Hatcher commented: "It was a heavy scene. There was a very genuine and deeply felt recognition that all four of us together as a team appreciated the ride we'd had this season and were grateful that we'd survived it together." An extension of the scene, in which the women discuss Susan's discovery of Martha Huber's journal was cut for time, though it was aired on Good Morning America on May 23, 2004, one day after the episode's broadcast, and was included on the first season DVD set. The death of one housewife's husband was confirmed prior to the episode's broadcast. Steven Culp was not surprised when his character was killed off, stating "I had a sneaking suspicion someone was going to go." Producer and writer Kevin Murphy explained the reasoning for killing off the Rex character: "As we neared the end of season 1, our plan was that each woman would enter a new life chapter. Gabrielle would learn to function without Carlos, Susan and Mike would build their relationship, Lynette would go back to work, and Bree would become a single woman. We either had to have Rex divorce her or die. Cherry named the scene in which Bree finishes her spring cleaning before mourning the death of her husband as one of his top three favorites of the season, stating: "It was one of the favorite things I wrote because it was so true to her character. She had to finish the cleaning she started, and she comes in and everything's perfect." A scene between Gabrielle and John was cut for time.
According to ABC, "One Wonderful Day" drew 30.620 million viewers. The episode was the most-watch program of the night, outperforming repeat episodes of CSI and Crossing Jordan on CBS and NBC, respectively, as well as Fox's broadcast of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. The episode was the third most-watch program of the week across all networks and one of only three programs to surpass 30 million viewers.
Entertainment Weekly's Dalton Ross named the episode as one of the season's best, commending the fact that "most of the main questions were actually answered," unlike the season finale of Lost. He praised the Bree storyline as well as the conclusion to the Mary Alice mystery, calling it "both shocking and satisfying." Ann Hodgman of Entertainment Weekly was negative in her review and dismissed the episode for feeling "like a plateful of warmed-up leftovers." Hodgman criticized the writers' decision to devoting too much of the episode to the Mary Alice storyline rather than focusing on the other characters. She wrote that Rex's death did not come as a surprise, noting: "Just as a TV or movie cop is inevitably shot after he announces that he's about to retire, we know it's over for Rex the minute Bree rests her head on his feeble chest and promises him he'll make it." Hodgman stated that her interest in the Gabrielle and Carlos storyline was ruined by John telling Carlos about the affair rather than Carlos discovering it himself. She also declared that the Lynette storyline was "wrapped up almost as perfunctorily, or maybe it only seems that way because it's long been so obvious that they were heading toward one of those folktales where the husband and wife switch places." Hodgman concluded by saying the fates of Susan and Mike are predictable, as the characters are too important to be killed off.
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