"Women and Death" is the 174th episode of Desperate Housewives.
On the day of the funeral of Mike Delfino, each of the ladies thinks back on how he had affected their lives. Meanwhile, believing that the investigation died with Chuck Vance, Bree is stunned when she is called in for questioning about the murder of Gabrielle's stepfather, Alejandro.
It is a sunny day on Wisteria Lane. We see Bree, Lynette and Gabrielle all dealing with some of their daily issues - Bree is annoyed with her paper-boy's dodgy aim, Lynette can't seem to get her dryer to work, and Gabrielle is frustrated with her daughter's slipping school grades.
Bree is seen complaining on the telephone about her poor newspaper delivery service, but hangs up after she hears a loud gun-shot outside and the screeching of tires. Lynette is also on the phone and is detailing her dryer woes, before hearing the same sound that Bree did and dashing away. Gabrielle complains down her cell-phone to Carlos about her daughters' report card, but jumps at the sound of the gun and proceeds to run outside.
Gabrielle sprints down the street towards Susan's home. She sees Susan holding onto the bloody corpse of Mike Delfino and drops the report card in shock. Bree and Lynette join her, as the three of them gather around the murder scene.
Susan is shown arranging Mike's funeral - she enters Shady Lane Funeral Home, selects a coffin, picks a headstone, and chooses the clothes that will accompany Mike on his burial.
Meanwhile, at Ben Faulkner's construction site, Detective Murphy's officers are in the process of digging up the body of Alejandro Perez. An officer announces that they've found something. The two detectives stare down at semi-concealed body buried deep under ground.
On Wisteria Lane, Gabrielle is deciding on which dress to wear at Mike's funeral service. Carlos approaches her and asks what she thinks of his suit. His wife compliments him, but spots something under his shirt, and asks what it is. Carlos reveals that he is wearing an Indianapolis Colts football t-shirt under his suit, as a tribute to Mike's adoration for the team. Carlos reminds Gaby that Mike had always suggested he go with him to Indianapolis to watch a game, but he was too busy being a busy executive - helping rich people get richer. Gabrielle becomes annoyed and asks why Carlos is still going on about quitting his job and becoming an under payed counselor. "I'm never going to be able to get you to understand this, am I?", Carlos asks frustrated, "What a difference it would make in my life if I felt that I was helping people." Gabrielle admits she'll never understand and is reluctant to talk about it on the day of Mike's funeral. Carlos thinks this is the perfect day to talk about it, considering his best friend died for helping those in need.
Julie Mayer is attempting to help her depressed mother choose an outfit for the funeral. The doorbell rings and Julie welcomes Reverend Lawson into the house. He attempts to hand over a draft of the plan for the service but Susan dismisses it, concluding that whatever he's drafted will be fine. The Reverend asks if Susan would like to say anything at the service and Susan angrily replies, "What? Like, I wish someone hadn't murdered my husband?". Julie interrupts and reminds Susan that the reverend is only trying to help. Susan apologies to Reverend Lawson for snapping and explains that she doesn't know what to say that would be enough to sum up her husband. As Susan breaks down in tears, Reverend Lawson reassures her that everything is going to be okay. "Please, Reverend", Susan sobs, "If there is one thing I know for sure at this moment it's that nothing is ever going to be okay again." Lynette is also picking out a dress for the service. She hears the sound of a car pulling up outside and glances out of the window - it's Tom and Jane. Lynette makes her way outside to greet them. Tom meets Lynette at the porch and asks how Susan is holding up, while Jane holds back and waits besides the car and looks on. Lynette tells Tom that Susan will be so glad he could make it. Tom is still in shock over the death of one of his closest friends on the lane and Lynette and her estranged husband begin sharing stories they've shared with Mike over the years. They both agree that he was an amazing guy. Lynette realizes she'll never see Mike leave his house again and breaks into tears as Tom hugs her tightly. Jane makes her way over and tells Lynette that she is sorry to hear about Mike and that he seemed like a really good guy. Jane suggests that her and Tom begin to make their way to the church and Lynette starts to head back inside to make her own way there. Tom asks Lynette, much to Jane's apparent displeasure, if she'd like a lift to the church with them. However, Lynette sees the look plastered upon Jane's face, and turns down his offer.
Up the street, Bree is making her way down her lawn, fiddling with her purse, and heading for her car. She bumps into Renee, who is not dressed to attend the funeral. Renee informs Bree that she won't be going to Mike's service, fearing people will judge her for causing Mike's death because he was trying to protect her. Bree explains that today is about honoring Mike and thus, Renee does not get to make this about her guilt. Renee reluctantly agrees and the two link arms as they reach the side-walk. The two part and Bree is greeted by Detective Heredia, of Fairview P.D., Bree says that if he needs information about Mike's murder, she'd be happy to help, but, right now, she is on her way to his funeral. Heredia informs Bree that they've already made an arrest on this case - he is here on an unrelated matter; a missing persons investigation. Bree realizes that the Alejandro murder case did apparently not die along with Chuck Vance and is shocked when the detective requires her to come with him to the station for questioning.
We flash back to the early days of Gabrielle and Carlos' relationship. Gaby is trying on wedding dresses. When Gaby finally decides upon a dress, Carlos' controlling mother, Juanita Solis Sr., expresses her own opinion - she feels it is too expensive. As Carlos and Juanita bicker back and forth (Carlos wants to make his future-wife happy but Juanita would prefer Carlos save money), Gabrielle is forced to wait in the dressing room. Juanita accuses Gabrielle of being a gold-digger and, to Gabrielle's joy, Carlos instructs his mother to be polite to his future-wife, otherwise she'll be dis-invited from the wedding. Carlos continues to express his love for Gabrielle, although Juanita does not approve. Knowing how much Carlos loves her, Gabrielle emerges from the dressing room and asks if he'll purchase a pair of diamond earrings to match her new dress. He agrees. Gabrielle cheers and squeals with happiness, as Juanita looks at her sternly.
Years later, Gabrielle is preparing a tray of food for her two daughters. Carlos returns home and Gaby explains that Juanita and Celia are ill. A bell and a horn are heard from upstairs - the girls are demanding their meals be brought to them immediately. Gaby calls up from the kitchen to let them know she is on her way. She shoves the dinner tray into Carlos' arms, who thrusts it back at his wife, as he has too much work to do tonight to look after the girls. Gaby, who is furious because she has not slept for 4 days because of the girls illness, explains that she can't do this anymore - she is starting to lose her mind. Gaby requires a massage, so Carlos eventually agrees to look after his daughters tonight. Gaby asks how he'll manage to get his work done, to which Carlos reminds her that she is more important. In the third flashback, Gabrielle drops by the rehab clinic where Carlos is being treated for his alcohol addiction, with tacos. Carlos apologetically informs his wife that he's in the middle of something, Gabrielle understands, but insists on entering his room to leave behind the tacos she purchased. Inside, Mike is sat beside Carlos' bed, to Gaby's surprise. Mike explains to Gaby that he's previously had a stint in rehab and knows how hard it can be, so he's come to help Carlos get through it. Gaby is offended that Carlos went took solitude in Mike's company and not hers and she leaves. Mike chases her down the corridor and suggests that Gaby give Carlos some slack, after all, he's going through a tough time. Gaby tells Mike that she just wants to comfort her husband during his time of need, but Mike explains that Carlos doesn't need to be reminded of how he's messed everything up, and this is why he's pushing her away. Mike continues, and he tells Gaby that he believes Carlos is scared that she'll leave him because he can no longer provide for her.
Back in the present day, at the church where Mike's service is being held, Gaby takes the hold of Carlos' hand and whispers to her husband, "Mike was a good man. And so are you. You should quit your job. If being a counselor will make you happy, then that's what you should do." The couple stare lovingly into each other's eyes.
We flash back to a young Lynette and Tom, who are dining together at a romantic restaurant. The bill arrives and Tom insists on paying because he asked her out and it's only fair. Lynette say she'd like to pay and Tom tells her that she can pay for their next meal. Lynette assumes this means he'll be asking her out on a second date. The two slyly flirt with each other, before Tom suggests they tell the HR department, as he is sure they'd like to know that two employees at the business are now in a relationship. "Tom, you don't have to do the whole relationship thing," Lynette replies, "I am not one of those women looking for a ring and kids and a house in the suburbs. Although, I am kind of partial to white picket fences." Tom wonders if there is anyone out there who'll make her change her mind and Lynette tells him she has a plan of becoming the Vice President of the company, so she won't be settling down for the next 7 years. In the next flashback, Lynette is now married to Tom and pregnant. Tom is covering Lynette's eyes with his hands - he excitedly removes them and reveals to Lynette their new home on Wisteria Lane. Lynette smacks Tom for not speaking to her first before attempting to surprise her. She says that buying a house is a decision the two of them should have made together. Suddenly, Lynette gets a sudden burst of cramp and Tom helps sit her down on the porch and begins to massage her ankle. "Come on, admit it," Tom giggles, "This is kinda nice!" Lynette agrees, it is a nice house, but she admits that she has certain things she likes in a home. Tom understands this; he points out that there is a large tree in the back garden for a tree-house, a herb garden, and, of course, a white picket fence, like she always dreamed about. Lynette looks at Tom with a confused look and replies, "Wait, I didn't say anything about a white picket fence." Tom reminds her that she certainly did - on their first date. Tom shares his fantasy of sitting out on the porch, watching their children play, while they sip lemonade, looking over a white picket fence. Lynette smiles and finally agrees that it actually is a nice place. Tom apologizes for doing all this without her, but he knew when she first saw the house that she'd love it. He knows her better than anyone. The two kiss and hug. Lynette quickly punches Tom in the arm playfully before they start cuddling on the porch and looking up and down the street.
In Lynette's final flashback, she thinks of the day that Tom decided to move out, following their separation. Tom is loading boxes and suitcases onto the back of Mike's truck, who watches on. Lynette hands over a collection of CDs and Tom asks if he can take the CD player with him. Lynette wants to keep it, but reluctantly agrees to let Tom have it. As Tom heads inside to fetch it, Mike asks how Lynette is doing. "Great," she replies solemnly, "It's all the fun of a garage sale without making any money and only getting rid of stuff you really like." Mike asks why Lynette isn't fighting harder and she says that it's only a CD player. Mike laughs and explains that he was talking about her marriage. "Lynette, you know me. I hate talking about this stuff," Mike continues, "But everybody on the street knows that you and Tom are supposed to be together." Lynette isn't too sure, she believes with all the bad feelings they share recently, she thinks time apart will help them. Mike shares his opinion - he doesn't think separating will help them. He explains that he has been through this before; one waits for the other one to admit they are wrong and beg to be taken back. The problem is, the whole time one waits, the two just grow further apart. Lynette is confused and reminds Mike that him and Susan got back together. "And I kicked myself everyday for letting it take so long," Mike replies. Lynette looks at the floor, away in her own thoughts. Mike concludes by telling Lynette to make the first move and apologize. Lynette says she can't do that right now - she's too angry. "One day you won't be," Mike finishes, "And I hope it won't be too late."
At the funeral, Lynette is approached by Karen McCluskey, who tells Lynette not to be bothered by Tom bringing Jane with him. Lynette says she is OK with it as she believes their relationship won't last much longer. Karen is interested to know why Lynette thinks this and asks if she has heard something. Lynette replies: "No, I've decided something."
Bree flashes back to her childhood. There, Bree's mother, Mrs. Mason, is busy baking a pie and requires the help of her daughter to whip the cream. As a young Bree whips the cream, Mrs. Mason begins to teach her daughter how to become a woman. Bree is confused, as she thought to become a woman, all she had to do was grow older. "I think you're old enough to learn about 'the mask.' That's what my mother called it," Mrs. Mason says coldly, "It's the face you wear when you don't want other people to know what you're feeling." As Bree continues whipping the cream, her mother teaches her that all well-brought up woman learn to conceal their emotions as it becomes very useful, especially when dealing with men. Bree stops and asks why. "Well, when a man knows what you're thinking it gives him power over you.", Mrs. Mason replies quickly, "For example, if a man knows how much you love him, he'll take you for granted. He'll hurt you. Carelessly. Cruelly. Constantly." She takes the cream out of Bree's reach and begins covering the pie with it. As Bree watches her mother prepare the pie, she asks if her father knows that she loves him. Mrs. Mason's eyes glint and she replies, "Yes! I have told him repeatedly that I cannot live without him." Still curious, Bree continues to ask questions. She wonders why, if her mother is so upset with her father, she preparing his favorite pie. Mrs. Mason admits that over the years, she has forgotten how to wear her 'mask' and now she must do her best to distract 'daddy.' Bree watches as her mother begins to tear up. "Like this pie, when I bring it out, he'll get so excited he won't notice the devastation in my eyes," Mrs. Mason whispers - she then subtly lets it slip that Bree's father is having an affair with his secretary, but Bree is far too young to understand. Mrs. Mason advices Bree to try out 'her mask.' Bree smiles, and her mother informs her that smiling is too much...all she needs is a hint of a smile. Bree relaxes her smile into a small smirk. "Perfect," Mrs. Mason says, congratulating her daughter's effort, "With a smile like that, no one will ever really know what you're thinking." Bree asks if she'll have power over men and her mother whispers viciously, "God, I hope so."
Flashing back to Bree's life with her first husband, Rex, the two have just arrived home and Rex can see that his wife is angry. Bree denies being angry but Rex says that after all their years of being married, he can tell when she's upset and he wants her to be open. "Well, if I'm such an open book, what am I angry about?," Bree asks slyly. The two continue to talk and Rex becomes exhausted by Bree's repression of her emotions. "You know," Rex shouts, "This thing you're doing...You put on this plastic face to keep me in the dark about what you're really feeling. And I walk around on egg-shells for days not knowing which end is up!" Bree admits to her husband that she doesn't feel safe sharing every single thought and emotion she has with him. Rex takes Bree's hand and tells her that she can feel safe with him because he's her husband and he loves her - Bree gives in and confesses that after dessert, he said that Gabrielle was the most gorgeous woman he'd ever met, and this hurt Bree's feelings. Rex laughs at Bree for being so upset about this and announces that he's going upstairs to bed. Bree is hurt that Rex won't take notice of her feelings now she's being open with him. She tells him that she feels humiliated and Rex informs her that she is 'dumb' to feel that way. Bree is offended and she hurries away to the sink, where she stares out of the window. She tells Rex that she is thinking about her mother and her insightful advice. Rex is confused and, feeling no urge to tell him about 'her mask', she says that she'll be up for bed shortly. Her husband turns around to leave, but Bree stops him, and with a small smirk on her face, she reveals her plans to serve Belgian waffles for breakfast - Rex's favorite.
In the present day, at the police station, Bree is questioned by Detective Heredia. He asks her if she has ever met a man by the name of Ramón Sanchez (formerly Alejandro Perez) and Bree informs him that she hasn't. Heredia tells Bree that Ramón disappeared a few months ago and that they just received a tip that he is dead. The detective asks again if Bree has ever met him and she says that his name doesn't ring any bells. To Bree's disbelief, Heredia informs her that someone has tipped them off that she murdered Mr. Sanchez. He asks if Bree killed him and she replies, with a smirk, "Absolutely not." Detective Heredia tells Bree that she is extremely hard to read and she thanks him for his lovely compliment. She asks the detective if he has any more questions for her, as, although she'd hate to rush him, she's awfully late for Mike Delfino's funeral. Heredia lets her leave. Just as soon as Bree is out of sight, Heredia asks his colleague, Detective Murphy, what exactly they've gained by bringing her in for questioning. Murphy carefully picks up a mug Bree was previously drinking tea from and replies, "We've got her fingerprints."
Susan flashes back to her wedding night. She forces Mike to carry her over the threshold of their house. Mike and Susan cuddle on a nearby sofa and confess how happy they are to each other. Susan doesn't think Mike's words of affection are enough and requests that he write her a poem. Mike recites a poem from his childhood; "I love you once, I love you twice, I love you more than beans and rice." Susan giggles and the two kiss.
Next, Bob Hunter meets with a heavily pregnant Susan and Mike to begin writing the couple's will. Susan is reluctant to talk about their deaths, as it is a beautiful day, and they should spend their time outside taking a walk and deal with all the 'talk of death' on a dreary day. Mike excuses Bob by pointing out the bathroom to him, so he can Susan can talk alone. Susan fears that by writing their will so early on they're jinxing themselves and by doing this, they are seemingly welcoming death upon them. Mike explains that it's when you don't do this that it becomes a jinx. Bob returns to the room and Susan flusters him back out and tells him to wash his hands. Promising she'll do it Saturday, Susan takes a hold of Mike's hand, but he is still determined to do this today. "If something happens," Mike says seriously, "There's nothing more important to me than knowing that you and you are taken care of." Susan calls out to Bob for his return, after finally giving into Mike's demands. In Susan's final flashback, she, Mike and MJ are eating at a burger bar. As Susan and Mike converse about their meals, MJ blurts out that Juanita told him that Bree Van de Kamp's boyfriend got killed by a car. Susan doesn't deny this, but stresses that it was an accident, and as long as they all remember to look both ways before crossing a road, that'll never happen to any of them. MJ becomes curious about the topic of death and asks his mother where people go after they die. Susan tells him that everyone he knows will go to Heaven, along with all the animals. Putting a lot of thought into it, MJ concludes that surely Heaven will get "super crowded" and continues to ask his mother what the after-life is like. Susan asks Mike to help her out. "Buddy, this is Heaven," Mike tells MJ, "Sitting with the people you love more than anything in the world and eating a double cheeseburger and fries. Gotta be Heaven! You know what else is Heaven? That place we fish. And when we watch football together. And your mom brings us trays of snacks. Heaven is the happiest place you can be. And don't all those places sound it to you?" MJ is content with Mike's answer and begins to dig into his cheeseburger. He proceeds to ask what hamburgers are made out of...because he knows it's not ham. Susan and Mike both laugh to themselves at MJ's questions.
Back at the funeral, Susan interrupts the minister's concluding speech, announcing that she has changed her mind and would like to say a few words. She stands at the alter and addresses the congregation:
Susan steps down from the altar and speaks towards her beloved husband's coffin.
Mike's coffin is transported down the aisles by Tom, Carlos, Ben and Bob, as Renee somberly sings "Amazing Grace" through a microphone near the alter. Her voice echos through the hall over the speakers. Susan takes M.J's hand, and the two of them, along with Julie, follow closely behind the coffin. At the cemetery, Susan, MJ and Julie stand beside the coffin, as the priest recites the words of total finality. Susan places a single beautiful rose on top of the coffin and MJ adds a baseball glove, as it begins to lower into the ground. A tearful Julie reaches down and grasps a mound of earth and scatters it onto the coffin. The reverend concludes the service and he, along with the accompanying mourners, begin to leave. Julie escorts MJ away also, leaving her mother alone beside her husband's final resting place. After the service, the girls retreat to Bree's home, where they eat burgers and attempt to comfort a grieving Susan. Susan is reluctant to eat anything, which Gabrielle raises concern about. Just then, Susan recites the password for Mike's voice mail service, and reminds herself that she needs to immediately call the cellphone company, otherwise she'll be charged for an extra month. Bree informs Susan that she'd be more than willing to do that to help her out. Susan then tells the girls that M.J signed up for Little League and that Mike was supposed to teach him. "Oh honey," Gabrielle says calmly, "I'll send Carlos over to coach him. I gave him two girls who hate sports, so, he'll be thrilled." Susan continues, and says that Mike regularly checked her car's tires to prevent accidents with some tool...she has no idea where the tool is. Lynette reminds Susan that Tom still pops by to check her tires, and that she'd get him to check hers too. Susan begins to break down. Bree, Lynette and Gaby all rush around Susan and hug her. "Susan," Bree says, "We're going to do everything we can to hold you up, OK?" Susan sobs quietly and rubs the tears away from her eyes. "OK," she replies sorrowfully.
Gabrielle returns home from Susan's and enters her bedroom, where she begins to remove Carlos' tie from around his neck.
Lynette returns home. She turns and waves at Tom, who waves back. He smiles.
Bree sits at her boudoir and carefully removes the strand of pearls from her neck. She turns her head and looks thoughtfully into the distance.
At Fairview Police Department, Detectives Murphy and Heredia are analyzing Bree's fingerprints. Heredia points out to Murphy that her prints found on the coffee cup match the ones they recovered from Alejandro's corpse. Murphy informs his colleague that he never trusted her the whole time she was dating Chuck. Heredia asks if they have enough evidence to arrest the housewife and Murphy replies sternly, "Probably. But lets hold off. I wanna make sure we get enough to put this bitch away for good."
This episode was directed by executive producer David Grossman, marking his 50th directing credit with the series, and establishing him as the director with the most episodes under his belt for the show, surpassing former executive producer Larry Shaw's 49 directing credits. Actress Mackenzie Smith, who portrayed the role of Rachel Miller in season 6, was cast as a young Bree Van de Kamp. In addition to that, Rebecca Wisocky, one of the actresses cast on Marc Cherry's new pilot, Devious Maids, was cast as Bree's mother.
Actress Felicity Huffman (Lynette Scavo) has stated that the cast was in tears during the shooting of the burial sequence.
On its original American broadcast, this episode was watched by a total of 9.03 million viewers, the highest viewing numbers since the episode "Suspicion Song", surpassing, for the first time, its lead-in series, Once Upon a Time, in total viewership. It attained a rating of 2.6/6 in the key demo (ages 18-49).
Daniel Sperling, recapper/reviewer for Digital Spy, albeit frustrated over the passing of long-running character Mike Delfino, commended the episode, saying: "So, while not the most action packed of Desperate Housewives instalments, 'Women and Death' was one that was certainly needed after the sudden, senseless killing of Mike last week and somehow still served its purpose in managing to keep the season going forward. The flashbacks have set up some intriguing possibilities, the uplifting message of the episode - that there will always be people around to love you - will stop the series from hitting an emotional roadblock and the final scene where the police match Bree's fingerprints to those found on Alejandro's body would suggest that next week it's business as normal." He commended the performances of actresses Felicity Huffman ("(...) kudos to Felicity Huffman for making that slightest of sobs really resonate.") and especially Teri Hatcher ("(...) the absolute anguish on Teri Hatcher's face throughout this episode is astonishingly believable. It barely feels like she's breathing.").
The overall appreciation of the episode by the fans was mixed, with some deeming the passing of Mike as a cheap ratings stunt, and others commending the "bold" move on the writers' part by killing off such an important character this close to the series' finish line. The episode was generally regarded as 'sad' and 'moving', with praise being mostly given to actresses Teri Hatcher and Marcia Cross for their work.
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
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