NEW YORK – Mary Alice Young's secrets — "secrets I had died to protect," she told viewers — were divulged on the season finale of "Desperate Housewives."
Turns out it was Mary Alice, the series' suicide-narrator, who killed the woman buried in the Young yard — and not her husband, Paul, who nearly paid for the crime with his own execution.
"Desperate Housewives" made good on its pledge to solve the posthumous mystery of Mary Alice as its smash first season concluded on Wisteria Lane, the ABC show's mythical but all-too-recognizable slice of suburbia.
A cultural phenomenon like few TV series in years, this saucy blend of melodrama, whodunit and dark comedy had viewers hooked from its first night last October.
But, as expected, it left questions hanging at Sunday's final fade-out:
Was Mike, the boyfriend of Susan (Teri Hatcher (search)), just moments from being shot by Mary Alice's unhinged son, Zach?
Did Rex, husband of Bree (Marcia Cross (search)), really die from heart disease on the eve of his surgery, as his doctor reported to Bree — or was this some sort of ruse by the doctor, who figures her to be the culprit behind Rex's illness?
Would John, the hunky yard boy, survive the jealous rage of Carlos after confessing to his affair with Carlos' wife, Gabrielle (Eva Longoria (search))?
How would stay-at-home mom Lynette (Felicity Huffman (search)) survive back in the working world after her angry husband Tom quit his job and demanded to be a stay-at-home dad? (Lynette had sabotaged Tom's big promotion, jealous that he was getting too cozy with a sexy co-worker.)
And, by the way, why would Betty (new cast member Alfre Woodard) be so rash as to purchase a home on Wisteria Lane sight unseen — as her real estate agent, dishy Edie (Nicollette Sheridan) asked her in wonder.
It was a jam-packed hour for the series, which all season has kept viewers riveted with its arch exploration of blackmail, murder, adultery and sexy sisterhood in the 'burbs.
But the finale's big revelation was courtesy of Mary Alice (Brenda Strong), who had shot herself to death in the first episode and has since served as its from-the-grave narrator.
Fifteen years ago, the wife and husband who would become Mary Alice and Paul were a childless couple when a junkie, Dierdre, sold them her infant son (born Dana). But three years later, after they had fled to a new life on Wisteria Lane and assumed new identities, Dierdre tracked them down meaning to reclaim the child, whom they had renamed Zach.
The big surprise: After riled-up Dierdre went on the attack, it was Mary Alice, not the creepy, long-suspected Paul, who stabbed her to death. And it was she who talked Paul into dismembering the body and stuffing it in their child's toy chest, which was buried in their yard.
This brought full circle the mystery that had simmered since the premiere, when Paul was spied recovering the chest after his wife's suicide.
Also in the finale, Susan's boyfriend Mike, a sexy plumber who had arrived on Wisteria Lane covertly investigating the murder of Dierdre (his former girlfriend!), was just about to punish Paul for the deed. But Paul convinced him Mary Alice had done it, and in self-defense.
Mike left him unharmed, then returned home to a possible ambush by pistol-packing Zach.
"It's an odd thing to look back on the world," Mary Alice then summed up in a somber voiceover, "to watch those I left behind, each in her own way so brave, so determined and so very desperate."
Now fans are a bit desperate themselves, waiting for the show's return this fall with new episodes and new answers.