If we had a nickel for every time we thought we had figured out the deep, dark secret of Desperate Housewives' Mary Alice, we'd have enough coin to bribe the truth out of Brenda Strong, the actress who plays the quirky soap opera's first casualty. But since not even pennies fall during our "Eureka!" moments, we've had to crack the case the hard way — through good, old-fashioned guesswork. Care to review our notes and weigh in with your own opinion? Simply read the hypotheses below, then vote in today's TVGuide.com poll, and you, too, can feel like the biggest snoop this side of that busybody Mrs. Huber (Christine Estabrook)!
Mary Alice is actually in a coma. Yes, from Day 1 the serial of champions has been pulling a Dallas on us, and all of the bizarro goings-on to which we have thrilled have been nothing but a dream. What's more, Mary Alice doesn't even know her neighbors, she's only watched them from afar and imagined what their lives are like. Far-fetched? Maybe. But no more so than the idea of a milquetoast hausfrau like Mary Alice being bridge partners with a cradle-robbing glamour-puss like Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) or an alpha female like Bree (Marcia Cross)?
Mary Alice killed Mike's wife. How soapy would this scenario be? Mary Alice's husband, Paul (Mark Moses), was cheating on her. Mary Alice found out the strumpet's identity, then rubbed her out, forcing her not-much-better half to help her hide the stiff. An ugly bit of business, for sure, but the couple thought that they had buried their dirty linens along with the bones of Paul's mistress. Then Mary Alice received that menacing note, and, shortly thereafter, Mike (Jamie Denton) moved in. Isn't it possible, even likely, that the so-called plumber believes that his, uh, letter-writing campaign didn't flush out the individual who made him a widower?
Paul murdered Mary Alice's lover. Nobody is as dull as Paul's deceased missus. So, before she arrived at her big secret, she must have kept a little one, like, say, a boy on the side. (Maybe "boy on the side" is a poor choice of words, considering how literally Gabrielle takes the term.) Although we can't picture Paul generating much passion for his wife (or, for that matter, anything), we can see him pulling a Bree and protecting his family's reputation by ending Mary Alice's affair along with her Casanova's life. What if the psycho then went completely helter-skelter, forcing his wife to assist in the slaying's cover-up, then continuing her punishment by sending "anonymous" threats?
Mary Alice had a baby. With women who are not Gwyneth Paltrow-size by nature, it can be hard to tell when they're expecting. And if Mary Alice had wanted to, given her frumpy wardrobe, she could have easily hidden a delicate condition for as long as she liked. Crazy Paul, of course, would have been privy to the truth, and for some reason, we don't think he was happy about the stork's imminent arrival. (Maybe M.A. was cheating. Or perhaps he merely thought she was. Crazy people can get so paranoid.) Frantic to appease her mate, when the child was born the new mom did away with it, leaving Daddy Weirdest to dispose of the remains.
That trunk was full of pieces-parts. As Susan (Teri Hatcher will attest, bodacious Edie (Nicolette Sheridan) is just too good to be true. Seriously — that bod! Yowza! You'd have gotten no argument on that point from Mary Alice; she agreed with that assessment of the blonde bombshell a little overenthusiastically. How obsessed with the local trollop was she? She staked out Edie's plastic surgeon's office, picking up remnants of her crush after every visit. Creeped out upon discovering her pal's silicone shrine to her, Edie retaliated by sending that infamous loveless note in hopes of forcing Mary Alice to return her used implants and move to the wrong side of the tracks.
Ashley doesn't have a Barbie Dreamhouse... she has an entire Barbie neighborhood. Taking a page from St. Elsewhere's mind-bender of a finale, the action we are witnessing, as twisted and risque as it may be, is being directed by Gabrielle's 9-year-old blackmailer (Emily Christine). She's arranged all of her dollhouses to mirror Wisteria Lane, then populated them with characters that are obviously too immature to be real grown-ups. How does a child come up with labyrinthine plots about adultery and homicide? Ashley's not a child at all! When at last she is revealed, we'll see that she is a 40-year-old schizophrenic in a ward for the criminally insane. Oh, and she's named Bob. What but testosterone could explain Susan's recent streaking incident?