Desperate Housewives

Season 1 Episode 2

Ah, But Underneath

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Oct 10, 2004 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
428 votes

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Episode Summary

After her house burnt down, Edie Britt asks Mrs. Huber (guest star Christine Estabrook) to let her stay over for a while. Meanwhile, Martha finds something amond the wreckage that she finds quite interetsing: a misplaced measuring cup.
Susan wants to ask Mike over for a dinner date, but things don't go as expected when Edie makes her way to the party and charms both Mike and his dog. Lynette can't get her kids to sit down in the backseat of the car, and while Carlos wants to figure out what is making his wife so angry all the time, Gabrielle continues her romantic affair with the underaged gardener, and soon realizes he is starting to think of their relationship as something more than a simple affair. Bree wants Rex to take up marriage counseling with her, and Paul Young tries to get rid of something his family had kept buried for years.moreless

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  • I was actually starting to become concerned...

    When this episode began I thought, well great, they gave us some great storylines in the first episode just so they can drag the whole season based on those events because well frankly Lynette is still dealing with her kids, Susan is still competing over Mike, Bree still has issues with Rex, and Gabrielle is still trying not to get caught.

    But then I realized, this is only the second episode, and it's hilarious and there's a mystery to uncover. The writing is fresh, and I really enjoyed the introduction speech about death.

    This episode gets an A from me.moreless
  • great!!

    this episode did a fantastic job of follwing from the extremly high bar the pilot set, the character seem really fun and fresh and the actress who portray them are simple brilliant, the mystery seems to be very intriguing and i am looking forward to develing deeper into the youngs dark secrets, im loving the wisteria lane set it is so beatiful i defo want to live there haha, overall a really great episode, im really excited about this series now i think it has so much potential, addicted alreadymoreless
  • Exciting!

    Gabrielle Solis was a "drowning woman". Mary Alice only saw the side of Gabrielle that most of the others saw: her expensive jewelry, her fabulous designer clothing, and her diamond watch. Gabrielle knew that she was lonely since her husband Carlos was constantly away but knew that if she lost him or they separated she would be less happy than she already is. This is perhaps the reason that John Rowland is not only Gabrielle's personal gardener but also her current lover. As the two relax in the bathtub, Gabrielle hears a noise from outside. When she looks out the window, she finds Carlos getting out of his car and checking the mail. Gabrielle panics and quickly devises a plan to get John out of there. The two race down the stairs and Gabrielle throws John out a window. John falls into the shrubs and quickly puts his shirt on. Simultaneously, Carlos enters the house oblivious of what is going on. Carlos asks why Gabrielle took a bath in the afternoon which she explains by saying that she just worked out. When Carlos asks where John is, Gabrielle quivers until John pleasantly greets the two from the window while trimming the shrubs. Carlos reminds John to finish work on the ficus tree which he will get on when he is finished. Carlos smiles and the scene ends with John trimming with only his shirt without pants on.

    The women gather the following evening at Susan's to discuss the mysterious note that was used to blackmail Mary Alice. Susan thinks that they should share the letter with Paul since it could be used as evidence to find the writer. Gabrielle thinks that he would break down. Bree agrees but Lynette scoffs at the suggestion since it would only make matters worse. The four leave without a resolution and decide to talk about it in the morning.

    Meanwhile, Bree tries to save her marriage with Rex by going to couple counseling with Dr. Albert Goldfine, supposedly Fairview's number 1 therapist. Dr. Goldfine has handled cases such as domestic abuse, affairs, and marital disputes but has never met anyone as eccentric as the Van De Kamps. At their first few sessions, Rex manages to get his complaints about the marriage out in the open but when it's time for Bree to talk she rambles on with small talk. Dr. Goldfine tells her to think about herself and Rex sometimes other than always obsessing about the housework or the children. As Dr. Goldfine gives Bree these suggestions, Bree focuses on a button that is torn on his suit. Later, Bree returns privately to Dr. Goldfine where she offers to re-sew his button. As she does him this favor, the two talk about how Rex always exaggerates and that the marriage is not entirely her fault. Dr. Goldfine agrees but he believes that the blame be put on both parties. At their next session, Rex talks once again and Dr. Goldfine manages to remind him that he should be thankful that Bree does all the nice things that she does because it is not mandated of her to do so. Rex feels shut down as Bree smiles back at Goldfine.

    Susan decides to make her move on Mike by inviting him to one of her "annual" welcome dinners for the new neighbors. Mike accepts her offer. However knowing that her cooking is bad, Mike agrees to cook and hold it at his house. He also invites Julie to come as well. As they talk, they are interrupted by Edie who asks what is going on. Mike tells Edie that Susan has just invited him over for one of her traditional welcome dinners. Edie asks why she did not get one and Susan replies that it is a new tradition. Edie decides it will be fun and wants to join in. Mike says that it is up to Susan and feeling guilty decides that she can come. Susan definitely decides to bring Julie since she will save her from doing something awkward in front of Mike and Edie. Susan tries to get at Mike's early to help him but Edie has arrived unexpectedly before her. The dinner goes well and the only person Susan has failed to impress is Mike's dog, Bongo who has taken more of an interest in Edie. Susan decides to butter up the dog by putting drops of gravy on her face. Susan successfully manages to get Bongo to like her but he accidentally swallows her earring and begins to choke. Mike rushes out of the house with the dog to drive it to the hospital. Julie and Edie stay behind to clean up as Susan follows Mike in her car. At the animal hospital, Susan apologizes to Mike which he also offers his apology since the dog was originally his deceased wife's. Susan realizes that Mike still has feeling for his dead wife and that he will not be available for a while. Susan quietly hugs him as they get the news that Bongo is alright.

    With Tom away once again, Lynette has trouble with her children in the car. Lynette has tried various methods to get the kids to behave still however they will not comply. After being insulted by a police officer on her parenting, she lashes back at him by telling him how stressful it is to be a stay-at-home mom. When the officer sees how stressed out Lynette is, he gives her a warning and walks back to his car. Later, Mrs. Huber tells Lynette how her mother got her to behave in the car. When Martha misbehaved in the car, her mother stopped the car and left her on the side of the road. She quickly came back however and Martha never misbehaved again. Lynette agrees to try the method out with unsuccessful results. When the children act up once again, Lynette pulls up to a street and lets the kids out. Lynette then drives around the block and comes back. When she arrives back, the boys are missing and Lynette panics. Lynette asks a woman if she has seen the boys but she has seen everything and asks what kind of mother abandons her children. Lynette says that she has not abandoned them and that she was coming right back. The woman recommends anger management and that she call the police. Lynette spots the boys and yells that they run. The family runs into the car as the woman chases them and demands they come back.

    Edie moves in with Mrs. Huber shortly after the fire at her house. At the crime scene, Mrs. Huber finds a piece of evidence: Susan's measuring cup. While collecting clothes for Edie, Martha visits Julie where she learns that they have purchased a new measuring cup. If Martha Huber decides to go the police it could be bad for Susan who accidentally set Edie's house on fire.

    After being almost caught by Carlos, Gabrielle decides that she and John cannot have sex in the house anymore. When Gabrielle shows up unexpectedly at John's house, he offers her a token of his affection by giving her a beautiful rose. Gabrielle treasures the gift and John says that he wants to make sure that their relationship lasts for a long time. Gabrielle feels different about her relationship with John seeing that it only be an affair and can not go any further. When John sees that Carlos has purchased Gabrielle a new car, he learns that Gabrielle is still in love with Carlos and that he will have to share her.

    During the middle of the night, Paul Young throws a child's toy chest in the town lake. The contents inside are unknown at this time, raising more suspicions to the Mary Alice mystery.moreless
  • El segundo episodio es un poco más que sobresaliente, pero sólo por la guerra entre Eddie y Susan y la comedia que le entrega Gabrielle. Lo demás es un poco obvio.moreless

    Las sesiones del consejero matrimonial entre Bree y su esposo Rex dejan ver que tienen muchas cosas que resolver entre ellos, pero aún falta un poco de información sobre sus hijos. Lynnete sigue muy ocupada con los diablillos que le tocaron como hijos, pero podría tener un papel más importante en la trama.Los roles de los hombres (Carlos, Rex) son poco frecuentes y poco le traen a la serie, la divertida forma de ser de Gabrielle y su tierna y cruda forma de desprenderse de John hacen que este episodio valga la pena... Obviamente la guerra no anunciada entre Eddie y Susan, pero que cada vez se pone mejor hace que la audiencia siga pegada a la pantalla.moreless
  • A great second episode! Really about the characters and their lifes and with so many funny moments!

    I love how Mary Alice explain what happens after the death! It was a great episode in that them, Mary Alice voice and the music were perfectly cordinated with the scenes and the filming.

    The camera was really original, you can see it in the first scene when we see the 4 DH in Susan's kitchen.

    This episode is really about the presentation of the characters, specially Bree and Gabi. When can understand the way or thinking and their feeling, I specially liked Bree when she started saying us that she feels bad about not thank her the job! And then Gabi's theme "I want only love" it was really great.

    Lynette's story was not as showing as the other ones, it is funny and original thinking there but it is not such as Lynette as the other stories. I loved her scene when she fights the policemen! Besides her acting is so great! I loved when she was searching for the kids. Another scene that I loved was Bree slow camera obssesion about the doctor's coat! It was hilarious!

    Susan's story was the funny theme in the episode, the whole figth between her and Eddie was great!moreless
Adam Lieberman

Adam Lieberman


Guest Star

Timothy Brennen

Timothy Brennen


Guest Star

Jan Hoag

Jan Hoag

Beefy Midde-Aged Woman

Guest Star

Sam Lloyd

Sam Lloyd

Dr. Albert Goldfine

Recurring Role

Brent Kinsman

Brent Kinsman

Preston Scavo

Recurring Role

Shane Kinsman

Shane Kinsman

Porter Scavo

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (8)

    • Goof: If the trunk goes under water that means that the air within it has left, anyway later the trunk gets out the water and that means that it still has air in it that make it back up. So it is impossible that the trunk could do both things.

    • This is the first episode that shows the real sets that will be shown the whole time. The reason is that the pilot episode had slightly different sets (like Lynette's and Bree's houses).

    • In the first episode Susan has an old silver Volvo 240 (we see it on her driveway) but from here on she has one of the newer Volvo models instead (v70 or XC maybe?) and it has a different color.

    • Right before John escapes through the window, you see that he's wearing underwear under his towel. But when he was pushed out of the window and his towel fell off, he suddenly isn't wearing any.

    • We learn in this episode that Mary Alice died on September 26, 2004, which was a Sunday (the original airdate of season premiere of "Desperate Housewives" prior to schedule re-shuffle). At the beginning of the pilot episode, however, Mary Alice describes "an unusual day she had last week" and says it was a Thursday.

    • How could that little boy Preston knock over that heavy middle-aged woman so easily on her side when she was attacking Lynette?

    • Why does Lynette have her infant daughter strapped to the front seat of the car next to her driving? Isn't it made by law that children under age 12 should be in the backseat of cars at all time?

    • When Mrs. Huber comes over to Susan and Julie's house to ask for donation clothing for Edie, Julie tells her that Susan is at the Van De Kamp's house, but in the next scene she had just come home from shopping with Gabrielle Solis.

  • QUOTES (17)

    • Mike: Actually, he was my wife's dog and one of the last things she said to me in the hospital before she died was to be sure I looked after him and I promised her I would.
      Mary Alice: (narrating) And just like that Susan could suddenly see something she had never seen before.
      Mike: He meant so much to her.
      Mary Alice: Mike Delfino was still in love with his late wife.
      Mike: And if somthing had happened I would have felt like I failed her. I know that sounds stupid but-
      Mary Alice: And she knew right then that neither she nor Edie would be laying claim to his heart anytime soon.
      Susan: No it doesn't. Not at all.
      Mary Alice: So she decided, for now, she could settle for just being his friend.

    • Paul: (about Mary Alice) I don't care what her reasons were. Maybe she was depressed. Maybe she was bored. It doesn't matter. She abandoned her husband and her son, and I'll never forgive her.

    • John: Ah. This is great. I got tons of homework tonight. It's so easy to concentrate after sex.
      Gabrielle: Well, I'm glad I could help. Education is very important.

    • Mary Alice: Yes, as I look back at the world I left behind, it's all so clear to me. The beauty that waits to be unveiled, the mysteries that long to be uncovered, but people so rarely stop to take a look, they just keep moving. It's a shame, really... There is so much... to see. (the toy chest comes out of the lake).

    • Mary Alice: Susan was furious with Edie for using a dog to ingratiate herself with its owner. She was also furious with Mike for not seeing through this blatant maneuver. But most of all, she was furious with herself for not having thought of it first.

    • Mrs. Huber: Susan, do you have anything to contribute to the clothing drive for Edie? The poor thing is running around in next to nothing!
      Susan: Oh, Mrs. Huber, I thought that was Edie's idea behind it all.
      Mrs. Huber: Oh, Susan! Edie may be trash but that doesn't mean she isn't a human being!

    • Edie: Oh God, look at all these things, all these beautiful things that my ex-husbands worked so hard for, burnt to a crisp.

    • Bree: It's the age old question: how much do we really want to know about our neighbors?

    • Beefy Middle-Aged Woman: Listen, it seems to me like you have some anger management issues.
      Lynette: I have four kids under the age of six. I absolutely have anger management issues.

    • Mike: Should I have told her we were having steak? She's not like, a vegetarian or something, is she?
      Susan: Oh, no, no. Edie's definitely a carnivore.

    • Carlos: (to Gabrielle) When a man buys a woman expensive jewelry, there are many things he may want in return. For future reference, conversation ain't one of them.

    • Bree: Do you remember when you proposed?
      Rex: For God's sake.
      Bree: We sat on Skyline Drive and drank a bottle of apple wine and when we finished it, you turned to me and you said, 'If you marry me, Bree Mason, I promise to love you for the rest of my life.' And even though I was engaged to Ty Grant, and even though my father didn't like you, I said yes.

    • Susan: Julie? Mike Delfino just invited us to dinner Friday night.
      Julie: He did? Cool.
      Susan: But only I'm going. Because you're gonna come down with something semi-serious that requires bed-rest and fluids. (Runs up the stairs as she squeals)

    • Gabrielle: So now you're taking Julie on your dinner date with Mike?
      Susan: Yeah, well, if Edie's gonna be there, I'm gonna need emotional support.

    • Julie: Dear Diary, Mike doesn't even know I'm alive.
      Susan: Shut up.
      Julie: If you wanna date him, you're gonna have to ask him out.
      Susan: I keep hoping he'll ask me out.
      Julie: How's that going?
      Susan: Shouldn't you be making brownies for your nerdy friends?

    • Gabrielle: I can't believe she wormed her way in. How did you let her do that?
      Susan: I don't know, I was gonna take her out at the knees, but it all happened so fast.
      Gabrielle: Well, you know what you need to do. You need to get there early, spend a little time with Mike before little barracuda gets there.
      Susan: That's a good idea. Edie will get there at 5:45, which means her breasts will arrive at 5:30, so I should shoot for five.

    • Mary Alice: An odd thing happens when we die, our senses vanish. Taste, touch, smell and sound become a distant memory, but our sight? Ah, our sight expands and we can suddenly see the world we left behind so clearly. Of course most of what's visible to the dead could also be seen by the living, if they would only take the time to look.

  • NOTES (15)

    • The titles of this episode and almost all of the following episodes are either a line from or the title of a Stephen Sondheim song.

    • When camera pans to a secret map of Wisteria Lane in Mike's house, we learn that a Nelson family lives in the house between Susan and Gabrielle (Trent and Debra who are in their 30s). The producers keep that house off-screen as it had already been used in the 60's sitcom The Munsters and is therefore quite recognizable. We also learn that Susan (Teri Hatcher) is 35, Lynette (Felicity Huffman) is 41 and Bree (Marcia Cross) is 42, while Gabrielle's age is conveniently covered by a picture of Carlos. Mike does not know how old Tom and Carlos are, but is 42 just like Bree and Paul (Mark Moses) is 40. According to Mike's map, Julie (Andrea Bowen) is only 12, Danielle (Joy Lauren) is 14, Andrew (Shawn Pyfrom) is 15 and Zack (Cody Kasch) is 16. Also, Mary-Alice (Brenda Strong) was 38 when she shot herself (and that is in line with the dates of her birth and death on her grave).

    • Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher) lives next door to Gabrielle's neighbors, the Nelsons (4353). The Hardy boys lived there in their 1970s series. So did Elijah Wood in the 1998 flick Deep Impact.

      The house that Mike Delfino (James Denton) rents (4356) is across the street from Lynette. It had previously been used in the NBC 1999-2002 drama Providence.

      Bree Van De Kamp (Marcia Cross) lives next door to Mike and across from Susan (4359). Her house appeared in the 1989 Tom Hanks comedy The Burbs.

      Busybody Martha Huber's (Christine Estabrook) house (4350) is next to the Young's house. It had been used in the 1950s police drama Dragnet.

    • Bree's (Marcia Cross) maiden name was Mason.

    • At the Museum of TV & Radio's Annual Paley Television Festival, the series creator Marc Cherry told the sold-out auditorium that in addition to using his mother as general inspiration for the show, he saluted her parental skills by retelling the incident in which she punished him for misbehaving in her car when he was a little boy, leaving him in the street and driving away, through the character of Lynette (Felicity Huffman) in the second episode.

    • The rarely-seen ex-Munsters (now Nelsons, later Oprah) home located on 4354 Wisteria Lane, used to be known in the 1960s as 1313 Mockinbird Lane.

    • According to Mike's map, if you go out of the Huber, Young or Van De Kamp house onto Wisteria Lane, the center of the city of Fairview is to the left and the park is to the right, down the road.

    • The Youngs live next door to Bree and across the street from "The Munsters home" (4352). It is an exact replica of the Cleaver home used in the 1950s sitcom "Leave It To Beaver". It was constructed for the 1997 Beaver movie. Although the exterior belongs to Mary-Alice's family, the interior of this house is used for filming of scenes taking place at the home of Van De Kamps.

    • Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman) lives next door to Susan (4355). Her house was used in Ronald Reagan's Bedtime for Bonzo (1951) and Doris Day's Thrill of it All (1963). Edie Britt (Nicollette Sheridan) will get a new home in the vacant lot next door.

    • Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) lives on 4349 Wisteria Lane, Fairview, Connecticut. Her house had previously been used in the James Stewart 1950 comedy "Harvey". Its Mediterranean decor is highlighted by Andy Warhol-style prints of the lady of the house and a very sturdy dining room table - a lovemaking location in the show's premiere episode.

    • Mike's (James Denton) dog is called Bongo.

    • The date of Mary Alice's death is September 26, 2004, because ABC originally intended to air the series premiere of "Desperate Housewives" on that day. On Wednesday, August 11, 2004 they announced via official press release, that the pilot episode would be pushed back a week to Sunday, October 3rd. Episode #2 with the tombstone scene had already been produced prior to that schedule re-shuffle.

    • Aired on Channel 4 in the UK again pulling in huge viewer ratings with 5.1 million viewers.

    • This episode establishes the the opening credits of the series featuring 3D graphics of past "Desperate Houswives" in society.

    • According to this episode the character Mary Alice Young (Brenda Strong) lived from November 18, 1965 and died on September 26, 2004 as it's written on her tombstone.


    • Episode Title: This episode's title refers to the song "Ah, But Underneath" from the Sondheim musical "Follies"

    • Dr. Albert Goldfine: "I don't think Freud would approve of this."

      Dr. Goldfine is talking to Bree Van De Kamp about Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud was a famous psychoanalyst who did studies in the early 20th century on the human unconciousness. He is very popular in the psychology arena.

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