Finishing the Hat (Desperate Housewives)
"Finishing the Hat" is the 180th episode and the second part of the two-hour series finale of the ABC television series Desperate Housewives. It is the twenty-third and final episode of the show's eighth season and was broadcast on May 13, 2012. Although the season was promoted as "Kiss Them Goodbye", the series finale was promoted as "The Final Kiss Goodbye".
Katherine makes a surprise return to the lane having made a huge amount of money as the owner of a frozen food conglomerate in France and offers Lynette a job as the head of her United States expansion. At Renee's wedding, Lynette realizes that she is in fact happy and gives a lovely toast that is as much for the happy couple as it is for Tom when she advises them to never forget how great they feel at this moment to know that someone loves them and that that is enough to keep you happy. When Tom hears that Lynette is truly happy he says maybe she should take that job after all.
Gaby gets a big promotion at work and is nervous and excited about all the new hours and responsibilities. Carlos cheerleads for her until she starts missing dinners and trying to buy him off with fancy gifts like he used to do with her. He says he wants her time and for her to be present. He then scares her into realizing what she's neglecting by hiring a hot female gardener as a reminder of what she did with John Rowland all those years ago. She is angry about this since it's not funny for him to mock the most shameful thing she's ever done. At Renee's wedding they make up and compliment each other on how much they've grown and how their relationship works now and vow to keep it great.
Susan finally reveals to her friends that she's moving. While seeing Julie through the last weeks of her pregnancy, Susan tries to set her up on a date with her OB, Susan later reveals she may or may not have another torrid romance in her life but the memories of Mike and her life on the Lane will be enough to keep her warm.
Julie, Gaby, and Susan are all helping Renee on her wedding day. In the limo on the way to the wedding Julie's water breaks... all over Renee's dress. They make a quick stop at Gaby's department store to get a new wedding dress. While they're busy stealing/borrowing the dress, Susan jumps into the driver's seat of the limo and takes Julie to the hospital.
Gaby and Renee emerge and when the limo is gone they hotfoot it to the wedding. Renee arrives disheveled and distraught but Ben says all the right things and the wedding goes off without a hitch and includes Lynette's lovely toast and Carlos and Gaby's reconciliation.
Meanwhile, in her turn helping Mrs. McCluskey, Bree is tasked with getting a particular hard-to-get 45 rpm record and a turntable to play it on for the dying woman. At the same time Roy and Mrs. McCluskey notice Trip constantly calling Bree and her giving him the brush off and this gives Mrs. McCluskey an idea. On the day of the wedding Bree stops in and sees that Mrs. McCluskey has the record and turntable and Roy says Trip got it for them. Trip then crashes the wedding and finally convinces Bree that he truly cares for her. She says she couldn't trust that he really liked her after he learned about all of her ugly secrets—the drinking, promiscuity, the cover-up. He says he doesn't want to love an ideal, but a person. Then they kiss and reconcile.
On her deathbed, Mrs. McCluskey listens to her record "Wonderful, Wonderful" and we see a montage: Renee and Ben dance at their reception, Julie giving birth, Tom and Lynette kissing and dancing at the reception and then Porter running in and telling them about Julie and rushing off to the hospital. Just as the baby is born, Mrs. McCluskey dies. Bree gets a call and she and Trip run to Mrs. McCluskey's house to comfort Roy and grieve. Gaby and Carlos dance with their girls.
During a poker game, before Susan's departure, the girls vow that this would not be their last poker game, but as Mary Alice reveals via voice-over, it was. Lynette and Tom move to New York, where Lynette works as a CEO; they move into a penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park and spend the rest of their lives happily together with their six grandchildren. Gaby and Carlos left the following fall; with the help of Carlos, Gaby started a personal shopping website that led to her own show on the Home Shopping Network, and they then moved to a mansion in California, where they still fight but are truly committed to each other. Finally, Bree married Trip and two years after they leave the Lane, and move to Louisville, where Bree became a member of the Kentucky state legislature.
Susan moved first, but before she did, she introduced herself to the woman moving in and wished her well. The woman worries it will be boring in the suburbs but Susan assures her it won't be. Before she leaves Susan takes one last spin around the block with M.J. and Julie. As she drives away she is benevolently looked upon by many of the ghosts of the lane including Mike Delfino, Karen McCluskey and her son, George Williams, Juanita "Mama" Solis, Mona Clarke, Karl Mayer, Ellie Leonard, Nora Huntington, Rex Van De Kamp, Lillian Simms, Beth Young, Chuck Vance, Alma Hodge, Bradley Scott, Martha Huber and Mary Alice Young herself who says finally that even the most desperate life, is oh-so-wonderful.
The final scene shows that life goes on in the neighborhood, as Jennifer, the woman who bought Susan's house, hides a mysterious jewelry box in a locked cabinet while Mary Alice comments that mystery and secrets will continue to exist within Wisteria Lane.
The finale was watched by 11.12 million American viewers, earning a 3.2/8 rating/share with adults 18–49. It was the most watched program of the night, tied season high ratings with the season 8 premiere "Secrets That I Never Want to Know", and was the most watched episode of the show since the season 7 episode "Searching", watched by 11.35 million viewers. The finale was also up from the previous season's finale "Come on Over for Dinner", which was watched by 10.25 million viewers and received a 3.1 rating in the 18–49 category. The finale was also up from the previous episode "The People Will Hear", which was watched by 9.22 million viewers and received a 2.7/7 rating. The finale was competing against Survivor: One World Reunion on CBS, which was watched by 7.72 million viewers and held a 2.3/6 rating, and Celebrity Apprentice on NBC, which averaged 5.48 million viewers and held a 1.8/5 rating in the 18–49 demographic. ABC reported that the episode gained an additional 2.1 million viewers (rising to a total of 13.2 million viewers) and 0.9 rating in the 18–49 demographic (rising to a total of a 4.1 rating), in the week following the original broadcast due to DVR recordings.
In Canada, the finale was watched by 1.60 million viewers, placing seventeenth for the week.
The episode received critical acclaim from critics. Reviewers for The Washington Post called the episode "a tidy, affectionate send-off." Sabrina Ford of The Province called it a "happy ending. If it were [filmed in Wisteria Lane], we could count on a happy ending." Christina Tran of TV Fanatic gave the episode a generally positive review, saying "While this final season has had its fair share of ups and downs, I thought that Marc Cherry and company gave us a very satisfying ending. I wasn’t left needing more, but instead, only realizing how much I would truly miss Desperate Housewives." Alberto E. Rodriguez of the Toronto Star called the finale "a fitting way to end the series that was always seen through the eyes of a dead neighbor."
This episode was submitted for consideration for Kathryn Joosten due to her nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards.
For her performance in this episode (and the previous episode, "Give Me The Blame"), Brenda Strong was nominated for her second consecutive Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance as Mary Alice Young.
This article contains a list of miscellaneous information. (July 2018)
- With 11.12 million viewers and a 3.2/8 rating/share with adults 18–49 this episode improves 9% in viewers and 3% in adults 18–49 from the previous season finale, being the first time ever the show improved in ratings in the season finale. It's also the highest viewership the show had since the seventh season episode titled "Searching," which was also the 150th episode of the series, and aired on March 6, 2011.
- According to show creator Marc Cherry, he had the idea for the final scene featuring one of the women moving off the lane and the ghosts of Wisteria Lane watching over the street, and "kept it in [his] back pocket". Additionally, the original pilot featuring Sheryl Lee as Mary Alice seemingly served as a precursor to the final scene of the series with the ghost of Mary Alice standing in her lawn looking over her friends as they found her suicide note and pondered her secret. This concept was removed from the final version of the pilot that aired.
- Edie Britt's ghost is absent in the final scenes because of the lawsuit pending between Nicollette Sheridan and show creator Marc Cherry. In a 2011 interview, Cherry had previously hinted that he wanted to ask Sheridan back for the series finale "to pay homage to everyone who has been on the show". However, though they could not get Nicollette back as a ghost, there is a blonde woman during the final scene in the background that could be Edie.
- When asked why additional dead characters from the past did not appear in the show's final scene – such as Ida Greenberg, Felicia Tilman and Victor Lang — executive producer Sabrina Wind stated that they tried to get everyone but some could not make it.
- Creator Marc Cherry and executive producer Bob Daily make cameo appearances in the episode as movers during one of the last scenes.
- Roselyn Sánchez's character Carmen the gardener was introduced in the finale and was later featured in Marc Cherry's subsequent series Devious Maids, which was also produced by Eva Longoria. However, the pilot for Devious Maids was not picked up by ABC as originally intended. The series was later picked by Lifetime and premiered in 2013.
- This is the only episode written by Marc Cherry in this season; the last time he wrote a finale was in the second season, with the episode "Remember".
- With 180 episodes through 8 seasons, Desperate Housewives becomes the longest running one-hour American show featuring all female leads, beating Charmed, which aired for 178 episodes and Girlfriends, which aired for 172 episodes.
- The characters were bid farewell to in the same order as introduced in the "Pilot" episode: Lynette, Gabrielle, Bree and then Susan.
- Mary Alice Young committed suicide on a Thursday (the beginning of the series) and Susan moved also on a Thursday (to close the story). However, September 26, 2004 the date of her death which is also inscribed on Mary Alice's grave in the episode "Ah, But Underneath" was a Sunday.
- References to the first season:
- After hearing a gunshot, Martha Huber was the first person to arrive on the scene after Mary Alice had committed suicide. She was also first person to welcome Mary Alice onto Wisteria Lane 14 years earlier.
- Widower Mike Delfino came to Wisteria Lane from Los Angeles in California because there were too many memories of his late wife. Fourteen years later, widow Susan moved from Wisteria Lane because there were too many memories of her late husband.
- Mary Alice and Paul put their secret in the toy chest, just like Jennifer put hers in the mysterious box.
- Bree was introduced to the audience as a conservative woman and the audience said farewell to her as a conservative woman again. She is the only person not married to the same person at the end of the series. Bree started as being married to Rex Van de Kamp, often hiding her feelings and problems behind the mask of an ideal: the perfect housewife. She ended married to Trip Weston, a man who loved her for who she was, specifically for not being an ideal but rather for her being a woman with a past and flaws.
- Gaby and Carlos were introduced amidst a quarrel and they are shown quarreling "happily ever after." She starts and ends the series as the wife of Carlos.
- Susan is first introduced as a divorced and single woman with a daughter and leaves as a widowed/single woman with a son, a daughter, and a granddaughter.
- Lynette bumps into Natalie Klein in the grocery store, which prompts her to accept the job, this mirrors the pilot, which the same characters and situation. She starts and ends the series as the wife of Tom. She is also first shown yelling at her children and last seen yelling at her grandchildren.
- We met Karen as an elderly and widowed lady who lived at 4358 Wisteria Lane. Now Roy is an elderly widower who's living in Karen McCluskey's house.
- When we are first introduced to the ladies of Wisteria Lane, Gaby is the only one not to have any children, while she later does become a parent, at the end of the series she is the only one not to have any grandchildren.
- When the Young family moved into Fairview, the front of their house was yellow, not green as they showed in this episode. Compare this information with episode "One Wonderful Day" when the front of their new house was already yellow on the day they moved in. Additionally, Mary Alice is seen in a separate moving van from Paul and Zach with shorter hair and different clothing than depicted in the season one finale.
- Bree is the only housewife who remained financially stable for the entire series.
- Gabrielle began and ends the series as a rich woman.
- Actress Kathryn Joosten died of lung cancer on the morning of June 2, 2012, after an 11-year battle with the disease. Coincidentally, her death occurred twenty days after the onscreen death from cancer of the character of Karen McCluskey, which she played, on the final episode of Desperate Housewives. She was diagnosed with lung cancer three times, much like her on-screen character was twice.
- A blooper was made when Lynette was giving her wedding speech to Renee and Ben. When the camera closed in on the newlyweds, the microphone and glass of wine Lynette was holding switched hands.
- The episode title "Finishing the Hat" is the title of a song from the Stephen Sondheim musical, Sunday in the Park with George.
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