'Desperate Housewives' Brenda Strong Teases Mary Alice's Moving and Scary Return

Brenda Strong Desperate Housewives S8 Premiere Party 2011
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The situation is getting dire for Bree (Marcia Cross) on ABC’s Desperate Housewives. She has started drinking again and her relationship to the other housewives is being tested like never before as Chuck (Jonathan Cake) steps up his investigation of Gaby’s (Eva Longoria) stepfather’s disappearance.

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It isn’t difficult to see how Bree’s situation parallels that of another housewife – someone who has been in a similar situation and has been with the series since its beginning, Mary Alice.

“I think in many ways, both women have dealt with their lives being deconstructed before their eyes,” Brenda Strong, who plays Mary Alice and has narrated the series all these seasons, tells The Hollywood Reporter while in Texas shooting for her upcoming series, TNT’s Dallas.

“Both women are dealing with a grief of loss,” she continues. “Both women are dealing with a very deep well of grief and guilt and there is a sense that it is too much there. And I think the parallels are pretty profound in that they introduce the note that was the exact same note that Mary Alice got, which sent her down the road toward suicide.”

While Mary Alice’s voice has been a constant for fans over the eight seasons of Desperate Housewives, in many ways her tragic story in the first season has informed every one after.

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“It’s kind of like when you knit a sweater and you pull one thread and the entire thing unravels,” Strong says. “I think Mary Alice was the thread that started to unravel the rest of them and it continues to unravel. I think really it’s about getting to the very tapestry of everyone’s story, everyone’s shadow, everyone’s deepest fear and I think in some ways, dealing with the world and what we’re up against, it’s not that dissimilar to how people are feeling about their own lives.”

On Mary Alice’s return to Sunday’s episode, “Putting It Together,” the actress says she’ll do her first-ever scene with just Cross. “Two friends talking for the first time in the history of the show, so it was an extraordinary opportunity,” Strong says. In the scene, she steps out of the flashbacks as Bree bares her soul to her old friend.

“In a way, Mary Alice becomes her conscious and her guide and her muse in knowing what to do with her life,” Strong explains. “And it was an exquisitely written scene and it was really, I think in my experience on the show, one of my favorite scenes I have ever shot.”

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“It’s definitely not one where you want to turn the channel before the episode is completed,” she goes on to say. “I think the audience is going to be really, really moved and scared and curious at the same time.”

Desperate Housewives airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on ABC.

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