Wiksteria Lane

"Down the Block There's a Riot" is the 144th episode of Desperate Housewives.


Paul's nefarious plan of opening a halfway house on Wisteria Lane is put into full effect, which sends the neighborhood into an out of control spiral of chaos. Meanwhile, Gabrielle tries to cope with her feelings regarding the loss of her biological daughter, Grace, and Susan tells Tom about Renee's feelings for him. Bree invites Keith (guest star Brian Austin Green) to move in with her, Lee becomes sort of a paria, and Lynette tries to figure out if anyone would screw over the neighborhood by selling their house to Paul Young.


Previously on Desperate Housewives[]

An evening of drinking led to a confession. Keith's plan to propose was flouted. Gabby said goodbye to her biological daughter, Grace. And Paul needed one more house to achieve his goal.
Mary Alice Young


We know what they look like, we know how they dress, and we know how they behave. Yes, we can all recognize the wrong kind of people and when we see them coming, we do what we have to to protect ourselves...

The episode opens with a number of ex-convicts walking down Wisteria Lane and entering Paul's halfway house. Lynette confronts Paul over the fact that he doesn't have the approval of the homeowners association yet. Paul responds that these men have volunteered to get the halfway home ready, and that most of them previously lived in dreadful conditions. Lynette doesn't believe the home will open, but Paul disagrees, and says it's nice for men to live on a street where children play in their front yard and where people don't lock their front doors at night.


The women discuss the halfway house.

Lynette, Susan, Bree, and Gabrielle have a private meeting. Bree questions how Paul can be so sure that the home will go ahead, after which Lynette speculates he must have something up his sleeve. Gaby worries someone might be selling, while Susan suggests they talk to everyone on the street. They reiterate their desire for the street to stick together. "I love this neighborhood, and I don't want it to change," says Lynette. The four of them then head out to start to shore up support; they first speak to Karen. Paul watches from his window as Mary Alice narrates that he knew what they were planning, but he didn't care. She continues that Paul was wrong not to care, because he had forgotten what ordinary people would do to protect themselves from the wrong kind of people. The scene shifts to a chest opening, revealing a revolver inside.

...And with that, my friends went to work trying to stop Paul Young. He knew what they were up to but he didn't care. He should have - Paul had forgotten what ordinary men and women will do to protect themselves from the wrong kind of people.
Mary Alice Young

Act I[]

It was just before sunrise on Wisteria Lane when a cab arrived and a woman departed. She left the street quietly, but news of her disappearance would soon spread and the sound would be deafening. But first, a young man in love had plans to make some noise of his own.
Mary Alice Young

The following morning, not long before sunrise, Mitzi leaves her home and discreetly gets into a cab. Just as she leaves, Keith arrives at Bree's front door. At six in the morning, Bree opens her door to find Keith down on one knee, proposing and presenting a ring. When she asks how long he's been down there, he says: "I don't know, but after you answer this question, you're going to need to help me up." Bree is hesitant to answer, and brings up the embarrassing dinner the other night. Keith gets up, thinking she's going to reject him, but Bree says it's too soon to be talking about marriage. Keith starts to leave, but Bree tells him to wait and gets down on one knee herself - she proposes that Keith move in with her.

Elsewhere, Andrew adamantly tells Lynette that he won't sell to Paul. Lynette mentions the vote is today, and Andrew says he doesn't want ex-cons to move in next to his mother. Lynette thanks Andrew for his support. After she leaves, she is approached by a man who introduces himself as Brent Ferguson, from a nearby neighbourhood. Brent has heard about the situation and wants to help. He says they had a similar situation last year when a hippie wanted to open a drug rehab centre on their block. Lynette recalls reading that the hippie got beaten up by a neighbour, to which Brett counters that the newspaper made it sound worse than it really was. Brent offers: "You say the word, and I will have the homeowners association of ten different streets here to back you folks up." Lynette declines, saying she wants to handle matters in a more civilised way, but Brent says to contact him should she change her mind.


Susan talks to Mike via webcam.

Meanwhile, Susan tells Mike via webcam that she learnt Renee and Tom had a fling twenty years ago. Susan debates whether or not to tell Lynette. Mike replies that she shouldn't yet, but she should keep an eye on the situation instead. At the Solis home, Gaby is in the bathroom crying as she looks at a picture of Grace on her phone. Juanita enters and asks why she's crying. Gaby tells her she's having a sad day, but Juanita comments she's been having a lot of sad days, noticing that it coincides with Grace leaving. Gaby changes the topic and scolds Juanita for wearing her diamond necklace.

Lynette knocks on Mitzi's door, but gets no response. She sees Lee pull up down the road and asks him about her whereabouts, accusing him of working with Paul to convince her to sell. Lee reiterates that he didn't know what Paul was up to when he was buying all the houses. Lynette says if Paul is voted down, people will forget Lee's role in all of this, but if Paul ends up opening the home, no-one will forgive him. Paul watches the argument from his home and rings Lee. He says he feels awful and that Mitzi sold her house to him. He then says he has a proposition for Lee and tells him to listen.

Act II[]

Juanita reads the letter

Juanita notices the letter addressed to Grace.

Later, Gabrielle knocks on Lynette's door. Lynette is on the phone trying to get hold of Mitzi, but Gaby says she wants someone to talk to: "You're the only one I know who's lost a child." Gaby admits she can't stop crying since Grace left. Lynette tries to comfort her by mentioning that she went to a therapist for help, and suggests that Gaby write a letter to Grace. Lynette tells her: "You don't send it. You just pour out your feelings. Tell Grace how happy you are to have found her, and how much you love her." Gaby follows Lynette's advice. However, Juanita stumbles across the letter in Gaby's room and reads it.

When Keith tells his dad that he's moving in with Bree, Richard is skeptical. He says if she truly was in love, she would've accepted Keith's proposal. Keith says it's understandable, given that she just divorced someone, but Richard responds to make sure she's not just looking for a bit of fun or a diversion.

Angry crowd

The people of the lane, angry at Lee.

The vote takes place that night. While Lynette is waiting for Mitzi to show up, Paul announces that the Mayor of Fairview will be here on Friday to award him for outstanding public service. Disbelief surrounds the room before Paul mentions that it's for the halfway home. He states he has all the votes he needs after someone sold him their house. The scene cuts to Lee and Bob. Lee says he shouldn't have sold, but Bob replies that would've been "noble but stupid". He continues that Lee would've taken all the blame after Mitzi fled Wisteria Lane after selling. However, Mitzi returns moments later. When confronted by Lee and Bob, she tells them she got a phone call regarding a job offer in the city, but no-one showed for the appointment. Mitzi never sold to Paul. Just then, everyone from the vote meeting walks towards Lee. Lynette says: "What have you done to us?"

Act III[]

The next morning, Renee asks Tom to install a dead bolt at her home. Tom agrees before Renee says she'll jump in the shower and leave her key under the doormat. Susan, babysitting for Lynette, overhears this conversation and tells Tom she knows about the fling he had with Renee. She tells him Renee is still in love with him. Tom worries that Susan will tell Lynette, but Susan says Tom should ask Renee to leave the street.

At Bree's house, Bree is helping Keith settle in. She says she wants to tell the other girls about them. Keith then brings out the ring and wants Bree to wear it, thinking there's no harm if marriage is imminent. He wants a bigger commitment, but Bree doesn't want to make that kind of promise yet. Keith responds that they have a problem: "I don't want to wake up one day and find out that I was just some diversion that you needed to amuse yourself, while getting through your divorce." Bree asks why he's here if he really believes that, and wonders whether their living together is a mistake. "No, I think "us" is a mistake," responds Keith.

Meanwhile, Lynette meets up with Brent. She wishes she had been nicer to Paul, and says she understands his rage, but she won't let him ruin Wisteria Lane. Brent then tells her "Don't worry. We will stop this son of bitch. That's a promise."

Act IV[]

Parker's speech

Parker wonders what will happen to the ex-cons.

Lynette arranges a protest. Susan arrives, saying MJ is at a sleep-over with a friend so she is there for the long haul. One of Lynette's twins asks her the purpose of the protest, and Lynette responds that the mayor is up for re-election, and that their goal is to embarrass him in front of the cameras. Parker then enquires where the ex-cons will go if the halfway home is shut down. Lynette says they'll go back to where they came from or go to some other neighbourhood, to which Parker replies that if they should be given a second chance, surely it should be a in a nice area. Lynette says that's not how the world works as they have to think about their neighbourhood and their children. She adds that some could have good intentions, but at the same time, some could still be really bad guys. Parker responds: "If we don't even try to help them, are we so sure we're the good guys?"

As the conversation between Lynette and Parker ends, Richard enters Bree's home and passes on his condolences about the breakdown in Bree and Keith's relationship. Richard says he'll work on the backyard. At the same time, Paul and Beth greet the mayor. Paul offers to give a tour of the halfway house.

Richard kisses Bree

Richard Watson can't help but kiss Bree.

Later, Bree is disturbed to find a man standing in her living room. The man is an ex-con. Feeling intimidated, Bree gestures for him to leave, but the man isn't in any hurry. Richard enters and asks what's going on. The man says he's made a mistake and it won't happen again. Richard threatens: "It better not." After the man leaves, Richard checks to see if Bree is okay. He then starts kissing her hair then her lips before Bree pushes him away and angrily tells him to leave. Richard says he must have read the signals wrong, but Bree says there were no signals. He agrees to back off, but he wants to finish the backyard. Bree wants him to leave now, but Richard is insistent: "I will leave when I'm finished."

Mayor Franklin's supporters arrive on Wisteria Lane with "vote Franklin" signs. Karen comments that they're outnumbered, but just as she says that, Brent along with a massive crowd of people start walking onto the street. Karen asks who they are, to which Lynette responds: "The cavalry." One of Brent's protesters asks his fellow protester if he's too late. He is told he's on time before being given a baseball bat.

Act V[]

Lynette gathers the Wisteria Lane residents and tells them that when the mayor starts his speech, that's when they'll start chanting. They walk towards the presentation while Tom knocks on Renee's door. Tom tells Renee that they need to talk. Meanwhile, the mayor comments on the high turnout. Beth asks where the people have come from. Paul says he doesn't know, but says that things look like they'll get very interesting.

Renee can't believe Susan found out about her and Tom's fling. Tom quips that she was drinking while she was listening. He also says Susan believes Renee still has feelings for him, a claim which Renee strongly denies. Renee worries that Susan will tell Lynette, but Tom says Susan came up with a better solution.

Gabrielle tells Juanita to look after her sister as she's going to the protest. She sees Juanita reading the letter Gaby wrote to Grace, and quickly takes it away from her saying that it doesn't mean anything. Juanita says she knows Grace is Gaby's biological daughter and claims: "You love her more than me." Gabrielle responds: "You're the most important thing in the world to me." However, as she goes to embrace Juanita, she is shoved to the ground. "You're not my mommy," Juanita angrily says before storming out of the house. Gaby tries to follow her outside, but loses Juanita in the massive crowd of protesters on the street. Meanwhile, the mayor tries to talk through chants of "save our street" from the protesters.

Lee and Bob are packing their bags to check into a hotel. "If I ever get my hands on Paul Young, I will kill him," Lee says. Moments later, he packs a revolver into his bag. Elsewhere, Renee confronts Susan while she's chanting. Renee tells Susan she won't be leaving, and that the situation is none of Susan's business. Susan says it is her business, because she's not going to watch and let Renee screw up her friend's marriage. Susan enters the crowd, while Renee follows.

Keith drives to Bree's house and finds his father packing his tools. Richard has finished working on Bree's backyard. Keith meets with Bree, having got her message, and Bree tells him there was an incident with Richard. Meanwhile, the protesters boo loudly as the mayor mentions Paul's name. In the crowd, a panicking Gaby finds Carlos and admits she's lost Juanita and that she ran away after she found out about Grace. Gaby and Carlos both split up and desperately call out Juanita's name. As Lee and Bob enter their car to leave Wisteria Lane, Juanita is revealed to be hiding in their backseat.

Keith and Richard's fight

Keith starts a fight with his father.

Richard is also trying to leave the street, but the protesters block his way. Suddenly, Keith opens the door and pulls him out, angry that his father had advanced on Bree. Keith violently shoves Richard and then throws a punch. Some of Brett's protesters witness this scene and, assuming Keith is an ex-con, intervene and start beating him up. Bree tries to stop them from harming Keith, but is easily pushed to the ground by one of the attackers. Elsewhere, Brett and some of his other men throws peppers at the mayor as he's presenting a medallion to Paul. Renee then catches up with Susan in the crowd and cryptically tells her to think about what Renee leaving might do to Lynette: "This would destroy her!"

Susan in trouble

Susan is surrounded by a fleeing crowd.

As Keith is still being beaten up, Bree fetches her revolver and fires a bullet upwards. The protesters panic and start to run away, causing a massive stampede that many of the residents get caught under. Gaby starts to get crushed, but quickly crawls under a parked car. Meanwhile, Susan and Renee get separated - Susan is pushed with the fleeing crowd. The crowd spills over a front lawn, with the white picket fence completely wrecked. Susan falls to the ground, but gets trodden on as she tries to get up. Not far away, Lee and Bob find it impossible to drive out as there are people everywhere. Lee suggests they get out and head back to the house, but are stopped by Juanita pleading: "Please don't leave me." Elsewhere, Brent's guys, armed with baseball bats, head into the halfway house to trash the place, despite Lynette's futile attempts to stop them. Afterwards, Lynette spots Karen wounded on the ground and helps her up.

Saving Juanita

Gabrielle and Carlos come to Juanita's rescue.

Back in Lee and Bob's car, Mitzi spots the pair and shouts that they were the guys who sold to Paul. Rioters then violently shake the car, with Juanita visibly scared. At the same time, Renee climbs on top of a different car trying to find Susan: "I saw her fall. I think she's hurt." A rioter climbs on top of Lee and Bob's car and menacingly orders them to get out. Lee climbs to the back to comfort Juanita. The rioter then starts smacking the car with his baseball bat. Metres away, Gabrielle gets up from under the car she was taking cover under and sees Lee and Bob's car being attacked. She also sees Juanita through the back window and runs towards the car as another rioter smashes the back window to pieces. Juanita calls for her mother as Gaby grabs the rioter by the leg and hurls him off the car. Carlos also arrives, and both of them help Juanita out. However, the rioters continue to target Lee and Bob.

Lynette makes for Paul: "This is all on you! I hope you know that!" Paul sneeringly responds: "Me?! Those are your friends out there, Lynette. The solid citizens of Fairview. Tell me again why you think they're better than a bunch of ex-cons." Lynette struggles to find an answer as she's devastated by the riot scenes she's witnessing. She then sees someone hurl a glass bottle at Lee's head, and reacts by going to help. She yells at everyone to leave him alone: "He's my neighbor!" At that moment, a police car arrives, which forces the remaining rioters to flee the scene. Renee and Tom find Susan on the ground immobile, Bree helps a wounded Keith into her home, and Carlos and Gabby are making sure Juanita is okay. Finally, Lynette is with Bob checking on Lee's well-being. Lee thanks Lynette for helping him.


Paul Shot

Paul gets shot by an unknown assailant.

The next morning, before sunrise, Paul proudly takes a walk around a trashed Wisteria Lane. Moments after he picks up his medallion off the ground, he is shot in the chest by an unknown assailant. He bleeds, falls on his back and closes his eyes.

It was just before sunrise on Wisteria Lane. You could no longer hear the screams of frightened bystanders or the angry chanting of protesters or the cries of help from the injured. There were just the foot steps of a man who had finally punished those who had betrayed him. The silence was broken by something the neighbors would later say 'sounded like a gunshot'. But Paul knew it was the sound of revenge.
Mary Alice Young



"Down the Block There's a Riot" was written by executive producer Bob Daily and directed by Larry Shaw. It featured nearly 400 extras during the riot scenes.


The episode was watched by 11.45 million viewers with 3.5 rating in the key demographic - almost identical ratings to the previous episode. "Down the Block There's a Riot" received overwhelmingly positive reviews from fans and critics.


  • This is the fifth and the last disaster episode in the show's history.
  • The title of this episode comes from a lyric in the song "What More Do I Need?", taken from the Stephen Sondheim musical Saturday Night.
  • Darcy Rose Byrnes (Penny Scavo) and Mason Vale Cotton (MJ Delfino) are absent from this episode, and are therefore not credited.
  • This is the first disaster episode of the series in which no characters die. However, Paul Young is shot and left for dead in the closing moments.
  • This is not the first episode wherein a protest takes place in front of Paul Young's house. In "The Miracle Song", many people protested that Art Shepherd was a pedophile.


Renee: Tom told me about your little suggestion that I need to move off the Lane. And I want you to know that ain't gonna happen.


Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.