Pushing Daisies: A Pastry Disposition

I’ve finally figured out what distinguishes a great episode of Pushing Daisies from a so-so episode of Pushing Daisies.  The former includes more than one scene of the Mermaid Sisters, Lily and Vivian, and a non-convoluted murder that weaves in nicely with the greater storyline about our principal characters.  This week’s episode, unfortunately, fell into the later category, so I’ll bore you with this week’s murder and then get to the good part.

The facts were these: Lighthouse keeper, Merle McQuoddy, disappeared ten years ago but recently returned to his wife, Nora, and son, Elliott.  One night, Nora is murdered in the lighthouse and Merle is the suspect.  Elliot hires Emerson & Co. to investigate, but because Ned is too busy with Chuck, Olive, fresh off her work at the food fair, assists.  They learn that Merle and Nora could not reconcile after he’d been away for so long, and that Nora had moved on with her life with a new man, Augustus Paven–who was also looking to purchase the lighthouse to redevelop the grounds into a resort.  Augustus’s former lover, Annabelle Vandersloop, however, was having none of it and murdered Nora.  With the help of an a cappella group singing “Candle on the Water,” Emerson and Olive reveal the whole story and catch Annabelle.  Emerson and Olive share the reward and Emerson finds a new kinship with Olive, offering her a job with him if and when she ever tires of being the third wheel to Ned and Chuck at The Pie Hole.  And for those keeping score at home, there are several Pete’s Dragon references in this story, which I found most amusing not the least because narrator Jim Dale was in Pete’s Dragon.

When we last left, the Pieman discovers that Chuck tricked him into keeping her father, Charles, alive.  After a near discovery of Chuck and Charles by Lily, Vivian, and Lily’s shotgun, Ned and Chuck make up as they both share a moment how they did something wrong to keep someone they love alive–Ned kept his mother (briefly) and Chuck, while Chuck kept her father.

To ensure he can keep control of the situation, if only in his head, Ned has Charles move in with him and provides a detailed book of rules (Ned’s Rules of Order?) to help Charles (and Ned’s freakish touch) live as an “undead” among the living (I guess they’re the “pre-dead”?).  But Charles is not happy about the romance between Ned and Chuck, and Charles tries to put an end to it out of fear that Ned will accidentally touch Chuck and send her back to death.  After a physical–but no touching–fight between Ned and Charles, Ned and Chuck realize that their self-indulgent fantasyland–where she’s the “flirty head cheerleader” and he’s the “studly varsity quarterback”–cannot reconcile with the new reality of her father being in their lives, especially when Charles is unwilling to play by Ned’s rules and seems to have no problem if people find out about Ned’s magical touch.

Charles asks Chuck to leave with him so they can go on adventures like they talked about when she was little.  He explains that he likes cake because it is layered, complicated, and adventurous, while pie (i.e., Ned) is simply too boring and consistent.  Which pastry does Chuck prefer?  Of course she wants to have her pie and cake at the same time and convinces, or so she thinks, her father to stay and work things out.  She tells Ned that she’s no longer a little girl and she wants to stay there with Ned and his adventures, instead of running off on a childhood adventure with her father.  The two go back to Ned’s apartment to patch things up with Charles, but instead of a decayed corpse, they find a note from Charles saying, “I Choose Too.”  They return downstairs in time to see Charles drive off.

And for the record, I’m a pie man.

Season 2, Episode 9: The Legend of Merle McQuoddy (originally aired December 10, 2008)

For more on Pushing Daisies, click here.

Wednesdays at 8/7C on ABC

Photographs courtesy of ABC

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