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Corpse Face and Melty Mouth: Ghost Stories, Sea Captains, and Spoons on "Pushing Daisies"

I have to say that after last week's utterly perfect episode of Pushing Daisies, written by Douglas Petrie, last night's installment ("The Legend of Merle McQuoddy") felt a little subpar in comparison. Sure, there were elements about it that I liked and I found myself squealing with joy at Olive and Emerson's newfound camaraderie but the episode, scripted by Dara Resnik Creasey and Chad Gomez Creasey, just felt... lacking in some respects.

Last week's episode ramped up the tension, romance, and possible breakup of star-crossed lovers Ned and Chuck but this week's episode sort of swept it all under the rug as the duo was forced to deal with the alive-again status of Chuck's father Charles Charles. As much as I love Ned and Chuck as a couple, I did think he did forgive her a little too quickly for deceiving him and allowing her father to remain resurrected. After all, someone is now dead because of Ned (even if was the insufferable and slightly creepy Dwight Dixon who was about to kill them) and one would think that this would be more of an existential crisis to the Pie Maker than it apparently was.

Charles Charles, meanwhile, isn't shaping up to be the model dad that Chuck had hoped. In fact, he's stubborn, rude, and combative, especially to poor Ned. I loved their Pie Hole kitchen duel (with Ned leaping over counters and fighting Charles with a broom so as not to touch him) and the fact that Ned even went so far as to write up a little book of rules for Charles to follow and bake the pie-disliking Charles a chocolate cake. Ned definitely went the distance in trying and I don't think Charles Charles ever had any intention of sticking around Papen County, with or without Chuck. Even with Charles back from the dead, looks like Chuck gets to lose her father all over again...

I thought that the mystery of the week--involving a murdered lighthouse keeper, a glitter-loving diorama-enthusiast, and a creepy sea captain--smacked a little too much of an old episode of Scooby Doo for my taste (though I did appreciate the allusions to Pete's Dragon). It was blatantly obvious that the killer was Annabelle Vandersloop (Big Love's Mary Kay Place) so the actual mystery aspect of the storyline wasn't all that interesting for me, despite some red herrings in the form of Elliot McQuoddy's cash grab. I did love, however, seeing Weeds' Alexander Gould in a slightly more, um, innocent role than as Shane Botwin and I thought that he and David Koechner (who played Merle himself) made a deliciously loopy father/son sailing team.

What worked for me far more was the new dynamic between Olive Snook and Emerson Cod as Emerson takes Olive under his wing as a "junior PI-in-training." I absolutely loved the raincoats that Olive made up for each of them, with Olive's having, well, olives, Ned's having pies, and Emerson's having cod. Very cute and punny, that, even if Olive's hair this episode was distractingly dated (and sadly made the adorable Kristin Chenoweth look far older than she actually is). I have to say that I thought that they made an adorable pair of gumshoes together and I liked seeing them have their own storyline for a change, especially one in which Olive finally gained Emerson's respect and--dare I say it--friendship.

What worked for me this week? The aforementioned rain coats for one; Gould's Elliot crying into Olive's bosom (and then trying on Chuck's for size when Olive pushes him off) after paying the gang with nickles; Chuck telling Ned to pretend her dad has been in a coma for 20 years; the claymation opening with Charles and Young Chuck on camels in the desert; Chuck saying "electrons couldn't get between us" when hugging Ned; more plastic wrap-kisses; Annabelle's diorama telling the story of her gun manufacturer magnate husband's death by errant fireworks; Emerson giving Olive the cigar to celebrate their success; Charles leaving the note "I chose too" with the spoon for Chuck to find; the dueling brooms and Ned's speech about Dr. Frankenstein; Lily freaking out about the clown doll in the closet; the shout-out to The Secret; the tarp hug between Ned and Chuck on the roof (even if, as I said earlier, he forgave far too willingly).

I was hoping that this episode would have played up that tension between Chuck and Ned a little more and I felt that it was going through the motions a bit more than usual for Pushing Daisies. But still, even a slightly lackluster episode of Daisies is far superior than most everything else on television.

Best line of the evening: "Pie is simple. It's limited. Just a bit of pastry and filling. Cake is complex, layered with treasures waiting to be discovered." - Charles

Tied with: "Make it look like an accident. Trip over an Ottoman and Dick Van Dyke that ass." - Emerson

Next week on Pushing Daisies ("The Norwegians"), Emerson turns down Vivian's request to investigate the disappearance of Dwight Dixon, leading her to hire to another PI team, led by Emerson's bitter rival Magnus Olsdatter and consisting of Norwegian gumshoes, exiled from their own country, whose snooping may unearth all of Ned and Chuck's secrets.

Comments

R.A. Porter said…
I actually thought there was a bit more tension in this episode. I thought it was possible Chuck might have chosen cake. Temporarily of course, but the show's bold enough to take her away for an episode or two. With the limited number left, I figured there was a chance we wouldn't see Chuck and Ned together again till the rejiggered finale.

Otherwise, the most emotionally satisfying aspects of the episode were definitely Cod&Snook, PIs.
Anonymous said…
Definitely not as good as last week's episode but I did love the Olive/Emerson storyline and their new camaraderie.

The lighthouse mystery was a fun idea but ended up being way too predictable and I agree that Ned forgave Chuck a little too quickly for keeping her dad alive but I appreciate the complication he's created for them. And I'm really looking forward to the next episode which sounds fantastic!
Unknown said…
I think I'd have to disagree with Jace on this one. I thoroughly enjoyed last nights episode. Maybe it was because I hate winey, sad Chuck or because I think her and Ned are meant to be together and it's just better that way! Charles Charles is awful and I truly hope Ned does find him and Dick Van Dyke's his ass. Although I'm curious to see if we find out anything more about Ned's ability. Like if Charles Charles dies does Dwight get brought back to life since it's been MORE than a minute? Can Ned bring Dwight back to life since he was the "innocent bystander" that was killed? Will Ned be able to TOUCH Charles Charles cause it's been MORE than a minute of him alive and his "innocent bystander" has already been killed?! So many questions! At least it looks like I'm ready for lost again!
R.A. Porter said…
@Lily,
- Ned touched his mother after more than a minute and she was dead-again. Charles did not pop back alive when that happened.
- Ned touched Lawrence (Louis?) Schatz, the funeral director (Parkman's brother) and made him alive-again.

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