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A Wing and a Prayer: Carrier Pigeons and Birdhouses of the Soul on "Pushing Daisies"

I'm still on a high after last night's episode of Pushing Daisies ("Pigeon"), a sweet as pie installment scripted by Rina Mimoun (Gilmore Girls) that upped the romantic quotient while still remaining true to its quirky off-beat drumming. (My high might also have something to do with the sinfully delicious piece of cherry pie my fiancée brought home for the occasion.)

Wednesday nights have truly become a highlight of the week since Pushing Daisies launched. I can't tell you how much my face hurts after an episode, what with all the grinning. And last night's episode was no exception. What other series could take a plot about jewel thieves, a downed crop duster, a one-armed man, windmills, a mono-winged carrier pigeon, and bees and make it into pure, unadulterated joy? (None, I tell you.) Plus, Chuck and Ned's rooftop waltzing trumped any B&B-related romance with Jim and Pam, making these star-crossed lovers the only ones I can't get enough of lately.

Ned. I completely sympathized with poor Ned when he stepped out of the way to let Chuck fall; while not a gentlemanly thing to do, Ned couldn't risk catching her and inadvertently letting his flesh touch hers. (Bad idea.) But at the same time, he's constantly existing in a state of proximity to his heart's desire but can't even touch her, not even to hold her hand. (My solution: always carry gloves, should the urge for hand-holding arise.) Still, Ned has proven himself quite adept at adopting the most unusual methods for getting close to Chuck: plastic wrap, fiberglass car panels, beekeeper suits, etc. I thought that their dance at the end of the episode was perhaps one of the most romantic things I've seen on television so far this season.

I loved the flashback scene with Digby as he searched out young Ned, prevented a fire along the way, and instinctively knew not to touch Ned again. (We should all have a canine friend as perspicacious as Digby.) Instead, the whole notion of proxy love was created for Ned, one that carries over into his relationship with Chuck. Which makes me wonder how far Ned would take this concept: is he willing to open up their relationship to a sort of polygamy? Not the Roman Grant/Hollis Greene kind, but a sort of open dating policy where they can see other people?

Speaking of questions, I am also wondering a few things about the extent of Ned's abilities. We know that if he keeps the resurrected (or "alive again"), well, alive for more than a minute, something within a certain proximity dies and the resurrected stay that way, supposedly forever. But is "forever" really forever? Can Digby (or Chuck for that matter) stay alive for eternity or can they be killed? Also, in this episode, we saw Ned resurrect the dead jewel thief who had been long buried (and missing his eyes), but I am pondering this: is there a limitation to how long someone is dead with regards to Ned's power to bring them back to life? Curious...

Chuck. I'm head over heels crazy for lonely tourist Charlotte Charles and each week just shows us how adorably quirky she is; this week's tidbit: that Chuck once worked as a stay-at-home juror for a paraplegic judge. This week, we saw the extreme downside of Chuck and Ned's relationship, embodied in that single misstep in the apartment; still, she saw it as a sweet gesture, that Ned would sacrifice propriety and politesse in order to ensure her longterm well-being. But then she was literally swept off of her feet by "Conrad" (aka Lefty), who did manage to catch her. While another series may have inserted a misguided courtship here between Chuck and Lefty, I'm glad that--like Digby--she found a proxy for her love for Ned. The scene in which she held his hand and closed her eyes, pretending that she was holding Ned's hand, was absolutely heartbreaking. And hysterical, to boot, when Ned spied Lefty and Chuck from the window of the Pie Hole.

I completely understand Chuck's frustration with her new situation. She's regained her life and her childhood sweetheart but with the most Faustian of bargains: she can't physically touch Ned and she can't let aunts Lily and Vivian know that she's alive, as much as she might want to do both. I loved the fact that Lily did see Chuck standing outside the windmill with her own eye. Even if she believes herself to be mistaken, the clues are starting to stack up and it's only a matter of time before Chuck is reunited with her aunts.

Olive. I'm growing to love Olive in a very unexpected way; I didn't really think that she would become an integral part of the series but in the talented hands of Kristin Chenoweth, Olive has blossomed into a central role. I love the battle raging in her soul between jealousy and good nature, a war which seems to take its toll on lovelorn Olive. I loved the scene in which she, Lily, and Vivian took a car ride into the country while singing "Birdhouse in Your Soul" (They Might Be Giants, natch) and following carrier pigeon Pidge, whose missing wing problem had been solved--much like Lefty--by the addition of a prosthetic body part, in this case a taxidermic parrot's wing attached to the body with a harness and a Bejeweler. (Loved how Olive asked if she could do one, only to be told by Lily that maybe she could do that last one. No such luck.) Olive does have the opportunity to make Chuck's house of cards come crashing down when she sees Chuck, Ned, and Emerson outside the windmill but her benevolence, rather than jealousy, kicks in and she secretly tells Chuck who is inside with two simple words: "Tart apple." It's with those two words that Olive Snook moves from lovelorn pie waitress to full-blown hero.

Best line of the night: "Big Daddy needs some new yarn." - Emerson.

Guest stars galore. Lefty was played by Dash Mihok, who most recently appeared in the original pilot for ABC's Cavemen, but we all know as Ben's goofy swim team friend Lynn McKennan from Felicity. Downed crop-dusting pilot Bradan Caden's wife Becky was played by Karly Rothenberg, who hilariously recurs on The Office as the mannish warehouse employee Madge. And Elsita, the adorable redhead who lives in a windmill and exchanges messages with a convict via carrier pigeon, was played with aplomb by Jayma Mays, recently recurring as Betty's nemesis Charlie on Ugly Betty; she also played the lead on botched comedy pilot Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office and Charlie Andrews on Season One of Heroes.

Next week on a Halloween-themed episode of Pushing Daisies ("Girth"), Ned, Chuck, and Emerson are hired by Olive to investigate a series of possible murders involving jockeys being trampled to death by the ghost of a long-dead rider and his horse when all signs point to the ex-jockey Olive Snook being the next victim. (Didn't know she was a jockey? Cheno told me herself here.) Meanwhile, Ned must face his own fears of Halloween when faced with some uncomfortable childhood memories.

Comments

mB said…
Can't agree with you more - my face always aches after a full hour of smiling my way through Pushing Daisies.
Re: Cheno - she has really owned her part and made me fall in love with Olive (and makes me wish she'll sing in every episode, if only to see how they stage it as quirky and non-musical-esque every time).
Anonymous said…
I was wondering the same thing, re: can Digby, Charlotte, etc die? Considering the ep started out w/a Digby story, I was VERY worried about him when that pigeon was allowed to live w/Digby in such close proximity. I was worried he was at his end. Plus, mathematically - that is one old dog!

I love when he touched that old woman and thought his toucher was malfunctioning, but really - she wasn't dead. It's those little touches...
Shawn Anderson said…
Just a correction... the deal is it's one minute and something else of similar life has to die. That's the only rule. The minute has nothing to do with the person resurrected -- other then the guilt that Chuck feels, for instance -- it instead has to do with the balance of life.

Someone should put a clock on that minute, though, as it always seems to be longer then 60 seconds watching it go down. TV time, I guess.

The one question I have, is how did Digby survive not getting touched again by Ned, as this was his first resurrection, and he didn't know the rule. He went awhile without touching his dog (whom he believed was dead,) before figuring out the rule. That's really the (only) plot point that still bothers me, though. Great show.
I think this was my favorite episode since the pilot. It was brilliant the way all of the seemingly unrelated events came together (inside a windmill, nonetheless)!

Kristin Chenoweth is definitely growing on me. I wasn't crazy about her at first but her character becomes more interesting each week and I really am enjoying her relationship with Chuck's aunts.

And Chuck and Ned are just as cute as can be. In less skilled hands, these two lovebirds would make you want to vomit. But Bryan Fuller has found a way to make them sincerely adorable!
Anonymous said…
Another great episode of PD. I am really growing the love this show which is funny as I thought that the pilot could have pointed it in a direction that was too weird or quirky. I'm glad to see I was wrong. It's become one of my favorite shows and definitely the best new show this year.
Anonymous said…
Is it normal that one of my recurring fears is that Chuck and Ned will touch? I love this show more and more.
Page48 said…
You people are putting me on. "Pushing Daisies" is every bit the equal of "Cavemen", neither should ever have seen the light of day.

If I died and went straight to Hell, I would fully expect to be greeted with a commercial-free "Pushing Daisies" marathon for all eternity, maybe sandwiched around a series reprise of "Viva Laughlin", if I had been a particularly unrepentant sinner.
Anonymous said…
Very belated comments this time, having gotten round late to watching it I wasn't going to bother, but I couldn't help myself.

I thought with this episode the show really hit it's stride, there was so much magic in this one episode it was wonderful. I've speculated before - after the very weak second episode - about how the show needs more than just quirkiness and the great romantic leads to work in the long-run, and this episode showed how to do it. A silly storyline, but a delightfully silly one which actually had some bones on it. I really hope they can keep it up. Right up there with the pilot, perhaps even better.

Just worked out it's just over ten years since I touched Anna Friel's knee, and, like Ned, I fear I may never get to again..!
Meags said…
Am I the only one who remembers Dash Mihok from Romeo + Juliet? I recognized him instantly due to my love for that movie. But yeah, Pushing Daisies is really awesome. :D

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