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Emotional Snow Day and Eternal Flame: Ned and Olive Bake While Chuck Plots on "Pushing Daisies"

I've always been a huge fan of Pushing Daisies, ever since I read the pilot script way back in the fall of 2006, but last night's aptly-named episode ("Comfort Food")--written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum Douglas Petrie--was perhaps one of the very best installments of our quirky and beloved series to date, as comforting as a warm apple pie and a cup of milky tea. (That's saying a lot when you have a series as consistently great and rewarding week-to-week as Pushing Daisies.)

From the opening sequence, in which Young Ned first discovers that his homemade pies make other homesick students as comforted as they do him, to the end of the episode where Ned discovers that Chuck has dealt him a most cutting betrayal, "Comfort Food" elevates Pushing Daisies' bag of tricks to new levels.

Yes, there's the usual adorable lovey-doveyness between Chuck and Ned (loved the plastic partition--with an arm for snuggling--separating their beds) and the witty repartee we've come to know and expect but this week's episode also did the unexpected: split the characters up into conflicting pairs and have them engage in separate storylines for a change.

I absolutely loved Chuck and Emerson together (though I am still not sure why they had to bury Dwight Dixon's corpse instead of just walking away) and my heart leapt upon seeing Ned and Olive as partners-in-crime-solving at the Comfort Food Cook Off (along with Wonderfalls' loopy Marianne Marie Beetle, played once again by the incomparable Beth Grant, and The Waffle Nazi, played by Mad Men's Patrick Fischler). Plus, who didn't cheer when Kristin Chenoweth's Olive burst into a gorgeous rendition of The Bangles' "Eternal Flame"? (If not, your heart is clearly made of stone.)

The mystery-of-the-week (the murder of Colonel Likkin at the cook-off) dovetailed nicely with Ned and Olive's teamwork both in solving the aforementioned murder and taking home the coveted blue ribbon. I've long taken for granted the fact that Olive is distinctly on the outside of the Pie Hole's little coterie--after all, she still doesn't know the truth about Chuck or Ned's powers and she tends to clean up their messes rather than act as a sleuth--so I was pleasantly pleased to see that Petrie not only gave Olive the role of Ned's sidekick for a change but also beautifully dealt with her unresolved feelings for the Pie Maker.

Meanwhile, Chuck betrayed Ned and forced him to kill someone (remember that pesky proximity thing?) when she gave her dead father her glove and told him to play possum when Ned came back to touch him... and then dug up his body and hid him in Ned's abandoned childhood home. Given the fact that Ned has only thrice resurrected those closest to him (his mother, Digby, and Chuck, naturally) and always with a price, this was an inexcusable breach of trust on Chuck's part and she didn't even think about the fact that by keeping her father alive again, she had indirectly caused the death of someone else. (The fact that Ned unknowingly killed Dwight Dixon, who was himself preparing to kill both him and Chuck in cemetery, is what's known as a happy coincidence.)

It worries me to think just what this will mean for our star-crossed lovebirds. Chuck did a Very Selfish Thing in concealing her father's resurrection from Ned and didn't stop to think of the consequences, even after Ned warned her that it would be hard to say good-bye again. Plus, Old Charles has been dead for quite some time and no amount of bandages and sunglasses can really conceal that. (Bryan Fuller had told me about Charles' resurrection back in May 2007 so I am very curious to see if this storyline will play out in the same fashion he originally told me.)

So what worked for me this week? Chuck and Ned spooning in bed with the help of their homemade contraption; Lily's fantasy sequence in which she shoots Dwight with a shotgun; Ned and Olive's coordinated cook-off costumes with jaunty pie-shaped chapeaux; Charles asking Chuck if he is going to start craving human flesh; the "emotional snow day" discussion; Olive and Ned on top of one another in the trunk; Leo Burns' flashback as he becomes morbidly obese from eating the Colonel's chicken with its secret 500 herbs and spices blend; Olive singing "Eternal Flame" while Ned ducks out to find Chuck (of course!); "Finger licking' donut holes" ("Sounds delicious... and filthy," offers Ned); Chuck giving her father the birthday present she made all those years before; Vivian believing that Ned and Olive were a couple; the Colonel attempting to eat his deep-fried self before Ned touches him again. (Honestly, I loved every single second.)

Best line of the evening: "Bitter tang, bitter Olive. It's a story." - Ned

All in all, a simply brilliant episode from a series that just gets better and better with age.

Next week on Pushing Daisies ("The Legend of Merle McQuoddy"), Ned and Chuck deal with Charles' resurrection; Emerson and Olive investigate the mysterious death of lighthouse keeper Nora McQuoddy, whose murder could expose some of Papen County's stranger secrets.


TVBlogster said…
My heart breaks for Olive. When she sang that song in the end, I just screamed at her to move on. It's sad when a sweet character is unrequitedly in love with someone in love with someone else. How I wish there were enough episodes to resolve this.
R.A. Porter said…
I *loved* this episode, even if it had a plot hole that looked like it came from Lily's shotgun and I thought Doug Petrie didn't dole out the mystery properly and cheated his way to the end. Toss those complaints aside and it was like the most perfect, seven-layer pie.

Sweet, bittersweet, rueful, happy, sad, angry, and vengeful.

More of my thoughts, including my few problems with the episode, are here.
Anonymous said…
Definitely one of the best eps so far. Petrie did a great job. I think that they buried the body so that they could just pretend it never happened and not tell Ned but does that make them accessories after the fact? Or at least make them guilty of obstructing justice? Someone is going to come looking for DD after all.
I loved, loved, loved when Olive sang "Eternal Flame". Not just because of its bittersweetness and Kristin's lovely voice, but also because in the 7th grade my boyfriend at the time dedicated that song to me on the radio. (The fact that he did that right before I dumped him in no way diminishes the memory for me.)

I actually thought that Charles Charles would be more decomposed, and that he would be mostly just a skeleton. 20 years dead is a long time to still have your basic muscular system/connective tissue/skin intact. But I'm not a forensic expert, so I could be way off. And how would they have portrayed him as a skeleton without major CGI... Ahem, this is a macabre subject, so I will move on.

I was sad that Olive is still so hung up on Ned, and that we probably won't see her move on with someone else. But then again, maybe we will; there are 5 eps left, so it's possible.

I'm always rooting for Ned to fall for Olive, even though I know it won't happen. I guess that's the "hopeless" part of the "hopeless romantic" in me.
Anonymous said…
This was definitely one of my favorite episodes too. My favorite moment (and there were many) was Olive singing Eternal Flame. It was beautiful, bittersweet, and funny all at the same time. Just like the show!
mB said…
If nothing else, Comfort Food proved once again what a great staff of writers Joss' Buffy left behind and nurtured during that 7 year stint: Petrie's script was wonderfully crafted yet interestingly different and original.

LOVED Cheno singing and the outfits, and the dialogue, and the quips, and the gags, and Lily shooting DD...

GOD ABC makes me mad.
Unknown said…
Such a fabulous episode. Even more of a reason to dread the future though! You just can't beat the writing in Pushing Daisies. Half the things Ned says always make me swoon!

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