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Stakeout/Makeout: Love, Dam Rubies, and Other Crimes on "Pushing Daisies"

Each airing of Pushing Daisies is like another knife in my heart and Saturday's airing of the penultimate episode, "Water and Power," was like another slash from a bitter dagger.

I reviewed the final three episodes of Pushing Daisies back in April but I've been watching them again as they air on Saturday nights on ABC, just so I can squeeze just a little more enjoyment out of them before they disappear into the television graveyard forever. And no magical touch from Ned is going to bring them back to life.

This week's installment of Pushing Daisies ("Water and Power"), written by Peter Ocko with a story by Lisa Joy and Jim D. Gray, provided some answers about Emerson's mysterious past... specifically his relationship to his baby-stealing baby mama Lila Robinson, who was played with delicious flair by the incandescent Gina Torres. Even as our stylish gumshoe finally found happiness with dog trainer Simone Hundin (Christine Adams). Meanwhile, Chuck and Ned debated whether their love was hearty enough to withstand the many obstacles placed in their way and Olive pondered whether a rebound with Randy Mann (David Arquette) would be just the thing to help her get over Ned.

So what did I think of this week's episode on a second viewing? Grab yourself a piece of pie, put on an inordinately large hat, cut yourself some glow-in-the-dark flowers, and let's discuss "Water and Power."

While this week the Pie Maker and the Alive-Again Avenger took a backseat, plot-wise anyway, their relationship was still a strong throughline for the episode, which investigated three very different relationships: that of Emerson and Simone (Adams), Emerson and former flame Lila (Torres), and Olive and Randy. Each is complicated by a series of events beyond their control, just as Chuck and Ned's own unconsumated relationship is bound by the fact that they can't touch. While their relationship would sure end in death by any shared (physical) intimacy, it's the others who remain separated by emotional chasms that they can't quite cross.

For Emerson and Simone, it's the fact that Emerson hasn't come clean about the fact that he has a daughter, Penny, and his guilt over this error of omission is clearly eating away at him, though it's also brought to the fore all the more by the return of the dastardly Lila, who absconded with Penny years before. Did Lila truly love Emerson or was their relationship yet another con in a long line of grifts for this drop-dead drifter? After all, we learn that they fell in love under some rather suspicious circumstances, as Emerson was assigned to keep an eye on Lila, then engaged to the Papen County Water and Power magnate Roland Rollie Stingwell (Fred Williamson). The duo quickly fall in love and Lila becomes pregnant with Emerson's child, even as she attempts to get her hands on the fabled Dam Ruby.

So why doesn't Emerson tell Simone about Penny's existence? I think it's a combination of factors but really it's a secret he keeps from everyone because it reveals that the cocksure gumshoe is weak when it comes to matters of the heart... and Lila well and truly pulled the wool over his eyes.

And yet Olive's doing the same thing to Randy Mann, attempting to convince him that she's in love with him and that his objections to being a rebound guy are absolutely insane. (Love the bit about the dog whistle.) It's clear that Olive's feelings for Ned have prevented her from finding love with someone who returns the gift, even though Randy stands there offering himself to Olive. Can she get over Ned and finally find the happiness she deserves? Let's hope so because our girl Olive Snook deserves romantic fulfillment just as much as everyone else on this delightful series.

So what did I love about this episode? The flashback to Young Emerson (sadly, the last we'll ever have) as he became a lovelorn fool, constantly in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the gorgeous principal; Ned and Chuck folded up in Lila's trunk; Lila's final con; Emerson finally getting a publisher to agree to publish "Lil Gumshoe" in the hopes of Penny finding him; the aforementioned dog whistle speech; Simone saving Emerson's life at the dam; Robert Picardo dropping by as Detective Puget; Chuck's line about having two birthdays; the glow-in-the-dark flowers; the photograph of Stingwell surrounded by his white employees, the Mennonite lawyers who have taken a vow of honesty; Penny waving at Emerson as Lila took off. (The list goes on and on, really.)

All in all, a fantastic episode that's a bittersweet reminder of why many of us fell in love with Pushing Daisies in the first place. Throughout the series, we've been treated to some memorable and well-crafted characters, each of whom gets to shine in this episode, along with some madcap mysteries, and some of the very best screwball comedy writing on television (or anywhere) today. Sigh. I'll miss the pies, puns, and paper chases.

Next week on the series finale of Pushing Daisies ("Kerplunk"), The Darling Mermaid Darlings get an opportunity to come out of retirement when one-half of the synchronized swimming duo The Aquadolls meets with an unfortunate end that may have been murder-by-shark; Ned, Chuck and Emerson go undercover to solve the murder and encounter a slew of suspects at the Aquarink.

Comments

Hadley said…
Gina Torres was fabulous (as always!) as Lila Robinson. And I loved seeing Simone and Olive team up to trick her. Go ladies!
Bella Spruce said…
I can't believe there's only one episode left, especially as these last few pieces of pie have been the most sweet and delicious of all...
Wendyburd1 said…
This show was fabulous and I want to wring their necks for deciding to wait for the fall to relaunch the show after the writers strike! I think it would still be around if they had picked up post haste after the strike. Many other shows did and are now still around!

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