Pushing Daisies: "The Norwegians"
B+

Pushing Daisies: "The Norwegians"

So many secrets, so little time. With only three episodes left before Pushing Daisies kicks the bucket, there are still countless loose ends that need to be tied up. And while tonight's episode did tie off one of many dangling threads (Vivian's relationship with Dwight), it also started unraveling a whole new ball of yarn (the return of Ned's dad), while simultaneously tangling up another that we thought had been sewn up (Dwight's death).

Even though the stated "theme" of tonight's episode was taking responsibility for our actions, that was really only a facet of what really drove "The Norwegians": secrecy. Tonight's murder mystery was different, in that we went in knowing exactly what happened–or did we?–and had to follow the gang as they struggled to keep a group of investigating Norwegian doppelgangers from discovering the truth of Dwight's demise… not to mention the cauldron of shit that would bubble up in its wake, including Chuck and Charles Charles' non-deadness, Ned's magic finger, and probably Lily's affair with Charles. Then there's poor Olive, who lives on the fringes of Emerson, Chuck, and Ned's circle of secrecy, one askance glance away from snapping. And although her "snapping" tonight and going over to help the Norwegians turned out to be a case of itty-bitty double-dealing, her frustration–nicely mirrored in Vivian and Lily's relationship–is a good barometer of how complex the web of deceit in Daisies has become.

And a whole new layer was added to that web in the last seconds of tonight's episode, when we learn that there is in fact another force at work, and he has his own secrets. Ned's dad has been looming over much of this season, and his return has been a long time coming, but I have to say the circumstances are genuinely surprising–and pretty ingenious. It would seem–judging from the way he reconfigured Dwight's death as an accident, thus taking the heat off Ned–that daddy seems to know about his son's gift. Furthermore, his timely appearance just as Ned and Olive are about to tumble off a cliff after stealing the Norwegians' super-camper "Mother" suggests that perhaps he hasn't been as absentee a father as we've been led to believe. His masked, and more importantly, gloved appearance makes me think that those of you who have suggested that Ned might share his gift with his dad are on to something. Is that why he's had to stay out of his son's life? Are we about to learn some more details–or loopholes–concerning Ned's mysterious gift?

It's a good thing tonight's murder mystery was so closely entwined with the major plotlines, because the Norwegians gimmick was too limp to stand on its own. Once the initial delight at the doppelganger effect wore off, the funny accents and villainous antics got tired pretty quick. While it was a neat way to advance the story and to subvert the formula we've grown accustomed to, it felt a lot more forced than usual. Perhaps this accounted for the lack of laugh-out-loud moments tonight–too much emphasis was placed on the non-existent comedic chemistry between the Norwegian trio and the regulars. But when there's so many new plot twists to keep track of, who needs the laughs to distract? A few lost giggles is a fair price to pay for so much juicy new info.

Not to mention a whole lot of Vivian and Lily, who have slowly been working their way back to main-character status after falling into the background the first half of this season. Tonight was Vivian's episode as far as I'm concerned–the only way it could have been better is if Ellen Greene had gotten a chance to sing. Aside from getting more screen time than she's ever had, Viv also grew a backbone tonight, standing up to both Emerson and Lily–even though she eventually had to accept the version of the truth they were both feeding her about Dwight's disappearance. It seems everyone has their own version of the truth right now, and each thinks they've done something to bring the current state of events about: Ned blames his magic finger, Chuck blames her decision to bring her dad back, Emerson blames his bringing them into the P.I. game, Lily blames her secret history with Charles. In an episode that was all about taking responsibility for one's actions, it became more apparent than ever that none of them really know the full extent of the effects of those actions.

Grade: B+

Stray observations:

— I feel like I've been glossing over more and more, both in terms of plots and one-liners, as the weeks go on, but there is just SO MUCH packed into every episode… I'm starting to feel like I'm watching Lost with a better wardrobe and more pie. Please feel free to pick up my slack in the comments.

— Chuck thinks her dad is leaving her secret button messages. Chuck needs a reality check.

— Biggest laugh of the night: The Narrator filling in for Emerson's signature "Oh hell no!"

— Did that Norwegian say "look a gift whore in the mouth"? I don't think that's a very accurate fake Norwegian accent.

— Olive's almost-last words: "I'm sorry you never looked at me the way you looked at Chuck." Ned: "I wouldn't say never…" Squee!!

— No pie tonight; in honor of the aunts, I ate some lovely brie.

Filed Under: TV, Pushing Daisies

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