Last week I mentioned that it looked unlikely that we would get a satisfying conclusion to all of the dangling Pushing Daisies plot threads before the series ended. Well, ol’ Corpseface and Ned’s father are still nowhere to be seen, but we did get a sort-of wrap-up to one of this season’s most intriguing and underserved mysteries: The story behind Emerson’s Lil’ Gumshoe. It may not have been the neatest or happiest of endings, but after a season of continually shining in the periphery, Emerson Cod finally got the spotlight he deserved tonight.
We kick things off with a look at Young Emerson (our first, yes?), who was just as dapper and cool then as he is now. We also get the backstory behind what is apparently his biggest weakness: He’s a sucker for the love of a good dame. Or a not-so-good one, as the case may be. His case of the love-dumbs follows him into adulthood, when he falls for the charms of a woman he’s investigating for water magnate and ruby aficionado Roland Stingwell. Turns out, Stingwell’s fiancée is actually a grifter by the assumed name of Lila Robinson (in the world of Pushing Daisies, a name so lacking in alliteration or punnery must be made up) who’s after Roland’s Dam Ruby. The two eventually fess up, Emerson returns his fee to Stingwell, and Lila promises she’ll give up the grifting game. Of course, she soon backslides, and winds up running off with something much more dear than a damn ruby: Emerson’s unborn daughter, who turns out to be named Penny.
When Roland turns up dead and his ruby missing, Lila is Emerson’s prime suspect—a hunch seemingly cemented by her presence on the Papin County Dam’s security camera. But Emerson once again shows his willingness to do something stupid for the love of a woman—or in this case, a young girl—when Lila shows up demanding he prove her innocence, and offers a little quid pro quo in the form of his long-lost daughter. And so Emerson and the gang—including posh dog trainer Simone, who’s once again back in the P.I.’s good graces—are off investigating a string of go-nowhere leads and conspiracy theories, all of which seemingly amount to nothing until a vase of glow-in-the-dark flowers points them to disgruntled farmer Michael Brunt. But not before Simone and Emerson find themselves clinging to the very ledge of the dam that the rogue farmer sent Stingwell flying off of just days earlier.
Our other two couples find themselves in similarly sticky situations this week. Ned and Chuck make the dumb mistake of chatting about—what else—their relationship while tailing Lila in the trunk of her griftermobile, causing her to dump them in their skivvies on the side of the road. (You’re welcome, Lee Pace and Anna Friel fans.) Olive and Randy Mann, meanwhile, find themselves navigating a web of mixed signals and emotions, which, despite what Olive says, are certainly not like nuts (better mixed). Though she originally writes him off as a rebound guy—a stance that seems unusually callous for our sweet little Ittybitty—after an exhilarating date of sleuthing and near-death experiences, Olive and Randy decide maybe they both want to be love-dumb with each other for a while. Aw, a kinda-happy ending for Olive!
Emerson gets his own kinda-happy ending as well. Though Lila reneges on her promise to let him take Penny—why would you let her walk away without checking the car, Emerson, why??—he gets a quick, reassuring glimpse of his daughter’s safe, healthy, smiling braceface. Turns out Lila wasn’t all lies. Even better though, Emerson finds out his pop-up opus/letter to Penny, Lil’ Gumshoe, will be published. Since we’ll never know for sure, let’s just assume father and daughter are eventually reunited somewhere in the not-so-distant Daisies future, okay? In the meantime, it seems Simone is more than happy to give him reasons to be love-dumb.
With Olive and Emerson set on the path toward a happy fictional future, that just leaves the biggest love-dumbs of them all, Ned and Chuck (and possibly the aunts by extension). With so much to cover there, I almost wish the final episode would go murder-mystery-free. Tonight’s mystery was very neatly interwoven with its emotional center, mainly because its emotional center was also at the center of the murder mystery—Lila and Emerson. Next week’s mystery apparently involves the aunts, which will hopefully allow for some closure on the Chuck/Lily/Vivian front. But can it also squeeze in a happy ending for Ned and Chuck? Do we even want it to? How are you hoping things will end for our lovebirds? We won’t have to wait long to find out.
• Young Emerson’s crimes that sent him to the principal’s office: taking down bullies and intentional double-entendre at the science fair. Some things don’t change.
• “Well just because it was ajar doesn’t mean it wasn’t a door before it was a jar which would indicate to most people to a-knock before a-entering.” Does Emerson dream in puns as well?
• So many lovely winter coats! It almost makes me wish it was winter again. Hah! No, but man am I going to miss looking at the wardrobe on this show each week.
• I just noticed Simone’s dog-whistle-accented music cue. Has she always had that? Also, did our boy Emerson luck out with her or what? Simply gorgeous.