It’s been a long, drab, pie-less five and a half months, but it’s finally here: Our one last sugar-laced gasp of Pushing Daisies before it officially succumbs to cancellation. And we can only hope that the lovely “Window Dressed To Kill” was just the first entry of a perfect three-episode eulogy to our dearly departed Daisies.
Perhaps it was the Daisies withdrawal of the last half-year, but tonight’s episode felt like a pitch-perfect example of everything that makes this show special: It had heart, wit, dark humor, dialogue unlike anything else we’re likely to see on television anytime soon, and it was just all-around beautiful to look at. And Olive sang. What more could you want?
Well, perhaps a little more than one tossed-off line referencing the bomb that dropped at the end of the last episode, “The Norwegians”: Ned’s dad is still around, and he’s apparently playing guardian angel, cleaning up the whole Dwight Dixon mess. And perhaps a little hint as to the whereabouts of ol’ Corpseface—last I checked, Charles Charles is still at large, with at least one pretty big secret in his possession. With only two episodes to go, it seems unlikely that those two storylines are going to be wrapped up in a satisfying manner. But on the other hand, this reprieve from all the daddy drama allowed for a happy wallow in the best parts of the Daisies formula: a quirky, colorful murder mystery, a puppy-eyed love triangle (er, quadrangle), and some side shenanigans involving taxidermy and sneaky nuns.
First, some catch-up: After his “zippity zap nearly turned everything to crappity crap” in the last episode, Ned’s decided to embrace life as Clark Kent, hanging up his Superman cape to focus on baking pies (with fresh, non-rotten fruit) and holding gloved hands with Chuck. Olive, meanwhile, is obsessing over Ned’s cliffhanger admission that he “wouldn’t say [he] never” looked at Olive the way he looks at Chuck, studying up on the ins and outs of double negatives and recreating the moment by hanging from the Pie Hole’s cherry-shaped lighting fixtures. Emerson is left to puzzle out his latest mystery without the aid of Ned’s magic finger, though he begrudgingly accepts Chuck’s offer/demand to be his sidekick, or “alive-again avenger,” and the two set off on this week’s mystery.
And thus sets in motion the best character-pairing scheme on the show, last seen in “Comfort Food”: Ned/Olive and Emerson/Chuck. Quite frankly, Olive and Emerson are going to be great no matter what situation they’re placed in, but Ned and Chuck work so much better apart than together. It’s just easier to empathize with their romantic struggles when they’re not puking up love all over each other’s faces. We need a little tension to balance out all the aw-shucksery, and the best way to do that is to place them in separate scenarios that serve to cast doubt on their relationship.
And Chuck had a valid reason to fret tonight as Ned and Olive made a “romantic run to the border” to aid and abet escaped criminals Jerry Holmes and Buster Bustamante. As we learn in the prologue, after rotting away in jail for “kidnapping” young Olive, Jerry and Buster have escaped and are on a mission to find our favorite singing waitress. Bum-bum-buuuummmm. Of course, as is so often the case with Daisies, that sneaky narrator was misleading us the whole time: Turns out that “kidnapping” tragedy was more of a comedy of errors, as the precocious, neglected 9-year-old Olive inadvertently tricked a couple of good-hearted petty criminals into absconding with her, resulting in the best two days of all their lives. Though her mean ol’ parents made sure Jerry and Buster got locked up, Olive maintained a letter-writing relationship with her substitute father figures while they were incarcerated. Naturally, they go to her to help them escape over the border, with the help of the fiancé she told them all about in her letters—Ned. Whoops. Ever the good guy, Ned plays along—a little too well—much to the chagrin of accidental co-conspirator Randy Mann (David Arquette), who has returned to bashfully woo Olive.
The five of them set off on a road trip that quickly detours to the aunts’ house, which leads to a heartbreaking conversation between a confused Olive and a misinformed Vivian (“You and Ned are my tortilla!”). Emboldened, Olive basically tells Ned it’s time to put up or shut up, and his weak explanation—“I’ve been curious about having a normal relationship. This one’s been really interesting to try on.”—cinches it: Try-on time’s over, Ned. Hallelujah. Now Olive can focus on someone who loves all 59 inches of her: Randy Mann. It’s about time our girl gets some love… that is, if Ned’s newly discovered jealousy doesn’t muck things up.
Meanwhile, over in gumshoe land, we’re treated to one of the most colorful mysteries in recent Daisies memory, as Chuck and Emerson dive into the drama and high-stakes intrigue of department-store window-dressers. Despite the pileup of red herrings and diversionary tactics, it was wasn’t too tough to put together that store owner Dick Dicker (Willie Garson) was behind the murders, but it was a delight getting there, from the surreal crime-scene tableaus to the cult of devotees mourning their design goddesses to classic Emerson quips like, “Coco went loco fo sho… co.” Of course, despite the sleuthing of Chuck and Emerson, it was Ned’s decision to put his cape back on and get back in the dead-waking game—inspired by his heroics at the aunts’ house, waking a dead rhino in Randy’s taxidermy van to create a diversion and allow Jerry and Buster to escape—that ultimately led them to the real culprit. And thus things are pretty much back to “normal” in C’oeur de C’oeur. Except for Ned’s mysterious lurking father. And ol’ Corpseface. And the new Ned-Olive-Randy love triangle. Okay, there’s still a lot to cover in just two episodes. Just two more episodes. Sigh. I think I need some of the aunts’ anti-depressant-laced pie.
• “If there’s anything you’d like to say to me, now would be the time. And if you could speak in the declarative only, using affirmative or comparative modifiers...” Grammar humor!
• “What do we say about the past?” “It makes an ass of you and me!”
• “The only thing that smokes in this house is the gouda.”
• “We need to back off on the PDA ’cause Vivian’s Ps and Qs have gone AWOL and I can’t take much more of what I took before I’m DOA” “Olive, use your words”
• “You try on your best friend’s bra and smile on the inside because yours are bigger and better.”
• Olive clearly dominated the quotables tonight, but Chuck had a couple of great moments too, specifically when she started a ruckus among the window-display devotees to trick them into hiring Emerson, and her adorable delivery of the line, “Ned, you’re touching dead things again?”
• Do we think Randy Mann’s going to stick around through the end? I like him and Olive together, but I still wonder what could have been between her and Alfredo.
• That was some serious pie-porn in the second scene. I’m dying for a slice of “Kick Me In The Kumquat,” “Rock Me Amade-Quince,” or “Pearway To Heaven.”
• I know the final three episodes have already aired overseas and are readily available for download. If you've already watched through the end, please avoid spoilers in the comments for those of us who wish to follow along in real-time.