As the weeks go by, it's becoming more obvious that Pushing Daisies is not going to be about head-scratching, Lost-esque twists in the name of advancing an ongoing, unwieldy plot. Rather, the name of the game seems to be appropriating familiar, comfortable material and tweaking it with unexpected details and imagery. And that's definitely not a bad thing, as this week's episode proves.
Even I, someone with barely a passing knowledge of horror movies and ghost stories, recognized the tropes this Halloween episode was built on: the vengeful mother, the freak locked in the basement, the empty grave, etc. Even though it was obvious from the moment fallen jockey John Joseph Jacobs' mother hobbled onscreen that she was the mysterious trampling horseman, it didn't detract from the enjoyment of watching the story unfold, or the delightful random embellishments (horse legs!). Rather, the standardized plot served as a vehicle for some great character interaction and provided for a teensy bit of advancement in the series' overall arc as well.
Once again, the supporting cast shone this week, with both Olive and Emerson accounting for the majority of the laughs and quite a bit of the heart (the latter more from Olive than Emerson). In fact, Ned was almost entirely removed from the action, showing up just long enough to zap some corpses before returning to wallowing in his daddy issues. (Not that that wasn't an interesting secondary story, and one that's been a long time coming—I've been wondering what the deal was with Ned's father since the pilot.) Though the rhyming I definitely could have done without. (Wha? For why?)
Chuck was a lot less irritating this week as well, probably because she was paired with Olive more than Ned, which resulted in some nice passive-aggressiveness rather than the ol' moon-eyes routine for an hour straight. It's nice to see her asserting herself in ways that matter, instead of say, insisting on horning in on private conversations and generally getting all up in Emerson's shit. And even my Chuck-hardened heart couldn't help but melt a little during her costumed visit to her aunts. Screw Christmas, Halloween is what really brings families together.
Last week I mentioned the series' use of callbacks, which continued this week. (Recognize that wooden hand? Something familiar about that farrier/furrier exchange?) Another trait that seems to be revealing itself is a subtle self-awareness: Clearly the commenters here aren't the only ones who have noticed the plethora of cleavage in this show. And is it just me, or is everything/everyone that teensy-weensy Olive interacts with noticeably super-sized? Those nudge-wink moments are endearing, and suggest that Daisies isn't going to be swallowed up by its own adorableness. Thank god.
—Will Olive ever get a break? Well, judging by the preview for the next episode, yes she will—holy hell, are Ned and Olive really gonna bump uglies? I didn't think sex existed on this show.
—Wait, how did that horse breathe fire? Did I miss something?
—"I love you shovel." Oh Emerson…
—This week's pie: blueberry.