Well, I believe we're in the midst of what they call a hot streak. I don't think it's just sentimentality over the immanent end of Pushing Daisies that's made the last three episodes seem so spot-on wonderful. As mentioned in previous weeks, the ongoing story arcs have picked up a lot of momentum in the second half of this season, which has lent a nice bit of heft to the fluffy twee hijinks we all love. Of course, it's bittersweet that the show is just now starting to feel more essential–like more than a delightful weekly diversion–in its waning hours.
Though there is some good news, such as it is, on the cancellation front. Michael Ausiello over at EW.com is reporting that Fuller and Co. have been tweaking the final episode of Pushing Daisies in post so that it will no longer end on a cliffhanger, which is good for all of us craving a little closure. He's also saying ABC might dispose of the final three episodes in one fell swoop in a single three-hour block in January. Better start stocking up on pie now.
Anyway, back to "The Legend Of Merle McQuoddy." Once again, the four principles were divided into two groups for the majority of tonight's episode, though we're back to the more familiar permutation of Ned-Chuck and Olive-Emerson. The lovebirds spent most of their energy dealing with Chuck's increasingly difficult reanimated father (who doesn't seem the least bit interested in keeping his corpse-face out of public view), while Emerson and "Itty Bitty" form the most adorable crime-busting team I ever did see as they try to smoke out the person responsible for the murder of the local lighthouse proprietor. Olive and Emerson turned in the majority of the big laughs tonight–as they usually do–but Ned and Chuck's dilemma is what made this a great episode.
I've wondered here before how long the series' main conflict–that Ned and Chuck can't touch–could remain interesting. While it's cute to see them work their way around their relationship's major limitation, eventually it starts to lose its emotional impact–we get it, you can't touch your true love, it's sad. Their failed attempt at living apart earlier this season was a good start, but the introduction of Charles Charles into their relationship has really added an interesting twist on the conflict, one that's as familiar as it is bizarre. While Chuck is quick to romanticize the tensions between Ned and her father–"We get to be the teenagers we never thought we'd get to be"–Ned is much more tuned into the underlying danger that her father presents. Charles' taste for adventure, combined with his desire to keep both him and his daughter away from Deadly Nedly's magic finger, not only threatens the piemaker's secrecy, it also provides an alluring alternative lifestyle for Chuck, one that doesn't involve a complicated rulebook–or Ned. In the end, Chuck opts for the everyday adventures of living with Ned, and optimistically believes her father will come along for the ride; of course, an adventurer remains an adventurer even when he's a dead adventurer, and he scoots off for places unknown. With only four episodes left, is this the last we'll see of ol' corpse-face? Let's hope that's one of those loose ends that Fuller's working on tying up.
There's less to say about tonight's mystery, but that doesn't mean there was less to enjoy about it, particularly for fans of Pete's Dragon. Spurned lovers and shady business dealings are pretty par for the course as far as Daisies murder mysteries go, but the quick rendition of "Candle On The Water" and a couple of familiar-sounding names–Elliott and (Passa)McQuoddy–were a neat little treat for those of us familiar with Disney's 1977 lighthouse-themed dragon tale. An even bigger treat, however, was the Olive-Emerson combination, which is always hilarious, but tonight got a little dose of sweetness too when Emerson, impressed with his tiny sidekick's snooping abilities, offers her asylum from the prison of unrequited love that is the Pie Hole. I, for one, would love it if Olive and Emerson went into business together, particularly if they made it a point to chest-bump after every successful lead. (Seriously, Olive bouncing off Emerson was so good I had to rewind and watch in slo-mo three times before continuing.) Maybe she can help him finally find his Lil' Gumshoe–c'mon, that's gotta be one of those tied-up loose ends, right?
Only four episodes left. What are you hoping to see before it's all over?
— Olive's ponchos were decorated with Olives (for her), pies (for Ned), and fish that I can only assume were cod (for Emerson). Please tell me they're planning to auction these off!
— The melted corpse of Nora McQuoddy was looking pretty fried-egg-ish on that light. I'm sure that wasn't an accident.
— Are we back to recapping every episode now? I thought that ended with the first season.
— Lily's afraid of clowns too!
— As I predicted last week, it took all of three minutes and a tarp-hug from Chuck to pacify angry Ned. He's such a softy…
— … but the boy sure can handle a broom! Look at Ninja Ned, getting to do something besides look flustered!
— A couple of nice cameos from Big Love's Mary Kay Place and Weeds' Alexander Gould. I couldn't help but giggle at watching Shane attempt to nuzzle Olive's boobs.
— Emerson's suggestion for Ned to "accidentally" dispatch Charles Charles: "Trip over an ottoman. Dick Van Dyke that ass!"