So if this is the last Pushing Daisies we have for the foreseeable future, then at least we got an episode packed to the (Cod) gills with witty writing, emotional involvement for all the regulars, a mystery tied explicitly to the larger narrative and Norwegians.
Plus, I totally called the identity of the masked man. I swear, it was in my notes.
The spoilers have never nobbed any hobs, and certainly not in a circle.
The juggling act that Ned, Chuck and Emerson have been performing for the last couple of weeks collapsed this week, when Vivian sought Emerson’s help in finding her lost love, Dwight Dixon. After our loquacious PI — who knows what really happened to Dwight — lays it on a little too thick in trying to dissuade her from the search, Vivian then enlists the help of the crack Norwegian investigative team of Magnus Olsdatter, Nils Nilsson and Hedda Lillehammer.
Why Norwegian? Because it’s Pushing Daisies. And why are they hanging around Papen County? Because the low murder rate in their home country rendered them and their crime lab-on-wheels somewhat unemployable despite their prodigious evidence-gathering skills. The crime lab, by the way, is called Mother, and it’s hot. I know it’s hot because it’s a:
Our three secret-keepers figure it’s only a matter of time before Magnus and Co. figure out what really happened to Dwight (at least in the sense that he’s no longer alive), which could then lead them to Chuck’s grave, which could then lead them to Chuck and her father. Self-recrimination abounds, but as Emerson eventually points out, all three of them have played a role in getting them into their current, barely tenable situation. Keeping the dead alive and the world from knowing it, even if it’s only one or two people, is no easy business.
Things go from bad to worse when Olive, ever more frustrated at not being in on her cohorts’ secret and exasperated that Lily is also keeping things from Vivian, goes to the Norwegians to dish dirt on the Pie Hole Gang. (So serious is her transgression that it even earns an "Oh hell no!" from the narrator.)
But then, another twist: The Norwegians exhume the graves of both Chuck and her father (where Emerson and Chuck deposited Dwight’s body a couple episodes back) — and they’re both empty. So who moved the body? And where? And why? And even though the absence of Dwight puts some distance between him and our three heroes, unless the body-mover (Chuck is certain it’s her dad) also scrubbed the scene, the Norwegians will eventually discover Emerson was there. Emerson is ready to step up and accept responsibility — he brought Chuck and Ned into the private-eye game, and he should have been better about keeping them on the straight and narrow, dead people-wise — but Ned has a plan.
Basically, Ned steals Mother while Emerson distracts the Norwegians with a rambling "confession." He also gets Olive in the bargain — and we learn that Itty-Bitty isn’t a turncoat ("more like a reversible jacket," she says) but rather was working undercover to find out what the Norwegians know. And now she wants to know: How’d they make Ned look so dirty? "I got myself dirty," he confesses. "Well, allow me to scrub those hard-to-reach places," she replies, and that kinda sounds dirty but isn’t, because all she wants is answers.
Which, of course, Ned is not especially willing to give. They compromise, and Olive asks a series of yes-no questions, eventually learning that Chuck’s dad is alive — although she assumes, as with Chuck, that he faked his death. She’s about to ask whether Ned had murdered Dwight, but a fast-approaching cliff defers that question. Ned manages to grab a tree limb, and Olive grabs Ned, but it takes a mysterious masked man (whose identity shall remain a loose string, the narrator tells us) to pull them to safety.
He’s a busy dude, this masked man, because the next day Dwight Dixon turns up dead in his hotel room, and every piece of evidence the Norwegians uncover points to him being a grave robber who dug up Charles and Charlotte’s bodies, stole whatever valuables were in their caskets and burned the corpses. It’s a spotless cover, and everyone is ever more convinced that Charles Charles is the man behind the mask, watching over his beloved daughter.
Except … it’s Ned’s dad! And Ned’s dad is George Hamilton! Dude! (Also, so much for that loose string.)
More thoughts from "The Norwegians":
- There have been reports that creator Bryan Fuller tweaked the final episode to bring some closure to the all-but-cancelled series, in part by changing the narration. Three produced episodes have yet to air, and they’re not currently on the ABC schedule (a one-night, Arrested Development-style burnoff in the coming weeks is not out of the question). A small part of me wondered tonight, given the fact that Ned swore off bringing people back to life in the next-to-last scene and the seeming contradiction about the "loose string" in the narration, if ABC had decided to scrap the final three altogether and end it on the revelation of Ned’s dad. But those reports also say most or all of the characters would reach some kind of end point, and that’s certainly not the case yet.
- Chi McBride had a wealth of great lines, from the above-referenced "I didn’t nob no hobs" to his exasperation with Chuck and Ned’s "by proxy hand jive" to this part of his non-confession with the Norwegians: "Detective work is a lot like money — it doesn’t come with instructions. I learned that from the greatest detective in the world. Course, I’m talkin’ ’bout Shaft. You can dig it." But his best scene may have been the final one with Vivian, where Emerson gently breaks the news about Chuck’s body being gone, but not her spirit. Even if it was a lie, it was a really sweet and touching and necessary one.
- I loved that Olive tried to throw the Norwegians off Ned’s trail by implicating a band of Swedes ("They got high on Abba and tiny meatballs"). But if they’re such crack investigators, wouldn’t they notice the distinct lack of bruises on her body after such an allegedly harsh beating?
- I ask again: What’s the big deal with Chuck’s father’s watch? That’s one thing I’d like to see resolved in the last three episodes.
Share your thoughts on this week’s Pushing Daisies below, and join me in imploring ABC to do us a solid and put the remaining three episodes on the schedule, in someplace where we’ll be able to find them. Saving the show probably isn’t in the cards at this point, but it would be nice to see this little gem of a show have at least a semi-proper ending.