Mark Watches ‘Pushing Daisies’: S01E07 – Smell of Success

In the seventh episode of the first season of Pushing Daisies, Olive tries to inspire Chuck’s aunts while the team deals with a bizarre case: death by scratch-and-sniff. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Pushing Daisies.

This show is fueling an addiction for pies, I swear. I’ve already researched places to get various pie in Portland, London, Paris, and Seattle for upcoming trips I have. (I already have my SF and Oakland pie places on lockdown, y’all.) Anyway, let’s talk about “Smell of Success”!

  • Look at that! Another episode that shows how various stimulants in the world can be responsible for mental triggers. See? It’s a real thing, I swear.
  • “Smell of Success” traces how smell is an important aspect of multiple characters’s lives. We start off with a soul-crushing flashback that explains why Ned starting making pies. Let me first say that I am impressed at young Ned’s ability to bake because holy shit, I could barely make a sandwich at that age. And he’s making delicious pies! Granted, he has some supernatural help, but it still takes talent to roll the crust, add the right amount of filling, assemble the pie itself, and cook it for the perfect amount of time.
  • Oh my god, I want pie more than any other food in the world right now.
  • Does cheesecake count as pie? That thought just popped into my head. Hmmm. Wikipedia says the world does not even know. Oh my god, it is a debate that shall last until the universe ceases to be. Me? I’m fine saying that cheesecake belongs in a class of its own.
  • WHY AREN’T CUP PIES REAL??? OR ARE THEY??? IS THAT A THING THAT EXISTS SOMEWHERE AND I’VE JUST NEVER HAD IT? I have, however, had the Pie Wonder at Vegetarian Haven in downtown Toronto, which was a vanilla almond bark milkshake with a full slice of blueberry pie blended oh-so-perfectly inside of it. (You can choose the ice cream/pie combo you want, or you can be a rebel and try their new Cake Wonder, which I did with Mocha Almond Fudge and Carrot Cake.) I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth. Have you picked up on this yet?
  • Anyway, while the Pie Cup plot is obviously meant to be super adorable, it’s also a way to address Ned’s unwillingness to change… in certain contexts, that is. Remember that he stuck to the same routine as every year before when Halloween came around. He refused to consider changing his menu. He was wary of the idea of Chuck and Olive being friends. But he changed a lot of things just to accommodate Chuck being around! So it’s not like he is so stubborn that he’ll never change. So why the resistance? Does he want to set boundaries? I’m actually fascinated by how Ned is written and how Lee Pace portrays him. It’s like he’s caught between wanting to be free and careless, and desiring caution and safety. Which makes sense! He’s had to be careful and conscientious his entire life! I know the bear skin rug bit is played as a joke, but think about what that means. Ned has to be conscious of everything around him so that he doesn’t reveal his powers. So how is he supposed to get close to someone if he physically can’t be near them? This is Ned’s struggle. He’s stuck between desire and practicality, and neither option is a very effective choice.
  • I would really enjoy an Emerson-centric episode because HE IS SO FASCINATING. Multiple times in the show so far, we’ve learned things about his character that are unconventional for society’s expectation of what black men enjoy doing. He knits. He loves pop-up books. He’s afraid of the dark. And none of these things are presented as silly pursuits, either! EMERSON, I WANT SO MUCH MORE OF YOU.
  • I couldn’t figure out where I’d seen Christopher Sieber before. His performance as Napoleon LaNez is just so fucking stellar and familiar. Not that I’d seen his portray a role like this, but I knew I’d seen him do something. Oh gods, he was in the 2002 revival of Into the Woods that I got to see!!! HE WAS THE WOLF OH MY GOD.
  • No, but seriously, Sieber is so funny and creepy here!
  • AND PAUL REUBENS IS ON THE SHOW NOW. OH MY GOD! Given that final scene, it’s clear he’s not done with Chuck, which is not a good thing at all. I’m interested to know if there are any other ramifications of getting a second life. Oscar and Napoleon both said that Chuck smelled like nothing they’d ever really smelled before, and I have a feeling this is going to unravel more than I expected it to. HE KNOWS. OSCAR KNOWS.
  • As fantastic and entertaining as “Smell of Success” is, it’s all overshadowed by the subplot where Olive tries to get Lily and Vivian back in a pool again. Both Ellen Green and Swoosie Kurtz do a stupendous job portraying two women consumed by grief and unhappiness, and it was a pleasure to see them begin to choose to be happy. And I recognize that there’s a very shitty way that a lot of people dismiss mental illness by saying that people need to just “choose” to be happy, but I didn’t feel like this was used in that context. When Vivian finally decided to leave that living room and change into her mermaid outfit, it was because she was tired of waking up every morning and choosing to wallow in her own pity. Plus, I could tell that it was Lily who held the two of them back more than Vivian. That choice that they make wasn’t a way of ignoring their grief. No, it was a way of moving beyond it.
  • Shout out to Ellen Green’s stunning rendition of “Morning Has Broken.” I LOVE THAT THERE IS SO MUCH SINGING IN THIS SEASON.
  • Bless this show.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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