Mark Watches ‘Pushing Daisies’: S02E02 – Circus, Circus

In the second episode of the second season of Pushing Daisies, Ned worries about new beginnings as the team investigates the disappearance of a young woman who may have joined a circus. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Pushing Daisies.


  • Seriously, I adore this show, and I just want to hug it close forever.
  • The main theme of “Circus, Circus” addresses the fear or the need for change, and yet again, the writers don’t shame any of the people involved, choosing to explore their problems with humor and grace. Which is a feat! I guess I’m cynical in this regard because I’m used to shows being mean. Or people. Perhaps I’m projecting here.
  • Honestly, though, this is a great example of how change can hurt or benefit people and shows us that it’s up to each of us individually to figure that out!
  • Things start off with Ned, who, in a flashback, begins to learn that the changes wrought in his life seem positive, but the horrible dark side of them always pops up just when Ned might be happy. It explains why he is so resistant to change, which got me thinking about the fact that we’ve seen so many routines from him. He’s endlessly organized. He makes his pies a certain way. And now that Chuck is in his life, he integrated her into that routine, which is another reason why it’s so disruptive when she seeks out her own place. Ned really is perpetually paranoid, and while it’s endearing a lot of the time (thanks to Lee Pace’s face!!!!), that doesn’t mean he is right.
  • AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT? I guess I would expect shows to make a character like Chuck bow to Ned’s requests after some ~wackiness~ that they go through together, but instead, the writers don’t take this route. They treat Chuck like a whole person with her own needs and motivations. Through this ~mind-blowing concept~, it allows the writers to tell us why Chuck insists on her independence. That’s so fucking important, y’all! She’s not doing this to be ~weird~ and ~quirky~. SHE DIED. She died by being suffocated with a plastic bag, and in her dying moments, she realized her life was over just as it was truly beginning for her. So while she’s eternally thankful for the second chance at life that Ned has given her, this is yet another instance where’s she allowed to tell Ned that she doesn’t owe him anything. That she needs to do what makes her happy. That she needs to live a life that satisfies her first. Granted, she wants that life with Ned, and I could sit here and weep for days just talking about this beautiful love. But that also means she’s got to be given the space (literally and figuratively) to make her own decisions and find her own happiness.
  • In a way, that’s what Olive is going through here. She really wants to make the best of her situation at the nunnery because, unlike Ned, she desperately needs a change in her life. She needs that epiphany so badly, though she’s not very patient about it. It’s interesting, then, that she spends so much time with Lily, who shows up out of guilt. It’s not lost on me that these women are in a Catholic setting, because let me tell y’all: the Catholic church is all about guilt. I’m exaggerating, of course, but that really defines so much of my experience with the people I interacted with in my parish, with the one sister who hated me, and with the general theme of nearly every mass I ever attended. I think that was our father’s thing, though? Like, the head priest was just way into drilling guilt into our hearts and minds.
  • Lily is contrasted with Olive because they’re two desperate women, but for polarizing reasons. Olive wants change, and Lily does not. Lily wants to live in the same world she always has, the one where she pretended not to be Chuck’s mother, where she “didn’t” sleep with Vivian’s fiancé, where she can run away from her problems and hide indoors for weeks on end. But the guilt that arose from her telling Olive is gnawing at her! Like Ned and his secret regarding Chuck’s father, the longer she goes without telling Vivian the truth, the worse she feels and the worse Vivian’s reaction might be.
  • Then there’s Emerson, who has spent years living in his own world of not changing. In his case, he’s refused to acknowledge his daughter’s disappearance to anyone ever, which has made things awkward with Ned. Ned likes talking about feelings. Emerson most definitely does not. Yet he’s forced to admit his pain over the disappearance to his daughter to a stranger, Georgeann Heaps, when her case hits too close to home. My god, this whole plot with Emerson is so goddamn heartbreaking, y’all. It hurts! And the existence of the Lil’ Gum Shoe book doesn’t help at all. The man still holds out a slim hope that he’ll one day find his daughter or that she might find him.
  • All of this is framed within a complex murder mystery about circus performers, which feels like an unintentional reference to the “Humbug” episode of The X-Files half the time. I really don’t think I could have guessed who the murderer was before it was told to me. However, I was a big fan of this episode’s use of humor. A literal clown car. A mime who stayed in character upon being revived. Ned winning Chuck a “prize” with the throw of a baseball. THIS SHOW IS SO WITTY.
  • Oh god, the whole LOVE HER scene with Emerson is both hilarious and HEART WRENCHING. It’s so unfair.
  • But y’all, that unfair scene where Ned and Chuck pretend to meet one another for the first time outside their apartments… this is torment. Stop it. You stop doing this to me. This is all your faults for getting me into this show. I WILL BLAME Y’ALL FOREVER.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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