In the fifth episode of the second season of Pushing Daisies, a man from Ned’s father’s past arrives at the diner, setting into motion a complicated journey. Also, dim sum. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Pushing Daisies.
LET’S DO THIS.
- So, I’m hoping that this is a good example of how critical analysis works in the context of what I like doing with Mark Reads and Mark Watches. There’s a lot of bullshit on the Internet (from various sides) about how we should consume media. I’m not here to tell any of you how to do that. I just do my thing, and I hope it helps and is entertaining! Anyway, a common refrain you’ll probably hear from me is that just because I criticize something does not mean I hate it. Twilight aside. Well, and “Fear Her.” I despise those things. (Though not everything about them, either. I’m here for Leah Clearwater, and the idea of Bella as a protagonist is totally fascinating to me. It’s the execution of said character that bothers me.)
- I enjoyed “Dim Sum, Lose Some.” It’s clever. It’s got a fantastic story about how family can harm you or help you. Simone is the best. And just because I like it and adore the show as a whole doesn’t mean I shouldn’t talk about things that don’t feel right.
- This one is more complicated than usual, so I’m going to tread this one with care!
- It’s absolutely wonderful that every character outside of the main four is a person of color in this episode. All of them! Every single one! AND THERE ARE LOTS OF THEM! That is so rare, and I love it. And I do think there are some fascinating ways that the writers engage with this set-up and create an entertaining and thoughtful story.
- I wouldn’t say that this episode is anywhere near as egregious as “Totem Mole,” which is gross and appropriative. This episode is full of fascinating and multi-faceted characters, and it’s nowhere close to… well, that episode. At the same time, I guess I felt a bit uncomfortable with the structure of how these characters were presented to us.
- It reminded me of one very specific example: the episode of The X-Files titled, “Hell Money.” Granted, that is a more extreme version of this, so I don’t want to come off as saying that “Dim Sum, Lose Some” is the same. It’s not.
- This feels like an attempt to start off with a stereotype and move away from it, but the narrative never does. Like “Hell Money,” this episode is about a bunch of Chinese immigrants and an underground gambling operation. This is a pervasive stereotype associated with Chinese immigrants in America, and sometimes it’s just Asian immigrants in general. What bothers me about the story here is that it just feels lazy. The idea of a gambling society gone awry isn’t terrible in and of itself, of course! But do you have to give Chinese immigrants a story about gambling in a dim sum restaurant? Really? That’s not to suggest this is some malicious thing. It’s just… unfortunate? Like, I get they’re in a restaurant, but look at the outfits all of the women wear in this episode. Really?
- I also think the decision to disguise Olive and Chuck as waitresses veered a bit too close to yellowface for my own tastes. It wasn’t outright, but it also wasn’t an entirely innocent portrayal either. Their wigs and make-up was a little creepy, despite that I understood that they were supposed to look that way.
- Ultimately, I liked the episode and the story, but I didn’t like everything about it. And that’s okay. Some of y’all may not have noticed anything strange, and some of you might consider this episode a dealbreaker. Those are fair reactions, too. I’m just hoping that I can open up some dialogue, you know?
- Anyway, this was a solid episode about Ned’s refusal to gamble with his past and Emerson’s refusal to gamble with his love life. Both of them are averse to taking risks, and we find out why over the course of “Dim Sum, Lose Some.”
- With Ned, it’s the introduction of Dwight Dixon, an old friend of Ned’s father, that inspires him to hand over his father’s address to Chuck. Who discovers that Ned has two half brothers. WHO HAVE HIS EYEBROWS.
- WHO CAST THOSE TWINS
- YOU DESERVE AN AWARD FOR THAT ALONE.
- Understandably so, Ned doesn’t want a relationship with his brothers out of spite. And spite can be a powerful force, y’all! In this case, Ned fears giving his father any happiness, even if that means he has to ignore his brothers. What this really does to Ned, though, is force him to realize that his father’s absence means that Ned knows nothing about his father. He’s projected so many disappointments and horrible qualities onto him that it takes him a while to admit that he’s done so. And I get why he would do that! His father abandoned him over twenty years before. How can he expect him to be a good guy? I think that after this episode, Ned is ready to take the next step towards finding his father.
- BUT WHO IS DWIGHT DIXON???? Jesus, that final shot is MIND-BLOWING. My guess is that Dwight is seeking Ned’s father for something more sinister. Revenge??? OH GOD.
- I really do like all the scenes between Simone and Emerson, and I would fully support more of the gorgeous Christine Adams in this show because I am super into her character. Plus, I want Emerson to find happiness. Oh god, I want all of these characters to find happiness.
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