Mark Watches ‘Pushing Daisies’: S02E09 – The Legend of Merle McQuoddy

In the ninth episode of the second season of Pushing Daisies, a murder at a lighthouse mirrors the characters’ desire to recapture their past. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Pushing Daisies.

Oh, my feelings.

  • Given what Chuck did in the past episode, it was necessary that the writers address what this meant for her and her father. Both characters were actively seeking to not only rekindle their relationship, but to resume living their lives as if the past twenty years had not happened.
  • While we see this very theme represented in Olive’s feelings for Ned, or for Nora’s feelings for Merle, it’s Ned who realizes that living in the past is not possible. And that makes the most sense for Ned, who has the most traumatic past out of any of these characters. We’ve repeatedly seen how he’s averse to recapturing his own past, and it’s even a reoccurring motif for his character, so it makes sense that he tries to move Chuck and Charles into the future by asking them to acknowledge the limitations of their lives.
  • Of course, that’s endlessly frustrating for a person like Charles, who is stubborn and obstinate. Which isn’t an irrational reaction, by the way! He tests the limits of Ned’s rules less than 24 hours after being given them, and he finds out that for him, they aren’t really necessary. You have to realize that Chuck has chosen to stay in her hometown, where anyone might recognize her, but the context is totally different for Charles. He isn’t recognizable (since he’s decayed), he can pass him off as being a burn victim, and he can live an entirely new life with his daughter.
  • What he fails to realize is that Chuck’s life with Ned is satisfying, safe, and fulfilling. He can’t imagine a life so full of rules as being one worth living. It’s a big reason why he gives Ned such a horrifying ultimatum. But Chuck touches on this, too, and I love what she has to say about her father near the end of the episode. Her father is trying to be the same man he was when he died. He wants to protect his Button and take her all over the world, giving her the adventures he never got to. So, despite that he makes it seem like he’s granting Chuck a new life full of excitement, he’s actually trying to do the same thing she was when she guaranteed he’d stay alive. It’s that impulsive nostalgia that originally got to Ned when he brought Chuck back to life, and Chuck is responsible for doing the same thing to her father.
  • It’s fascinating, then, to see how the writers parallel this journey with the one that the McQuoddy family goes on and with Olive’s own struggle with her feelings for Ned. I know I’m repeating myself at this point, but I am endlessly pleased with how the writers on this show are able to create so much continuity between the murder mysteries and the character development.
  • So! Merle returns home after being shipwrecked for over nine years, only to discover that his wife not only doesn’t love him like she used to, she’s actually in love with Augustus Papen. And here’s the spectacular thing the writers do: THEY DON’T DEMONIZE ANYONE FOR THIS HAPPENING. Nora is not portrayed as frigid or uncaring. Granted, she’s not an active character in the narrative since she’s dead from the very beginning, but Merle and Elliot are both sympathetic and understanding of the reality of the situation. So is Augustus! He even agrees to give Nora time and space to parse out her feelings for her now-returned husband, and I think that’s awesome. None of this is blamed on her, and by the end of the episode, Merle and Elliot are able to go off on their own and bond as father and son.
  • But the best part about this entire plot is Olive Snook. I mean, first of all, she gets the team raincoats that have images representing their character on them. OLIVES and PIES and CODS and THIS IS SO CUTE IT HURTS.
  • She’s also able to get Emerson to open up about why he hates the rain so much. It’s her ability to empathize with others that ultimately saves the day, too! She’s able to figure out why Annabelle killed Nora because she knows just how painful unrequited love can be, since she’s currently struggling with the exact same emotional phenomenon.
  • It was a real treat to see how this all spawned Emerson to take Olive under his wing, inspiring her to take the possibility of becoming a PI seriously. Can I just say that this reminded me of how wonderful it’s been to watch the same journey on Elementary?
  • (As of the time I’m writing this, on July 11th, I have just three episodes left until I’m all caught up with Elementary. I can’t deal with this show, oh my god.)
  • It’s so pleasing because both characters found something in one another to help them with their emotional conflicts. Emerson tries real hard to come off as unapproachable, but that’s because he’s keeping everyone away from the very real pain he has in his life. It’s nice to see him let Olive get a little closer.
  • I also want to say that I really adore that this show constantly features people trying to do right by one another. Ned and Chuck see the best in every situation, even if things are uncomfortable or awkward, and it’s because they truly love one another. Even though Ned’s upset at the beginning of this episode, it only lasts a few minutes. He just wants to make sure that he’s still got Chuck to go through everything with. IT’S SO ROMANTIC.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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