Pushing Daisies (S02E01): “Bzzzzzzzzz”
After pining for its return for months, the premiere of Pushing Daisies came and went like a dream that you wake up smiling from, only to realize you’re back in reality and it was, after all, only a dream. The word charming should have Pushing Daisies as one of its dictionary definitions, because this world, these characters and their stories are so delightful it’s hard to find any faults, and easy to look past the ones there are.
I can’t recall a show that puts a grin on my face several times every episode; a grin so big I can feel my face stretching to an almost uncomfortable degree. Chuck spilling out dead bees onto a shirtless Ned to revive them, Emmerson Cod and his pop-up detective book Lil’ Gumshoe (with a light up street lamp!), and Olive’s homage to the Sound of Music were all moments this hour that had my face hurting and feeling strangely warm. Fuzzy, tingly moments aside, there’s a lot going down in the first episode back after a painfully long hiatus, and it’s not all good. Case in point: The grotesque image of a dead woman covered in bee stings and harboring a colony of them inside her mouth.
This episode is all about bees, in case the title didn’t give it away. Chuck’s bees are dying for some reason and millions of girls around the world are given reason to “squee” at her plan of action: To get Ned in his boxers and pour a beehive full of bees onto his pale shoulders so they will come buzzing back to life. Meanwhile, a woman has been killed by a swarm of bees, which makes for the ugliest death on the show yet, and the lover she left behind comes to Emmerson for help. Turns out the girl, Kentucky Fitz, worked for a company called Betty’s Bees, A Burt’s Bees-esque company, but with a much cooler headquarters. She was trying to sabotage the company before she died, but someone caught on and set loose a swarm of unhappy bees on her. When Ned uses his powers on her and Asks how she planned to sabotage the company, she says something that sounds like “With might”.
As per usual with Daisies, the offices of Betty’s Bees is a fantastical castle, with honey-comb windows, walls, and floors and enough colors to drown your eyes. One can only wonder what the entire world of Pushing Daisies must look like, as we only get brief, contained shots of it. But if you panned out further and saw the whole city, what would it look like?
To get to the bottom of things, Chuck takes the place of the dead Kentucky as the new face of Betty’s Bees. After being hostilely taken over by a former rival of the company, Woolsey Nicholls, Betty was being bumped from her seat as president into one of a much lower height. Her face had been replaced by that of her best, and now dead, friend. All the while, Ned is worried about Chuck’s growing desire for independence. First her job, though she’s only pretending to work there in order to spy, and then she’s wanting to move out of Ned’s place (so she won’t walk in on him doing “things he doesn’t want to be seen doing”) and into the now vacated apartment next door. Oh, that’s right, Olive’s moved out. Driven to the breaking point by her hoard of secrets, she packs her things and heads to a nunnery at the suggestion of Aunt Lily, afraid the truth that she is Chuck’s mother will get out. Cue hilarious Sound of Music tribute and Olive talking to a pig whom she dubs “Pigby”. How cute is this show? It only gets better: Olive wonders aloud to one of her fellow sisters as to when the porter is coming to help move in her belongings, except she misunderstood and it’s the poor coming to take her earthly possessions away for good. The nun then assumes Olive is there because she’s pregnant, because of who brought her–which means Lily came to the nunnery to have her daughter, Chuck, oh so many years ago.
It’s finally revealed why Lily escaped to have Chuck and why she had to keep it a secret, and it’s a doozy. Lily had an affair with Chuck’s father, who was seeing Vivian at the time. So she had a fling with her sister’s man that resulted in the bouncing baby girl, Charlotte Charles. She reveals all this to Olive, who doesn’t exactly take the burden of more secrets very well. In fact, she kind of freaks out. Lily is able to convince Olive to stay in the nunnery for a while longer, if only so we can all hear her sing a full number from The Sound of Music, since she was so rudely interrupted by those prudish nuns before.
Back at the Pie Hole, Vivian shows up, lonelier than ever. She’s escaped her home because it reminds her of all the things that aren’t there, and viewers around America want to reach out and give her a big hug. I read that this season was going to have the aunts out and about more, interacting with new people, and already this is happening. Lily is up at a Nunnery and Vivian is searching for something, and almost running into Chuck twice in one episode. The first time, when Olive’s having her freak out at the Pie Hole, both women barge in unexpected and almost see Chuck. We’re even fooled into thinking they have for a split second, where it’s unclear whether it’s horrifying or wonderful, only to see an empty, spinning stool and no sight of Chuck. Then again when a lonely Vivian comes wandering around at night, sans Lily, and Chuck barely makes it under the table before Vivian would have seen her. From these near sightings to Chuck and Ned’s close encounters of the physical kind, this show has a lot of tense moments.
At bee central, Ned’s stalking Chuck, but not really. He comes up with an elaborate plan to get rid of the assistant at Betty’s Bees (Pie with laxative?) and gets to wear an awesome outfit, too. Can I have that blazer? Also, did anyone else catch the Dead Like Me tie in with Ned’s reference to the Happy Time Temp Agency? Fuller has already said his shows exist in the same world and crossovers are possible, and it’s the inner nerd in me getting way excited over something so small. As far as Ned following Chuck, she doesn’t seem to think he’s being clingy and thinks of it more as Ned being her protector. And she does need some protecting. When Ned woke up dead bee girl before, she said something about bees attacking her that came from a scary bee man, and that bee man finds Chuck while Ned is away. After an intense commercial break, Ned and Emmerson barge in and find Chuck has become a human beehive, with all but her eyes covered in them. She somehow gets her point across for someone to open the window, and when Emmerson does she spits something–a honeycomb with a bee inside it–out it and all the bees go flying off her after it. The facts were these: The thing contained a queen bee, which all the other bees were attracted to. If you freaked out they’d turn hostile, but like the bee man/woman and Chuck, acting calm made them sense no threat and treat the person as if it were a nest. Ned looks smitten more than ever with Chuck, and I love how they’re always smiling at each other like they’re constantly finding new reasons to like the other.
The mystery finally reveals all its secrets, and turns out to be one of the less compelling ones in the series. Betty and Kentucky were best friends, and when they were bought out and Betty was being nudged out, the two teamed up to take back the company. They sabotaged the Bees, not with might but with mites, and Betty has been keeping her original bees safe and sound at her home; an over sized beehive that’s taken over her childhood home. But she didn’t kill her friend–that dirtbag CEO Woolsey did, and they can prove it with the DNA from the saliva found on the queen bee’s container. And they do, and that’s a wrap.
I loved this episode, and the setting and idea behind Betty’s Bees was great, but the actual facts and reveals of the case did play a bit weak. Some of the details seemed fuzzy or I missed some connections and the eventual bad guy was hardly present throughout. Most likely this is because the hour spent so much time on our main cast and their lives more than the case itself, and that’s fine by me because those moments are best anyway. So a weaker mystery than usual really doesn’t bring down this episode in the least.
One final thought: Is it bizarre that I have a crush on almost every person in the main cast, regardless of their sex? I’m enamored with Kristin Chenoweth’s Olive, man-crushing on Lee Pace’s Ned, and wanting to cuddle with Chi McBride and his big Teddy Bear of a character, Emmerson Cod. And I wouldn’t mind playing jingle-belled footsie with Anna Friel and her cuter-than-cute Chuck, either.
The worst part of Daisies return is the wait from week to week. Last season it was the highlight of my hump day and it will remain the same this season. The consistency of this show has proven to me I have nothing to worry about and I know going in that I’m in for a magical ride through a living storybook that so enchants me I can never seem to find enough words to praise it or enough negatives to hurl at it. Push on, Daisies, push on.