Pushing Daisies (S02E02): “Circus Circus”

Grade: A

For two weeks in a row now, Pushing Daisies has delivered fantastic hours of TV, and for two weeks even Ned’s magical powers have proved not enough to revive the show’s sinking ratings. But putting aside the numbers for this wonderful, dare I say brilliant, show, “Circus Circus” is an all all around winner, with a stronger mystery than the last and an overarching theme of new beginnings being both scary and exhilarating that ties everything together with a pretty ribbon.

For the characters of Pushing Daisies, the time has come to move out of the comfortable bubbles they’ve created for themselves and make fresh starts. Aunts Lily and Vivian have become shut-ins, but must ease themselves back into the world. Emmerson has done everything to escape the memories of his missing wife and daughter, but must finally begin to embrace them. Olive admits she still loves the Pie Maker, but knows she can’t go back to daily dancing around that fact and pretending his unrequited affections do not faze her. And, most importantly, Chuck and Ned have to step outside the world they’ve created together–one that revolves solely around each other–and build their own lives, not only as a couple but as individuals. Pushing Daisies manages to take the single theme of new beginnings and weave it throughout the episode without it feeling heavy handed in addition to giving yet another excellent whodunit case full of mimes, clowns and exploding cannons (oh my!).

The Circus of Fun serves as the setting for this week’s caper and couldn’t be a better match for Daisies, with its many vibrant and varied colors and characters. It also serves as a tie-in for Emmerson and his baby mamma drama. There are a lot of moments provided by the circus that just work so well in the context of this quirky, off-kilter show; moments such as our crew finding a dead mime in his tricked out mime van (complete with a bumper sticker that reads” Mimes do it with imagination”) or Emmerson and Ned staring blank-faced as over a dozen dead clowns are fished from a clown car that had been driven into a lake. And unlike last week, there’s a whole cast of crazy extras to deepen this mystery’s secret-filled pockets and keep you guessing as to what’s what. The main cast of Daisies is enough like a circus as it is, with synchronized swimmers, pop-up book making detectives, and waitresses that burst into Broadway numbers at the unlikeliest of times. It’s a different kind of circus, but still drives home my point of just how well these people fit in with this scenario.

Chuck and Ned are an achingly sweet couple whose love is just as much a constant joy for viewers to watch as it is an annoyance to poor Emmerson Cod, always wedged in between. However, ever since Ned brought his sweetheart back to life, they’ve been inseparable: Living together, working together, solving murders together. But Chuck hasn’t stepped outside of her relationship with Ned very often and Ned has been consumed with Chuck. Fuller and Co. were wise enough to see things needed shaking up, which started last week when Chuck moved across the hall to Olive’s vacated apartment. This week is all about them dealing with the new living arrangements and what exactly that means for Chuck, Ned, and Chuck and Ned (the couple). For Chuck it’s exciting, but for Ned it’s scary as hell.

So Ned has to realize what Chuck already has taken steps toward: That he needs to figure out who he is outside of being the Piemaker or Chuck’s significant other just as she has to continue the journey of independence she was on before her death. The initial period of wonderment, like Christmas, is over and while it was wonderful, Chuck can’t stay in the Piemaker’s cage, just as she couldn’t stay in her aunts, and Ned can’t keep her there without it causing resentment on her part. So, yes, change is scary, but it can ultimately give both Chuck and Ned better lives apart from each other as well as together. The adorable ending, where Chuck and Ned wake up pretending to be two singles living in the big city and then meet each other for the first time in the hallway outside their apartments, is a way to signal that they’re both finally embracing these new beginnings. It seems to not only give them room to fly solo, but a way to keep their romance flourishing. And so they get the best of both worlds, and so do we.

Chuck and Ned aren’t the only ones on similar journeys, though. Everyone is feeling a little stir crazy this hour and realizing it’s high time for changes to occur, even if they don’t know exactly how to go about making it happen. Lily and Vivian have realized they can still live full lives without totally moving on from Chuck and forgetting her. As Olive says, they can put her in front of them rather than behind them and move on from there, and their regular outings to The Pie Hole show they are moving toward just that. Emmerson’s continued work on his pop-up book, Lil’ Gumshoe shows his mind won’t leave thoughts of his daughter, and this case only helped to push him closer toward their eventual reunion. The only character whose future seems uncertain is poor Olive, stuck talking with Pigby, drinking booze hidden in hollowed out Bibles, and attending morning, afternoon, late afternoon, and early mid-midnight prayers. She should track down the traveling homeopathic remedies salesman and fall in love with him, since he’s already smitten with her. That’s just my suggestion.

The only thing at this point that could make this show better would be higher ratings, so if you like Pushing Daisies tell force your friends, family or even random strangers to watch and discover the most magical hour of TV around. They’ll thank you later (and possibly forgive the rope burns from where you tied them down…)

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2 Responses to “Pushing Daisies (S02E02): “Circus Circus””

  1. marcusandstevi Says:

    You are absolutely right that a normal episode of Daisies is so much like a circus that sending Chuck, Ned and Emerson to one only makes sense. It just fits with Fuller’s wacky, Burtonesque universe, and that is why I love this show.

    My husband and I write a TV blog over at Children of Saint Clare and I really like your recaps so I’m adding you to our blogroll.

    Check us out if you’d like: http://childrenofsaintclare.wordpress.com

  2. scenescreen Says:

    Hey, thanks for the add to your blogroll and I’m glad you enjoy my site. I like your setup as well…kind of a much-expanded version of what I did once or twice, having a “he said, she said” kind of thing going on. Very cool. I’ll add your site to my links as well.

    We PD fans have to stick together and hope this show gets renewed. It will be a sad, sad day/year for me if doesn’t pick up more viewers and get a full season order.

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