Written by Doug Petrie
Directed by Peter Lauer
Ned and Chuck spend the minute of alive-again Charles Charles, and Chuck secretly gives him gloves so that Ned would not actually die again. Ned won’t find out for a while because he and Olive have to go to a cook-off, and Chuck gets help dealing with the consequences from Emerson. A fictional version of Colonel Sanders gets murdered at the cook-off, so Ned and Olive are on the case. Also someone’s trying to sabotage the Pie Hole’s food so they’ll lose the competition. Vivian comes to have girl talk with Olive, because she feels abandoned by Dwight. Ned and Olive trace the sabotage to another contestant, but it was a set-up! The muffin lady (their enemy) framed them for sabotaging the second contestant’s equipment, and they get disqualified. They keep investigating and get knocked out by the Muffin lady with frying pans. Also, Vivian’s conversation makes Olive’s crush on Ned come roaring back up, which is inconvenient. It turns out the obese guy in charge of the competition is the murderer. Olive manages to get a secret Plan B pie (made in case of sabotage) onto the judges’ table just in time, and they win! Then Ned goes looking for Chuck because she’s been incommunicado all day, and he finds her hiding with her dad at his old house.
This episode is fantastic for a lot of reasons. First, nobody is in their usual role or paired with their usual partner. Instead of solving a murder, Emerson is helping conceal one. Instead of working with Olive or Ned, Chuck is working with Emerson. Ned is solving a murder with Olive instead of Chuck and Emerson. They’re all out of their comfort zones, which makes things fresh (not that I find the usual groupings and roles stale). The aunts are still involved, which I love, and Charles Charles is already an interesting addition. For all the character stuff happening in the episode, there’s also an impressive amount of main arc stuff and quirky case of the week stuff. The episode was written by Doug Petrie, a Buffyverse alum who would then go on to write seven episodes of Daredevil. It definitely feels like there’s a hint of Whedonverse in this episode, and now I just really want Joss Whedon and Bryan Fuller to team up on a new TV project.
Things I Liked
Things I Didn’t
Ned doesn’t have much of an arc in this one, but I think his non-arc is done very well. This is Ned at the peak of all his recent character development. It’s the split-second at the top of a leap when you’re weightless, before gravity catches hold of you again. Well, gravity is the cliffhanger, and we’re going to see him either face-plant horribly or stick the landing next time.
I’m glad Chuck wasn’t mad at Ned for essentially trading the funeral director’s life for hers. She found it fun that he deliberately kept her alive, rather than morally compromising. It’s a much better setup for what she does in this episode than if she’d been horrified and struggled to forgive him. I’d much rather watch someone experience the gravity of such an action for herself when she pretty much repeats it exactly the same way than watch someone become a guilt-ridden hypocrite. It’s not fun to deliberately trade lives, it’s horrible and comes with a heap of consequences and a fraught conscience. Chuck’s guilt and anguish burn much faster and hotter than Ned’s, though. He tried to avoid having to admit what he did, first with trading her life and then, much more protractedly, with her dad’s life and his mom’s. Chuck makes her impulsive choice and confesses within the space of less than twenty-four hours.
Okay, I am definitely annoyed that the only thing that seems to be happening in Olive’s arc is to do an encore of her pining for Ned like in S1. Can’t she have a new thing? Can’t Alfredo Aldarisio come back? It was nice, though, to see that she has such a passion for baking pies, which suggests that she’s not just a waitress to make ends meet. And her competitive side is very fun. It seems particularly active whenever the competition is about food.
Wow, I actually forgot about my impatience to see more progress on Emerson’s missing daughter arc. Everything else in the episode was just that good. Plus, he got to have a scene with Lily and that pretty much makes up for anything.
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.