“Window Dressed to Kill”
Written by Abby Gewanter
Directed by Julie Anne Robinson
When Olive was little, she didn’t appreciate being ignored by her parents. She was (apparently) kidnapped and her parents paid a hefty ransom for her and the police caught her kidnappers. They were sentenced to life in prison, but they escaped! And the person they want to find now is Olive Snook. At the Pie Hole, Olive is trying to get more out of Ned on what he meant when he said he wouldn’t say he never looked at Olive the same way as Chuck. Also he’s having more fun baking pies now that he can eat them.
Emerson and Chuck arrive. There’s a case that Ned can’t help with because he won’t use his power. Chuck wants to help, though! Wait, wasn’t Olive helping? Wasn’t Olive super happy to help and officially Emerson’s apprentice P.I.? There’s a dead lady frozen in a fountain with her legs sticking out of it. Ned and Chuck walk past a department store window that looks exactly like the crime scene. Ned still wants to stay out of it, and Chuck still wants to help Emerson, so they split up, both being very supportive of each other. Randy Mann, the taxidermist guy from “Frescorts,” comes to the Pie Hole, and he seems to have a crush on Olive. Ned had him make a taxidermy dove present for his twin brothers’ birthday present. Olive’s kidnappers show up, and Randy makes to defend her with a butter knife.
Ned comes back to find a bruised Randy, the kidnappers, and Olive all kinda hanging out. Olive seems weirdly reluctant to explain the kidnappers, and that’s because they were only thieves. They wanted to take her home, but she liked them and wouldn’t tell them who she belonged to, which is why they ended up keeping her for a two and a half days. Her favorite two and a half days, and theirs. Her parents only had them jailed for kidnapping out of spite after they chewed them out for being negligent parents. Olive adores them. And Olive may or may not have been telling them in her letters that she and Ned are engaged. Which makes Randy sad, and since Ned goes along with it so Olive won’t be embarrassed, it’s sure to make things awkward with Chuck.
Emerson and Chuck (who’s trying not to be disgruntled by the Ned/Olive ruse) discover that the murder victim was a perfume spritzer girl and a lot of people are devastated by her loss. Emerson isn’t super happy about working the case if he’s not getting paid, so Chuck plays the crowd into collectively hiring him. The scary lady who worked with the victim is designing a memorial window display for her. Randy, Ned, Olive, and the two kidnappers are all in Randy’s taxidermy car on the way to the Mexican (or Canadian?) border, but they run into a police roadblock and veer off to the aunts’ house instead. Lily is completely baffled by Ned and Olive’s alleged engagement, but Vivian is delighted for Olive. Ned and Olive go for a kiss in front of everyone. It inspires a song from Olive (in her head...or afterward on the porch?).
There’s another murder at the unveiling of the memorial display window. The lady who made the display got crunched in an escalator! (...How?) The coroner (or medical examiner? What exactly is the difference? I’m confused.) enjoys extorting Emerson for information about murder victims. Emerson and Chuck have a new favorite suspect: Chic Denny, who spent a lot of time getting treated like scum by victim #2. Olive and Vivian pick out some clothes for Buster and Jerry (the kidnappers), and Olive tries to tell Vivian the truth except that Vivian’s faith in true love has been restored by Olive and Ned. Whoops.
Emerson irritably helps Chuck feel better about the Ned/Olive situation. They find Denny’s book of window designs. He designed all of them! Ned makes an unfortunately blasé comment about how fun it is to “try on” the Ned/Olive relationship, which pisses Olive off and gives her the motivation to set the record straight for the aunts, Buster, Jerry, and Randy. She wants Ned to leave, but the police have arrived to arrest Buster and Jerry. Because Lily reported them. *snort*
A conversation with Randy makes Ned realize it’s silly for him to never use his powers, so he sneaks out into Randy’s taxidermy vehicle and alive-against the rhino Randy was working on, which causes more than enough distraction for the fugitives to escape. Then he shows up at the morgue to help Emerson and Chuck. They catch the killer before he kills the real window display designer. It’s the heir of the company! He kind of hated being the heir, so he tried to ruin the company by ruining its appeal by killing the window display designer. Dang. Convoluted. Buster and Jerry help Olive realize that Randy has been awfully helpful for someone who doesn’t have feelings for her. Because he does. But he’s not asking for anything from her. She is intrigued. With the help of the nuns from the convent, she succeeds in smuggling Buster and Jerry over the border. Ned goes back to using rotten fruit in his pies. (Aww, why? Why can’t he bake normal pies that he can enjoy while still helping with Emerson’s cases? Chuck is jealous of Olive because Ned could have a normal relationship with her if he wanted to. Ned sees Olive having a pie date with Randy (including hand-holding), and he’s jealous!
As much as I enjoy things like Emerson and Chuck working a case together, Olive’s surrogate father-figure kidnappers, the budding romance between Olive and Randy, and Ned realizing that it’s stupid to just be a normal guy when you’re actually a guy with a super-power (which is what I always want a super-powered protagonist to realize in those stories where they’re always whining about wanting a normal life), I do not like the twist that Ned might have feelings for Olive at all. Ned/Chuck is possibly the most adorable ship in the history of ever, and Ned is this adorably awkward dork, but if he starts emotionally stepping out on Chuck, it’s going to ruin both of those things AND Chuck and Olive’s friendship, which I also like. So this episode had a lot of potential but ultimately got on my nerves. Hopefully Ned will have some kind of realization that he’s not actually jealous of Randy because he likes Olive, he’s just jealous of their ability to hold hands without gloves and kiss without plastic wrap and stuff. And even if that is what happens next, it’ll still be a rehash of what happened in S1! Uggggh. Also I think this episode might have the least interesting of all the murder-of-the-week plots. It was very convoluted, I had a hard time accepting the idea that a department store's success could rely so heavily on the appeal of its window display, and it kind of felt like a convenient way to keep Chuck and Emerson from getting too involved in the stuff with Ned and Olive.
Things I Liked
Things I Didn’t
Olive finally gets more backstory and a new arc to move forward into, instead of circling again and again in the back-eddies of her unrequited love for Ned! Also, I love that she still has a close bond with Mother Superior. If it hadn’t been for the dumb ending with Ned maybe returning her feelings right after she’s stopped having them, it would actually have been a pretty good way to resolve those feelings. She gets to live out the fantasy she’s always had of being with Ned, only to find out that it’s not so awesome and he’s got a few more flaws than she was giving him credit for. He knocked himself off the pedestal she put him on, and that helped her snap out of it.
I’m trying to figure out Ned’s story (while disregarding the dumb ending). He wants to just be normal and not rely on his power all the time, but that’s such a weird thing for him to want just a few episodes after realizing that everyone he cares about is in his life because of his gift. This is the "resisting the call" part of a protagonist's character arc, so that should've happened a long time ago, if it was going to happen. The through metaphor about Ned being Clark Kent who doesn't want to be Superman anymore is really weird. I think what Randy was trying to say with his Clark Kent/Superman speech was that even though it makes sense for someone with superpowers to want to be liked for something other than their powers, the powers are part of them, and any affection they get from people who don’t know the whole truth is based on a façade and not fair to either person. But the way it came across seemed more like Randy was suggesting that Ned should appreciate Olive’s affection more than anyone else’s because she doesn’t need to know he’s a superhero to love him, even though Chuck does. And if this were a show encouraging us to root for Ned/Olive because Chuck was clearly only interested in him because of his gift, the second one would make a lot of sense. But it’s not! Chuck could have run off and had adventures with her dad and found a guy she could touch to live happily ever after with, but she stays because she loves Ned! They’ve worked through a lot of issues together and she’s helped him come out of his shell and become a much happier person. The show has always encouraged us to root for Ned/Chuck, so WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE?! Another way the Clark Kent/Superman thing doesn't make sense is that there's no place for Chuck and Emerson in that metaphor. They know all of Ned's secrets, and they still like him! That was the whole point of the drama over Ned accidentally causing Charles's death as a kid. Chuck was angry and horrified at first, but she forgave him, so why is this metaphor trying to compare her to Lois Lane who loves Superman but wouldn't look twice at Clark Kent?
Heh, as reluctant as Emerson always is to get involved in the other characters’ personal drama while he’s working a case, he actually gives very good advice to Chuck (and has previously given very good advice to Ned and Olive on other occasions). I think he needs to admit that these people aren’t just his “associates.” They’re his friends, and he likes them a lot.
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.