“Water & Power”
Written by Peter Ocko, Lisa Joy, and Jim Danger Gray
Directed by Dean White
Emerson had a habit of getting sent to the principal’s office pretty much constantly, because he was in love with the principal. In the present, Randy shows up to see Olive. Chuck ships it, and she’s excited about her and Ned’s future. Ned is also in favor of Olive/Randy. But then Olive comes back to the counter and Randy leaves because Olive jumped ship. Ned and Chuck try to fix it. Olive thinks Ned wants Olive to use Randy as rebound, an idea she likes! Oops. Simone comes back to see Emerson and resume their relationship, and someone from Emerson’s past comes to hire him to solve the murder of someone else from his past who he didn’t like. Simone would now like to know about that past, but Emerson still wants to hold onto it. Apparently the victim is the guy who was with Emerson’s wife before she was with Emerson. She left the guy for Emerson, and then left Emerson and took their daughter with her. And the victim says she’s the one who killed him. Ned and Chuck very much want to help Emerson solve the murder, because that will very likely get him his daughter back. Her name is Penny, by the way. Awww.
The way Emerson and his ex met was that the current murder victim hired Emerson to find out if his fiancée was cheating on him. She wasn’t...until Emerson. She wasn’t in love with the victim at all, she was just grifting him for the Dam Ruby (a priceless ruby discovered where he built his dam). She broke off the engagement without taking any of his money, and Emerson gave back the money he paid him. The victim went on to be rich. Lila, Emerson’s baby-mama, promised she’d never grift again, but she couldn’t resist going back to try stealing the ruby. She couldn’t find it, so she stole a bunch of cash and ran off with Penny.
In the present, Ned, Emerson, and Chuck visit the dam, where they find a picture of Lila because the dam has a security measure where they take pictures of everyone who comes in. They go around asking questions about her. While Ned and Chuck talk to a crazy conspiracy theorist about zombifying government chemicals in the water supply, Emerson investigates the victim’s secret back exit. He runs into another investigator in there—a police investigator. Emerson invites him to work on Lila’s case too.
Simone is waiting for him in his office, and he tries to open up to her, but she already knows because Lila is right there in the shadows, a gun pointed at her. Lila says she didn’t kill the victim, and she’ll let Emerson see Penny if he can prove it to the cops. She then knocks Emerson and Simone out with horse tranquilizer and leaves. Simone goes to Chuck and Ned. She is not happy that Emerson had all these surprises when she wanted them to be honest, and she wants Ned and Chuck to help him solve the case.
Olive invites Randy to the Pie Hole. He super doesn’t want to be her rebound and she pretends that’s not why she’s interested. Ned wishes them will on their date later, then realizes that Simone was right about Emerson acting out of desperation, so he and Chuck need to help him. They interview dozens of farmers who got screwed over by the dam, but get nothing. Next, they see if there’s anything to that lady’s claim about toxic chemicals by interviewing the lawyers of neighboring factories to the dam. There was a chemical spill, but all the chemicals in question do is cause bioluminescence. Non-toxic. And they’re willing to pay the fine.
The leads are dead ends! What next? Emerson knows he might well be a chump, but he can’t just give up when there’s the possibility of seeing Penny again. Olive goes to his office to give him a pep talk, but Lila is there lying in wait. Simone hung the signal lantern in the window to lure Lila there. And now Olive is caught in the middle. Except that she’s not because she and Simone pulled that off together. With Randy’s help, because this is Olive and Randy’s date! They tricked Lila into telling them where Penny is, but then she ran off.
When she tries to run off, Ned and Chuck are hiding in her trunk. Emerson goes back to the dam to see if he missed anything, and the police detective finds him again. There’s a second picture that looks like Lila leaving the dam after the murder took place. It looks like Lila did kill the guy, and he won’t be able to see Penny again. But then he has an idea, and Simone finds him. They test his new theory together. In the trunk, Ned and Chuck discuss how hard their love is. Olive admits to Randy that she was going to use him as rebound, but she can’t do that anymore because she likes him for real. He’s okay with that, because he thinks he has a chance. Awwwwwwww.
But then Ned and Chuck come back to the Pie Hole in their underwear and very cold, because Lila ditched them after making them strip. For some reason. Also, the flowers the farmer gave Chuck are glowing. Heeeeey. Same with the flowers in the victim’s office. Emerson’s theory is that the farmer killed the man in charge of the dam because he was about to replace all the old pipes. Well, the pipes need replacing because they’re super leaky, but that leak was essentially giving the farmer free water. So he didn’t want them replaced. He overheard Lila and the victim’s conversation when they were making amends, which gave him someone to frame for the murder. But just as Emerson is starting to think it’s a crazy theory and Lila is the real murderer, the farmer (dressed up as Lila) locks them in the end of the spillway pipe. Emerson finds the Dam Ruby in a crack in the wall, but that’s not much comfort because they’re about to get blasted out of the tunnel. Simone pulls Emerson to safety on the ledge, where they kiss. Ned and Chuck catch the fleeing farmer before he can get away, and Emerson gives the ruby back to the lady who hired him at the beginning of the episode.
Having held up his end of the deal, it’s time for Emerson to see Penny. Lila brings her car to meet him, and they say their goodbyes. However, Emerson decides it’s his turn to have custody of Penny. Lila knew he would do that, which is why she didn’t bring Penny to the meet-up. She tricks Emerson into giving her his car out of pity, leaving him with the car that has no gas and no Penny in it. As Lila drives away, Penny waves at him from the backseat. She’s adorable. Also, Emerson’s pop-up book is getting published!
I have mixed feelings about this episode not dealing with Ned’s apparent feelings for Olive, but I really like everything else. The case is both interesting and tangled up with Plot B, so it didn’t feel superfluous like last time. Plot B is finally about Emerson’s daughter, which is fantastic, but what’s even better is that we’re not dealing with this plot in a vacuum. Simone is part of it! She solves the case with Emerson, and she accepts him even after learning about all his past baggage. And just so many bonus points for Gina Torres. Olive and Randy add even more fun to the episode. Honestly, the only thing that didn’t quite work for me was Ned and Chuck, and that’s entirely because of my unanswered questions about Ned’s feelings for Olive. Him and Chuck discussing their relationship and how it’s worth it even though it’s hard rang kinda hollow when it’s no longer clear that Ned has eyes only for her. The finale had better fix it or I’m going to end this rewatch of one of my favorite shows ever feeling extremely annoyed. Like the way you feel when you hear the first part of a song but it gets cut off before the ending, like, right in the middle of a measure. It’ll feel like that. Please don’t do this to me, show!
Things I Liked
Things I Didn’t
I love watching Emerson follow his emotions instead of his logic and love for money. The way he clearly feels sheepish doing it, but does it anyway. So adorable. And it’s what makes him a good man. He’s not nearly as jaded and cynical as he likes people to think he is. That’s just his barrier against getting burned again the way Lila burned him. Unfortunately, though, it’s also what enables Lila to burn him again. Why the crap didn’t he insist that she have Penny step out where he could see her before he let Lila out of his sight? A man as cynical as Emerson pretends to be would not trust someone who’d betrayed him before to hold up her end of a deal. What’s with Emerson and dating other Slytherins, anyway? Is any non-Slytherin just not enough of a challenge for him? I suppose that would make sense.
Even though there was no discussion of Ned’s possible feelings for Olive, he’s doing the right thing so far. Knowing that Olive has just gotten over him, he’s not trying to win her back or sabotage her budding relationship with Randy. Instead, he’s trying to encourage her to pursue this thing with Randy for real, because he genuinely believes Randy is a good guy and it could work out (rather than that he just wants her safely spoken for so that he will maybe stop liking her against his will).
For one brief moment at the beginning of the episode, when Randy ran into Chuck on the way to see Olive, I was worried that Chuck was going to start having a crush on Randy the same way Ned possibly suddenly has a crush on Olive, but that didn’t happen, and instead the episode went a much better way. Phew. Probably my favorite part for Chuck was the part when she pretended to be just barely finding out about Emerson’s daughter even though Ned told her about that ages ago. This indicates that she and Ned are just fine, but them being just fine is another reason their discussion about how it’s hard but they’re making it work fell flat. It doesn’t seem terribly hard when they’re being that cute. (The part that fell flat because of Ned’s possible feelings for Olive was the beginning part when Chuck talked about how their love is hearty. I thought that was leading to something else, like Ned getting all withdrawn and uncomfortable, but he didn’t. It’s so weird! Episodes usually build off each other better than this.)
If Olive can acknowledge that she’s over Ned, then I really don’t think she needs a rebound guy as much as she thinks she does. I think the fake relationship she had with Ned when they were pretending for her fake-kidnappers and the aunts was her rebound relationship, and she’s actually ready for a real one. She was having so much fun with Randy when they were helping Simone help Emerson. But it’s been a really long time since we had any scenes with Olive and Chuck, and I think both of their arcs are suffering for it. They’re roommates and best friends! What happened to those scenes? The closest we’ve had in a long time was that moment a few episodes ago when Olive made a comment about how fine Ned’s brothers are and Chuck agreed. It’s like as soon as the writers decided to resurrect the “Olive’s unrequited love for Ned” thread, they buried the Chuck/Olive friendship thread. Boo. Not cool.
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.