Written by Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Haberts
Directed by Lawrence Trilling
The opening scene gives us a brief recounting of Lily’s whole life, beginning with her being taught as a little girl to put her baby sister’s happiness first because Vivian had a hole in her heart. In the present, it’s Charlotte’s half-birthday, so Lily is having a particularly hard time. Vivian wants to go to the Aquacade to cheer them both up. Ned decides to get tickets for the gang to go to the Aquacade because it’s the perfect gift for Chuck. Except that the aunts will be there, so it’ll be tricky avoiding them. The aunts are upset by the presence of their old rivals (who suck), and Chuck wants to make sure that doesn’t ruin their day. Then one of the rivals gets eaten by a shark, mid-performance. The guy in charge of the program tries to hire Lily and Vivian to take their place in the act. Lily gives in because Vivian wants it so much. The owner of the shark (which has been put down) hires Emerson to prove that this wasn’t the result of negligence on his part, but that someone deliberately opened the cage. Ned, Chuck, and Emerson go to the morgue to interview the victim, who thinks Lily and Vivian were behind this. Well that’s no good.
Lily and Vivian come to the Pie-Hole completely in sync to get pie and to ask Olive for their mermaid gear back. Emerson, Ned, and Olive go with them to their performance as security and to solve the murder. Blanche’s sister and husband are both horrified when the Darling Mermaid Darlings are announced as the Aquadolls’ replacement. Olive goes into the changing room to search for the sharkbait hair gel, and meets a guy, The Tango, who feels similarly replaced by the Darlings. Also the hair gel, which she takes back to Emerson.
The Tango comes out to prance around, and Emerson and Olive notice that every time he touches his belt, a grate on the pool goes up and down. Looks like he’s the one who let the shark out. After they put him in jail, he claims he was framed. The Tango thinks Coral set Blanche up to get eaten by the shark. The guy in charge of the Aquacade wants a daredevil act for Coral, but she wants a tribute act for her sister. She nearly drowns practicing the daredevil act. Also, the guy in charge wants the Darlings to go on tour with his show for a year! They agree! After the near-drowning, it comes out that Coral was cheating with Blanche’s husband. Vivian invites Coral to swim with her and Lily, who is incensed. Ned now suspects the not-so-grief-stricken cheating widower of being the murderer.
Ned’s next gift for Chuck is a disguise so that she can go see the Darlings’ first performance. He tells her they’re going to Europe on tour, but Chuck isn’t happy about that because then they’ll be way too far away from her. She’s super upset, and kind of takes it out on Ned because apparently this is all his fault? Lily is struggling to put up with Coral’s intrusion on her and Vivian’s act when she and Olive discover that Coral has a gold suit underneath the one that matches theirs, because she was going to try to take over mid-act and make it all about her! Lily chews Coral out...for all the things she hates about herself, which they happen to have in common. Lily considers her one redeeming quality to be how highly she values her sister’s happiness, whereas Coral and Blanche were clearly very self-centered. However, Coral knows Lily had a baby thirty years ago and finds it very odd that Vivian knows nothing about it.
Vivian tells Lily to do the performance for herself for once. Emerson finds a suspicious shadow on the premises, but it turns out to be Ned and Chuck (neither of whom knew the other was there). Chuck is trying to sabotage the show so that they won’t be able to go to Europe. Ned pretends he was there to stop her, but he was there to sabotage them too because he was afraid Chuck would leave him to follow her aunts if they went to Europe. Both are duly shamed by Emerson for being so silly. On their way out, they see the Darlings’ performance, which Chuck absolutely loves. But then the MC gets knocked out and Shane the widower takes over, threatening to electrocute the pool by throwing the microphone in. (Not sure that would be enough for such a large body of water, but okay.) Ned, Olive, and Emerson stop him and save the day, and the aunts finish their performance in style, completely oblivious to how close they came to death.
Ned’s final gift to Chuck is a picture of herself, Lily, and Vivian—a picture he took of the three of them with his own camera as a kid. Lily and Vivian traveled a lot back then. Ned tells Chuck that his fear of her telling her aunts she’s alive is based more on his fear of losing her than his fear of discovery. So he’s done with that. At home, Lily is beginning to embrace happiness, except that Coral has paid a visit just long enough to tell Vivian enough to figure out that Lily and Charles cheated on her. Lily is wretched with remorse, but Vivian wants her out of the house. The doorbell rings. They think it’s the cab for Lily, but it’s actually Ned and Chuck! The camera zooms all around to all of the sets from all of the episodes, stopping at Emerson’s office, where Penny is knocking, then zooming around some more, past Oscar in the sewers and to Olive at the Pie Hole. Randy and she will open a Macaroni diner called the Intrepid Cow. And Lily, Vivian, Chuck, and Ned get to move forward as a very strange family.
Okay, even though the finale didn’t deal with Ned’s possible feelings for Olive any more than the previous episode did, its exploration of Ned and Chuck’s relationship struggles felt much more sincere, so it didn’t take anything away from it for me. Besides, I hated that development anyway, so maybe it’s better to have it retconned away than playing it out. For a show that got cancelled way too soon, Pushing Daisies had an excellent finale that wrapped up a lot of plot threads, but not so many that it felt weighed down. There’s still the mystery of the pocketwatches Dwight Dickson was willing to kill for, of which there were apparently three but we only saw two (pretty sure the third belonged to Ned’s dad), and the mystery of what Ned’s dad has been up to all this time, but that was definitely the least important of the dangling threads, because Ned doesn’t like his dad and has moved on emotionally as much as he could. Much more important was Chuck’s relationship with Lily and Vivian, because she very much loves them and they’re still grieving her. No more secrets between them! Also, Olive’s unrequited love was such an unnecessary long sub-plot that it was very good to find out how things went for her and Randy. Emerson being reunited with his daughter was also crucial. It might’ve all been a little more rushed than I would’ve liked if there had been more seasons, but I’m glad we got some resolution. And the main plot of the episode was pretty solid too. I like that the focus was on the aunts’ swimming career, because we’ve never had an episode focused so much on them before.
Things I Liked
Things I Didn’t
I don’t care that it’s kind of abrupt for Ned to decide that it’s safe to tell Lily and Vivian that Chuck’s still alive after he’s spent two seasons convinced that it would lead to him being dissected in a lab and Chuck being killed by an angry mob with pitchforks. Her not being able to interact with her aunts has always felt like a super arbitrary rule to me, and I don’t feel like there’s any reason to break arbitrary rules in a slow, delicate fashion. Also, the plot of the episode built up to it pretty well. Ned was able to realize that his fear doesn’t have as solid of a foundation as he thought, and so there was no reason to keep entertaining it. He isn’t the only one Chuck loves or the only one who loves Chuck; if they’re going to have a healthy relationship, he has to be able to share her with her family. Otherwise, she might as well be Rapunzel locked away in a tower. That way lies codependency and badness.
At first, I was mad at Chuck for being mad at Ned over encouraging her aunts to go to Europe on tour, but I’ve thought about it more, and after doing the Ned analysis, it makes more sense. Chuck was lashing out irrationally, maybe, but there was a valid source for her anger. She has accepted the logic of not being able to see her aunts, but part of her always thought it wasn’t as important as Ned said it was, so him encouraging her aunts to go thousands of miles away suddenly made her situation feel much more prison-like than it has so far. She didn’t process that very clearly in her mind, but she did grasp it instinctually, and she hated it, so she lashed out at Ned, the maker of the arbitrary rules. Which is what helped Ned realize how arbitrary those rules were and finally abolish them. Yay!
Emerson’s angry speech to Ned and Chuck about how his job is catching bad guys which is why he likes having especially good guys around him was fantastic. Even though he lobs generous amounts of sarcasm at both of them on a regular basis (and *still* calls Chuck “Dead Girl”) he likes and respects them, and holds them to a very high standard. Only when they disappointed him could he actually admit any of this, and we see how much it matters to him that his friends are good people who set a good example for him. Aww.
Olive doesn’t get much of an arc here, but she does help with the case and based on one of Chuck’s lines, the two of them are still close friends. Still, I really wish we could’ve had one more scene with Chuck and Olive before the season ended, and I wish the last episode that focused on Olive hadn’t been so full of things that made me angry.
I think Lily is a Slytherin. But she had it drilled into her very young that her priority must always be Vivian, and that counteracted the Slytherin tendency to get a bit too egotistical. If you can get a Slytherin to focus on someone other than themselves, then they will devote absolutely everything to that goal with a ferocity you don’t often see from the other three houses. But it’s also why she couldn’t forgive herself for sleeping with Charles and couldn’t admit it to Vivian. Her whole self-worth was built on her value as a big sister, and she ruined that, so she felt ruined. I wish we’d been able to see more of her working through her self-loathing and getting to a good place again with Vivian, one based on trust, but I do really like what we did get.
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.