Okay, good Lord. Allegedly the Dumbasses That Be are cancelling this show, and it breaks my heart. ESPECIALLY, when they follow the cancellation announcement with an episode that features a lethargic Indian python named Bilbo. I mean, it is so obvious that whoever it is making this decision at ABC knows not what they do, that I can't even think of anything rude enough to say about it. I know times are tough and all, but we just elected a smart President, right? Ipso, facto: can't we have smart TV again, PLEASE? Ugh. Anyway.
Our intrepid investigators have a new case. A lover/lawyer of a rich old geezer hires Emerson to figure out who killed his client, Gustav. Emerson takes a special interest, especially when it is discovered that said geezer made his riches by inventing a mechanized yarn baller. The guy was allegedly killed when a robber broke into his house and shot down the chandelier, causing it to land on Gustav's head. When Ned gives him the touch, though, the victim is most concerned that they find his last will to prevent his stupid, greedy wife from getting his loot. He claims, before he gets the re-touch, that "the bellman" killed him.
The team finds the safe, but no will. Apparently there's been a rash of robberies in town at which the burglar leaves only a cryptic note, scrawled in Latin: "Orbis pro vox." Ah, this means "ring for right," which leads them to an organization called The Bellmen, basically a Salvation Army-type outfit that dresses up its charity ringers as Robin Hoods. They suspect these Bellmen, who seem to have solicited many of the richfolks who have been recently robbed and decide to set up a sting, using the aunts' place as their fake richfolk address. They even bring Chuck along, and let her hide in her old room. This was unfortunate, since the Head Bellman, Rob Wright, breaks into that room to rob it. Instead, he supplies her with the facts: yes, he robbed Gustav, but he says he did it because Gustav himself asked him to in order to keep Mrs. Gustav's hands off his cash. He says, though, that he didn't kill him, and the team once again turns on the moneygrubbing widow. However, all of this, like communism, is just a red herring: though it was ultimately an accident, Rob Wright did it.
Ned, meanwhile, has been super worried about Dwight's presence in Aunt Vivian's life, and how he's snooping around about Ned's own Disappearing Dad, and trying to get a hold of Chuck's dad's pocket watch -- it's all so complicated and confusing, and all of it is making Ned stress-bake. He employs Olive to use her detection-by-pie-delivery speciality to investigate Dwight's true motives. Lily is suspicious as well, and she's got her reasons. Dwight is creepy, y'all. Creepy like, seducing Vivian in the park with a clarinet, creepy. No, a real clarinet. Of course, this association leads to the realization of Ned's greatest fear: that Dwight's closeness to the aunts will result in him seeing a photo of the supposed-to-be-dead Chuck, whom he has seen alive with his own eyes. Yep, it happens. And to be extra creepy, he creepily delivers that picture to Olive, who is so terrified, she stress-eats all of Ned's stress-pies. Also stressed? Lily, who visits Chuck's grave, finds it newly turned over and suspects Dwight's evil handiwork. She goes in search of proof, breaking into Dwight's hotel room to find a multitude of guns, plus the pocket watch Dwight stole from Chuck. Of course, he thinks Chuck stole it back from him, and goes after her. Meanwhile, Olive tells Ned about Dwight's awareness of Chuck's... aliveness... and he must make the decision to do the unthinkable. They have to know what Dwight's really up to, he says, and the only way to do it is to "wake up" Chuck's dad.
Damn the suits at ABC to Hell, this show is SO good. I open with such condemnation, because I can't get over how something so excellent could end up so abused. Do I love writing nonstop recaps of the endless twists? I only sort of love that. But do I love watching it, and listening in wonder to the wordplay so otherwise absent from modern culture as we know it? YES. And thus, am I pleased that this gem is rejected while lumps of coal such as, I don't know, [insert just about anything else currently playing on TV] remain untouched? While Chad Michael Murray remains untouched? Decidedly NOT. We begin with a brilliant example of the genius soon to be cruelly torn away: Young Ned, as we know, didn't have many friends back at the Abandoned Children's Institute. Only the fabulously orthodontic Eugene Maljandani is available for marble shooting, and though Young Ned cringes at the damage it does to his rep, he considers playing with Eugene an act of charity. Especially as, Jim Dale tells us, Eugene's only other companions are his two pets: the lethargic Indian python, Bilbo; and Akbar, a bunny. Y'all, when he said the snake's name was Bilbo, I had to just turn off the TV for a while. I could not stop laughing for hours. Tragedy strikes when one of Ned and Eugene's competitive marbles errantly flies off course, breaking both Akbar and Bilbo's cases, leading to, as Jim Dale so bluntly reports, their joint demise. The snake choked on the bunny. Harsh, JD.
However, under the guise of kindly burying Eugene's pets, Young Ned resolved to perform another act of charity: he brings them both back to life (resulting in the deaths of two nearby raccoons). As long as the benefits outweighed the costs, Jim Dale tells us, Young Ned believed an act of charity outweighed the consequences. Seeing Eugene's smile gleaming through his headgear at the return of his friends is proof enough for me.
Present Day Ned, despite all his early life lessons, is currently troubled by the potential consequences of bringing Chuck back to life. Thinking of the mysterious machinations of Dwight Dixon and how his snooping could uncover Chuck's secret, Ned stress-bakes back at the Pie Hole. "He's dating your aunt, he's going to see a picture of you," Ned rambles when Chuck comes in, "and if he doesn't have retro-grade amnesia, he's going to recognize you. That is, if he already hasn't." Ned marvels at the coincidence of this aunt-dating, not that Vivian isn't totally datable, he is quick to add.
Olive, for her part, wonders if Dwight has maybe been after Chuck all along, because he knows she "faked" her death (as Olive believes). Maybe, Olive says, he's with the IRS. "If anyone can figure out whether you're dead," she says, "it's the tax man." Oh, Internet, I tell you with a full measure of audited-after-a-devastating-housefire bitterness that that is quite true. OR, Olive postulates, maybe Dwight is some kind of paranormal investigator! "Maybe," she says creepily, "he's an old priest, and a young priest is coming." Okay, well, I'll be seeing y'all. I have it written into my TWoP contract that any reference to The Exorcist in a show I'm watching will result in a compulsory vacation of two weeks, during which my brain will be cleansed from within to make me stop thinking of it. Ned nervously says that such a thing would be a waste of religion, because Chuck's not... dead. The thought of it, however, urges him to action. They must, he says, do whatever it takes to find out who Dwight is, and what he wants. "Hmm!" Olive says. "Counter-intelligence via pie delivery, by gossiping with a purpose. My speciality." (Every time Kristin Chenowith is on screen, I renew tenfold my objection to the cancellation of this show. She is too awesome.)