When we last left our intrepid heroes (and how happy are we to see them again? Say it with me: SQUEE!), Ned had determined never to mess with the Touch of Life again, not to engage in crime fighting, and instead to endure life as a peaceful piemaker, plain and simple. While this leaves an open field for Chuck to live her dream as Emerson's sidekick, the Re-alive Avenger, it also gives Olive a lot more time to obsess over Ned and his cryptic remarks on the cliff. As a matter of fact, her long-term love for Ned comes to bear when she is visited by Bruce and Jerry, the two sweet men who accidentally kidnapped her as a child, and to whom she has written of her love for the piemaker. They have stayed in touch through their time in prison, and have now escaped and returned to town to seek help in their life on the run. Randy Mann has also reappeared on the scene, his crush on Olive having only grown with time, and he becomes ensnared in the escape attempt as well, as have the aunts who Ned, Olive and Randy turn to for help in disguising the escapees. Awesomely, Randy's part includes fashioning wigs from taxidermied animals, and until you have seen the legendary George Segal in skunk sideburns, you have not lived. When the police show up at the aunts' house to arrest Bruce and Jerry, Ned is only too happy to once again embrace his true role as a superman-of-sorts and thwart the po-po by awakening a rhino in the back of Randy Mann's van. Who else is back? The turquoise nuns! They come to the rescue in the classic comedic nun fashion and disguise the kidnappers as nuns to aid their escape.
Speaking of fashion, Chuck and Emerson are on the case of two department store window dressers who have been summarily, but artfully, dispatched. When Ned realizes that his destiny lies not only in pies but in crime fighting, he returns to our beloved morgue to do his thing, effectively solving the crime. The killer is none other than the store's owner, and… who cares, because get this: to fool Bruce and Jerry into thinking their beloved Olive was happily in love, Ned pretended to be engaged to her. When the ruse became too painful, however, Olive admitted the truth and the jig was up, leaving Ned to happily return to Chuck, who admitted that she had been jealous of the fake relationship, since she can never be with Ned in public to declare their love. Olive, meanwhile, sees the nobility in the quirky taxidermist, Randy Mann, and is allowing herself to feel for him when who else should feel the twinges of jealousy? Ned. For Olive.
So, young Olive was nine years, whatever weeks/days/minutes old and dressed to the nines when she was kidnapped from a party being thrown by her folks. Jim Dale's melodious voice is filled with sad compassion as he describes poor little Olive's life as the well-dressed but ignored child of her fashionable party parents. All she wanted, he says, was to be actively loved and only occasionally ignored. "As happens often with Olive Snook, her dreams came true," JD points out, "just not quite for she intended." For, as her parents later testified, young Olive was kidnapped by two dangerous car thieves and held for one day, one hour and eleven minutes before the men, Jerry Holmes and Buster Bustamante, made the first ransom call. Her parents agreed to pay and the police set a trap for Jerry and Buster which results in their arrest and Olive's safe return. Jerry and Buster were sentenced to 25-years in prison. Ah, but 8,264 hash marks on a wall later (that would be 22-ish years), Jerry and Buster bust out of jail with only one person on their mind: Olive.
JD reminds us that Olive, however, has been a bit busy lately, hanging off cliffs and whatnot, receiving confusing almost-declarations of maybe-love from Ned. His less than direct statement has been causing her no end of anguish back at the Pie Hole, where she has been trying to read up on sentence structure and the use of the double negative. Mulling over a copy of Double Negative: What You Shouldn't Not Know, she continues to ponder Ned's "I wouldn't say never" comment on the possibility that he might (or might not) occasionally (maybe) think of her fondly.
Using passive-aggressive panache, Jim Dale tells us, Olive tries to figure out what Ned might (or might not) have meant. Across the gorgeous two-tiered Lazy Susan filled with GORGEOUS fruit pies, they stare at one another in confusion. Ned wants to know if she likes his latest creation. "I definitely don't hate it," Olive answers slowly, gauging his reaction. "What does that mean?" he asks, exasperated. Olive: "You tell me." Frustrated Ned asks if she's saying it was more or less tasty than the Kick in the Kumquat or the Rock Me Amadequince and cringes. "I don't like giving funny names to the pies," he says, and wow, I really do not like it, either. "Does it not seem a little disrespectful?" he adds, and Olive kneejerks to his awkward structure. "There you go!" she says, waving her fork. "You did it again!" Ned is forced to point out that she's been acting a little more crazy than normal lately, and Olive sighs, saying she must have PTSD from their cliff-hanging moment. Ned is less than sympathetic, but Olive is insistent. "The whole thing keeps repeating on me over and over like a broken record," she says, "or Mexican food." As Ned wanders back into the kitchen, she stares up at the cherry light fixtures above the bar and continues. "You know, they say the more you face your trauma, the less power it has over you!" she says, and launches herself up to the light to hang on in simulation of their near death experience. "Oh, no! I'm slipping and can't hold on much longer!" she cries as Ned looks on, appalled. "If there's anything you'd like to say to me, now would be the time. And if you could speak in the declarative only, using affirmative or declarative modifiers..." Ned interrupts to growl that "people are eating pieeeee" (oh, shut up, Ned) and as Emerson and Chuck enter through the front, Olive reluctantly drops to the counter.
"Ding dong, Daddy," Emerson says as the door jingles behind him, and he can say no more before Ned shoves some pie into his mouth. "Ding, dong," he adds, upon tasting the delicious creation. "That is heaven!" Ned says yes, Pearway to Heaven is new. Ned says that now that he's given up dead-waking for exclusive pie-making and is no longer touching and waking the dead fruit, he can eat his own pie. "I'm gonna get fat, aren't I?" he smiles, taking a bite. Emerson is done with the chit chat. While Ned's getting fat, he says, a dead lady has been fished out of the Papen County fountain and he's got a good feeling about it. "Ambulance sirens blarin'," Emerson says, "and I got my chasin' shoes on." Chuck asks if Ned is sure he doesn't want to untie those apron strings and lace up his chasin' laces. Ned says no, his apron is on with its strings securely tied in a double figure-eight follow through knot. Chuck says that she, for one, is supportive of Ned's decision. "Because that's what friends do," she adds, looking pointedly at Emerson, "they support each other." Emerson, though, is looking to support the bottom line. "Looky here," he says. "Yes, the zappity-zap nearly turned everything to crappity-crap on account of Dead Girl and her diggin'-up-dead-daddy ways." Chuck again apologizes for that little incident, but the thing is, Ned's not going to be persuaded, anyway. He wants to be a normal guy who makes pies. "Who wants to be Superman? Not me. I say no to 'Super' and yes to 'Man.'" Hee. Chuck smiles fondly at him, as one would to an idiot child. "I'm Clark Kent," Ned says, but Emerson is less than moved. "Well, that's just downright craptastic, Clark," he says, adding that he now has an unusually large amount of work to do on account of Ned being unwilling to touch a dead lady so that he can ask who killed her. Ned shrugs, but Chuck sees her chance. She wants to be Emerson's sidekick, the Alive-Again Avenger who comes back from the dead to provide justice to murder victims everywhere with the help of a crusty, unflappable, streetwise gumshoe. Emerson pauses. "That would make me the sidekick," he says, and Chuck says she would be good either way.
Cute. Though Olive is my fave, there can't be any denying the cuteness of Chuck. Anna Friel is just beautiful, though I thought Olive had pretty much sewn up the itty-bitty sidekick role. In any case, Emerson needs a sidekick and agrees to take on the Alive-Again Avenger with one caveat: since they no longer have Ned's powerful finger mojo, the game is now entirely different. "This game," he says, "is all about the hustle." Chuck: "Oh, I love the hustle."
At the scene of the crime, Chuck notes a faint tinge in the air of... something. "It smells like Aunt Lily on a Sunday," she says, correcting that actually it smells like "Mom" on a Sunday. Emerson says it is single-malt scotch, something he could use a shot of right now, and looks on with pursed lips as the (awesome, beloved) coroner works to thaw the ice of the fountain which has entrapped Erin Embry in her watery grave. He's using a hair dryer, complete with diffuser, and it is slaying me. Damn you ABC and the economy and whomever or whatever else is responsible for separating us from this amazing and beautifully-made show. A hair dryer. Seriously, there are tears in my eyes. Emerson runs down what must have happened -- this Erin Embry, still in the holiday spirit (for this was shot to originally run last winter), got all drunked up and Gene-Kelleyd her way around the fountain until she slipped in, bumped her head and died, preserved in ice when the temperatures dropped overnight. Now that