Jim Dale makes us cry when he tells us all about Ned's various childhood tragedies learning that what goes up must come down, or something like that -- you know, yadda yadda fresh starts and how they can sometimes backfire.
In the present day, Chuck's loving her new next-door lifestyle; Olive's making confessions to Pigby; and Emerson takes a new case from the Mrs. Heaps, played by the cutecutecute Rachel Harris, whose daughter, Sweet Nicky, appears to have run away from home to live with a dude (in a van (down by the river)) who is "in entertainment." Yeah -- guy's a mime. And he's dead. And he reveals that the missing girl has run away with "some clown" named Jacky Johnny to join the Circus of Fun. They meet some interesting looking people and have some interesting conversations at the circus, but I'm damned if I can understand a lot of it, because the soundtrack is too loud. FOR REAL, I am about to whip out an EAR HORN.
Basically, Sweet Nicky seems to have disappeared with Jacky Johnny in a clown car. Ah, but when the boys track down said car, it is merely and hilariously full of clowns -- dead ones. Did Nicky do it? Emerson, whose memories of his own lost daughter are riling him to action to find Nicky, is determined that she's innocent and swears to find her. The gang returns to the circus where they get too close to the truth and are attacked by a human cannonball! They find Sweet Nicky just in time for her to be snatched again by a nefarious anti-union acrobat. Heroically, Ned saves the day and Nicky is reunited with her mother.
Meanwhile, Swoosie Kurtz and Kristin Chenoweth are stealing this show right out from under everyone as they bicker back and forth at the convent where Lily has gone to keep an eye on Olive's secret-keeping. -- Al Lowe
The enchanting Jim Dale sweeps us up into our weekly fairy tale: "It's been 76 days, two hours and 37 minutes since young Ned's father deposited him at the Longborough School for Boys, and this, young Ned felt, was long enough." Like a woebegone Christopher Robin and his faithful companion Pooh, Ned and Digby, wander through the forest until they happen upon a class of kindergarteners, from a nearby school -- wearing butterfly wings. Their beautiful young teacher, Miss Moss, believed that every child was a butterfly at heart and her students knew that every caterpillar eventually learned how to fly. Miss Moss tries to reach a bird nest set high up in a tree, to show the contents to her young charges. Wanting to help this happy group, Ned climbs up to discover three dead yellow canaries, which the narrator informs us are dead thanks to environmental toxins. Ned, deciding that new beginnings are a wonderful thing, revives the birds before the children can see their corpses. As the canaries pass the minute mark of their second lives, Ned knows something else will have to die, and assumes those something elses will be small, hidden woodland creatures. (Like Thumper, and Bambi, and Flower?) Miss Moss decides to show Ned their class project. She lifts up something that looks all too much like a covered bird cage, probably because it's exactly that. Poor Ned's face falls, as have all three of the red-breasted woodpecker chicks the kindergarteners had nursed back to health, and were ready to set free. Horrified at the fruits of his "gift," Ned (with Digby) departs, as the children cry. Ned, of course, is already too broken to do so. I wrap him in cotton batten, take him to my house, and feed him warm soup and pastries and he lives happily ever after, all right? Because the stories of Ned's childhood are too sad to accept, so I can't hear you Jim Dale. La la la la la la. La. Mr. Dale is as harsh as he is lovely and continues to break my heart. "As the boy and his dog returned from whence they came, young Ned concluded that new beginnings only lead to painful ends." I think my soup plan was kinder.
Twenty years later, the boy is our pie maker who is in love -- but Charlotte "Chuck Charles has already been gone from his apartment two days, 10 hours and 28 minutes. "Whilst Chuck had called it 'apartment sitting' the pie maker sensed a new beginning beginning." Ned and Chuck meet up in the hallway outside their apartments. Chuck, as usual is thrilled to be alive, to smell eggs cooking, toast cooking, and seeing dappled sunshine, and she's spectacularly obtuse to Ned's feelings. Ned, as usual, is hiding those feelings, however ineptly, as well as the fact that he's unable to sleep now that she's gone, and pretends to be happy in a way that fools exactly no one. I'm going to need a bigger soup pot.