Maurice and Ralston, the most adorable half-brothers of all time, beg Ned to come see their magic show. But his/their father ruined prestidigitation for Ned, because daddy dearest used to do fabulous tricks, until he did one final one where he disappeared forever. Turns out he did the same thing to the twins. So Ned goes to see his perfectly named half-brothers perform as Two for the Show (although Olive's "Magically Delicious Little Devils" would have worked too), as they open up for the Great Herrman, played by Fred Willard! But Great (as he prefers to be called) has got a problem -- his assistants are all turning up dead. (They're of the animal variety.) So Emerson is hired, but things get more serious when Great doesn't make it out alive during his Cementia act.
Emerson's main suspects are the human assistant Alexandria (The State's Kerri Kenney!) and The Geek (Best Week Ever's Paul F. Tompkins). Alexandria's bitter because Great promised her an act of her own for eight years, and instead she was stuck with uncooperative animals. The Geek -- not the comic-book, Star Wars loving kind; the kind who eats gross stuff and regurgitates animals -- is on the list because he's always been jealous of the Wonder Twins. Two for the Show, featuring Olive Snook, go off to investigate the whereabouts of Great's missing corpse. Once found, Ned (a.k.a. Frere Piemaker) brings him back, gets the info, re-kills him with a flourish and then they discover that The Geek rigged the trick so Great would be buried deep in the Conjurer's Castle basement forever. He would have eaten anything for that man! Frere Piemaker gets over his magic allergy and lozenge dependency, and embraces his potentially clingy brothers.
In other news, the mysterious Dwight Dixon is back. Turns out that he used to work with both Ned's dad and Chuck's dad. He's after Chuck's dad's pocket watch. He makes a visit to Vivian and Lily's to find out where it might be. Turns out they buried it with their niece/daughter Chuck. Lily is unimpressed with Dwight, she gives him the stink eye with her one good eye. (Hehe. Jim Dale rocks!) Vivian's got a bit of a crush on Dwight and she meets him for a clandestine date at the Pie Hole. But Dixon's got a later date to dig up Chuck's grave to get the pocket watch. He's in for a surprise of the empty coffin kind.
Meanwhile, in the tearjerking moment of the night. Ned and Olive arrange a way for Chuck, who has been crank-calling her newly discovered mother, to get some answers. It involves Olive and Lily role-playing, but nothing kinky. And it also has Ned and Chuck sharing a sweet not-touching moment in the car that made me want to cry. Not nice, show. Not at all.
I've been procrastinating writing this recap. Not because there's anything wrong with the episode. Heavens no. I adored this episode, it was one of my favorites so far and just stuffed with quirky goodness. But the news about Daisies' imminent departure from the airwaves has me so heartbroken that its taken me a while to recover. I've got my box off tissues on standby and I'm ready to go.
In Couer d'Couer, Sad Young Ned isn't sad, for a change. Instead he's being treated to a three-card monte style magic trick by his dear old disappearing dad (who hasn't disappeared yet). It was before Ned learned that he could bring dead things to life, and before Sad Young Ned discovered there was a difference between real magic and tricks, and way before Sad Young Ned was sent to the Horrible School for Unloved Children, the location of his father's final disappearing act. At this point there's adorable little red velvet curtains that close and open as each new scene is unveiled, which is just such a perfectly wonderful theatrical touch that suits this episode so very well. The curtain goes up and Sad Young Ned and Digby are in ghost costumes made of sheets, but the sheets are of course not the plain old garden variety white sheets that you'd expect for a ghost costume, but instead Western themed, with cowboys and little cacti on them. Sad Young Ned peeks through the cut-out holes, in front of his father's new house, looking more dejected than Charlie Brown when he sees that his Dear Old Disappearing Dad has reappeared and is up to his same old tricks with his new twin sons dressed in deliciously perfect devil costumes. Of course new mom is dressed in an Angel costume and appears just briefly in the background. Zoom in on Not-Sad Young Maurice and Ralston (or Mercutio and Ribald if you prefer) who look all blonde and happy while Sad Young Ghost Ned watches on wistfully, until he and Digby eventually can't take it any more.
At the Pie Hole, Nineteen years, 42 weeks, six days, thirteen hours and seven minutes later, Maurice and Ralston have become the magical and aptly named duo Two for the Show, and they've presented their business card to Ned. They aren't magicians, they are illusionists (with spirit fingers!), which certainly impresses one Ms. Olive Snook, who may have loved one Ned, but clearly adores the idea of doubling her pleasure with two mini-versions of him. "Who doesn't love magic?" Chuck asks, inadvertently opening one big ass can of worms. Ned, who suffers from acid reflux at the mere mention of the topic, barely keeps it together and claims that he loves it as much as he loves other popular forms of entertainment like, "monster trucks on ice." Which frankly sounds incredible and I'd so go see it. Olive tells the "little devils" that certain factions of the American public consider magic the devil's work. Then she whispers over her shoulder, "Magically delicious little devils" with all the cougar goodness she can muster under her breath to Chuck. But it's not Chuck. It's Emerson and he's not amused. So she tries again over her other shoulder to actual Chuck this time, who happily agrees with Olive's assessment. The sweetly oblivious twins perform a "pick a pie" trick, which Olive eagerly participates in. They take a slice and create a beautiful julienned cherry treat, and expose that tickets for their upcoming show are hidden beneath the pie. Lots of girlish squealing ensues. Emerson grumps, "Where did I put that rat's ass I could give?" Love it. He's not impressed and goes on about debunking how they "Alacazamed" the tickets into the pie. "Hocus pulled the damned tickets out of his pocket and Pocus slid them under the pie crust as evidenced by the cherry rhubarb crumble on his sleeve." Fine detective work, Mr. Cod. The boys are not dissuaded and tell their newfound friends they'd like to see them open for The Great Hermann at the Conjurer's Castle. He's the big muckety-muck over there, and he took the twins under his wing when their dad "had to leave." Ned's reflux starts acting up and he starts trying to get out of it, but Emerson interrupts. "I'd like to RSVP in the resoundingly affirmative." Wait, what? Wasn't he all about the debunking? He's anxious to expose their "fairy dust deceptions." It's like Brain Teaser, or Where's Waldo. They don't want him heckling, but he's got a trick up his sleeve, in the form of a ticket. The girls will be there loud and applauding. Ned's got no choice in the matter.