Pushing Daisies review. Episode 2.05—"Dim Sum, Lose Some"
You'd be forgiven if you missed the latest episode of Pushing Daisies, seeing how Barack Obama bought airtime on every major network besides ABC (although, inexplicably, the show's ratings increased by 14%, further proof people are t-i-r-e-d of this election.) Regardless, it was an especially enjoyable episode, one that ended on an interesting cliff-hanger involving what has proven to be the over-arching story for the season: Ned's father.
In addition to being a (sorry) delicious pun, "Dim Sum, Lose Some" took its name from the Chinese restaurant underneath Emerson's office. After receiving a plea for help in a fortune cookie (where else?), Emerson found himself entrenched in the middle of a murder mystery involving sordid food gambling. Turns out the Dim Sum restaurant has been a hotbed for illegal activity, harkening back to the Prohibition era, covertly using soy beans and assorted delicacies as cards and poker chips.
Among the eatery's several gamble-holics was Simone Hundin (Christine Adams), a certain dog obedience expert you may remember from Season 1. She and Emerson have always had a would-be romance that finally took flight in this episode. With one snap of her dog obedience clicker, she can pretty much get Emerson to do anything. Simone is a great addition to the show, not only because of the witty banter between she and Emerson, but for the character development she could bring down the road. Hopefully Simone will give Emerson the nudge he needs to proactively search for his long-lost daughter, instead of waiting for her to come to him.
The brains behind the Dim Sum operation, Bao Ting, astutely foreshadowed his death when he exclaimed "pressure" to his wife lying in bed. Turns out, pressure really did kill him: the pressure from his steamed bun machine exploded and sent a copper pipe sailing through his head. (Too bad too, since "his steamed buns blur the line between eating and sex," according to Simone.) Now, the make-up jobs on Pushing Daisies usually range from the harmless and negligible to the completely repugnant. But Bao was simply hilarious, springing from the table and sprinting for the door with a rod placed squarely through his cranium. He did what I think most people would do when they realize they're dead and are speaking to complete strangers: get the hell out.
The suspects were plenty for Bao's death: Mae, his daughter; Lae Di, his wife; Rubbie, Mae's fiance; or any of the seedy, gangster-type gamblers who frequented the restaurant, like Shrimp Boy (who's much more menacing than his name suggests). Emerson again had each member of the team go undercover, resulting in some hilarious costume get-ups. Chuck and Olive were red-suited geisha girls; Emerson a '70s, disco-loving Isaac Hayes-type; and Ned in a cowboy hat and fake mustache, eerily resembling Tim McGraw or Brad Paisley.
But the big reveal of the episode was the appearance of Ned's half-brothers, Maurice and Ralston. The resemblance certainly is uncanny: the two magicians share Ned's same bushy eyebrows and tendency to wear vests. But what to make of the cliff-hanger at the end? Throughout the episode, Dwight Dixon (Stephen Root, recently seen on True Blood) kept popping to the pie shop to ask Ned about his father's whereabouts. Turns out they were longtime friends. Olive, as she has a habit of doing, took an immediate liking to the guy, but he gave Ned the nervous piss jitters. (Yes, piss jitters.) Turns out Ned's instincts were right, as the final shot of the episode had Ned warmly embracing his newfound, thickly-eyebrowed brothers with Dwight omniously spying in his car, gun in hand.
This plot development is pretty surprising and raises even more questions about Ned's father and what, exactly, he's been up to in his 20-some year absence from Ned's life. And an astute reader shared a particularly interesting theory: is Ned's gift of bringing the dead back to life genetic? If so, is it something Ned's half-brothers can do as well? It might be a stretch, but something to ponder in the coming weeks.
Regardless, the show has threaded a number of plotlines this season, and all of them seem to be developing at a briskly pleasing pace. But there's one caveat: where have Lily and Vivian gone? Surely it's time they bring their characteristic oddness back to the show, if only for more sly allusions to Lily's borderline alcoholism. Those are comedic gold.