The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the “Pushing Daisies” episode “Girth.”
The facts are these: as a child young Ned (Lee Pace) discovered he had a rather unusual ability — with one touch, he could bring life back to the dead, but only for 60 seconds. If he exceeds those 60 seconds, the universe will find a way to restore the balance and someone or something close by will pay the price.
Twenty years later, after his childhood love Charlotte Charles, otherwise known as Chuck (Anna Friel), met a water end onboard a cruise ship the pie maker made a choice to not only find out who killed her but also to bring her back for good.
Unfortunately for the Piemaker, there are always rules when death is concerned — if he is to touch someone whom hed previously revived, such as the afore mentioned Charlotte ChuckCharles, then the life he gave back to them would instantly be taken : forever. So with his beloved Chuck among the living again, he finds himself unable to be with her in the way he wants most.
As a result of his unusual gift, there are certain times that Ned finds it difficult to connect to the rest of the world. All Hallows Eve is just one such occasion.
Does Pushing Daisies really require a seasonal episode at this early stage? Well, with a series as delightfully twisted as this, the opportunity to have a Halloween story is almost too good to pass up, and Girth sees the Piemaker, the re-animated Chuck and their private investigator companion Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) investigate the return of a ghost who may be out for the head of Olive Snook (Kristen Chenoweth).
The narration by Jim Dale and the constant flashbacks to the bizarre upbringing of the Piemaker remain the shows strongest feature and always provides a context to every little twist and turn that the series takes. Who would have thought that Olive Snook would have been the winner of the Jock-Off, and that young Ned was abandoned by his father for another family altogether?
In another strange twist of irony (something that Pushing Daisies has in abundance), the serious-natured Emerson remains the comic relief for the story. His constant sarcasm and say it how it is attitude are always welcome : particularly when they involve under the table kicking and shovel hitting.
The final moments as Chuck goes home for trick or treating at 2 a.m., unbelievable though it may be, was oddly moving. Although her aunts (Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz) had no idea that they were really giving candy to their dead niece, it was nice to see a reunion of sorts for the family.
They may be a little odd, but sometimes Vivian and Lily are something more human and compassionate than most other people and they deserve to know that Chuck is alive and well with the pie maker.
Maybe one day well get to see the family reunion that each episode seems to be avoiding.
What Didnt Work
It may have provided another lighthearted and well thought-out story, but Girth still remains a missed opportunity for a darker adventure and a chance to explore why Ned can do what he can and what that means for the grand scheme of life.
Where it excels, however, is telling another story of Neds childhood and, for the first time, provides some insight into his feelings on ghosts and the afterlife. And that made the episode all the more amusing given the roots of the series in Dead Like Me.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
“Girth” was written by Katherine Lingenfelter and directed by Peter OFallon. It stars Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride and Kristin Chenoweth.
“Pushing Daisies” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Alan Stanley Blair is the assistant news editor for Airlock Alpha, contributing from his home country of Scotland. He can be reached at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.