Season 1 | Episode 4 | “Pigeon” | Aired Oct 24, 2007
This has to be one of the most fragmented groups of people ever to be so attached to each other. Ned needs to be close to Chuck, who wants to be close to her aunts, whom Olive has recently come to love, even though she’s jealous that Ned loves Chuck, who can’t tell her aunts that she’s alive. They all care about each other, but through back channels. They hold hands, but only by proxy. It’ll take a carrier pigeon with a bejeweled wing to start bridging these gaps.
When a pigeon crashes into the window of the Pie Hole, Olive begs Ned to help, and he accidentally does just that when the bird brushes against his hand. Chuck suggests that they give the one-winged pigeon a little miracle, so as another bird falls dead (“It’s raining dead birds!”), Olive takes “Pidge” to Chuck’s aunts. Lily and Vivian supply Pidge with a sparkly new wing. While the bird heals, Vivian debates reading the message tied to Pidge’s leg, but she admits that reading something she shouldn’t have once got her in deep trouble with Lily.
Meanwhile, a crop duster barrels through an apartment window. Chuck trips over debris while investigating the scene, and Ned is forced to watch as Conrad Fitch, apartment owner and khaki-pant wearer, catches his childhood sweetheart. Chuck and Conrad bond over having to start fresh, because drowning and broken nautical plates are totally the exact same level of traumatizing.
The pilot’s wife is convinced that he didn’t commit suicide, so Ned and Emerson wake the pilot at the morgue while Chuck stays behind to help Conrad rebuild (his apartment. Again, he literally just has to rebuild his apartment. It’s not like his only loved ones think he’s dead). Despite the fact that no other body was found at the scene, the pilot says that there was a stowaway aboard the plane, so Ned and Emerson head back to the apartment for a more thorough investigation. Their search turns up an older man stuffed into a trunk, but he’s not the stowaway — he’s the real Conrad Fitch, and he’s got a sweet bowling shirt to prove it. So who exactly caught Chuck?
Whoever he is, he’s now holding her hand. Ned isn’t pleased by that, though he doesn’t realize that Chuck is actively fantasizing about holding Ned’s hand instead. It’s hardly the first time one of them has expressed a desire to touch the other, but it is the clearest indication we’ve had yet that Chuck is craving physical contact. (Ned is not, because Olive is in a constant state of guiding his hand toward her chest.) Before Chuck can explain herself, the man who is not Conrad is out the door and around the corner, leaving only his fake arm behind.
Emerson identifies the one-armed bandit as escaped convict Lemuel “Lefty Lem” Weingar, whose old cellmate Jackson Lucas hid stolen jewels in a nearby windmill. Lem knocks on the windmill’s door to claim the loot and is greeted by a woman named Elsita, who knows Lem is not to be trusted but is tired of waiting for the wind and lets him in anyway. She doesn’t even seem to mind when he ties her to a chair, though she would appreciate being tied with a little more class. (“Oh, no. You didn’t use bows to tie me up, did you? You take a hostage like you tie your sneakers!”) This is the most banter a windmill has seen since Quixote. Their flirtation is interrupted by the arrival of our favorite alive-again carrier pigeon.
Pidge has returned to her owner, with Lily, Vivian and Olive in tow. Both Elsita and Lem recognize the bird as their own, because it turns out they’ve been using Pidge to correspond with each other. Lem’s cellmate Jackson met Elsita’s mother while stashing the jewels in her staircase, and they struck up a romantic correspondence, which Lem took over for Jackson just as Elsita took over for her mother. The two are excited to finally meet, but it’s cut short by a knock on the door; Ned, Chuck, and Emerson have tracked Lem to the windmill.
All Olive has to do is open the door and Chuck’s secret will be out. As far as Olive knows, that should be enough to wedge Chuck out of Ned’s life, but her lovesickness suddenly matters less than her affection for Lily and Vivian. Thinking of how it would break Chuck’s aunts to find their niece alive, Olive instead slips outside to issue a covert warning before ushering the aunts out back. As they drive off, Lily catches a glimpse of Chuck in the rearview mirror, but with only one eye and all of those windmills, there’s really no way to be sure. The police arrest Lem with an effective one-handcuff technique, and Elsita promises to write him.
Back at the Pie Hole, Ned takes Chuck upstairs, where he’s gifted her an illegal urban rooftop of bees. They dance in their beekeeper suits, because there’s no limit of creative solutions to this no-touch problem. Is it a problem, or more of an obstacle? What’s the most important issue facing Ned and Chuck? And how great is Olive’s friendship with Lily and Vivian?
“It’s a miracle bird! It’s swimming in miracles, not disease.”
“What’s a rooftop full of bees compared to someone who can catch her when she falls? I can’t catch her, Emerson!”
“Can’t suck on her toes, neither.”
“And P.S: Not only is he an escaped convict; he’s also a hijacker who prevented thousands of crops from being aerially fertilized.”
“I was born into the life of windmillery.”