EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

Image Credit: ABC/ sceengrab

'Pushing Daisies' recap: To the lighthouse

Season 2 | Episode 9 | “The Legend of Merle McQuoddy” | Aired Dec 10, 2008

By this point in its second season, Pushing Daisies has all but abandoned the idea that everything should wrap up nicely at the end of an episode. Our characters still solve a case a week, but their personal lives are no less messy for it, and their problems build on each other by the episode. There’s a sense of chaotic momentum to this show that’s really exciting, especially because it moves so confidently so early in its run. This week in confident chaos: Ned has just discovered that Chuck kept her dad alive, and she chose not to tell him about it.

On the roof of the Pie Hole, Chuck apologizes for lying, but she admits that she isn’t sorry for all of this extra time with her dad. Ned understands; he felt the same when he brought her back to life. As Chuck wraps him in a tarp and embraces him, they promise to work this out together, but before they can come up with a game plan, a murderer puts on a light show. Lighthouse owner Nora McQuoddy has been killed and pinned against the lamp, and the silhouette of her dead body is now reflected in the sky for the town to see.

pushing daisies ned no 209

Everyone loves a good lighthouse legend, but no one loves it more than Olive Snook. She tells the Pie Hole gang the story of Nora’s husband, Merle McQuoddy, who disappeared at sea 10 years ago. His ghost is said to haunt the harbor. In actuality, Merle survived for nine years as a castaway before being rescued by a gay family cruise ship. He and Nora tried to recapture their relationship, but the decade apart had changed them both too much.

Merle is the primary suspect in Nora’s murder, but their son, Elliot, is convinced that his father is innocent. Ned wakes Nora to get her side of the story, and while her face is too melted to speak, she taps out PCHS in Morse code. The murderer was involved with the Papen County Historical Society. Since there’s no one to touch back to life over there, Ned figures it’s safe to bow out of this and get back to Chuck’s dad. He hands his side of the investigation over to Olive, who jumps at the chance. Of course she’d rather work the case with him, but Ned or no Ned, she’s solving this. What else are personalized ponchos for, if not catching a lighthouse murderer?


Augustus “Gus” Papen, black sheep of the county’s founding family, recently declared the lighthouse a historical landmark and appointed the McQuoddy family as its permanent guardian. He directs Emerson and Olive to Annabelle Vandersloop, who worked with Nora making dioramas for the PCHS. The women used dioramas to honor their late husbands by dramatizing the way that they died. Olive wants in on this—if it’s tragedy that they need, she lost a horse once—but Annabelle is very particular about who she lets into the group. It’s for widows only. I feel like Annabelle is a caricature of the writers, turning deaths into pretty pop-up stories and delighting in how eccentric they are. “One can never add enough glitter to a husband’s memory,” says Annabelle as this show goes meta.

Annabelle says that Nora and Merle fought often after his return, especially over Merle’s dream to sail the globe with Elliot. Nora put her foot down on that one. Maybe Merle is the killer after all. Emerson and Olive go to the lighthouse, which a dejected realtor named Willie is just leaving. He can’t sell the space because it’s a historical monument, but he already paid Elliot $10,000 up front. Did Elliot con him out of the money so he could take that sailing trip? Figuring that the boy might be hiding out with his father, Olive and Emerson patrol the caves by the beach.


They find Merle, who says that he was in the cave when Nora was killed. It’s not exactly an airtight alibi. He also says that Nora was seeing someone else when he resurfaced. He doesn’t know who it was, but he does have a Dutch love spoon with the initials A.P. It turns out that Augustus Papen was dating Nora; they broke up so she could reconcile with her husband, but they couldn’t stay apart any more than Merle could sleep indoors. Gus and Nora wanted to turn the lighthouse into a water park. They even had a fun barbershop quartet act all worked out. Everyone loved it but Annabelle, who harbored a crush on Gus. She killed Nora to get him back.

Annabelle is prepared to blow up the lighthouse, taking Gus, Olive, Elliot, Emerson, and the barbershop quartet with it. Olive steps forward and tells her that she knows what it’s like to love someone who doesn’t love you back, then blows out Annabelle’s match and sends her to prison. She might accidentally slip Ned’s name in there, but otherwise, she’s a pro at this negotiating business.

Olive and Emerson are quite the P.I. team, and even Emerson can’t deny it. Should she ever tire of spending every workday with Ned, Emerson is prepared to offer Olive a place with him. He responds to her enthusiasm. This is the first time he’s enjoyed the rain since his wife left him. (“Itty Bitty, you made me love a rainy day again.”) Emerson also respects that Olive is not the kind of person who manipulates others to get what she wants.


If Annabelle is a caricature of the writers, Olive is the actual writers. She knows when to put down the glitter, and so does this show, balancing a fun lighthouse romp with the more pressing problems presented by Chuck’s dad. Charles Charles isn’t interested in playing by Ned’s rules, and what’s worse, he doesn’t think that Chuck should have to play by them either. If Charles takes her away from here, Chuck will never have to worry about dying at Ned’s hand. Charles wants Chuck to leave with him, and he threatens to reveal Ned’s secret if she doesn’t. Chuck regrets missing out on the chance to have adventures with her father, but she’s not a child anymore, and the adventure she wants most is the kind she has with Ned every day. She’s staying. Her dad sneaks down to the car and drives it out of town.

Is Charles going to reveal Ned’s secret? Is anyone else completely in favor of Olive quitting the Pie Hole and joining Emerson full-time? And how do I get one of Olive’s custom ponchos?

Best Lines

“Merle McQuoddy! Out of all the enigmatic, esoteric local ghost stories, his is my absolute fave.” —Olive

“Make it look like an accident. Trip over an ottoman. Dick Van Dyke that ass.” —Emerson

“This is so not the way The Secret is supposed to work.” —Willie

“‘Tis better to have loved and lost than to be you.”  —Annabelle

“Shut the a-capell-up.” —Emerson

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

You May Like