“Musing on the idea of setting someone on fire doesn’t mean you really want to set them on fire; it’s the thought of it that makes you happy. But only for a second; then you feel bad, but that second can be a lot of fun.”
– Olive (to Emerson, about Chuck)
At the beginning of Pushing Daisies, Ned isn’t happy. Content? Sure. Resigned to his lot in life? Definitely. But actually, legitimately happy? Not at all. However, things might be looking up for him.
Emerson: I told you I want to discuss this in private.
Ned: Chuck is private – part of my private.
Emerson: She ain’t part of mine; I don’t know her!
Ever since Ned made Chuck a part of his life again, there has been a spring in his step. Chuck is a big ball of joy, and her enthusiasm and zest for life are infectious. But Ned can’t truly be happy yet; he has been wrestling with the secret that in order for Chuck to be brought back to life, someone else had to die. That man was corrupt funeral director Lawrence Schatz.
“Everything we do is a choice. Oatmeal or cereal, highway or side streets, kiss her or keep her; we make choices and we live with the consequences. If someone gets hurt along the way, we ask for forgiveness. It’s the best anyone can do.”
– Ned, to Wilfred
Ned has been mentally dodging responsibility for Lawrence’s death. He tells himself that he had no choice in specifically selecting Lawrence to die; the universe selected him because he was closest to Chuck when Ned brought her back to life. What Ned needs to come to terms with is that it was his actions that left Lawrence dead.
“I made a choice, and I would do it again. I let Lawrence Schatz die, and if I was faced with that choice right now, I would make the same choice. You could put me in a loop, and I would make the same choice every time. That’s how confident I am that it was the right choice for me to make. I’m sorry if that makes me a bad person, but I’m not sorry that you’re alive.”
– Ned, to Chuck
Once Ned has accepted his role in Lawrence’s death, he is ready to ask himself whether he regrets his decision to bring Chuck back to life. Was Chuck’s rebirth worth the price of Lawrence’s life? Ned decides that yes, it was. And with that, a huge mental burden is lifted off his shoulders, and he can begin his journey towards happiness.
Alfredo: You seem decidedly unhappy.
Olive: I haven’t decided that!
Olive, for her part, is also struggling with finding happiness. Ned largely ignores her, Emerson won’t give her the time of day, and she sees Chuck as an interloper in Ned’s affairs.
“In her own way, Olive identified with the plight of the abandoned pie. It was meant for someone, and without a little effort, it would never be with the one it was meant to be with.”
– The Narrator
Olive believes that her unhappiness is due to the fact that she isn’t with Ned, the man for whom she has feelings. But in reality, what Olive craves is more general: friendship. Though her pie delivery to Chuck’s aunts (with Alfredo’s anti-depressants baked right in!) is ostensibly for Lily and Vivian’s benefit, it also gives Olive a taste of the human connection she so desperately needs. Through conversation, Lily and Vivian begin to come out of their shells, and Olive starts to feel a sliver of happiness. The anti-depressants are irrelevant; chatting with friends over food is all the medicine they need.
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