“Though digging was messy work, it could also unearth untold treasures.”
– The Narrator
Olive Snook has always been tenacious. She refuses to give up. As a child, when she wanted to get an Arabian stallion, she actually began digging a tunnel to Arabia – and not one of those dinky holes that kids dig in their yards on a lazy summer afternoon. No, this was practically a full-fledged archaeological dig site, excavated singlehandedly with a shovel by Olive. In the end, her digging inadvertently led to the discovery of a triceratops skeleton, which she then traded to a Saudi royal for the horse she desired. Sometimes Olive might take an unexpected route to get where she wants to go, but she always gets there in the end.
Pushing Daisies’ four main characters are all in the crime-solving business for different reasons. Emerson is in it for the money. Chuck is in it so that she bring closure to the victims and their families. Ned is in it because he sees the the work as penance for his past misdeeds, and also because he doesn’t feel as if he has anything better to do. As for Olive, she’s in it because of her tenacity and curiosity. When there’s a secret, she wants to find out what it is. Mysteries annoy her, and she will do anything to solve them.
That’s why it’s especially cruel for Olive to be shouldering the burden of Lily’s secret. Olive abhors secrets. She always wants to know what’s going on, and once she has secret knowledge, she wants to disseminate it to the rest of the world. Ned knows how much keeping that secret is cutting her up. So he lets her tell him the truth (via a ridiculous game of Charades). It’s as much for satisfying his own curiosity as it for easing Olive’s burden.
“Your family tree? You didn’t finish it.”
– Ned, to Chuck
It’s a nice coincidence that Ned finds out the truth about Chuck’s parentage just as Chuck is reminiscing about the family tree project she did in the third grade. Chuck thinks it’s important to know where she came from, whereas Ned would rather not know. You can chalk that up to their differing childhoods. Despite his untimely death, Chuck has nothing but happy memories of her father. On the other hand, Ned’s memory of his father is one of abandonment. Over time, Chuck’s mental image of her family has gotten rosier, whereas Ned’s has only gotten gloomier. It’s no wonder that Ned would rather avoid learning about his family’s past.
Ned: What’s so great about the past? It’s passed.
Emerson: Correction: what’s so great about your past?
But when Ned finally spills Lily’s secret to Chuck, thereby telling Chuck that Lily is her real mother, he notices that she’s crying tears of joy. There’s sadness in wishing one had known the truth earlier, but there’s happiness in finally learning the truth. Ned realizes this, and that’s what pushes him to start thinking of digging back into his own family’s past. What he ends up finding could be considerably more shocking, however.
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