Chuck: I have a new best friend. Isn’t that superb?
The Narrator: The piemaker did not think so, for the more time Chuck spent with her new best friend, the less time she had for him.
Friendship can be a tricky business. For Chuck and Olive, navigating their friendship in the wake of the revelations that have recently taken place – Chuck now knows that Lily is her mother, and Olive now knows that Chuck was adding mood enhancers to the pies she sent her aunts – will be especially difficult. Nonetheless, “Frescorts” sees the two of them making a go of being best friends, much to Ned’s chagrin.
Chuck and Olive enjoy spending time with each other, but there’s still some bad blood between them. They can’t help but snipe at each other passive-aggressively, wearing fake smiles all the while. Emerson has a similar relationship with his mother, albeit with much less passive-aggression. Callista Cod has always treated Emerson as more of a friend than a son, which made Emerson ashamed to admit his failings to her. For that reason, they end up keeping secrets from each other – Emerson still hasn’t told her that he has a daughter – and Emerson keeps his feelings bottled up.
Of course, bottled-up sentiments have a tendency to spill out. When Barb traps Chuck and Olive in a locker together, their friendly façade melts away, and their true feelings are revealed. Chuck is frustrated that Olive keeps pining after Ned, and Olive is angry because of Chuck’s selfishness.
Similarly, the secrets between Emerson and Callista come out only when they have to, i.e. when Emerson catches his mother snooping around his office. Callista admits that she delivered a heavy caseload to Emerson so that she could investigate his rejected pop-up book, and Emerson explains that the book is for his daughter, from whom he is estranged.
These confrontations – between Chuck and Olive, and between Emerson and Callista – are painful in the moment, but necessary in the long run. Relationships based on falsehoods and unrevealed feelings are unsustainable. But once these pairs are honest with each other, they can move forward. When Emerson and Callista reconcile, she offers him a bit of advice: if he wants to reunite with his daughter, maybe he should write about his own adventures instead of the ones he had with his mother. As for Chuck and Olive, Chuck commits to working on being less selfish, and Olive decides to put real effort into actually moving on from Ned.
“You’re no good to somebody else unless you’re good with being with just you.”
The other half of the episode concerns Ned, who had difficulty making friends growing up and still has difficulty making friends as an adult. For that reason, he tends to cling unhealthily to the few relationships he does have, like the one he has with Chuck. It also allows him to sympathize with the friendless; while most people shun the weirdos who use the episode’s titular service, Ned understands their plight. And so he makes a genuine attempt to befriend taxidermist Randy Mann.
Randy gives Ned some sage advice, and it helps him realize that he has to let Chuck live her own life. Randy tells Ned that he has to become comfortable with being alone. Put more positively, Ned has to learn to love himself before he can love others. That’s not an easy task for a man who suffers from no small amount of self-loathing, but by the end of “Frescorts,” Ned has taken steps towards that goal.
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