Nerds & Beyond is getting spooky for October. Each day one of our staff members will be sharing one of their favorite Halloween-themed movies, books, and television episodes to get you into the Halloween spirit. On this 15th day of October, we are conjuring up the past with Pushing Daisies season 1, episode 5, “Girth.”
Narrated by Jim Dale, Pushing Daisies stars Lee Pace as Ned the Pie Maker and owner of The Pie Hole. Ned is a seemingly average guy but with a deep dark secret. The Pie Maker possesses the ability to bring dead things back to life with a single touch. Ned decides to use his gift for good by helping an investigator solve crimes by reviving deceased victims so they can name their killer. Things become complicated when Ned brings back his childhood sweetheart Chuck (Anna Friel) to keep her alive.
Most fans of Pushing Daisies could argue the whole series qualifies as a binge-able Halloween show. However, today we will be taking a closer look at the series only Halloween episode to discuss my favorite moments.
“Girth” aired on October 31, 2007. This Halloween episode follows Olive (Kristin Chenoweth), the friendly and spunky waitress who works at The Pie Hole. Olive gets help from Private Detective Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) to track down a ghost who has been killing jockeys from the race track, where she used to jockey herself. With the help of Ned and Chuck, they try to solve the terrifying mystery.
The episode offers a little bit of everything for the audience, from the predominant influence of Halloween throughout the episode, humor, a closer look into the lives of Ned and Olive, and how running from your past can cause long-lasting damages to your relationships and the relationship you have with yourself.
Halloween is in full swing at The Pie Hole as Olive and Chuck decorate for the holiday. A season meant to fill the young and old alike with fun and enjoyment has an entirely different feeling for Ned. When the Pie Maker arrives, he is anything but excited to see the changes his friends have made, leaving him with a sense of dread setting the scene for one of my favorite moments not only in the episode but in the whole series.
The audience knows how Ned’s unique ability cost him his mother’s life, altering his life forever. However, there is little mention of his father except for sending Ned to boarding school. The episode reveals what happened between Ned and his father and why he hates Halloween so much. Overwhelmed with homesickness, Ned returns to his abandoned childhood home. From the viewpoint of flashbacks, the audience gets firsthand experience of Ned’s heartbroken past. This is how we learn that after Ned arrived at school, his father never visited the young boy. Desperate to see his father, Ned runs away from the school on Halloween and returns home. However, it is not a happy reunion. Ned quickly discovers that his father started a new life with a new family and without Ned. The storyline was surprisingly sad for such a light-hearted show while at the same time giving a deep dive into Ned’s life.
The episode gets more interesting after Olive shares with Emerson that she once was a horse jockey. The secret comes to light after she finds out about the mysterious death of a fellow jockey. In typical Pushing Daisies fashion, there is a twist. As more jockeys turn up dead, Olive believes the murders are happening by the ghost of John Joseph Jacobs (Hamish Linklater), a jockey killed in a terrible accident that involved Olive. Thinking the murders were for revenge, they work to solve the crime before Olive becomes the next victim. If this case wasn’t bizarre enough, the ghost of John Joseph Jacobs has taken the form of the Headless Horsemen. Everyone knows the gothic tale by Washington Irving. The famous ghost story is always popular during the spooky season and was a clever way to incorporate a darker twist into the episode while providing good bully laughs.
While the group inches closer to solving the jockey murders, Emerson and Olive visit the supposed tomb of John Joseph Jacobs. Upon their inspection, they discover his casket is empty, leaving them with more unanswered questions. Leaving, the cemetery they get stuck on an eerie road that looks as if it was straight out of Sleepy Hollow. Suddenly, a terrified Olive comes face to face with the headless ghost. As he gets ready to trample her with his horse, Ned appears out of nowhere just in time to save his friend.
It is no secret that Olive has a crush on Ned. She has even done a musical number about it in one episode. When Ned pulls her out of the way, a thankful Olive leaps into his arms and gives him the most awkward kiss of all time. The look of shock and confusion from a bashful Ned is laugh-out-loud and makes it even more awkward knowing that he has no romantic feelings for his friend and is head over heels in love with Chuck. The kiss does awaken certain emotions in the young man in a later episode when he starts to have sexy dreams about Olive, creating tension between him and chuck.
As the episode comes to a close, the group has their final encounter with the ghost of John Joseph Jacobs and realizes that the ghost wasn’t a ghost at all but his mother pretending to be her dead son. Who, as it turns out, had been alive the whole time. John Joseph had only been injured in his accident and decided to retire, but his mother was still angry over what could have been and kept blame on the other jockeys for her son’s lack of fame.
Pushing Daisies is rated TV-PG and aired on ABC for two seasons from 2007-2009. The comedic series is light-hearted, wholesome, and perfect for the whole family.
I hope you enjoyed this recommendation and give Pushing Daisies a watch on HBO Max and the CW Seed. Make sure to check back for more Nerds Gets Spooky articles all month long.