Recap / Pushing Daisies S 2 E 2 Circus Circus

The Past

Young Ned runs away from Boarding School, and happens across a group of kindergardeners on a field trip. They are exitedly eyeing a birds' nest, hoping that the baby birds they imagine are inside will fly away; the baby birds are dead, but Ned, hoping to connect with the other children, resurrects them. Unfortunately, the baby birds are kept alive by the sacrifice of... the baby birds that the children had been raising from hatchlings and were planning on releasing that day. Ned learns that new beginnings are painful.

The Present

Ned and Chuck now live in separate but adjoining apartments. Chuck revels in her newfound independence—it's the first time she's lived alone—but Ned, though he tries to hide it, is miserable.

Emerson is retained by Georgeann Heaps to find her missing daughter, Nikki. He, Ned, and Chuck trace Nikki Heaps to an RV owned by a mime... one who now lies dead, poisoned by his makeup. The mime explains that Nikki ran away to join the circus, and was last seen in the company of a group of clowns.

At the circus, the trio meets a snooty French Jerk acrobat and interrogates the manager, who says he doesn't remember Nikki but who is clearly lying. And it's not just Nikki who's missing—so are all the clowns.

The clown car (with clowns) turns up in a nearby lake, without Nikki. The detectives wonder just how radical her new beginning was intended to be: is she still essentially the same person, or has she really discarded all the trappings of her past and made a fresh start? The question is also applicable to Emerson's search for his daughter as well as to Ned and Chuck's relationship.

They eventually discover that Nikki and the manager were in cahoots to scuttle the clowns' attempts to unionize.