The Legend of Merle McQuoddy
Air Date December 10, 2008
Written by Chad Gomez Creasey &
Dara Resnik Creasey
Director Lawrence Trilling
Next episode "The Norwegians"

The keeper of the Papen County Lighthouse is found dead, and it is up to the Pie Holers to discover how - and why.


The Past

As a child, Charlotte Charles had chicken pox and played with her father Charles Charles. He promised to take her on adventures but a month later he died and Chuck learned that you can't recapture what once was.

The Present

Ned realizes Chuck kept her father alive and she admits it's bad. Lily and Vivian arrive to investigate who was in the house and Chuck hides with her father in the closet. Chuck explains that Lily and Vivian moved into their old house and one of them is her mother. Charles realizes that she knows and she admits she's okay. The aunts explained they assumed the worse and came to investigate. Lily hears a noise from the closet and opens it and sees a clown. Terrified, she blasts it away and Vivian explains Lily is terrified of clowns and leads her out.

Once they're gone, Chuck emerges and Ned says he's angry. Back at the Pie Hole, she explains that Dwight Dixon died and Emerson helped her bury Dwight. She says she's sorry for deceiving him but not that her father is alive again. He admits he had the same feeling for her, and she grabs a tarp and hugs him. She wonders what to do next and Ned says there are things they need to discuss and figure out what to do with Charles. They're interrupted when they notice a lighthouse beam shining on the clouds, and showing the shadow of the body of Nora McQuoddy, the Papen County Lighthouse keeper. Moments earlier, Nora was cleaning the light when a figure in a yellow raincoat shot her with a harpoon, pinned her to the light, and turned it on. Nora's husband Merle has been identified as the leading suspect.

At the Pie Hole, the team is watching the news when the power suddenly goes out and Olive tells them the Legend of Merle McQuoddy, who disappeared at sea ten years ago, and now haunts the harbor. The actual facts are, Merle left his wife and child but his ship sunk at sea and he made his way to a deserted island. Nora kept watch and hoped her husband would return home. Eventually Merle was rescued by a gay family cruise ship, but he was changed and roamed the beaches.

Olive's tale is interrupted when a figure appears in the Pie Hole door: Elliot McQuoddy. He gives Emerson all the money he has to hire Emerson to clear his father of his mother's murder. Elliot explains Nora dropped him off at the movies and he had to walk home when she didn't come to pick him up. He walked home and found the police taking away his mother's body. He insists all the witnesses saw was a yellow raincoat, not his father, and believes he's innocent. Emerson figures Merle came back nuts and he isn't interested in taking the case. Chuck offers him her third of the cut and she'll take a personal day.

Ned and Emerson go to the morgue and Emerson says that Ned should kill Charles again. He warns that Ned is in over his head and Charles will go out and tell the world what happened. Ned doesn't want to ruin Chuck's reunion and brings Nora back to life. Unfortunately, her face is melted to the light glass. She taps out Morse code and Ned understands it. She taps out PCHS and Ned has to kill her before she can say more. Emerson realizes it's an acronym for the Papen County Historical Society and figures they had an interest in the old lighthouse. As they leave the morgue, Olive arrives to track them down and reveals she has bought custom raincoats for them with codfish, pies, and olives on them. She's eager to investigate and Ned tells her to go on ahead while he takes care of something. Emerson tells her to get moving and they head out.

At the house, Charles wants cake and wonders when she started eating pie. Ned wants to move him to his apartment at the Pie Hole but Charles insists he's fine there. Ned warns that Lily and Vivian are close but Charles is worried that Ned might accidentally touch Chuck and kill her for good. He offers Ned a deal: he goes by Ned's rules and he never sees Chuck again.

At the Pie Hole, Emerson and Olive decided to talk to Papen County's first family, starting with Augustus "Gus" Papen. Olive has lured Gus there to inspect the suitability of the Pie Hole as a historical landmark. Emerson asks Gus about Nora's connection to the PCHS. Gus explains that he declared the lighthouse a historical landmark and designated the McQuoddys as guardians in perpetuity. He says they should talk to Annabelle Vandersloop, who worked with Nora in the diorama exhibit.

At the apartment, Chuck gives Charles a walkie-talkie to contact her and her box of souvenirs of him. Once she leaves, Ned and Charles have an awkward moment together and Ned gives him a book about his new death-after-life lifestyle. Charles wants an apology from Ned for killing him and warns it'll take a while for him to get over it.

Olive and Emerson meet with Annabelle, who talks about how she and Nora were involved with dioramas honoring their late husbands. She's built a diorama of a munitions factory in honor of her husband the munitions magnates, which explodes in a burst of glitter. Olive notices she has cotton balls stuck to her bottom. Annabelle tells them that she was with Nora when she received word Merle was alive. Nora finally put her foot down on Merle's desire to take Elliot on an around-the-world sailing trip. She figures Merle snapped after that and murdered his wife. Olive wonders why Elliot didn't mention his feud with his mama.

They go to the lighthouse and meet Willie Gerkin, who was planning an open house to sell the lighthouse but he can't sell it because it's a historical landmark. Willie says that Elliot split with the ten grand that Willie paid up front. Willie leaves for personal training and Emerson suggests that Elliot set the whole thing up so he and his father could take their trip. Olive notes that they couldn't have left due to the storm. Emerson admits he hates the rain because the best time with his ex-wife was when they were together on rainy days. Olive remembers the nearby sea caves and figures Elliot knows them and is hiding there.

Ned is making pies when Chuck comes in, and Ned admits he's scared of Charles. Chuck is amused at the idea of Charles torturing her first boyfriend and they get to have a normal teenage life. Ned finds the idea appealing and they can see each other outside of Ned's apartment. They kiss through cellophane and Chuck leaves until later. However, Charles is watching from behind a newspaper and announces his presence to Ned. Ned tells him to go back upstairs but Charles says he isn't going anywhere. Ned gets everyone out by saying there's a gas leak and closes the place, but turns to find Charles is in the back. Charles notes that no one has paid any special attention to him and notes he isn't playing by the rules if Ned isn't. He figures that the mob will be coming for Ned, not him. Ned points out they'll be coming for the monster and his first concern is Chuck. Charles attacks him and the two men battle with brooms and mops. Ned warns him not touch him and manages to seal him in the pantry.

Emerson and Olive investigate the caves and find Merle. He says that Elliot is gathering supplies and claims he was in the cave when Nora was killed. He explains they were trying to restore their marriage, but Nora confessed that she was with another man. Merle hid in the caves and Elliot went to get the money so they could go on their trip. Merle doesn't know the name of the man who was seeing his wife, but Elliot does and never told him. Merle does have a Dutch love spoon that the man gave to Nora as a token of love. The initials on the spoon are A.P., and there's only one A.P.: Augustus (Gus) Papen.

At the Pie Hole, Ned cleans up the place as Chuck arrives. He explains what happened but Chuck lets Charles out and he pretends to be injured. Chuck thinks Ned is responsible and doesn't believe her father would do it. She admits she's having trouble handling the entire thing but Ned warns that Charles has no problem revealing their secret. Ned tells her to take care of it and she storms out, upset.

Chuck goes upstairs and Charles wants her to drop a wooden spoon on a map and they'll both go on a trip to wherever it lands. He's annoyed at all of Ned's rules. Charles insists he's going to keep her safe and wonders how she can settle for a life of confinement. He says that away from Ned they can do anything they want, and asks her what she'll choose.

Olive talks to Annabelle and reveals that Gus was involved with Nora. She has to leave for an appointment and bumps into Emerson as she leaves, getting papier-mâché from her dioramas on him. He reveals he found a proposal to redevelop the lighthouse in Gus's office. Gus plans to turn the lighthouse into a water park and Emerson figures that Gus planned to strike out on his own in the Papen family and become a major land contractor. He'll need to get rid of Elliott, the last McQuoddy, and they find a note saying that Gus is meeting with Elliot at the lighthouse. They drive out there and see Elliot dangling from the top of the lighthouse while Gus holds onto the line. Emerson draws his gun and they confront Gus, who says he's trying to save Elliot. The fact is that Gus tried to raise the signal flags, slipped, and fell over.

They pull Gus back in and go inside, wondering who did kill Nora. A figure in a yellow raincoat confronts them and fires a harpoon… with a sign welcoming them to the future hotel & spa. A barbershop quartet arrives to sing "Candle on the Water" and Olive joins in. Gus explains that that's how they plan to start their cocktail hour and gourmet meal. Gus plans to pitch the idea to Elliot, and explains he and Nora were working together. They didn't tell Merle so he and Nora could try to recapture their past, but they couldn't. Olive notices glitter on the window and Emerson figures she murdered Nora. Olive notices papier-mâché on the back of Gus' head and he says he turned down all of Annabelle's advances. He admits they got together once years ago at the Historical Society Christmas party. They go downstairs to find Annabelle waiting for them. She's laid a gunpowder trail and plans to blow up the lighthouse with the inventory she inherited from her dead munitions husband. She's furious at Gus for abandoning her so she eliminated Nora. Annabelle lights the match and Olive tries to appeal to Nora, noting she understands how it feels to have a man reject you. She mentions Ned's name rather than Gus, and then gets close enough to blow out the match

Annabelle goes to jail, while Merle and Elliot sell the lighthouse and use the profits to finance their around-the-world trip. Emerson collects the reward money from the PCHS and splits it with his junior partner, Olive. He notes that Olive admitted she still loves Ned and wonders if she plans to kill anyone. When Olive assures him she won't, he tells her there's a place for her with his detective agency anytime she wants it.

Outside the Pie Hole, Chuck explains to Ned that she remembered her father as strong and brave, but now he wants her to leave for an adventure. She says she's not a little girl anymore and she's staying with Ned at the Pie Hole. She tells Ned that Charles is waiting upstairs to apologize to Ned and start over again. They go up to the apartment but Charles has left a note saying "I choose too" with the world map and the wooden spoon. They run downstairs to see Charles driving off into the night.

Additional Info


  • This episode's working titles were "Lighthouse" and "Candle on the Water".
  • Field Cate, although credited, does not appear in this episode.

Cultural References

  • This episode is an homage to the 1977 Walt Disney Pictures film Pete's Dragon. Among the references are:
    • Both plots concern lighthouses.
    • The family name of McQuoddy is similar to the town name of Passamaquaddy.
    • The character of Nora McQuoddy is named after Helen Reddy's character, Nora, who was also a lighthouse keeper.
    • The song "Candle on the Water" is from this movie.
    • The son's name is Elliot, which is the name of the title dragon.
    • The villain of Pete's Dragon, Doc Terminus, was played by Jim Dale.
    • The father's name is Merle, which is the name of the character played by Charles Tyner.

Musical Numbers



Guest starring


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