So Ned's half-brothers are magicians ("illuuuuuusionists!"), which has Ned hitting the Tums pretty hard. It's understandable: If my magician dad ditched me, only to go find some other family to love instead, I'd probably have some intestinal distress when forced to watch said loving family perform magic tricks, too. Ned tries to get himself up for the Two for the Show show ("I love magic. As much as I love other forms of popular entertainment."), but despite the "sequins and drama and the promise of bloodshed," the fact remains that magic just makes Ned think of the father he lost. And he realizes Maurice and Ralston can go about their magic business so easily because they don't know the truth about their father leaving; the Great Herrmann protected them, letting them believe their dad was attending to "manly man business."
Of course, the Great Herrmann ("Call me Great." "No.") meets his demise when a trick called Cementia goes horribly wrong. While the first suspect is Herrmann's assistant, it soon becomes clear that the real evildoer is the Geek, a magician who desperately wanted Herrmann's attention and possibly to be his successor on the Conjurer's Castle stage but never managed to be anything more than an opening act. And I gotta say, I'm with Herrmann on this one; all that glass-chomping and animal-regurgitating just made me feel queasy. Anyway, Ned and co. unravel the plot (removed shoe magnets, switched blocks of cement, etc.) and send the Geek off to the slammer.
Meanwhile, now that Ned can reconnect with the family he never knew he had, he wants Chuck to do the same. With the help of a little bug microphone pinned to Olive's sweater, Chuck can ask Lily all the questions she has about being a mother. After that hilarious but sad sequence of Chuck desperately trying to get Lily to admit to being a mother (as a telemarketer, cheese saleswoman, and life insurance peddler), it was touching to see her get some answers.
And just in time, too, because that rascally Dwight Dixon is poking around again. He already knows too much about Chuck's family, he's cozying up to Vivian, and now he's exhuming Chuck's coffin only to find it empty — making Chuck's "no body, no murder. Makes for a great urban legend, though" seem awfully prescient.
Some other thoughts:
I had to pause my DVR because I was laughing so hard at Olive accidentally calling Maurice and Ralston "magically delicious little devils" to Emerson.
Lily's bird drinks martinis!
What on earth was that black feather getup of Chuck's?
Some of the special effects in this episode (the red velvet curtain, the random sperm interlude) seemed a little odd to me.
So wonderful that Alexandria is getting a copy of the Magic Book of Magic, too. Unlike the Geek, her loyalty deserves a reward.
I cracked up at Chuck's suggestion that they play "ding-dong, ditch" at the aunts' door.
I am wondering what Dwight is up to now that he's found the empty coffin.