A dead guy’s return teaches Zoe forgiveness

Hart of Dixie season 1, Episode 6 (“The Undead & the unsaid”)
Rachel Bilson (Image: The CW)

Parenting is hard. I am not a parent but I can imagine there are a lot of difficult decisions to make, and you aren’t always going to make the right one. It can also be tempting to go with what is easiest instead of what is best for your child. Parents are people too and they make mistakes. This is the theme connecting the major storylines of this episode. Three different parents have acted in a way that they thought was best, but ultimately turned out to be wrong. But none are so wrong they can’t be forgiven.

Zoe is being haunted by a not-so-dead dead guy, Leon Mercy. He faked his own death because the thought that his wife and kid were better off without him. He had been a drunk and a screwup for most of his life, but a few months before he faked his death he saved a bunch of people’s lives and was suddenly being heralded as a hero. Feeling he couldn’t keep it up, he figured it was best to die a hero, or at least have everyone think he died. He tells Zoe that he did what he thought was best. This makes Zoe realize that her mom was doing the same when she lied about who her father was. Up until this point, Zoe has been ignoring her mom until she shows up in Bluebell, unannounced, to force Zoe to talk to her. Even though she didn’t agree with the decision, Zoe ultimately forgives her.

In this episode we also meet Magnolia Breeland, the younger sister of Lemon. We had previously heard of her as Rose’s rival for Frederick Dean’s affections. Magnolia is much less mature and more rebellious than Lemon. We learn that since their mother left them, when Magnolia would have been a toddler, Lemon has acted more like her parent than Brick has. Brick has sort of deferred to Lemon and just let her handle things. Now with Lemon planning to move out with George when they get married, Magnolia feels like another parent is abandoning her. George believes it is time that Lemon is allowed to live her own life, and forces Brick to step up and be more of a parent to Magnolia.

Part of this episode are really fun to watch, but its heavy handedness was a bit much for me. Of the parenting mistakes I can understand one, buy one, and the other seemed like a stretch. I can understand Zoe’s mom’s choice to lie about the identity of Zoe’s biological father. Harley was just someone she had a brief fling with and he lived in Alabama. She wanted Zoe to be part of a normal family and be in New York. It was short sighted, but I can understand why she did it. I can also kind of believe Brick checking out of being Magnolia’s parent. Even though Brick has always been painted as being someone who cares deeply about his community and instinctively knows when he is needed, you would think that would transfer to his family as well. But he was hurt very badly by his wife leaving and Lemon was so good at taking care of Magnolia, and willing, that you can see how he would just let that continue.

The whole Leon Mercy thing is a bit over the top though. Of course part of the show’s charm is that it is often bizarre and unbelievable, but the mechanics of this storyline were just too felt. The idea that a guy would fake his own death just to be remembered as a hero by his wife and kid, and not the screw up he was previously was, was difficult to buy in the first place. In the end it was all too obvious that it was just as a way to get Zoe to forgive her mom. I had forgotten how many of these early episodes use the “case of the week” to teach Zoe some lesson and it makes it feel very after school special, but for adults. The show will eventually drop the case of the weeks, and the obvious connections to Zoe’s life, by the end of this season and it definitely functions better without them.

Episode Grade: B-

Does Bluebell Get it Right?

  • Brick is gone for most of the episode to attend the Alabama-Florida football game. When he gets back he says they lost and that Florida whips their butts every time they play in Florida. Feeling like this wasn’t true I looked up the Alabama-Florida football series and Florida has not beaten Alabama since 2008, and before that had only beaten them four times since 1996, with only 1 win being at Florida. And specifically in 2011, when this episode aired, Florida lost to Alabama. Unfortunately 2011 is also around the time the Alabama football became almost unbeatable and they have lost very little since then.

Other Thoughts:

  • Lemon: “This dress shows things that only God should see. It’s like something Zoe Hart would wear!”
  • Zoe: “Wade thinks my blowing the fuse box is some kind of mating call”
  • “Poor thing” “Bless her heart”
  • Sheriff Bill: “You got me out of bed to hunt around the woods for a dead guy? On pancake day?”
  • Wade: “My services haven’t even been used, Doc”
  • Zoe goes looking for Leon Mercy in the woods while wearing heels. I know it becomes a bit of a running joke in the show that Zoe never dresses appropriately for anything but she knew she was going to be traipsing through the woods, does she not own sensible shoes?
  • George and Lemon want to buy a historic house whose owner has recently died. But he has to get Lavon’s permission and he is at first very against it because of his feelings for Lemon. The relationship between George and Lavon at this point is pretty unclear. Are they friends? They certainly know each other and sometimes seems like they hang out and other times like they barely know each other.

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