As a child, Ned’s father did magic for him before Ned discovered his own magical gift. Then his father disappeared on him, telling him he would be back. Ned stopped believing in magic, and later witnessed his father performing magic for his half-brothers Maurice and Ralston, who wanted to learn every trick. However, later Ned’s father disappeared on them too.
Now Maurice and Ralston are magicians, and visit the Pie Hole, where an uncomfortable Ned has acid reflux when people mention magic. The brothers slip them tickets in a pie as a part of a magic trick but Emerson’s deductive abilities lets him figure out what’s going on, and he hates magic tricks for just that reason. They’re performing after the second performance of the Great Herrmann at the Conjurer’s Castle. They think their dad had to leave and explain that Herrmann was like a father to them. Emerson is eager to go to hone his brain skills and the women are eager to go. Ned isn’t eager but reluctantly gives in.
At the show, Ned admits he isn’t comfortable meeting with the half-brothers who his father cheated on him with. Chuck can’t understand, saying she’d love to talk to her real family and has dozens of questions for her mother, Lily. As they talk, they watch the Geek regurgitating animals on stage. As it turns out, Chuck made prank calls to Lily to try to get her to admit that she was a mother. Lily refuses to say any such thing.
Herrmann comes out and Ned takes another lozenge. The magician hugs Ned and hopes Maurice and Ralston will fixate on him. When Emerson catches him stealing is wallet for his trick, Herrmann invites him up on stage to witness him being locked into his Cementia! trick where he’s shackled and placed in a box, and then cement is poured in. Herrmann’s assistant Alexandria puts him in the block and seals it, then pours in concrete. Herrmann escapes and appears under the group’s table, and quietly asks Emerson to solve the murders of his assistants.
As it turns out, Herrmann’s animal assistants have been murdered. Emerson doesn’t want to resort to pet detecting until Herrmann offers him a lot more money. Herrmann prepares for his show and explains to Ned that he was there when Ned’s father ditched them. Herrmann had no choice but to take them under his wing: they kept coming by after school.
Dwight Dixon comes to see the aunts: he served as a UN peacekeeper with Chuck’s and Ned’s fathers and learned many things about them. He hints that he knows who came between Charles and Vivian, then asks if they have Charles’ brass pocket watch, the same one he has. Lily quickly denies she and Vivian don’t know about it. As Vivian goes to get Dwight’s coat, he tells Lily he knows she slept with Charles and wants to meet with them again. Outside, Dwight discovers that Vivian has slipped him a note asking to meet with him later.
As Herrmann gives his second performance, Chuck notes that one animal was poisoned by Herrmann’s sandwich. The killer was trying to kill the Great Herrmann. On stage, Alexandria screams and the brothers yank off the scarf that’s part of the trick and is sticking out of the hardened concrete: Herrmann didn’t escape.
The authorities rule Herrmann’s death an accident but Ralston and Maurice don’t believe it. Ned suggests an upset Olive go take care of Pigby and Digby and extends her condolences. Sympathizing with his half-brothers who lost their own magic dad, Ned vows to solve the mystery and bring the killer to justice. They talk to Alexandria who says she hated the animals and doesn’t know how Herrmann performed his escape. She put up with it for eight years but he never gave her her own act. Emerson figures she’s a spurned employee and as the only other person on stage with Herrmann, she’s the killer. She points out that there was one other person on stage: the Geek. The Geek explains his profession and how he’s worked with Herrmann for years. He pickpockets watches from the audience and regurgitates them later, and invites Chuck to listen. Her necklace sticks to his chest and she realizes eh swallowed something magnetic. He claims Herrmann was the only one who respected him.
At the Pie Hole, Vivian arrives with Dwight and explains she’s on a covert date with a man. As they have pie, he explains that they made a spit pact for the last surviving member of the peacekeeper squad to take all of their pocket watches into the desert. He explains he’s been in prison for 22 years and Vivian explains she and Lily both know about it and Lily lied to him to get him to leave. However, they didn’t keep the pocket watch: they buried it with Chuck.
At the morgue, the coroner breaks open the concrete block but there’s nothing there but a card from the Great Herrmann, saying he’s vanished. At the Pie Hole, Ned explains what happened to Maurice and Ralston and says that Herrmann disappeared because of something important. They ask him about what Herrmann said about their father leaving. In fact, Ned’s father disappeared into Herrmann’s magic cabinet and never reappeared. The boys latched onto Herrmann, who claimed that their father had left on important business. Ned refuses to lie and says that their dad was just a guy ditching his kids, and Herrmann didn’t tell them so he could have avoided hurting them. Maurice admits Ralston wets himself when thinking of his dad and Ned says that they need to learn to deal with their feelings toward their father. Ned notices that Ralston is holding onto Herrmann’s half of the scarf… but the scarf at the morgue was intact. They go downstairs and Ned explains that someone switched the blocks. The block couldn’t have been taken out unless someone used a forklift. Since nobody did so, the block must still be in the Conjurer’s Castle.
The gang return to the theater and split up to search the party with metal detectors to find the shackles within the concrete. Chuck, Ned, and Emerson find the block beneath the floorboards in the cellar beneath the stage. They hear someone upstairs and the concrete mixer starts up. The brothers go to confront their mentor’s killer and Olive and Emerson chase after them. However, they spot the Geek, dead, with a railroad spike in his nose. The brothers find Alexandria and Emerson and the boys confront her on the stage while Olive watches the Geek’s body. Alexandria says she’s there to pack; she’s moving out after eight years of being ignored by Herrmann.
Chuck and Ned chisel Herrmann’s head and hands out and Ned brings him back. Herrmann agrees to explain how he escaped Ned, magic man to magic man. The facts are that he used a magnet in his shoe to open a secret trap door and escape. For his last words, Herrmann tells Chuck where his hidden book of magic is: he wants them to have it.
Chuck and Ned go up to the stage and explain that someone stole the magnets. Chuck remembers that there was a magnet in the Geek’s stomach. Alexandria denies killing the Geek, and they’re all unaware that the Geek has gotten up, taking the railroad spike out of his nose. He takes Olive hostage and threatens to kill her with a gun he swallowed. He end s up on stage and Ned warns he won’t get away with murder. As it turns out, the Geek saw Herrmann as a father but Herrmann simply viewed him as a novelty act. The Geek swallowed the magnet in Herrmann’s shoe and then switched the blocks. He planned to come back and bury the real murder block in the theater’s foundation. With Herrmann’s body gone, there’d be no accusations of murder. The Geek feels he was abandoned and Ned admits that his father abandoned him but he’s realized that being angry didn’t help. Olive takes the advantage and breaks free, and the brothers open the trap door, plummeting the Geek into the basement, where he hits his head on Herrmann’s concrete block and is knocked unconscious.
The Geek goes to jail, and Maurice and Ralston get Herrmann’s magic book. They make a photocopy for Alexandria, allowing her to start her career as a full-fledged magician at the Conjurer’s Castle. Ned has overcome his acid reflux and takes Chuck to her aunts’ house. Olive is inside, wearing a brooch with a microphone, and talks to Lily alone. She suggests that Lily role-play, pretending Olive is her daughter Chuck. Lily reluctantly agrees and Chuck transmits her many questions to Olive via a hidden earpiece.
At Chuck’s grave, Dwight Dixon digs up the coffin to get Charles Charles’ pocket watch. However, he discovers that the coffin is empty. Share this article with your friends