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Six Feet Under: All Alone

Nate: "There is no death. Wasn't it a relief when you realized that?"

It was fitting that the strangest, most moving, most unconventional funeral of the series was Nate's. Especially the burial, which was actually something like Lisa's. The family lowered Nate into the ground and shoveled the dirt themselves, a contrast to the pilot episode and the dirt shakers. The last shot of the funeral was dirt falling on us. We are Nate.

This episode just ripped me to into bitty emotional shreds. It was almost certainly the most I've ever cried for a fictional character. In fact, I was sitting there with tears dripping down my face wondering why I decided to review this fucking series in the first place.

David's grief was what moved me the most. He wouldn't let anyone comfort him or help him. He made his lists of tasks and totally focused on them. Jake the evil mugger kept showing up in a red hoodie, obviously a symbol of the terrible grief that David was trying to keep at bay. David shouldn't have gone to pick up Nate's body, but I understand why he did; it was the last thing he could do for his brother. The scene that disturbed me most was David washing Nate's body. It was such a sad, intimate thing to do.

David also couldn't stop thinking about the fact that Nate was Ruth's favorite and Claire was Nathaniel's, while he was nobody's. I identified strongly with David. As I've mentioned in my reviews, my sister's unexpected death had a profound effect on me. It took her four days to die. My mother and I leaned on each other and tried to keep each other sane. I've always known that my sister was my mother's favorite. Just after the funeral, when we were at the outer limits of grief-stricken exhaustion, I told her sincerely that I was sorry she'd lost her favorite child and all she had left was me. She was so moved; I could see it on her face. She gave me an odd smile and said she would just have to make do. Maybe that's one reason why this episode hit me so hard. Personal segue over.

Claire was a basket case, too, and Ted was my hero again. A desk overflowing with stuff, but no, I'm not busy and I'll be there for you. He made me think that maybe I could marry a Republican, after all. :) Bettina and Sarah stepped in and took wonderful care of Ruth, who tried to assuage her guilt at being unreachable by constantly lashing out at David. (Wow, did that infuriate me.) George was surprisingly wonderful, too. His eulogy was the best of all of them. It was like the old George came back because he knew he was needed.

I was pissed at Brenda at first for being so cold and angry and for ultimately dumping Maya on Ruth. But then I really thought about it, and felt a major stab of pity for her. Brenda was in shock, utterly devastated, widowed, pregnant, and with an orphaned little girl to raise. Until Billy showed up at the end, Brenda had no one to lean on. (Margaret was completely self-absorbed by her break-up with Olivier.) Leaving Maya with Ruth was probably the smartest and kindest thing Brenda could have done, for Maya, for Ruth (as a reminder that not all of Nate was gone), and for Brenda herself.

Bits:

— Maggie came to see Brenda, and accidentally knocked over and broke a plant on the porch. She broke Brenda's husband, too.

— Brenda was the last to leave the funeral, but then she got stuck because her car wouldn't start. Much like her grief.

— The shroud seemed gentler somehow than those cold, hard coffins. It was almost like it was cradling Nate's body. It allowed his family to get closer to him.

— Claire was listening to Kurt Cobain's "All Apologies," which was supposed to be his suicide note.

— I liked that Ruth finally acknowledged that she was more like David than any of her other children. And she made certain he attended Nate's burial because she knew he would regret it forever, just like she regretted not being there when Nate died.

And pieces:

— No Opening Death. No white title cards. No one died in this one, and David refused to take on a client while Nate's body was in the house.

— Lots of returning characters. Just like a real funeral, when you see a lot of people you haven't seen in awhile.

— I loved the boys bringing David breakfast in bed.

— Rico was all business and practicality and what are we going to do now and we'd better buy life insurance. He was right to be concerned. Nate really was the heart of the business, the one who knew what to say to people who were grieving. Is this the end of Fisher & Diaz?

— Little Maya got real scenes for the first time, even though she was a bit too young to actually do any acting.

— The boys got to see Keith take someone down at Roger's. And then Keith quit because he found out there was a video of his "indecent proposal." I was getting used to seeing Roger sort of positively. Ah, well.

— Everyone was great. Gold acting stars in particular for Michael C. Hall and Lauren Ambrose.

Quotes:

Brenda: "What is this, some kind of Quaker thing? You fuck someone's husband to death and then you bring them a quiche?"
Actually, I'm fairly certain that's not a Quaker thing.

Ruth: "I don't want another pill. I want my son. I want my beautiful son."

Margaret: "Damn, you've had a shitty year."

Margaret: "Oh, please. A couple shots of Stoli won't kill the baby. You know, in my day we used to sit on our ass smoking Parliaments for nine months. Today, you have one piece of Brie and everybody goes berserk."

Maya: "When is Daddy coming back?"
Brenda: "Daddy's dead. Remember, like Nemo's mom? Remember how we talked about that?"
Margaret: "You know what, Brenda? I think you should save this discussion for a time when you're less insane with grief."

Brenda: "Have you talked with Billy? He's not returning my calls."
Margaret: "I suppose he's still in Dubai. Jesus, I hope they haven't taken him hostage. He's not very docile."

Ruth: "God is an asshole!"
Sarah: "Yes, God is a huge asshole."

David: "You could have dressed."
Claire: "I couldn't."
David: "The rest of us managed."
Claire: "Well, the rest of you win."

George: "He struggled all through his life to be a good man. He wasn't perfect. But then who among us is? And he never gave up on himself, the people he loved, or even love itself, in all its vexing, beautiful forms."

Bettina: "Claire, there's too much cold cuts out there already. Here. Take this scary fruit cake instead."

Keith: "Where do we put him?"
Rico: "On the ground, I guess."
Keith: "Won't he get dirty?"
George: "Dust to dust."

Sarah: (reading the poem) "The bird of vision is flying toward you with the wings of desire." More birds.

Ruth: "I forget how anyone ever gets over anything."

This episode was so emotionally draining that Dan refused to ever watch it again. Five out of four stars,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

8 comments:

  1. I also cried as I never cried for a fictional character. Even with loud shouts. Perhaps because, by a technical question, I saw this episode several months after the previous one... and in the middle my Mum died. I wrote something in my blog about Six Feet Under, unfortunately in Spanish.

    Thanks Billie for your reviews. This one made me cry again as seeing the episode.

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  2. This is my first time through this series, and I've enjoyed going through it with you, Billie. My favorite scene in this one was Ted tossing aside everything on his obviously huge to-do list to help Claire in her moment of need. She is my favorite character and I hope she's found somebody worthy of her this time.

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  3. heartwrenching TV. This one should come with a warning label and it's in line with episodes that I will never watch again, even if i do a full rewatch (Just like The Body in Buffy). Having lost a family member very sudden and much to early, this episode hit me hard- and I didn't even like Nate.
    The Fisher clan never felt more like real people than in their grief. People who haven't really griefed think it's sitting in a corner crying quietly or maybe loudly, but it's also lashing out at the people you love, laughing in the most awkward moments, getting dizzily busy with all the details that need attending and not dressing up in the socially acceptable way for the funeral service. Messy, chaotic and draining.

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  4. I too cried my eyes out so hard throughout the entire hour of this episode. My eyes and nose were puffy for at least 30 minutes afterwards! As others have posted, I too have never cried so hard for a fictional character/television episode. My mom is close to passing, so I think some of my tears may be related to that, but in all honesty, it was more about the death of a sibling. Claire, Nate, and David had these bonds that were so incredibly real and true to life; I laughed so hard throughout the entire series about jokes they cracked or fighting matches they had, as I experience the same with my two sisters.

    Thank you for your great blog entries, Billie. I stumbled upon them yesterday, as I've been binge watching the series for the past week (first time ever). Your insight and appreciation for the writing, the acting, the emotional and psychological, and the beauty of entertainment as an art is just magnificent. ❤️

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  5. Proficient007, thank you for the lovely comment. Actually, thank you to everyone who posted a comment. The last season of Six Feet Under was so overwhelming for me that I always reread the review when a new comment goes up, and inevitably start crying. :)

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  6. I know this is rather old, but I watched the entire series when it originally aired between 2001 and 2005. I was hesitant at first, but my wife (then girlfriend) talked me into it, and after the 2nd or 3rd episode, I was completely hooked.

    For several reasons, I identified with Nate Fisher like no other character in no other tv show or movie that I have ever seen, and the episode where he died affected me profoundly for weeks thereafter. I was strangely emotional, had trouble sleeping and couldn't get it off of my mind. It affected me so much that I swore off television or movie channel "series" ever since. It is now 2016, and I continue to not get too involved with series, IE House, Grey's Anatomy, Walking Dead, etc, etc.. I wont do it, because something really odd happened to me back in 05 when this episode aired. Im only mentioning this because I stumbled across this blog/article, and it seems that I was not the only one affected by his death. It remains a mystery to me as to why it hit me in the manner in which it did.

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  7. I have binged SFU for the past two weeks and just finished watching "All Alone". As an avid binge watcher of many, many TV shows, I can honestly say that I have never been so torn apart by any episode of a show. Nate was never my favorite character- I didn't hate him, but he got on my nerves at times. I never thought that his death would put me through so much pain. I even had to pause the episode a few times because my vision was overly flooded with tears. While this was a painful episode to watch, it was also a very beautiful episode. Rico's eulogy to Nate was so wonderful. Seeing David and Claire suffering was like a punch to the gut. Ruth taking out her anger on David hurt even more. I love this series so much and I'm not sure if I'll ever be ready to say goodbye to the Fishers.

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