Six Feet Under: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Nate: "I guess we've got a lot to be thankful for."
Nathaniel: "Either that, or we've lowered our expectations so much, we've given up on anything better than this."

Don't fear the reaper. Got it.

Christmas time, a year since Nathaniel's death. Jesse the biker's death was similar; both were unconventional men who enjoyed life, weren't all that careful, and died unexpectedly in a car crash. Yes, chaos and grief are always waiting around the corner, but the message was that you can't be careful to the point of not enjoying your life. Marilyn's generous and unexpected gift was a message to Nate that he was indeed being too careful, that he should keep having fun and enjoying life. Even though, unfortunately, his illness was getting worse.

It was Nate's and Brenda's anniversary, too, and we finally learned the probable reason why Nate hadn't told Brenda about his illness. It was always about Billy. After Nate had a seizure during sex, Brenda immediately went into nursemaid mode, a role she said she hated. But she seemed pretty calm. Up until that point, Brenda had been pretty upset. She even cried twice.

Interestingly enough, Ruth was in much the same situation as Brenda. Nikolai and his broken legs were an echo of Brenda and Billy, as well as Ruth and her legless grandmother. Ruth may also hate being a nursemaid, but she found it much easier to relate to Nikolai when he was helpless than when he was talking dirty to her in the flower shop. What did it mean? That familiar roles are more comfortable, even when it's something we hate? Familiarity breeds contempt?

All of the Fishers remembered the last time they saw Nathaniel. Those final moments weren't particularly profound, but they were certainly fun to watch. I think the one with Rico was the most moving. We had never really seen Rico and Nathaniel together before. They really liked each other. The last thing Nathaniel told Rico was to take the day off and be with his family. Nate did the same thing with David at the end of the episode. Enjoy life while you can. Got it.

More about meaning:

-- Santa Claus crashed his motorbike in front of a bunch of kids. I can assign all kinds of meaning to that one. It was sort of funny, too.

-- The guy that Brenda was doing inappropriate stuff with in the store looked a great deal like Nate. Brenda wants Nate to be someone else. Another echo: Ruth thought that what Nikolai wanted to do with the panties was inappropriate, too.

-- The last thing Ruth did for Nathaniel was shove food in his face. Food is how she relates to everything.

-- Billy asked Margaret to take down the photo of himself from when he was sick.

-- Billy's IM handle was BillyBatty. Claire's was ICDeddPeople.

-- Margaret had a square, silver wreath on her door.

Bits and pieces:

-- "Jesse Ray Johnson, 1944-2001."

-- The last time Nate saw his father, it was Thanksgiving. The last time I saw my mother, it was Thanksgiving, too.

-- The saleswoman asked Brenda to leave the store or she would call security, and even Melissa the hooker was shocked by what Brenda did. Brenda said she thought it was normal to do stuff like this when you're getting ready to forsake all others. Ummm, no.

-- When we first saw Billy, he was popping an olive into his mouth. Deliberate echo of the first time we saw him in the pilot episode.

-- Billy was calm and restrained, like he'd been medicated to within an inch of his life. He was like a pale, well-groomed shadow of his former self. He even apologized to Nate. How much of that was really Billy?

-- I really loved the biker funeral. If it made them feel good to send their friend off with Jack Daniels and classic rock and a steel casket painted like Jesse's motorcycle gas tank, go for it. It's certainly what Jesse would have wanted.

-- Jay Leno sent flowers. :)

-- Claire kept trying to shock Toby until she succeeded in driving him away. Toby wasn't Claire's type. Unfortunately, Billy is.

Quotes:

Ruth: "What about Keith? Aren't the two of you, uh..."
David: "Yes, we're having healthy, affection-based sex on a regular basis. Twice a day, sometimes."

Claire: "If you were a gay mortician, what would you want for Christmas?"

Toby: "It's such pressure, living up to these images. The whole family sitting around the dinner table as Mom,dressed in her special Christmas apron, serves a meal that she spent three days making. I mean, who has that?"
Claire: "I do."
Toby: "You're kidding."
Claire: "Just add the smell of death and people crying downstairs, you've got my life exactly."

Claire: "It was my mother's idea. Ever since my last boyfriend tried to kill himself, and robbed a store, and shot at a guy before disappearing off the face of the earth, she wants to meet everyone I date."

Pete: "It's gonna be one big-ass Christmas day funeral."

Saleswoman: "Anything I can help you with?"
Brenda: "Yes. I'm looking for clothes so expensive only an idiot would buy them. Oh, there they are."

Claire: "I think in Hell, it's always Christmas."

Nicolai: "What kind of panties did you wear? Something sexy?"
Ruth: "No, they're not sexy. They're Fruit of the Loom control top briefs, and they come three to a pack for fifteen dollars at Target."

Nate: "Why do you treat me like shit all the time?"
Brenda: "Because I had a really fucked up life and I use sarcasm to hide how ridiculously vulnerable I really am."

Claire: "Once when I was in junior high, my dad was embalming someone in the basement, and like the plumbing got backed up and blood started squirting out of this hose. It was like a scene from The Shining."

Keith: "Hey. I think it's about time we get you home."
Taylor: "No! But it's Christmas and I want to watch the funeral."
I thought this was hilarious. Taylor finds the funeral home fascinating. And who wouldn't want to watch that particular funeral?

Marilyn: "If he were a careful man, he might have lived longer. But would he have enjoyed his life as much? Would I have enjoyed his life as much?"

Exceptionally clever, funny, well-written and moving episode. Four out of four stars,

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

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