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Six Feet Under: Life's Too Short

Brenda: "You counsel people about death every day, Nate, when death is what you're most afraid of. What's wrong with this picture?"

What can you say about the death of a small child, especially when it was caused by negligence? Not surprising that this particular death was too much for Nate.

I sometimes find Brenda's immaturity irritating, but I loved her unconventional approach to problem-solving. My favorite part of this episode was Brenda dragging Nate along to make undercover evaluations of the services of other funeral homes, mostly because she was doing it in order to help Nate. Her histrionics, especially the one about her parents dying in a tragic helicopter accident, had me in stitches.

And Brenda's efforts had the desired effect. After seeing some less talented directors, Nate was able to deal with Anthony's death and get back in touch with his "calling." Except that instead of comforting, Nate calmly told Anthony's angry father the unvarnished truth. It was the father's gun, after all. Not Gabe's.

Anthony's death was like Russian roulette – total chance, so easily prevented. This was a bit like the two little tablets of X in a bottle full of aspirin. Claire took some aspirin and dodged the bullet, but Ruth wasn't as lucky. Or maybe she was; she certainly had a good time. The sequence where she was stoned on X was like Salvador Dali interpreted by Walt Disney. And her encounter with Nathaniel was just lovely, like she finally got a chance to say goodbye to him. That was the first time we truly saw what they must have been like as a couple.

David started to relax around Nate and Claire in a big way, and it was fun to see. He was exploring and dating and having fun, but he clearly still missed Keith. Right after Keith showed up, Kurt the square dance guy suddenly looked childish and a lot less attractive to David. Guys like Kurt are not for someone as serious and mature as David. As if we didn't know that already.

Billy continued his efforts to piss off Nate, even researching death customs so that he could show Nate up. Billy told Nate, "What a man does, well, it's who he is." Let's run with that. Billy is a photographer who observes life from a distance, and often sees only the surface. Billy just sees the death; he doesn't have the least notion what Nate really does.

Claire may be abrasive at times, but she has a soft marshmallow center. She was the only one who cared enough to comfort Gabe. It's really too bad that Absent Stepfather had to confirm what Gabe himself was thinking: that his little brother's death was Gabe's fault. How could anyone with any sensitivity whatsoever recover from a load of guilt like that?


— After waking up with Hiram, Ruth saw Nathaniel sitting on the bed in Hiram's place.

— Nikolai made fun of the size of Hiram's... car.

— Billy said that some people should just not be allowed to have kids. With his parents, he should know.

— On the camping trip, Ruth was obsessed with hanging up the food to keep it safe. She even hugged the food to her chest.

— When David went out dancing, he wanted to be younger, and wore one of Claire's shirts.

— Ruth mentioned another senseless death to Hiram; a woman who went camping while having her period who got killed by a bear. Later, while she was high, Ruth saw the bear in the woods holding a ticking clock. The bear led Ruth to Nathaniel and the old hearse that stalled all the time. Nathaniel's and Ruth's gravestone was under the hearse's hood. All pretty obvious symbolism.

And pieces:

— "Anthony Christopher Finelli, 1994-2001."

— As upset as Nate was, he wasn't the one who had to clean and dress the body. David was upset about it, too. Good thing he didn't have to do any restoration work.

— Nate failed the funeral director's test. David ragged him about it, but eventually mentioned that he'd failed it the first time, too.

— Parker warned Claire that Gabe Dimas might have been suffering, but he was still a dick. Good advice. I bet Claire won't take it.

— Nate is afraid of death. Brenda is not.

— What are the odds that Ruth took both pills? I bet one of them is probably still in the aspirin bottle.


David: "Goddammit, why hasn't anyone answered the door? Where is Mom?"
Nate: "Okay, if you haven't slept with that guy yet, would you start? Because I think it would do you a world of good."

Nate: "You really think knowing a bunch of arcane National Geographic shit is going to help me cope with a six-year-old who shot himself in the head?"

Brenda: "If you lose a spouse, you're called a widow or a widower. If you're a child and you lose your parents, then you're an orphan. But what's the word to describe a parent who loses a child?" There's no word for someone who loses a sibling, either. I wonder if it's because there's no legal need for either term?

Claire: "No, I get it, he's hot. In a kind of generic Banana Republic kind of way."

Four stars,

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


  1. The actor portraying director # 1 was the same who played the cheese guy in Buffy's "Restless".

  2. little question.. just finished season1 so no spilers.. but the campout night of ruth still intresting.. whats the meaning of the story do you think ? and what symbolism did u got from the gravestones in the trunk. death for ruth the way the bear killed the girls?
    and btw, you wrote about the fact nate was afraid of death. besides 2/3 parts in season1 i didnt picked up on anything like that.. from what you got that? sorry for all the question and thatks for youre posts bille :))

  3. I took the gravestone as a symbol for her (failed?) marriage. It crumbled while her husband was still alive, but now that he's dead, she has no means of repairing the damage, she can only move on. Her camping trip and the whole storyline with Hiram and Nicolai makes me think she's in her midlife crisis.
    David seems to spin out of control, him popping pills like there's no tomorrow felt slightly out of character. But finally a glimpse of Keith again. I so hope they're getting back together eventually :)
    Nate and Brenda have zero chemistry and are even less suited for each other. I'm unspoiled, but I'd be completely surprised if they are each other HEA's.

  4. I'm watching this series for a second time, roughly 7 years after the first viewing. It only seems to get better with time. You notice the subtler details better. Nate's speech to the angry father was about as good as it gets. Your chance to make a positive contribution to your kid's life is now over, you blew it. Wise words.


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