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Six Feet Under: Singing for Our Lives

Nate: "I just know that when I die, please wrap me in a shroud and plant me next to a beautiful tree so that nobody could build a mini-mall there."

Well, Nate did say he longed for peace.

Nate's attack at the end of the episode completely freaked me out, season of foreshadowing or no season of foreshadowing. I realized long ago that the series would probably end with Nate dying, but it's not the end of the series yet, people! Did he die? He couldn't have died. There was no white title card. No bus, either.

Nate's flirtation with the Society of Friends actually turned into sex with Maggie instead. Does that mean he's going to Hell? (Yeah, I'm kidding.) Nate apparently thought he'd found spiritual nirvana, but it translated into cheating on his wife, while Brenda the atheist went out of her way to make peace with Nate by going to a Friends meeting. She was trying. Too late now. Especially since, dead or alive, Nate is about to get caught in another woman's apartment.

The Fisher & Diaz partners meeting served to emphasize how far apart the three of them were, and that they might not have a future together, Nate's possible death aside. David wanted to spend three hundred thou on a crematory. Rico wanted more Latino community outreach. Nate went on a diatribe about embalming as unnecessary and how green funerals were the future and even talked about how his own final wishes had changed. (How timely, huh? I mean, even Maggie asked Nate if he had any regrets right before he keeled over. Could they have done more foreshadowing if they'd tried?)

The whole Nate dying thing was contrasted to Claire, who was finally acting like an actual adult for the first time. How interesting that she did it during a date with Ted. Maybe he's good for her. He reminded me a bit of Maggie; calm, adult, knew who he was, and didn't expect too much of the world. They had a fun, reciprocal you do my duty event and I'll do yours date that made Claire's old art school friends look like pretentious, over-indulged children. Claire even apologized to Russell for not giving him credit for the collage thing. And you know what else was noticably missing? Claire wasn't using drugs. And I have to say I loved how Ted didn't kiss her goodnight after their date, but lured her into the supply closet at work instead. Very romantic.

And Nate's situation with Brenda and her pregnancy was also a contrast to Keith, who finally realized that Durrell and Anthony were acting out because of the perfectly logical fear of rejection and their inevitable return to state care. Keith's commitment to the boys at the dinner table may have just changed everything. I think the new and dysfunctional Fisher-Charles family just turned the corner.


— The Opening Death was pretty much about, if one thing doesn't get you, something else will. Maybe Nate just died of something other than AVM? Nah. Okay, yes, and dying way too young.

— Brenda told Nate to go ahead and leave her. He said he wasn't going anywhere.

— Ruth, again expressing control through food, withheld cookies from the boys because they didn't behave.

— While Keith was making it clear to David and the boys that their family was permanent, they were eating with plastic cutlery.

— Russell was in love with Jimmy. He attacked Jimmy's giant red tootsie pop, which was also described as a seven foot penis.

— Parking a hearse in a parking garage is, apparently, the pits. This was probably a little metaphor for how Claire's past wildness didn't fit into her current life.

— They often film the characters in this series in front of windows. I noticed that in this episode, people walked in and out of doors in nearly every scene. Was that supposed to point to the fact that Nate just left this life?

And pieces:

— "Pilar Sandoval, 1970-2005."

— Brenda got a sonogram, and didn't invite Nate. It's another girl.

— Instead of brooding or going to activities she didn't enjoy, Ruth decided to hook up with Hiram, have a great meal, and go camping. She was noticably happy about it, too. Too bad that Nate's death will destroy her.

— It was fun seeing Russell (Ben Foster) again. Absence must make the heart grow fonder, because I kept thinking about what a great character he was during his onscreen antics.

— Rico and Vanessa, echoing Nate and Brenda, finally acknowledged that they were tired of going through the motions. Will they divorce? I'm not all that certain I care, what with Nate dying and all.

— Claire and Durell both had trouble parking cars. Probably didn't mean anything, but there you go.


Nate: "It really kinda pisses me off when you do stuff like this without telling me."
Brenda: "Okay, so why don't you sit there and allow yourself to be filled with the presence of God?"

Ted: "Was that you I saw crawling out of a lime-green hearse yesterday?"
Claire: "It's actually more of an avocado."
Ted: "You don't seem particularly goth and I don't think you have your own band. So..."
Claire: "My dad was a funeral director... I grew up in a funeral home. I still live in a funeral home."
Ted: "Wow. With dead bodies and everything? Isn't that kind of scary?"
Claire: (gesturing toward the office) "Not compared to this."

Olivier: "Where's your self-righteousness?"
Claire: "I guess I lost it."
I think this was the most I've ever enjoyed Olivier.

I don't want Nate to be dead, dammit. Three stars,

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


  1. Brenda was trying?...

    To me, it felt like this: at every step, despite having told Nate (one or two episodes back) that he should for once "do what he wants" (and not what he thought others wanted him to do), she seems to sabotage his attempts at doing something he wants. She doesn't tell him about the ultrasound -- she doesn't give him the right to choose what he wants to do. She goes to the quaker meeting, and then angrily tells him that they're all crazy people who believe in some "god bullshit" -- totally ignoring what Nate says about having to "deal with death" every day. When he says he is happy to find "a place with peace" (implying that his home isn't), she immediately sees this as an attack on herself, rather than wondering whether or not Nate himself is also suffering through all this.

    I know that the common wisdom is that Nate is the guy who is not in touch with his real wants and needs, he wants so much to be 'a good guy' that he's always doing what he thinks he should instead of what he really wants to. But frankly, Brenda wasn't giving him any opportunities. My impression was that she was constantly judging him, and making it quite clear to him, at all moments, that he was failing in her vision of what it is that he should be, what it is that he should want. And that frankly sucks.

    Nate and Brenda had what seemed to be a real connection at the end of season 4. Then, at the beginning of season 5, Brenda is all insecure because of Lisa, and then she loses her baby. Nate tries to do the right thing and be there for her; but she answers by accusing him of being insincere, because "he doesn't really feel what he should feel".

    But it often happens in life that our feelings are less or more than what they should be. Doesn't it count for something that Nate was always there, always prepared to help her? I have this funny impression that if Brenda had shown him in this season even a little bit of sympathy -- if she had not claimed to know "how Nate feels" better than he does himself, if he had given him real choices (rather than hiding from him how her pregnancy was going and having the ultrasound without his presence) -- I think the connection they shared at the end of season 4 could have grown and bloomed into something deeper, something more real and more comforting. Basically, I see Brenda as having destroyed the connection they had -- as having again destroyed the possibility of happiness with Nate -- and, again, because of her insecurities (from "I'm not as good as Lisa" on to "he doesn't really love me / want my baby" to "he just wants to shag Maggie".

    Given the perspective and the ending, I suspect we're supposed to assume that Brenda is right -- Nate is indeed the kind of guy who seems not to know what he really wants. But I wonder if the show itself isn't wrong. Maybe all Nate wanted was some companionship, some partnership, some mutual support. He was clearly willing to give it to Brenda at the beginning of the season. She wasn't willing to take it at face value (because she knows oh so well "what Nate really is feeling). But just imagine she actually had taken his attempts at face value; imagine what would have happened if she had been more accepting of his reluctance about having another child, about his mixed feelings (rather than immediately judging and condemning him for them). Imagine if she had been more open to him. Do you really think they couldn't have found happiness?

    I think they could.

  2. What I took from the opening death was the theme of community and belonging somewhere:
    Rico's latino community and his place within his family.
    Ruth not finding her footing within her own family and reacing out to someone in her past.
    David and Keith making clear to the kids that they found their family.
    Claire straddling her old community and her new one.
    And finally: Nate not really being a part of his family, searching for a new connection and a new community.
    This was another on-point episode, tight writing and suberb acting.
    The dead girl told Rico that Vanessa treats him like a dog, and she really does. He's sitting at her feet, eating the scraps she left him. They are not on equal footing, between his machismo and her pain, this is one couple that might really benefit from counselling.
    Durrel's and Keith's scene was really tense. That kid is pushing all of Keith's buttons, but Keith came around in the end. Please let the Charles-Fisher-family be alright in the end.
    Finally Nate... Nate, Nate, Nate. WTF are you doing? I'm really surprised by all the Nate-love. Yes, Brenda is constantly judging and analysing him, but that's not new. She did this all along, and Nate knew this. She really did make an effort over the course of the past seasons and also has a great way with Maya. I don't want to over-defend Brenda, she is interesting but probably also very difficult to deal with on a daily basis. Her fear of Nate wanting to cheat with Maggie might have sabotaged the marriage - but then, she was right. He did. Does that make it her fault? I would rather blame Nate, but then I always thought they aren't right for each other, doomed from the start. Really interesting to read all the different approaches towards this show. Everyone seems to take something else from it.
    Peter Krauses acting the last scene was just goosebumps, although I wondered if it's really the right arm (and not the left one) getting numb when you have a stroke. Need to read up on this.
    I didn't want to marathon the last couple of episodes, but now I can't help myself. This show is really art.

    Billie, wouldn't you want to do a rec- list of your favorite shows sometime? I found this place when I looked for reviews of LFN, then really enjoyed the buffy reviews and I found recitfy and SFU here. More please, your taste in TV is just something else.

  3. Serane, all of the writers did a recommendation list of our top ten faves a few years ago, and if I remember correctly, Six Feet Under was one of them. Maybe we should do it again.


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