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Six Feet Under: Static

David: "I feel like my face is coming off. I keep trying to hold it on, but I can't."

Shit happens when someone very close to you dies. People are terrific. People are awful. People avoid you because they don't know what to say to you. Depression settles in, and you feel like the world is coming to an end. Things go wrong.

Like the distraught Claire totaling her wonderful old green hearse. That hearse was a physical symbol of Fisher & Sons and the series itself, as well as the freedom of Claire's teenage years. The hearse wound up in parts, like Paul, the triple amputee who managed to kill himself with his sister's help. Which was also all about everyone being crippled with grief, and feeling like they couldn't go on another day. As Claire's grief was expressed in recklessness and an unfortunate diatribe that offended Paul's grieving family, David's grief turned into utter paranoia that someone would kill his sons. He couldn't even handle his job any more.

Ruth was luckier. Her emotional plummet was briefly postponed because she had to take care of Nate's daughter, and George stepped up and was a helpful adult again instead of a liability. Billy's constant presence made me wonder if maybe Ruth should raise Maya; he isn't exactly the substitute father I'd want for my child. "Nate" certainly appeared to feel that way, so Brenda and Ruth were both thinking pretty seriously about it. Custody battle? Or will someone give in?

Brenda and Billy finally had the encounter that was bound to happen, especially while she was so vulnerable and grieving. Except that it only happened in her incredibly realistic and narcissistic dream. Brenda must have been thinking about being with Billy ever since he told her he was in love with her. Brenda resisted the impulse that she probably would never have considered under other circumstances, and tossed Billy out. Good for Brenda for finally putting Billy behind her, as it were.

It was hard seeing Nate as a ghost. What he said was much the same as what all the Six Feet Under ghosts have said, though; he was essentially saying what each person was thinking. The difference was that we saw so much of him. He was with Ruth, with Brenda, with Claire. He arrived in a red hood to attack David's kids. The scene where Claire and Nate were sitting and talking on Nate's grave was the standout, an emotional kick in the stomach for me. Beautifully filmed, too.

Bits:

— During the opener, I thought Holly was Paul's wife instead of his sister. Shades of Brenda and Billy. In truth, it was more accurately a reflection of Nate and David.

— The prosthetic limbs for the dead seemed even more artificial than embalming and make-up. They of course also represented the inadequate ways everyone tried to deal with their grief.

— Claire completely lost it at the worst possible time. Yes, a "support our troops" sticker on a huge, gas-guzzling SUV is an offensive oxymoron, but still.

— Claire took the Bus of Death home after losing her hearse, just as Ruth did from her camping trip. There was also a big emphasis on car keys. Rico throwing keys at David. Ted keeping keys from Claire.

— Because Nate wasn't there any more and David was out of it, Vanessa discovered she had Nate's gift: the knack of saying the right thing to grieving people.

— What scared Claire at the cemetery was a small dog. Paul Duncan killed himself with a drug used to put dogs to sleep. And when Brenda came to take Maya from Ruth, George took Maya upstairs to wash her toy dog.

And pieces:

— "Paul Ronald Duncan, 1983-2005." In actual pieces. That poor guy. I completely respected his need to commit suicide, even while I wondered if he would have felt more like living after he had some time to adjust.

— Exceptional performance by the woman who played Paul's sister Holly.

— Ted continued to be there for Claire, even after she viciously lashed out at him. He was even right about keeping her keys.

— Vanessa finally realized why Rico does what he does. And now she wants Rico to buy his own mortuary. Vanessa could work with him. She was a natural.

— Maggie decided to leave town. She finally told George how she really felt about him. He wasn't the wonderful father she said he was; she just said he was because she wanted him to love her. A lot of us do that.

Quotes:

Claire: "Everyone you know is going to die."

Nate: "Are you really gonna make Maya pay for the rest of her life because I fucked somebody else and died?"

Brenda: "I am so glad you're dead."
Nate: "Brenda, I am pretty sure that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver are brother and sister, and they're making it work."

Claire: "Are you high?"
Nate: "I am, actually. I'm quite high."

Holly: "I grew up thinking I was born in the time when there was the internet, you know? And the fall of communism. And the Gap. Turns out my time is when there's, like, 9/11, a bunch of wars, and the end of everything."

The episode concluded with a cliffhanger: Brenda in premature labor. They don't usually do cliffhangers. But then again, the next one is The End, so why not. 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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