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Six Feet Under: Timing & Space

Brenda: "Baby's first funeral?"
Nate: "Hardly."

Reciprocal parental funerals for Nate and Brenda.

Nathaniel Fisher's death brought Nate and Brenda together at the beginning of the series. Will Bern's death bring them back together again? I used to think they could never make it work, but they've changed so much; they're both so much calmer and more mature. Maya has changed Nate. Losing Nate as well as her father has apparently changed Brenda. And let's face it, anyone is better for Nate than Lisa. Nate carefully asked permission to go to Bern's funeral, exactly as Lisa had requested, but she still went apeshit on him. Lisa is obsessed with controlling Nate, making him something he's not. It's got to end somehow. Maybe an affair with Brenda would make it happen.

Except that Nate would probably lose Maya if he divorced Lisa, and that would be tragic. Nate is crazy about his daughter. He spent the entire episode carrying her around, and it felt like they belonged together. Fathers are important. I noticed that a lot of the focus at Bern's funeral and afterward was about the positive things Bern did as a father.

Brenda, Billy and Margaret Chenowith, three people who certainly cannot be defined as quiet or introspective, were just that. Bern's death scene was completely without dialogue, with the three of them showing a remarkable lack of emotion or involvement. Brenda didn't cry until she saw Nate's surgery scar. I was actually relieved when Margaret went off the deep end at the funeral, telling people the absolute truth and offending them. (Laughing, too. Fairly common when you're completely freaked by grief, though; it's happened to me.) Margaret said the children had never felt more hers. Well, gee, Margaret, that's probably because you were completely focused on Bern and neglected your children. And now, they're all you have left.

Ruth finally had another kid to take care of, but she somehow emotionally translated it into a romantic crush. The way she stalked Arthur with her gardening hat as a disguise made me laugh out loud. They're so not a viable couple, but I found Arthur (played by the talented Rainn Wilson) a lot more amusing than either Hiram or Nikolai. Everything Arthur said in this episode made me laugh.

Claire also had a relationship going, but was more turned on by cobalt blue. I liked that Russell bought her that fifty dollar tube of paint. We should find all the joy in life that we can. And as an amateur artist, I can vouch for the fact that there's definitely a big difference in quality between a five dollar and a fifty dollar tube of paint.

I was actually startled with the ghost of Robert Foxworth showed up. Nate admitted to Bern's ghost that he wasn't happy. A first step.


— The funeral was held at the same place where Nate and Brenda were going to be married. Place of marriage, place of death, a baby at a funeral.

— I also noticed more than one crap references: Nate talking to Maya, and the terrified dog at the party. And when Nate and Brenda were scouting out that funeral/wedding location last season, there was horseshit everywhere. What sort of symbolism can I assign to that? Death is shitty? Well, yes.

— Keith was completely at a loss at David's kind of party, uncomfortable with party games. Keith is so militant about being gay, but clearly, he's also uncomfortable when it goes outside of his chosen boundaries.

— When she was angry, Lisa threw a piece of exotic, expensive truffle at Nate. She took the baby out of his arms, too. Like Ruth, Lisa feels in control around food and with the baby. It's like Lisa feels Maya is really all hers, and she's only allowing Nate access on probation.

And pieces:

— "Bernard Asa Chenowith, 1939-2003."

— Vanessa, who also lost a parent, was deeply depressed. Rico needs to wake up and pay attention.

— Bernard's ghost was soaking wet. That must have been because Brenda said watching him die was like watching a wave wash a bit of him away every day. Bern's concern about Brenda was like Nate's for Maya.


Nate to Maya: "Well. what do you want to do today? We could fill some things up, dump 'em out. Maybe later we can poop."

Nate: "Where's Mom?"
Claire: "I don't know. She just left, said she needed a new gardening hat. She seemed kind of weird."
Nate: "How can you tell when Mom's weird?"
Claire: "Good point."

Margaret: "He never forgave your father for being a success. Or giving up Hanukkah."

Arthur: "Hi, Ruth. Did you have a good time stalking me this morning?"

Ruth: "I have to go upstairs. My hair feels funny."

Nate: "She discovered the telephone the other day. It's become, like, her favorite new toy. She accidentally speed-dialed my neurologist's office yesterday. For two minutes, the nurse thought she had a stroke victim on the other end of the line."

Brenda: "I don't want to put you in a weird position."
Nate: "I'm already in a weird position. I live my whole life in a weird position."

Margaret: "Your father used to say living with you two was like listening to the longest sentence in the history of the universe. And now there's no one to hear it but me." The Chenowiths were oddly peaceful. You'd think death would have brought out their extreme dysfunction, but no.

This episode made me laugh out loud several times, and it captured the weirdness of a death in the family so well. (But it always does.) Four stars,

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


  1. I love your comment about this episode capturing "the weirdness of death in a family." It's true about the episode, but also true that a death in a family can create some seriously messed-up scenarios and can simultaneously bring out the best and worst in people. When my father died, my sister became an absolute abomination. As did my boyfriend at the time, who accused me of being "distant" and not paying him any attention three days after Dad passed... Conversely, some of my friends stepped up in ways I couldn't have ever predicted, and held me through the really hard times.

    Brenda and Billy really stepped up too, and Margaret noticed. Nate stepped up too. I totally get his need to attend Bernard's funeral - not just to pay his own respects to his former potential father-in-law, but having lost his own father, he gets how much that loss can uproot your life and I liked that he showed his support to Brenda in this way. Lisa didn't, and couldn't, understand that - most likely because of her own insecurity and uneasiness about Brenda, but also because quite simply, no one gets how it feels when a parent dies. They just don't, and can't, until it's their turn. Nate has a strong sense of the "right thing to do" in the face of death, and he knew it was the right thing to attend this funeral, but Lisa only saw it as betrayal. Now who's acting like an effing c..t from hell, then? I lose more and more patience with Lisa as this season rolls on. Even if Nate is second-guessing his marriage, he's trying hard and Lisa must know that she trapped him. It mush suck for her, but still - she's pissing me off.

  2. P.S. No matter how many times I see it, I can't get comfortable during Ruth and Arthur's creepy duet of "My Favourite Things." It's awkward as fuck. Must be testament to the amazing acting, but damn... I despise that whole scene. It makes me physically squirm!


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