It's one year earlier, on the morning of the premiere episode. Claire is on the phone in the kitchen, making plans to attend the party where she'll eventually end up high on crystal meth. The Late Nate comes in and asks, "What did you get me for Christmas?" and there's a moment where his lines and Claire's phone conversation seem to play off one another. The Late Nate also suggests that he'd like a smoking jacket for a gift, "something really garish, with like big embroidered peacocks." Heh. Once Claire hangs up, he asks who she's been talking to. "Someone special?" "His name's Gabriel," she responds, "and trust me, he's not that special." I'll say. In the sort of shocking revelation that only works on Six Feet Under, we learn that Dad actually invited Claire to come along with him on his fateful trip to the airport that day. See, that's the genius of this show, and especially the opening scenes. When you know someone is going to die, everything is automatically invested with greater importance, making even the most mundane of moments seem meaningful. Claire declines to join him, but Dad does make her promise to come home for dinner, so the whole family can be together. Oh, the bitter irony. He delivers a tender kiss to her forehead, and then the flashback is over.
Brenda arrives for dinner, and is surprised to find what appears to be a rousing biker party in progress. "Can't we just stay down here?" she asks, but Nate insists that dinner will be fun because "Nikolai is out of his mind on Percodan." Because if anyone is an expert on being out of their mind at dinner, it's definitely Nate. He does, however, try to send the bikers home before heading up to dinner, but Pete claims they're going to be there all night. With a shrug, Nate and Brenda leave them behind and head upstairs to the dining room.
At the table, Ruth lays out her goose while Nikolai bawls uncontrollably. Heh. I just love the fact that someone in the family has been high on drugs at every single major event in their lives for the past year. It kind of makes you wonder what family dinners in the Ball household must be like. Before they can start eating, however, there's a knock at the door, and Keith appears with Taylor (but not Thor) in tow. Everyone is delighted to see them, especially David. Ruth is so delighted, in fact, that she asks Keith to say grace for everyone. He's a bit nervous at first, especially since it'd be pretty hard to top Nikolai's version of grace from the last meal they all had together. Even so, he does a pretty good job. "Lord, for food in a world where many walk in hunger, for faith in a world where many walk in fear, and for friends in a world where many walk alone, we give you thanks, oh Lord, on this Christmas day. Amen." We get a shot of David's face, and as he watches Keith with amazement it's slowly suffused with a bright golden glow. And then we cut to what is indisputably the third funniest shot in Six Feet Under history (behind the sniper Late Nate and the stained-glass pedophile in last season's finale): it's Keith, dressed and posed as an angel, complete with a glowing halo above his head. Bwah! And also, awww. David's in love again.