Six Feet Under

Episode Report Card
Aaron: B | 2 USERS: A+
Death in the Family

Fade up on the cemetery, with a graveside service being performed by the worst. Priest. Ever. For some reason, I'm reminded of the freak-show funeral from the X-Files episode "Humbug," but upon closer inspection, it appears that this particular priest does, in fact, still have both his arms. ["This is so off-topic, but that no-arms priest from 'Humbug' is Alvin Law. He's from Yorkton, Saskatchewan, very near my home town of Regina, and once ran (unsuccessfully) for a seat in the provincial government." -- Wing Chun] As the casket is lowered hydraulically into the grave, we pan over to see The Late Nate himself, decked out in a Hawaiian shirt and sipping a frosty beverage. He's perched on the roof of a limo, watching from afar. When the priest uses the salt shaker to sprinkle dirt on the casket, Nate snarks that "it looks like he's salting popcorn." Each of the family members takes a turn with the shaker, but when it gets to Nate, he refuses to do it. Instead, he grabs a handful of dirt from a nearby pile and contemplates it for a moment. Perhaps realizing that this is not really the best time for Nate to be taking up gardening, David comes over get things back on track. Nate jumps up and delivers a stirring defense of the cathartic benefits of expressing true grief in the face of rigid traditionalism. Rounding up to his big finish, he slams his handful of dirt into the grave and exclaims, "I intend to honor the old bastard by letting the whole world see just how fucked up and shitty I feel that he's dead. Goddammit!" "Amen," adds The Crappy Priest With All His Limbs Intact, but Ruth has other ideas. She heads to the dirt pile herself, and starts throwing clump after clump. When David tries to go to her, Nate stops him, insisting that he let her get it all out. She throws in even a few double handfuls before collapsing limply at the edge of the grave, barely even able to sob. Eventually, Nate helps her to her feet, and as he awkwardly supports her weight, The CPWAHLI goes on with the service.

Cut to Brenda, arriving in her powder-blue pickup. She walks past an applauding Late Nate, who's quite clearly enjoying his own funeral. Only Claire can, apparently, hear the sound of one Dad clapping, because she looks over and sees him atop his car.

Later, when the service is over, Nate escorts his mother away from the grave. David brings Federico over so that he can drive her back home, and I guess her dirt-throwing interlude really helped, because she now seems calm enough to be almost comatose. She grasps Federico's hands, babbling that they're delicate "like a statue, or an illustration in an antique book. Or one of those little ceramic hands they use to display gloves." After eliciting the evening's eighty-third deadpan response to a wacky, yet overly informative non sequitur, she at last allows herself to be led away, leaving the brothers together. David, worried that Nate is trying to become "the alpha dog," immediately starts marking his territory. "You want to get your hands dirty?" he asks. "You sanctimonious prick. Talk to me when you've had to stuff formaldehyde-soaked cotton up your father's ass so he doesn't leak." Okay, now that was just uncalled for. I need a minute to purge the mental image, and also to fight off the temptation to make the obvious Late Little Lord Shitpants joke. Nate is himself suitably skeeved by this bit of TMI, and David adds that he's confident Nate "would have just tossed [Dad] out with the garbage." Once the shouting subsides, David delivers his point/counterpoint response in favor of the traditions his brother has been trashing. Apparently, they make people feel more comfortable, and blah blah blah, but mostly it just serves to save them from embarrassment. Nate still doesn't think that people should hide their emotions, and strikes a nerve by adding that "it's nothing to be ashamed of." David swings back to a full-on, poor-me/self-righteous mode, and chews Nate out for abandoning his responsibility to the family. Peter Krause finally gets to deliver the big line from all the promos, yelling, "Don't blame me if you're not living the life you wanted. That's nobody's fault but your own." "Just do me a favor, okay?" asks David. "You got out. Stay out."

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Six Feet Under




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