Six Feet Under
The Opening

Episode Report Card
Aaron: B+ | Grade It Now!

Ah, the break-up scene. That dreaded trap of the quality show recap. They're long, they're wordy, they're riddled with subtext, and in addition to the above mentioned Tripplehorn-deficiency, the Microsoft grammar check function stubbornly refuses to acknowledge that "DieLisaDie!youwhiny@%#$@&bitch!!!!" is a perfectly valid sentence. I suppose they're still better than all those pedeconferences, though. And besides, these two don't really break up. We begin with an extreme close-up of Nate (BS = 1), who says that he's sorry, but he simply "can-NOT have this conversation one more time." The fragile couple is at home preparing for bed, and Lisa's gripe this week is that Nate recently made the grievous error of introducing Maya to an old high school chum before remembering to also mention the wife that gave birth to her. "It's like I'm an afterthought," she complains. "And people notice. That guy was embarrassed for me." Yeah, but it probably wasn't because Nate introduced the baby first. "I can't do any better than this," he counters. "And you know, some women might be very happy with a faithful, committed, totally devoted father and husband." Lisa immediately points out the importance of the order in which he placed those two words, and while it's not like she doesn't have a point here, I'm still not sure incessantly harping on that point is really the best way to handle the situation. After a long awkward silence, Nate timidly offers the observation that "maybe this just isn't right." Lisa automatically assumes this means that Nate doesn't love her enough to want to stay, but that's an allegation he vigorously denies. "It's enough for me," he insists. "It's not enough for you. I'm fine. I'm totally fucking fine with what we have. You're the one who's not happy, but you have to make everything about me and that's what I can't live with anymore." Oh, come on. If there's one thing you'd think Nate would be used to by now, it's that EVERYTHING is ALWAYS about him. Well, him and the word "fuck," of course. "So what are you saying?" shrieks Lisa. "You want to leave? Oh no, I would have to leave because I moved my whole fucking life to this shithole city!" "Not for me you didn't!" Nate shouts, and you know, I'm almost convinced he's actually stupid enough to still believe that. "So you want to split up?" asks the ever more frantic Lisa. "Maybe," answers Nate. "Yeah. I don't know. I don't know. Maybe, I don't know." Wow. That's a really definitive answer.

After an oddly creepy brain-shot of Ruth sitting alone at the kitchen table (BS = 2), she gathers her courage enough to sneak upstairs and knock on Arthur's bedroom door. "Just a minute," he calls before taking a short time to open the door. Your psychological self-diagnosis of Arthur no doubt greatly informs whatever it was you imagined he was doing in there before she knocked. Was he furiously composing a MIDI sonata inspired by the purity of the love he feels for his newfound maternal surrogate, or was he compulsively polishing his embalming tools and hiding the crispy-fired remnants of his actual mother somewhere underneath the bed? Apparently it was the former, because once he finally invites her inside, Ruth quickly compliments him on the beauty of the last song he played. "I'm so pleased that you like it," he purrs. "I thought I would call it…'Semi-Precious.'" "For your Aunt Pearl?" Ruth wonders. "In part," he answers, ever so slyly. Or at least it was sly for a home-schooled guy who lives in a funeral home and frequently dictates letters on tape to communicate with his Mormon brethren. "I don't know how you can get such a beautiful sound from a computer," exclaims Ruth, which I'm choosing to take as a shout-out to my idea for a line of Books-On-Tape recap collections read by the stars of each show (just imagine Kiefer's velvety voice giving life to Gustave's musings on office furniture), but in reality is just an excuse to set Arthur up with an opportunity to tell an amusing (if somewhat forced) anecdote about his own upbringing: "As a child, I played the violin," he explains. "But when I went to college I had a very cruel roommate who threw the violin from our dormitory window. It was hand-carved by my Uncle Gunter, before he died of polio." Was Uncle Gunter married to Aunt Pearl? And does this mean that Arthur is related to Rose from The Golden Girls? Because I don't really have a hard time believing that. Anyway, this traumatic incident caused Arthur to give up on college and decide to attend mortuary school, which is where he discovered a strange fondness for the various atonal beeps produced by the TRS-80s in the school computer lab. His bizarre back-story thus established, Ruth decides to ask the boy to join her at Claire's art show, an invitation he's willing to accept only if she feels it would be "appropriate." "Well, of course!" she replies. "You're a member of our little family here. You're one of us, Arthur. One of us. One of us…"

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Six Feet Under




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