You know, it's times like these (read: "late Sunday afternoon") that make me reminisce fondly about those few brief shining moments between seasons of Six Feet Under when my weekends were free, my TV viewing was random and unstructured, and people weren't constantly calling my house to tell me how great Mike Binder is. Yeah. And if you think that last part was a joke, it's not. Anyway, in hindsight, I guess I don't really remember enjoying my sort-of summer vacation as much as I probably should have. It was mostly an endless haze of lazy Sunday afternoons, cheap meaningless sex, and surprisingly snark-free entertainment experiences. In fact, the sarcasm void in my cold, black heart got so deep at one point that I actually rented Glitter. On DVD. Yeah. If you think that's a joke, it's not. The clerk at the video store almost tried to have me committed, for God's sake. And while it's true that the less said about Glitter the better (especially on Oscar Sunday), I think it's worth noting that when Mariah Carey's acting is the BEST part of your movie, you've got some serious problems. And you people thought Ed Begley Jr. was bad.
Anyhow, like most of my childhood summer vacations of old, this week's episode begins in the back of a minivan. Veritable "Hey, It's That Guy" (and star of the much beloved Melanie Griffith/sex-android flick Cherry 2000) David Andrews is loading suitcases and whatnot into the back. Of course, since every single show opener on Six Feet Under is contractually required to have a clever gimmick, we immediately cut to a hospital, where we learn that the minivan is all mental, and most likely a product of our soon-to-be DGDJ's morphine medication. He's clearly dying of some unspecified disease, but he does wake up just long enough to share a few final moments of heavy philosophical conversation about death with his wife. It's all very Richard Schiff on ER. His wife, by the way, is played by Mare Winningham, who I honestly don't think I've seen since St. Elmo's Fire. Oh, wait. Turner & Hooch. Never mind. As the camera pans up over the DGDJ's head, we hear his cardiac monitor flat-line and Mare babbling in the background about seeing light emanating from just above his head. I think she's probably just seeing the fade to white. Farewell, Michael John Piper. We hardly knew ye.
Fade up on David, surfing the net. You can't see the screen, but I think we all know what he's really reading. Hi, David! Everyone in the forums loves you! And good call on the Brazil nuts. They're icky. Just then Nate arrives and asks, "Whatcha doing, David? Downloading some pics from Man-Sluts.com?" I guess we should just be grateful he didn't say Jerk-At-Work.com. Anyway, David is really reading about "living with AVM," and he helpfully exposits many of the symptoms we can expect to see Nate displaying later in the season. These include "seizures with muscular twitching, loss of verbal skills…even some kind of hemorrhage at some point." Well, that doesn't sound too bad. I think I may be experiencing a few of those right now. Nate doesn't really care, because he could also die at any time from being on "the wrong airplane," so why worry about AVM?
Cut upstairs, where Mare is making a selection from the new casket wall. David recommends the Parliament, because "it's very elegant." Mare, however, reports that her dead husband thinks it's tacky. While David and Nate absorb this, Mare selects a coffin from the bottom row. "That's the Cleveland," says David. "It's a more affordable choice, but as you can see, it's not quite as gracious." Hey! Is that another shout-out? After all, no one hates Cleveland more than people from Pittsburgh. Mare, meanwhile, continues chatting with thin air as she complains that the coffin is too "self-effacing" and "exactly like that horrible IKEA couch your mother bought us." Nate interrupts to ask a question, but Mare chastises him. "I can't carry on two conversations at once," she says, before standing up and stating that her dead husband has selected the Cleveland. There's some more one-sided ghostly banter, which leaves Nate and David looking increasingly confused until Mare admits that she's a psychic. David: "Hmm. That must be very interesting for you." Mare: "It's just more information." Now the director makes Mare move to a different spot so he can re-block the scene, and she takes the opportunity to engage in some of that beloved Alan Ball Straight Talk From The Mouths Of Babes. "You've got a lot in your mind," she says to Nate. "On your mind, I mean." Get it? Do you? Mare assures him that he's going to be okay, although if I were Nate, I'd be more reassured by the fact that my contract extends into season three than anything else. Finally she leaves, muttering to her husband that "it's [his] funeral" on the way out.