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Rewatching Six Feet Under: 1x06 - 1x08

Apparently rewatching the show and writing entries about every episode is pretty time-consuming. I guess I will continue writing about the show, but do season entries instead of episode entries, starting with season 2. In the meantime let us catch up on the last three episodes of season one that I rewatched.

1x06 The Room

This is one of the favorite episodes of both, Peter Krause and Michael C. Hall. I guess they both like the episode, because it asks a compelling question about how much Nate and David really knew their father and because it shows the limitations of really knowing another person as their true self. As people we are all playing supporting roles in each other lives and we can't possibly experience everything that the people closest to us experience. Additionally, we are always put into boxes by those who surround us. People, who tell us how we should behave and what we should do, what's appropriate and what is not appropriate. It's different, depending on who you are with and on what kind of role you have to play in a given situation. It ultimately leads to a distance between us and the person we thought we knew, but didn't really know, because we either didn't care enough to acknowledge the other sides of the other person or because he/she wouldn't let us see them.

So here we have Nate realizing that his Dad traded in funerals for an oil change, weed and a secret room.  He discovers something about his father that he wasn't aware of and he wonders who his father was. He's curious and he regrets not ever being able to get to know a side of his father that he has never known. When he reveals his father's secret room to David, David doesn't care, because David appreciates his private life, partially because he is ashamed, but also because he understands that every person needs their space, their own little place to be for themselves, to be free from what everybody expects them to be. Nate's little fantasy sequence, in which he imagines what his father might have been up to in his secret room, was one of my personal highlights of the episode, because it it was both absurdly hilarious and profoundly tragic at the same time.*

In the end I don't think Nathaniel did any things there that would harm his family, much like Brenda, I'm pretty confident that he really just needed a place where he wasn't the funeral director, the father or the husband. He needed a space where he could just be himself without a label attached to him.

While Nate is wondering about his father, Claire is bonding with Brenda's brother Billy, much to Brenda's dismay. Because she knows Billy and is worried about his involvement with such a young girl. Billy uses Claire to learn more about Nate, to figure out just who that person is who is sleeping with his sister. While we knew that there was something off with Billy, this episode illustrates nicely just how messed up he really is, without giving too much away about the future development of the show. The way he throws himself at an underaged girl to get what he wants and then drops her as if she was one of those bodies that her brothers prepare for funerals, was just terrifyingly creepy. If there is one thing that we take away from the episode, then it's that he's up to no good. I liked that it led to Claire bonding with Brenda though.

David's relationship with Keith meanwhile is officially over, which is why he dedicates his time to the church where he has become a deacon, but a conversation with his funeral groupie Tracy Montrose-Blair, in which she acknowledges his visible loneliness after he rejects her, sets him off to do something completely uncharacteristic: To go to a gay bar to hook up with a stranger under a different name. David's loneliness, anger and curiosity push him into new territory  and while Nate is wondering about the secret life his father had, David is constructing his own secret life. Again, I can identify strongly with David here and I probably leave it at that.

Ruth in the meantime cleans up her kitchen and discovers items from her past, which throws her off, because they are relicts from a life that does no longer exist. She is nobody's wife anymore and her children are all grown up. She has made some sacrifices for her family over the years, but now the roles that have defined her life, her entire world, have vanished and it's up to her to redefine herself. To either keep hanging onto the past or to live her life by going new paths, by making new memories and new worlds for herself. Her initial phase of grieve is over and she decides to continue living, which is why she reconciles with Hiram, her lover, at the end of the episode.

The Room was a particularly strong and fascinating episode to watch. I can understand why both of the show's leading men adore the episode.

Rating: 9/10

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* The song that was played during that scene was "Journey To The Center Of The Mind" by Amboy Dukes, which I never get out of my head after watching the episode.

1x08 Brotherhood

"Brotherhood" is another interesting episode of Six Feet Under. It's an episode with a little bit of social criticism regarding those soldiers who fight and die in wars for a government, but it's in some ways also an extention of the theme of the previous episode, which dealt with the fact that we never truly know even those people who are closest to us. In this case, Paul, the brother of the deceased, chose not to accept the side of his brother who was proud to serve as a soldier, just because he was so angry at the army for being responsible for his brother's detoriating health. David and Nate of course took a gigantic risk, when they decided to give Victor the funeral arrangement that he requested, when he was alive. While it was a noble gesture, it was a plan that could have easily backfired. I don't want to argue you that it wasn't the right thing what Nate decided to do, but if things had run differently, it could have been an enormous help to Kroehner to put the Fishers out of business. It didn't take a bad turn though and it was nice to see David softening up in the end and to see both brothers appreciating each other for the first time, after they have been at odds with each other for most of the season.

Nate's relationship with Brenda meanwhile is manipulated by Billy, when he goes off his meds, just when they both were planning to get away for a weekend. The times where we see Nate and Brenda innocently flirting with each other are over. Now we are seeing their first issues surface and discover the full extend of the burdens that lay on Brenda's shoulders, namely her brother's mental issues. Brenda's close relationship with her mentally unstable brother and the effects that it has on her personal life are fascinating to watch. We see real vulnerability and profound problems there and it's a big question mark at this stage if the relationship of Brenda & Nate will get through this, as their relationship is fairly new, while the issues they face are truly big and intimate and not easy to brush off.

David meanwhile is as a deacon being put in a position where he has to decide whether he should vote for change or for conservatism, when the potential minister opens up to him and tells him that he has more progressive plans for the church. In the beginning one thinks that David would indeed vote for the new minister, as there would have been a richness of potential conflicts for the rest of the season which would eventually force David to come out and to stand up for himself, but in the end it's David's inner conflicts, which are at display here, which is why he ultimately votes against the new minister. He thinks he is doing the right thing by honoring the people in his congregation, by wanting to give them stability, a place that is free of change, but in the end he is just selfish and trying to project his own need for stability onto the congregration, as he is not ready to take an aggressive step forwards.

One of my personal highlights of the episode was probably the dinner where Ruth introduces Hiram to her family. It presents the difficulty of welcoming a new person to a family, especially when one thinks that it might be a person who is going to replace a beloved family member who know longer is with the family. The short fantasy sequences of both, David and Claire, were quite hilarious and did wonders at lightning up the atmosphere of an otherwise really tense episode. I also loved Claire's fantasy about the future of her fellow students, because it made me think about what we perceive as success and happiness and how no matter how great it sounds, it might not be all that, when other things in your life are not working out. Ruth's realization of how flowers can also mean something beautiful was also a nice moment and underlines that how we see the world is defined by our surroundings.

The perfect mix of comedic and dramatic elements.

Rating: 10/10

1x08 Crossroads

After the more serious opening deaths of the last two episodes, "Crossroads" opens with a more comedic death, when a newly divorced woman gets hit by a traffic sign while celebrating her newfound freedom in a limo. Black humor at its finest. As we find out, she's not a customer for the Fishers though, as they are experiencing a dry period without any work. This one belongs to Kroehner, where Rico ends up who, as we know from the previous episode, has been getting job offers by Kroehner. Rico explores his options and really, who can blame him? Even I thought that he wasn't quite treated like an appreciated employee by the Fishers and for a person of his talents it's a lot to ask to be treated like a lackey. I liked how David immediately acknowledged Rico's worth to them. They may not be able to make him to a partner and to pay him what he really deserves, but David is too decent to part ways with him in a bad way, supports his decision at the end and lets him go peacefully. What a class act, David!

Claire meanwhile is experiencing her previously mentioned Sierra Crossroads Vision Quest, which turns out to be pretty dull, but Claire still learns a valuable life lesson, namely not to judge a book by its cover, as nobody really is what they pretend to be or seem to be. I liked that life lesson a lot and I like the proper introduction of Claire's new friend Parker, who we saw shortly in the previous episode. I'm still a little bit disappointed that we only got to see Parker throughout the first two seasons, as I really liked her and her relationship with Claire.

Nate in the meantime is still having his troubles with Brenda, who is pushing him away after their first big argument in the previous episode. When he decides to come around, he discovers another naked man in Brenda's house and has to deal with his own jealousy issues. I like how they both admitted that they made mistakes at the end of the episode and it made up for the rather boring storyline with Brenda's old friend Connor. Billy is not as much of an issue in this episode as in the previous two, though he is still trying to sabotage Brenda's and Nate's relationship. This time much more subtle though.

David is being set up by Nate with a square dance teacher (Steven Pasquale) to whom they rented their viewing room, while they have no intakes. After "Brotherhood", the relationship between both, Nate and David, seems much more genuine, which is nice to watch. At this point, David's younger lover looks sweet, charming and precocious. The charme is a bit spoilt for me though, because I know that he turns out to be rather bad influence on David.

There is not much interesting stuff going on with Ruth in this episode. Her lover Hiram bores her, which is why she fantasizes about being with her boss Nikolai. Her boss Nikolai bores her at work, which is why she fantasizes about being with Hiram. On the surface she is torn between to men, but in truth she's just back to having a routine and missing adventure and passion in her life.

All in all, a good episode, but not quite as good as your average Six Feet Under episode.

Rating: 7/10

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