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Rewatching Six Feet Under: Finishing Season One
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powerofnature


"When I look at you, all I can say is ‘I’m sorry. Please forgive me.’ And inside I feel like tears are streaming down my cheeks. But there’re not, are they?”




1x11 The Trip

Shortly after the death of Gabe's little brother Anthony, Six Feet Under follows up with the opening death of an even younger person, this time it's an infant whose death is caused by SITS. Every week the opening death has a connection to the theme of the episode or to the Fishers, this time it's rather obvious, as the opening death is there to provide Rico with a storyline of its own, namely his worries that there might be something wrong with his unborn child. It's a touching story that Six Feet Under portrays with much care. The young parents who  are so traumatized by the death of the child that just entered their world was touching and probably one of the most emotional weekly deaths of the show. While David offers to Rico to stay behind and to come back if Rico should need his help, it feels a bit reckless of him to leave him at the funeral home to take care of a dead baby, knowing that Rico and his wife are expecting a baby themselves. That's one thing that really bothered me about the episode, even though I enjoyed the rest of it very much. It's nice to see a more personal side of Rico though. Both, Keith and his character, were more in the background throughout most of the first season, which is why it's nice when they get their own storylines once in a while. Additionally I always liked Justina Machado as Rico's wife Vanessa and while watching the episode, I was actually already looking forwards to the seasons in which she got more to do.

Seeing David, Nate and Brenda going to Las Vegas was a welcome change of setting. It's always fascinating to see characters in a completely different environment. Brenda of course went with  them to distract herself from the problems with her brother, who she is ignoring at the beginning of the episode. Unfortunately Billy follows them to Las Vegas, only to point out even more how creepy and unhealthy Brenda's close relationship with him and his dependence on her really are. David meanwhile is attacking Kroehner in a speech at the funeral directors conference and later having unprotected sex with a male prostitute and getting arrested for that. At this point David is engaging in self-destructive behavior to repress the anger that he is feeling towards himself, but also to distract himself from the loss of Keith and his father, as well as from the pressure from Kroehner.In Las Vegas he probably reached his ultimate low. It's understandable that David would rather call Keith than his brother, but considering that he is still hung up on Keith, it's probably not the wisest decision, as it is definitely not making David more endearing to Keith, who apparently still cares enough about David to drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, which is a 5-hour-drive.

Additionally, David was outed to Ruth by their short-lived employee Angela in the previous episode, which is why Ruth is struggling at the beginning of the episode, when she is with David, as he is clearly not ready to come out to her. The scene in which she sprays David's sexy one night stand was hilarious and the same goes for the scene in which she is entering David's apartment and seeing a condom on the floor, which David is hiding only after she has seen it, unaware that it's a little bit too late. Ruth provides in general most of the comic relief in "The Trip". Her flower arranging course was all kinds of humorous, especially the scene in which the women were pounding flower stems with hammers. Mary Gross, who played the flower arranger, had a major recurring role on my teenage guilty pleasure "Sabrina the teenage witch", where I also always found her incredibly funny. The flower arranging course gives Ruth another opportunity to break out, to let go of her controll issues and become less repressed. In the end it worked for her flower arrangements, but  at this point it hasn't quite worked for her personal life yet. Like Nate and David, Claire has a more serious story, when she visits Gabe in the hospital after he took an overdose of heroin and crack on purpose. Who can blame Gabe for trying to escape his miserable life, when he is partially to blame for his little brother's death, with little support and a mother who aims her self-hatred at him? Claire wants to help, but puts herself in a position of dependence, as she really is the only person who is taking care of him. It's similiar to the relationship between Billy and Brenda, in both cases you have a woman who sacrifices her life to take care of a mentally unstable person. In this episode we have seen how unhealthy Billy's dependence on Brenda has become and one can already be quite sure that a similiar fate is in the works for Claire.

9/10

1x12 A Private Life

This is the episode where both, Brenda's and David's storylines, come to their respective climax. David is dealing with the death of a gay man, who is the victim of a hate crime. It forces him to deal with his own anxieties and his anger at himself. He has been raised with so many conservative values that it is difficult for him to accept that he is gay, which is why he was repressing his anger and fear by putting them into self-destructive actions for most of the season. His conversations with the "ghost" of Marc Foster gave us a good understanding of David's inner struggle and while he is able to come out at the end, it's still not freeing him from his issues. He is still dealing with them and I think it's great that the writers are portraying his state of mind realistically, because one doesn't feel much different after a coming out. Acceptance by others is not quite as important as accepting yourself is and David has not fully accepted himself yet, as he is still clinging on to the ideas of his life that he created for himself throughout his life.

Brenda meanwhile realizes that it's time to cut Billy loose. He stepped over a line in the previous episode when he stalked her and Nate in Las Vegas and when broke into their room while they were sleeping. The scene in which she takes away Billy's key was one of the strongest scenes of the season so far, I liked both, Jeremy Sisto's and Rachel Griffith's acting in that scene, because you can see how difficult it is for both of them. Nate's relationship with Brenda also suffers, mostly because Nate is not quite as supportive as he could have been. He takes sides with Brenda's parents and wants her to talk him into committing himself to a psyciatric institution. "This is not how I need you to be right now", says Brenda shortly before she cuts him off and I can see why she acts the way she does. Cutting Billy loose is difficult enough as it is, which is why she doesn't want to be talked into something else. She wants Nate to understand how difficult it is for her and to give her strength, but Nate is too biased to realize that. 

If one thought Billy's previous behavior was creepy, then his behavior in this episode is downright terrifying. His exhibition with pictures of him and Claire, as well as of Nate and Brenda, where he threatens not only Nate, but also Nate's family was utterly horrifying. This is where Nate's ability to to deal with people in emotionally exhausting situations came in handy. Similiarly terrifying was the scene in which Billy attacks Brenda at the end. He wants them to go back to being close to each other and in his way of thinking, it makes sense to clean themselves from their past baggages by erasing their matching tattoos to find shared ground for a fresh start. Brenda was incredibly lucky to get out of that situation without any physical harm, but her emotional scars will only have grown due to this incident.

Claire and Ruth have once again very little to do in this episode. Ruth is directly tied to David's storyline. Wondering what it is like to come out and waiting for David to come out to her. Her little story about not having pleasured herself once until the affair with Hiram was comical, but also another way of showing how repressed she has been all her life and how she's only starting now to let go and discover herself in a new way. Claire meanwhile admits to her school counselor that she feels like an afterthought and that she can't relate to other people at her age, but yet hiding her relationship with Gabe from him, because she is afraid to be judged and to be told that their relationship, her need to feel needed and his need to be supported by someone, is incredibly unhealthy. In some ways I really wish I had been like Claire, when I was in highschool, or even now, but I never was and I probably never will be.

10/10

1x13 Knock, Knock


Look, it's the season finale.  Since the climax of both, David's and Brenda's stories already happened in the previous episode, it doesn't really feel like a finale though. It's dealing with the aftermath of the previous episode and already planting seeds for the next season. David ultimately comes to terms with himself and finds a place of peace. One could say that he is fully accepting himself now and trying to fight for his rights, even though he has to give up his position as a deacon at his church. It's sad to see him give up on something that he believes in, but at the same time it's great to see him no longer pretend to be something which he is not and through that he finds the strength to free himself from Marc Foster's ghost and to feel at peace with himself.

Brenda deals with her guilt over committing Billy to a psychiatric institution in which she visits him. Billy seems more stable, but yet regretful and ashamed of what he has done, which is something that he will have to live with for the rest of his life. It's tough knowing that you're not quite right and that you are not working on your own and one can really feel his sadness,  desparation and disappointment. It's all too much on Brenda, which is why she is trying to get Nate to bail on her, when they have their car accident, but the tragedy brings them closer together until Nate finds out that he has AVM, a sickness that might cost him his life. Just when his life had the chance to improve, he gets confronted with his greatest fear: Dieing. It also gives him a newfound appreciation of living in the moment, but ultimately he will do, what most people will do in that situation, namely distance himself from the people around him.

Hiram breaks up with Ruth, who takes it refreshingly well. I'm not quite sure why the writers decided to break them up and to let her jump right into Nikolai's arms afterwards. They probably thought Nikolai's savageness was more interesting in combination with Ruth, but I must admit that Ruth's love affairs were one of the least interesting things about the show in the first two years. I liked however that Ruth reacted with a laugh to Hiram dumping her, because it turned a scene that could have potentially awkward for her into a scene that was awkward for him. It plays with our expectations, as we would not have expected Ruth to be so understanding and casual about it, after we have seen her so repressed for most of the season that she sometimes just exploded in the most random situations.

I liked Claire's relationship with Gabe, but writing about it makes me realize that there is not really a lot going on with the two of them. The episode once again broaches the issue of Claire being afraid of being abandoned, but doesn't go much further. We get to see a more darker side of Gabe though, when he threatens a supermarket employee with a gun. In the last few episodes it looked like Claire might have a good influence on him, like she might be the one to save him, but as it turns out, she was only postponing his inevitable downward spiral and Gabe is much less stable than he is letting on.

The opening death also plays with our expectations, as it opens with Matt Gilardi and his unapologetic boss Ms. Huntley and we are meant to believe that one of them is going to bite it, when in fact it's just a poor old woman who is hit by Ms. Huntley's golf ball. The Kroehner plot hasn't really progressed since the pilot and the scene in the beginning adds very little except for introducing another Kroehner employee. Kroehner was obviously intended as a source of conflict for the Fishers and I'm kind of wondering where they would have gone with it, if they had not discovered that they were more interested in the Fisher family than in the take-over-plot. The death of the week is a relative of Tracy, who has been stalking David all season. It's her last appearance on the show, but a memorable one, as the final scene between her and Nate is quite touching when he tells her that people die to make life important.

The season ends on a note of hope with the christening party for Rico's newborn son and Nate observing his family having a good time, which is nice after witnessing all the sadness that takes over the Fisher house and dives into the characters throughout the season. But since it's an episode which is only preparing new plots, while stagnating others, it's not quite as effective as other episodes.

8/10

Season Average: 8,69


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