Monday, August 08, 2005

Six Feet Under: Goodbye...

Goddamnit. Fuck. Shit. I was not expecting that to happen. I wasn't planning to watch all the episodes I had tonight, but this was one of those runs where it was not possible to stop, and I'm glad I didn't because this was one of those multi-episode runs that just builds as it goes and by the end, I was completely furious, first by what Nate says to Brenda and then by what ultimately happens to him.


In all my previous reviews I was saying how Nate was the character whose storyline I was most interested in, and also the person I was most unsure how things would turn out for, and I was not expecting this. I'd heard some things that suggested Nate may have been in some sort of already dead state, like in Mulholland Dr., but this turned out to be totally false, and while it's a cool idea, the way things turned out now was so dramatically impressive, I'm glad they went down the path that was chosen. I guess it's a bad sign when a character starts reflecting on how things began for them on the show, and that's what Nate did when he met with Maggie.

The whole season I'd been saying that something was going on with Maggie, and that she was being set up for a big role at the end of things. I wasn't sure that they would end up sleeping together, but the way it happened had me at once really excited to see them together, since I liked them as a couple, and angry because it's such a betrayal of Brenda. I'm not sure about the direct correlation they create between sleeping with Maggie and Nate's death, but I think it ties into what Nate and Brenda were talking about a few episodes ago, with regards to the idea of a higher being speaking to the Quakers. She wrote this off as ridiculous, but Nate seemed entranced by the idea that a higher being could speak to him, and even concluded that when Maggie made something up, what she made up was in fact that message God wanted to send her.

So, by giving him the second AVM, Nate receives a message from a higher power, namely you can't keep behaving like you are. He heals quickly, and is given a second chance, and maybe he finally does the right thing and tells Brenda they shouldn't be together. The problem is, he's using that as an excuse, a justification for why he could leave her. He just wants to be with Maggie, because he thinks she can give him what neither Lisa nor Brenda could. Back at the start of the show, Nate was someone totally unable to keep a stable relationship going, Brenda seemed to have changed that, but now that they were finally together without any obstacles, he goes out and finds obstacles and destroys what was working. It's so sad that the last thing she heard him say was that they can't be together. Maybe the saddest image from this entire arc of episodes was Brenda sitting alone in the Quaker church, finally having reached out to Nate, and he's not there.

Perhaps what frightens Nate about committing to Brenda is the fact that she was able to pull her life together and create a stable situation at home. She'd been through a whole bunch of shit in the past, but she was there now, and Nate could no longer use Brenda's problems as an excuse. He was ultimately left with his own fantasies, constructing other lives for himself in his head, never able to live with the reality he had.

So, Nate's a tragic figure, and here at the end, his character flaws are magnified, and essentially an act of God strikes him down. This is the same storyline we saw back in year three, and the same character conflict present in year one.

But despite all that, I still love him as a character. He's the heart of the show, the flawed center around which all else revolved, and now he's gone. I'm not sure what's going to happen in these next three episodes, but it's going to be a very different show.

His final moment on screen was absolutely phenomenal. I always love dream sequences and this one was really surreal and perplexing. First, the song, 'Strawberry Letter 23' is a really great song. Nate seems to take another trip to an alternate reality, much like he did in the series' best episode, the season three opener 'Perfect Circles.' Surfer David was great and for a moment I was thinking that maybe the entire series would move to this alternate reality. But, we soon wind up at the beach where real David returns and Nate runs out the water, bidding farewell to the mortal world, even as David calls out to stop him. I'm really glad they went for this sort of symbolic storytelling and it's really fitting for the end of Nate's life. This is an echo of a previous episode I don't remember exactly, but it ended with Nate walking out into the water.

Then that final fade to the title was brutal. I was affected by this more than almost any TV series moment I can remember. I'm not saying Ecotone was the greatest episode ever made, but the only comprable moment I can remember is the last scene of Twin Peaks. Going in unspoiled and seeing that title come up, I'd been following this character for five years, through so much, and to see him die, I can't think of another series that offed its main character in such an ignoble manner. But, Nate is dead, it's astonishing that a fictional world can have so much power. That's why we create art, to tell stories that move people and that's what this story did to me.

I'm going to go back in tomorrow and do a bit more general review of these three episodes, since there's a lot going on with the other characters, and more to talk about the construction of the episodes themsevles, but I'm too in the emotional moment now to really analyze, it's just got to sink in.

1 comment: said...

This can't have effect in actual fact, that is exactly what I consider.