Monday, August 15, 2005

Six Feet Under: 'Static'

Wow. That was an incredibly powerful episode, I'm not sure if it's the weight of five years of backstory, the knowledge that everything's coming to an end, or that it was just a really well written episode, but that was one of the most powerful episodes in the show's entire run, and a great return to dramatic heights after the slight dip that was last week's episode. This was an episode that right from the beginning had me completely enraptured, and in the final scene, I needed more. Alas, that will have to wait another week.

The most powerful thing for me here was the way they used Nate. He basically has become the new Nathaniel, though I'm almost positive we'll be seeing some of Nate Sr. next week. The glimpse of Nate during the birth was the most effective scene, I'm not sure what it was, but that image of him there was incredibly powerful. The other really great use of Nate was when he's telling Brenda to just go ahead and be with Billy.

That part of the episode was my favorite. Brenda and Billy, along with Nate, have always been my favorite characters on the show, and I loved the boundary challenging dynamic between Brenda and Billy, they both love each other so much, but have to be self conscious about it, particularly after Billy crossed the boundary and confessed to loving Brenda as more than a brother a few seasons ago. I love the shot of Brenda in the elevator, and then Nate's speech to her makes some valid points in terms of her psyche. Would she really hurt anyone by living with Billy? The scene where the two of them are together in his room was so incredibly tense, and I'm a bit disappointed it turned out to be a dream, just because it was such an emotionally challenging scene for the characters.

Still, it works because it's not just there to tease the audience, it's Brenda working through the boundaries in her head. In theory, she could just run away with Billy, but when she actually thinks about it, she can't go through with it. For years, Brenda has used Billy as a crutch, an excuse for why her relationships fail. So, it would make sense that she would feel like she's destined to end up with Billy. But it's not what she needs, and to live that life would be not only wrong on a laws of nature level, it would also prevent her from giving her daughter the chance for a normal life. So, when she tells Billy to move out, she reasserts her independence, and moves him back into the uncle role, as opposed to being a father to her daughter.

I was torn on the issue of Maya because both Brenda and Ruth have a right to her, and could raise her well, but who would be better for her, and who really needs her? I love the scene in the doctor's office where George says "She's all Ruth has," with such force that we understand to take away Maya would leave Ruth with only the pain of her loss. But at the same time, we see Maya running to Brenda, the woman she considers her mother, and to keep a child from her mother wouldn't be right. It's definitely a conundrum.

Claire's meltdown early in the episode was great dramatically, and I really liked the way it was shot. I think they have the self righteous liberal anger down exactly. I did find it a bit odd that Claire would be so angry about Nate's death, they were close, but not to the point that losing him would throw her entire life into turmoil. I think it's more the fact that Claire is made acutely aware of her own mortality, much like David was. She sees Nate go from completely healthy to dead in one day, and she's forced to address the fact that she's basically lost her purpose in life, and as a result, she loses herself in drink and drugs, not unlike at the end of season four when she went on a coke binge during her art show.

So, Claire ends up hurting the people in her life, alienating Ted and ultimately crashing her car. So much of her identity was tied up in that green hearse, I think its destruction is going to provide a chance for Claire to redefine herself, she'll no longer be carrying the baggage of her upbringing around everywhere she goes.

David faces a similar problem as Claire, but it's mixed in with his fear about losing his kids, which drives him sort of insane. The opening scene with David and the radio had me freaked out, as did the limbless corpse. David, despite his long quest to adopt, is still not in the mindset of having kids, nor is Brenda for that matter. Ruth serves as the archetypal mother on this show, someone who put her life aside for her kids, but David is unable to keep his problems under wraps and instead brings them to his interaction with the kids. On some level this may be healthier, because Ruth became so repressed she was unable to function once she was no longer in the role of mother. But, she makes her view of parenting clear when she says that she would never give her kid away to someone else.

I really liked George in this episode, he seems to view raising Maya as the chance to make up for the problems he had with his own kids. He becomes the good guy, which made Maggie seem a bit harsh in the scene where she rails at him. I hope this isn't it for Maggie, I feel like we need a bit more resolution with her. I'm still wondering if Brenda is going to tell people the fact that Nate broke up with her on his death bed. I don't think anyone else knows that but her.

The other plot I really liked in this episode was Rico's story. For the first couple of seasons, it seemed like every Rico plot involved him being mad at the Fishers for treating him poorly, and that returns here, but this time Rico is in a much different position. With Nate gone and David crazy, Rico is able to step into a leadership role and Vanessa takes over Nate's role as the person who knows the right thing to say to those who are grieving. If Rico leaves to buy his own funeral home, would that mean the end of Fisher and Sons. On one level, that would be an appropriate end for the series, but I'd rather see Rico take over the Fishers' funeral home. It would make sense that Rico, the only person who actually wanted into the business, would end up running things.

Considering there's one episode left, I'm still really unsure how it's all going to end. I was expecting David to end up in a happy family, but now he's losing it, and he may be too far gone to bring it back in one episode, especially considering the scene between him and Keith in the promo. Then there's still the issue of Roger and the 'blowjob video' mentioned last episode, though I'm thinking that's just there to explain the fact that Keith was basically whoring himself to Roger. I'm thinking that David may go on some kind of vision quest type thing, encounter the afterlife, much like Claire in season three's finale, and then come back to Keith, refereshed and ready to be a family again. I also think he'll end up leaving the funeral business. So, the last image I see is of him and Keith still struggling, but on the road to happiness.

As for Brenda, I think her baby will make it. Alan Ball has been tough on the characters, but I don't think he'd be so brutal as to kill Brenda's baby three episodes after her husband died. As for her ultimate fate, I'm really not sure, it would make sense to put her in the role of single mom caring for two kids, to show how much she's changed over the course of the series, but to end with her in a family also might be a little too happy for Ball. Alternatively, he could have Brenda lose her baby, leave Maya with Ruth and just leave, to start a new life.

Claire has no obvious ending in sight. It would be trite to have her resolve her issues in one episode, I don't see her winding up with Ted at the end of the series, so I'd imagine she's on her own, and maybe she goes back to the art, indicating to us that she's back on the path she belongs.

I'm almost positive Rico and Vanessa are going to open a funeral home, the only real question is whether it's the Fishers' or the other one. If Rico does take over the Fisher home, I could see Ruth and George going off to live somewhere else, and Ruth finally leaving behind the role of mother. Of course, if she does take in Maya, then she could stay at Fisher and Sons and once again have the purpose she lost as her kids grew up.

So, it's wide open. I'm glad the finale is 75 minutes, because there's still a lot to do, and I'm hoping that Alan Ball brings out some of the crazy symbolic dream stuff his episodes are known for.

It's always weird watching the end of a series. On one level, I can't wait to see what happens in the next episode, but once I do, there's the sadness of knowing there will never be new adventures for the Fisher family. Very few series are so close to my sensibilities, with serial character based storytelling and lots of dream imagery.

I feel like I know the characters so well and watching this episode I would find myself yelling at the characters, cringing as they did things I knew they'd regret and feeling sad when they were. That's great storytelling, and it's the sort of thing that only long form television storytelling can do. I'll give more of the post mortem next week, but for now, I can't wait for next Sunday and at the same time, when watching that last episode, I'm going to wish that it'll never end.

1 comment:

muebles en coslada said...

For my part every person ought to go through it.