Saturday, August 06, 2005

Six Feet Under: 'Time Flies'

Another day, another episode. It's been a long time since I've had new episodes of something this good coming in on a regular basis. Six Feet Under is such a layered, well made series, it really makes almost every other show look like it's not even trying. When watching the show in 'binge' form last year, I saw things mainly in terms of the big picture, the overall character arcs and direction of the season, so I lost the sense of each episode as an individual entity. Even though everything is totally continuous, it's really interesting to see the way that each episode goes a way towards forwarding the story, and creating parallels within each 'chapter' of the story.

This episode is notable for bringing all the characters together, putting their problems into slightly different perspective. The first chunk doesn't have too much notable stuff, the funniest bit was David and Keith's day with the kids. It was a hilarious story, though I was expecting the bad experience David had with these children to cause him to second guess his own desire for kids.

The real 'meat' of the episode was the party scene, which was notable for both how heavy and dramatic it was, and how funny it was. First, the funny bits. The cake scene was hilarious, the way everyone was enjoying cake so much that Claire just has to say fuck it, give me a piece. There was also the George/Billy discussion, and the presence of Tom, Nate's friend from two episodes ago, who got some really funny material. Jokes like the bathroom line are funny here because of how dramatic everything else is. It's the contrast, not the material itself that works.

But, despite any good times there might be, we ultimately end up with darkness, as a number of couples have arguments. I'm always rooting for Nate and Brenda to be together, but I still found their arguing here really interesting. Following the conversation with his father, Nate is starting to question what he had taken for granted. Is he getting into another Lisa-like situation, where he marries Brenda, has a kid with her, and then winds up feeling trapped and unhappy? Just like Brenda provided an out he could always use, his relationship with Maggie seems to be developing into something more than just friends.

I don't see Alan Ball going down the route of having Nate sleep with Maggie, because it would be rather predictable. I think it would be really interesting for them to have a platonic relationship that becomes very close, and causes Brenda to become jealous. I think she, and the audience, always assumed that her and Nate would be together, Lisa was a temporary stopover, but could she stand to be the like Lisa, someone who's become so normal and suffocating that Nate has to find his mental and emotional stimulation somewhere else? I don't know, but we're clearly headed for some major trauma, as Nate is starting to lose it, even as Brenda seems to be increasingly stable.

Elsewhere, Claire and Billy are having problems as well. I found it a bit disturbing that Claire would sleep with the forty-something divorcee, but I think it works for where her character is now. She'd broken ties with her home, assuming that she could live with Billy. However, when Billy starts to break down, she finds she has nowhere to go. Could Claire move back home, or is she going to have to set out on her own, and probably have to enroll in school again. I don't see her lasting too much longer with Billy, but what effect losing Claire will have on Billy is where things could get interesting.

I like the way the George storyline is being played from both sides more now. We still see how Ruth suffers, but also the fact that George desperately wants to be better, he just can't be. I like the way the conversation between George and Billy sets up Ruth and Claire as parallel characters.

Then with Keith and David, there's still some lingering questions about Keith's sexuality. It seems like the reason David may be so resistant to the surrogate is that that would set up Keith as the father, this woman as the mother and leave him with no role. An adoption would serve as a more 'legitimately gay' way to have a child. The scene with Keith and Brenda presented Keith as a father in the context of a heterosexual coupling as opposed to a homosexual one.

So, this is sort of the blow up that things have been building to for a while, but not too much has actually changed. I guess the real test will be in the next episode when we find out the effect that these arguments have on the relationships in question.


crossoverman said...

Hey, Patrick, it's good to read your reviews - because I'm further into the season and am reminded of where the show has been and where it's been headed this season. Some of your speculations are very interesting considering what comes to pass.

I am really eager for you to catch up, though! I'd love to know what you think of the most recent episodes. But all in good time, I gues...

Patrick said...

I've got episode 5 on tape, and then I should have the rest of the season by the end of the weekend, so I'm going to do one a day if the episodes are here.

Do you know how many episodes they're doing this year, is it 12 or 13?

crossoverman said...

Twelve episodes.

So there's only three left to air :-(

Mike Cirelli said...
This comment has been removed by the author. said...

The thing you're writing is a big blunder.