Since we’ve only got four episodes left in Six Feet Under's first season, we'll do two episodes this week and two next week
"The New Person"
The redshirt in "The New Person" was a boring, insufferable salesman who got whacked by his wife. She’d bottled up her annoyance for years, and she just exploded. Then she sat down and calmly ate her scrambled eggs. It was a great example of how darkly funny this show can be. When Nate and David learned what happened, they both reflected for a moment: Sometimes they’re boring, too. That’s about as much as this episode's redshirt got. Later, the family ate a similar breakfast, all together. No one got whacked with a frying pan.
The brothers began the search for Rico’s replacement, and the choice was ultimately an easy one. Two applicants give terrible interviews; the third, Angela, seemed reserved and professed a reverence for bodies. Boom, hired. But here’s the problem: What the brothers haven't realized is that she’s secretly a well-crafted antagonist to the Fisher family, sent to them from the screenwriters above!Ruth is so prim and proper, so self-denying, so old-fashioned; it seems all of her storylines revolve around her slowly coming to terms with how she feels. David is still really struggling to come to terms with being gay; he’s in his thirties and still hasn’t come out to his mom. Claire isn’t really repressed, per se, but she is a teenager, and she hasn’t yet really addressed her dad’s death, or that both men she’s recently had romantic beginnings with ended up acting awfully to her. And while Nate sometimes really embraces a role of getting his family to come forth with their emotions, he’ll soon harbor a huge secret of his own (ok, it’s maybe possible I skipped ahead and watched the finale).
Despite her proclivity for talking about farting because she ate calamari (is farting from calamari a thing?) and her boob-heavy shirt, Angela's openness really seems nonthreatening. She’s not a caricature, just a person who swings on the opposite side of the appropriateness-pendulum from the Fishers: I like how she genuinely disarmed Ruth by complementing her hair. This helped Ruth to initially defend Angela to Nate and David: “Some people are hard to take. But only because the first side they present to you is annoying, or aggressive, because they’re nervous, and it’s only after you spend some time with them that you realize there’s another side to them worth knowing.” It’s pretty clear she was really talking about Nikolai.
Speaking of Nikolai, Ruth agreed to dinner with him, feigning romantic disinterest. There she met a woman who used to date Nikolai, and who told Ruth a tale of woe: She’d played second-fiddle to Ruth for a while, dating Nikolai but never being treated too well by him. Ruth would rather not be caught up in this turmoil, so she resolved to keep her relationship with Nikolai strictly professional. She uttered a great line: “I’ve had the best time coming to this funny restaurant and having you yell at me in the bathroom.”
But back to Angela: Though she's good at her job, the Fishers couldn’t stomach her brand of honesty. So when the brothers learned she broke one of Ruth’s sherry glasses, they moved to axe her. Angela confessed to Ruth on her way out, and explained the broken sherry glass, though she was also really talking about the Fisher family: “I just was overcome with the feeling that it was better to ignore it, just pretend it didn’t happen. I get that feeling from all of you here. Everyone is so fragile and can’t bear to hear anything.”
And as a parting gift, she unknowingly outed David to Ruth. Whoops!
The redshirt here was just a tiny baby, and the opening sequence of "The Trip" was as contemplative as the previous episode's was slapstick. Since the camera angle was static, shot from the crib, it was pretty clear that SIDS is coming. The parents were both sweet, loving, and young, and the baby simply stared at its mobile until the scene faded out.
SIDS really reinforces the way Six Feet Under keeps presenting death: There’s no rhyme or reason to who dies. The causes often make no sense. Though survivors might attach significance to it, to the person who dies, the death itself is perfectly senseless.
This is tough for Rico, who was pretty easy to hire back from Kroener—and got tasked with embalming the baby. Since the Fisher brothers were off on the episode's titular trip, he finally faced a struggle of his own that wasn't directly centered on his bosses: fears for his own baby, currently in utero.
Gabe, meanwhile, has been wracked with guilt over his baby brother’s death. His mom clearly blames him, and won’t even look him in the eye. (Also, she’s the voice of Francine on American Dad! Small world, show business.) After leaving Claire a rambling goodbye via voicemail, he tried to kill himself. Claire went above and beyond taking care of him, though, buying him comics and McDonald’s breakfast. Eventually told him she loves him. He said he loves her, too, though I’m not sure he meant it.
Ruth was put off by Nikolai insisting she’s not nearly as talented at flower arranging as she thought. (Another great pronunciation from her, while nearly in tears: “You think my arrangements look…funereal?”) So she signed up for a class in flower arrangement. The instructor spoke oddly like Ruth, and said that, like Ruth, she once was a control freak. But she’s learned to let go, and that made her a much better arranger.
East of there, the boys and Brenda were on their way to Vegas, baby, Vegas! for a thrilling funeral convention. Apparently Kroener hasn’t just been moving in on Fisher & Sons; it's been trying to oust independent funeral homes all over the West Coast. David was scheduled to fill his dad’s role as speaker; he looked out at bored faces and, in important foreshadowing (well, kinda), he went off-book. He called out Kroener, to great reception.
David’s fellow directors patted him on the back and took him out for a lapdance, and when a stripper outed him as gay, he stumbled out of the strip club and called a hooker—whom screwed in a parking lot. Then he got busted by the cops. Then he called Keith to bail him out.
Back in LA, Rico’s baby suffered some complications, and for a moment it appeared that the arbitrariness of death was going to hit again. But death is arbitrary, not sadistic, and baby Augusto lived.
...Don’t you wish you had a nickel for every show with an episode that opens with an infant dying, closes with an infant seeming like it’s going to die but not dying, and in the middle has a major character getting arrested for having public bareback gay sex with a prostitute?
...I didn’t even get to addressing this, but Billy’s bipolar disorder: This might be getting a bit personal, but do any of you know anyone who’s bipolar? How true do Billy’s actions ring for you?
...Another thing I didn’t get to: Billy’s gallery photo of Nate peeing against a brick wall. I had one major problem with this: What was the context there? The photo was taken in daylight. I’ve peed against a few walls in my day, sure, but always at night, under the cover of darkness, and I was under the half-reasonable excuse of being under the influence.
...Finally, seriously, I’ve eaten plenty of calamari and never noticed this. Gas from calamari. Is that really a thing?
Ed. note: You can stay up-to-date on DVD Club news and find a listing of all related discussion stories in the TV.com Summer DVD Club Archives.