After the twist ending in the last episode, with Nate collapsing from a stroke, I was fully expecting the screen to go white and for his name to appear in those big black bold letters that indicate death. However, it looks like I was an episode off. This episode wasn't quite perfect, but it wasn't far off. I've never seen a television show treat death the way Six Feet Under does. It's ingenious that way, and it surprises me sometimes that Alan Ball is responsible for something as great as this show and also for the campy ridiculous True Blood. But I digress. Back to this great episode.
Nate gets brought to the episode and one by one, people learn about his admission to the hospital. In a way, the episode is very slow-moving as it shows the way each member of the family deals with theexcruciatingwait to learn if Nate is okay. Perhaps the most interesting is Claire, who we all know didn't know Nate well and saw him as a Dad wanna-be. Claire's breakdown in the episode is perhaps the biggest; Brenda is furious with him for sleeping with Maggie (she doesn't know for sure but it's implied), while David seems to be too in shock to be sad.
What I found the most sad was the way Ruth was on a camping trip with Hiram when Nate goes into the hospital. Nate was Ruth's first-born and for her to be so far away from her son when he needs her most was heart-breaking. The show didn't really drive that fact into our skulls; instead, it was something we had in the back of our heads as we waited and waited for Ruth to show up even when she never did.
It was a superb episode that places itself in the most classic of Six Feet Under episodes after the ending: upon waking up from an odd dream where David, Nate and their father were driving to the beach in a van and David watches Nate dive into the ocean, swallowed by the waves, David finds Nate dead. Nate had been awake from his surgery and talking with everybody, seemingly fine, so his death comes as a huge shock, not just because it's Nate, the main character of the show (arguably) but because there's still three episodes of the show left after this. It's a genius move by the writers, something I wouldn't have had the guts to do if I were on the writing staff.
Those are just the big moments of the episode. There were so many little subtle moments throughout the episode that it's easy to forget. There was all sorts of stuff going on with David and Keith's kid Anthony, where they learn that Anthony is afraid of hospitals. There's also the absolutely heart-breaking scene where Nate tells Brenda that he wants to break up with her, claiming they have nothing left to stay together over except for the baby and that they have to move on. That makes it that much harder for me to understand Nate after he dies. He breaks up with Brenda, a woman that he loved off and on, and when he dies, he leaves her heart-broken. With Nate's death, he leaves a lot of questions about his life, and that's afterthe show attempted to give some answers over the five seasons.
This show is just superb in the way it tells its stories and leads its characters from one life-changing event to the next. What a great episode.