Six Feet Under

Season 1 Episode 4


Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Jun 24, 2001 on HBO
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Manuel Pedro Antonio Bolin "Paco"

February 6, 1980 - February 15, 2001

The Fisher family wonder if Claire might have some part to play in the blaze across the street. Nate has Brenda over for dinner and it does not seem to go as well as expected. Nate is dealing with issues from every side, including a feud between a deceased's family and gang about how to handle his services. David tries to gain enough courage to stand up to Gilardi and handle issues with Keith and the clients.


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  • Character Development

    Another slower-paced episode, but one that promoted great character development, especially in terms of David. The rest of the characters are still somewhat of a mystery to me, especially Claire and Brenda, but hopefully they will be developed too.
  • Things take a slower turn in this heavily character-developing episode, where each Fisher deals with problems both professional and private...

    The police investigate the Kroehner fire across the street from Fisher & Sons. All fingers seem to be pointing at Claire, but the whole matter is handled in a mysterious fashion, and at the end of the episode we are still left with a sense of doubt. Was it really the youngest Fisher? Or perhaps was it Brenda, as Nate's sudden realization may indicate?

    Who exactly is this person who Nate seems to adore more and more? Their relationship is progressing into a more serious direction, even though none of them will admit it at this point. Brenda is introduced to the Fisher family, which doesn't go too well. Ruth walking in on the couple pleasing each other and the awkward dinner that follows are simply brilliant and priceless scenes. Ruth and Brenda don't seem to get along, but the dynamic between the two is interesting to watch.

    At the funeral home preparations are under way for 'Paco' Bolin, a Latin gang member shot dead. This shines a new perspective on Rico and David. The expert embalmer is tasked with talking to the family and Mr. Powerful - the leader of Paco's gang. Rico manages to handle the situation well, although it's not hard to notice that he feels uneasy and undermined, especially by David.

    Paco's role in this episode leads to David finally taking a little more charge of the things happening in his life. After an argument with Keith at a parking garage, after they're both called "***s" by another driver, the younger Fisher son is scolded by his boyfriend for not defending himself and his sexuality when insulted. David later realizes he needs to "step up" and take matters into his own hands for the first time. He handles the Kroehner situation by talking to Gilardi in an intimidating way, which shows the character in a completely different light. The newfound strength also helps him in slowly managing to open up about his relationship with Keith to others, at least a little. He's still got a long way ahead of him before he really comes out.

    At the funeral Claire meets a gang member to whom she seems attracted to. She tries to impress him by acting tough, which is met with hostility. I don't think her act is convincing, four episodes in we still don't know why she's acting that way. While the whole foot deal with Gabriel made sense and was entertaining, this time around it seems that there's no specific path Claire will go as a character. I hope that changes and we see her in a different light too, like with David in the episode.

    "Familia" slows things down for the season, taking the time to develop characters. Every season should have some of that and this installment excells at it mostly, especially with David's storyline. Laurence Andries in her writing also underlines the distance within the Fisher family, parallel to the deep love and care openly shown by the Bolins. If the remainder of this season manages to keep up this character development, while also picking up the pace with interesting storylines - we're in for a great ride. At this point already, Six Feet Under is more than just entertaining.


    Brenda: [on first visit to Nate's funeral home, which is also his family's home] Not quite as Addams Family as I'd expected.

    Claire: [of home] Better than a Turkish prison - most days.

    Keith: I know where you are. I was there. And I'll wait for you because I love you. But I'm not moving backwards for anybody.moreless
  • David Fisher becomes a man

    One thing that I've tried to do while watching this show is not compare these actors to any of their current shows, movies or projects. It's tough to do though. Looking at Michael C. Hall, it's impossible not to see the seeds of Dexter being planted. And if there's any episode that showed the similar dark tendencies of both David Fisher and Dexter Morgan, this was it. And I mean that in a good way. This episode, as the title says, was a lot about how family functions, whether it's a gang member's or the Fisher's, but it also acts as a showcase for how much David is growing as a character.

    We get a follow-up, albeit a quick one, to the ending of last week's episode where the house that Krohner bought across the street from the Fisher's burns down. The entire family believes that Claire burned it down, although the fun in the episode (or at least part of the fun) is figuring out who did it. That's just a minor plot of the episode though. Most of the episode focuses on the Fisher family taking on a client that was involved in a gang, which means while planning his funeral, they have to cope with the somewhat intimidating gang leader named "Powerful," all the while using Frederico as someone who can properly communicate in terms of toughness.

    The gang funeral is just a backdrop for the growth of David Fisher as a character… sure, we have some fun Nate and Brenda moments (Brenda is quickly becoming one of the stranger and more indecipherable characters I've seen on the show, but I'm sure we'll get some explanation soon enough), but Michael C. Hall deserved awards for the performance he's given in the last few episodes. We get a look into how David is a coward, mostly because of the fact he's closeted. That's why when a random person at the grocery store calls David and Keith a gay slur, David ignores it and Keith gets aggressive. Keith is mad that David doesn't let that stuff bother him and doesn't stand up and fight for himself. We get more views into this via Paco, the man that died and that David sees visions of. When we see David get called a "b*tch," it's the truth. David can't stand up for himself, and that's why the end of the episode works so well when he snaps out of it.

    The final scene where David, Nate and Krohner meet for dinner was superb. David saying that he won't kill Krohner but will hurt his loved ones was Dexter-esque in its creepiness and comedy. I want to see more of David branching out and coming into himself. I also liked all of the supporting characters more than usual here… Keith is quickly becoming an interesting and good character, while Claire is definitely becoming more interesting as the show goes on.

    The final moments with Nate and Brenda are intriguing… does Brenda truly love Nate enough to burn down a house for him? I suppose we'll see, but this was a good episode for the time being. Not as good as the previous three, but good nonetheless.moreless
  • Familia

    Familia is an episode of Six Feet Under you don't want to miss. All the story lines remain to be intriguing as ever, and at this point, this show is almost addicting with dynamic characters, interesting transitions like fading to white instead of black, or just great story lines that make the 51 minutes fly by. My only complaint is that I wish Claire got a bit more screen time, but that's about it.

    David is becoming one of my favorite characters on television. He's very complex. Like him talking to dead people so to speak, really only talking to himself. His insecurities and his struggles with his homosexuality. Anyways, he just shined in this episode. Rico was also great too with convincing the gang member to back off.

    Was anyone else cheering for joy when David had his revelation when telling off the guy from Crowner? I know I did. Who started the fire? We know it's not Claire, but now there's a twist. It might be Brenda, and so the plot thickens and I am so ready for the next episode of Six Feet Under. Overall a very satisfying episode of Six Feet Under, sad ending too.moreless
  • Family Ties Written by Laurence Andries Directed by Lisa Cholodenko

    Four episodes in and there is usually one per season of Six Feet Under that doesn't neccessarily hit the mark and for Season One, "Familia" would be that episode. Okay so there is a boat load of some goodies but some of the stuff feels a little underwhelming in comparison to what the show usually offers. I'll divide this into...

    What worked for me with the episode would definitely include Brenda and Nate's interrogation at the police station referring to the burned building in the previous episode provides some neat comedy when the dynamic duo (hey, Batman and Robin aren't the only tag team to warrant that title, y'know), delve into what they got up in the house. David standing up to Gilardi and it was about damn time. The little weasel has been such a bug up the ass, he's easily the worst character from Season One. Everytime he's appeared on screen i've just either David or Nate would deck him. Thankfully Paco, who gets likeable surprisingly quick encourages David to put Paco in his place and resolve his argument with Keith.

    Then there was Federico who was just great in general. Sure, he's not neccesarily my favourite character in the series but the writers really allow him upon his dealings with Paco (the death of the week) two families - biological and gang related. Oh and it's revealed he's Puerto Rican. Brenda and Ruth interactions with each other in this episode is inspired, especially at the beginning when Ruth walks in her and Nate fooling around. Definitely something a mum never wants to see or her grown up kid either. Although was it me or did Nate seem less embarrassed than you would have expected?

    Now onto the cons of the episode and even though she's one of my favourite characters, Claire's attitude really got my nerves especially towards certain people in the episode. And while it's nice to know that she didn't start the fire the revelation to that is a bit unsatisfying. I'm betting Gilardi is responsible.

    It was hard to sympathise with death of the week at first but by the end of the episode I found myself really respecting Paco's honest approach to life. His closeness with his two families also make you realise how distant the Fisher's really are from each other, especially when Ruth show how unaware of her children's private lives. Then there was David and Keith.

    Yes they resolve an argument they have in the episode but it does raise a lot of questions about their relationship and David's own attitude towards being gay. Could he be a tad homophobic himself?

    Also in "Familia"

    Death of the week: Manuel Pedro Antonio Bolin (Paco) was shot by a rival gang I think.

    This was the first episode to use reprise theme for the Previously On segment. Better than what the used last episode.

    Detective Shea:"Could you be a bit more specific as possible? Just to establish timeline"

    Brenda (re Nate):"Well he went down on me for a while. He's really good at it".

    Keith's concern for Claire was nice. They haven't much scenes since last episode. I also take it she's not on police file.

    David and Nate played Addams family as kids. Don't know why I found that interesting but I did.

    Does Tracy actually know any of the people whose funerals she attends or was she there to cruise to David, who in one scene was trying so hard not to cruise one of Paco's friends.

    Paco:"You gotta apologise to your boy Keith. Otherwise you're just a born bitch"

    David:"You're speaking like this at your own funeral?"

    Paco:"Damn straight. I say whatever I Goddamn please. I've been to a ton of funerals. You see one, you see them all. Even mine".

    David (to Gilardi):"I'm not saying anyone's gonna die. They are tragedies far worse than death. Things you couldn't even dream of, you spineless, candy ass, corporate fuck. Just give me a reason. It's your decision. Are we really worth the trouble, Mr Gilardi? Lunch is over, now get lost".

    Chronology is February 2001, a month from last week's episode.

    Standout music included Shuggie Otis' "Inspiration Imformation". I love that song.

    "Familia" is an intriguing exploration between all kinds of families, both gang related and biological and it's great that writer Laurence Andries evenly explored both. I did find it strange that the Fishers didn't know Federico's origins or that Ruth referred to Keith as "the black man". I know no racist undertones were meant but it was strange given that they live in such a melting pot like LA they seemed hesistant/unaware of other cultures. It's not neccessarily a great episode, but it's far from lacklustre and much better than your average "off" episode in any other series.moreless
Jacob Vargas

Jacob Vargas

Manuel "Paco" Bolin

Guest Star

Lombardo Boyar

Lombardo Boyar


Guest Star

Karmin Murcelo

Karmin Murcelo

Paco's Mother

Guest Star

Garrison Hershberger

Garrison Hershberger

Matthew Gilardi

Recurring Role

Dina Waters

Dina Waters

Tracy Montrose Blair

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Paco : You gotta apologize to your boy, Keith, otherwise you just a born bitch.
      David : You're speaking like this at your funeral?
      Paco : Damn straight. I'll say whatever I Goddamned please. And I've been to a ton of funerals. You see one, you see them all. Even mine.
      David : No gunfire. No fights.
      Paco : No Sharks. No Jets. Just like any other funeral. You let down, huh?
      David : A little.

    • Brenda : There's a lot of sadness in this house.
      Nate : It's a funeral home.

    • Nate: Claire, are you okay?
      Claire: No. My pimp's threatening to beat me up, because I can't turn enough tricks. What's worse is, he's threatening to take away my smack. It's hell!

    • Ruth: Mr. Powerful and his entourage are here.

    • Claire (To Brenda): So, what's it like to be interrogated? Did you flash your crotch like Sharon Stone in that movie?

    • Brenda: What's wrong?
      Nate: Well, let's see. I"m about to become an undertaker, and I'm scared to death of it. A huge corporation wants to put us out of business, and I'm worried my sister's not only a crackhead, she's an arsonist.

    • Nate: Dave and I used to play Addams Family when we were kids. I was usually Gomez, he was always Lurch.

    • Paco's Friend: This place is like a mad scientist's lab, how can you live here?
      Claire: It beats being in a Turkish prison

    • Paco: Don't be a pussy!

    • Brenda: No mistake you guys are undertakers, you take every f*cking feeling you have, put it in a box and bury it.

  • NOTES (4)

    • Goof: According to Paco's dates of birth and death, he had just turned 21. However, his own parents say he was going to soon turn 21.

    • Music featured in episode: Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information, Coinmonster - Body of Binky, Piotr Tchaikovsky - Sleeping Beauty, Mariachi All-Stars - Sufriendo A Solas, Franz Schubert - Ave Maria, Antonio Vivaldi - Four Seasons: Winter, Donna Fargo - Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A., Pete Yorn - Life on a Chain, The Herbaliser - A Mother for your Mind.

    • - German title: "Familienbande" (="Family Ties");
      - Italian title: "Consulente dall'altro mondo" (= "Consultant From the Other World").

    • This is the first episode where the episodic preview features the song Nothing Lies still Long by Pell Mell.


    • Claire: Did you flash your crotch like Sharon Stone in that movie?

      In the 1992 film "Basic Instinct", Catherine Tramell (Stone) is a crime novelist and the primary suspect in the murder of her boyfriend. While being interrogated by the police, Tramell crosses her legs in a manner that exposes her vulva to her interrogators.

    • Brenda: Not quite as Addam's Family as expected.

      The Addams' Family is a comic strip created by Charles Addams and first published in 1938. The family of characters exhibit macabre and dark humor that spoofs the more traditional American family dynamic. The property has been adapted into a TV show, animated series and films.

    • Brenda (to Nate): I'm burning up...burning up for your love.

      This is a line of a song by Madonna called "Burning Up".