I was surprised at how much we were brought into the past for this episode. The show seems to be shifting to a place where the past is as important as the present, or where the past is influencing the present. The opening death is a good starting point. At first, it seems like another death, another day, but the scene, which stretches on for over five minutes, gains much more poignancy after we learn the little kid we're watching is George Sibley and the woman over-dosing herself on medication is his mother. Talk about a surprise.
That's not the only place where the past becomes prevalent. Rico goes on a trip to Las Vegas again for a funeral director's conference and runs into that woman Vanessa, the person who was slightly crazy while Rico worked for Krohner. I wasn't expecting her to return and I was even less expecting her and Rico to hook up in a hotel room, but they had a weird little chemistry between them and it was interesting to see a glimpse into her character again. As for David and Keith, it ends up being David's tryst with a male prostitute in Season 1 that leads to them being unable to adopt a kid through an agency. This means they have to focus on a surrogate mother.
I wasn't expecting that plot point to come up again, but as I said, this episode seems to be focusing a lot on the past. There was a great poignant scene where Nate and George's daughter share their experience with grief; we learn George's daughter had a kid herself who died of leukemia. The writing here is perfect; the show has been so good this season about giving everybody something to do, and whether it's Ruth and George's damaged relationship or Nate's paranoia over starting a family or Brenda's insecurity as a psychiatrist and a member of Nate and Maya's family, it's a great start to what should be a great season.
The only thing I didn't enjoy as much in this episode was Billy and Claire. I thought Billy and Claire had some great scenes in the first two episodes, and now that Billy's off of his medication, it should only be a matter of time before things get nuts. Plus, Claire's argument with Ruth was fantastic and well-acted all around. I just feel like it's less interesting than the other stuff, less high-stakes. That could all change, of course, but for the time being, I was less intrigued by this.