Six Feet Under

Season 4 Episode 3

Parallel Play

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Jun 27, 2004 on HBO
out of 10
User Rating
156 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Kaitlin Elise Stolte

David is training Arthur to perform more customer-oriented duties at the funeral home. The new responsibilities require new things – such an updated wardrobe – so David and Keith take Arthur shopping. Ruth is still stressing over the poo incident, but seems temporarily at ease when the new "Mr. & Mrs. George Sibley" receive a beautiful gift basket full of treats –- and a trick. Nate takes Maya to a Mommy ‘N Me class and they both meet some new friends. Brenda discovers her new boyfriend has some interesting ideas about how their sex life should be playing out. Claire attends a party with her new friends from art school, but unfortunately Russell is there in all his glory. Claire also discovers that Edie is a lesbian, but seems more intrigued about it than anything.moreless

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  • One of those"things happen but they don't" episodes.

    Almost nothing major happened in this episode, and the very little that did wasn't too exciting either.

    Im a bit annoyed with Nate, since the premiere it just seems he's in a very blah, neutral state.

    I also hated the way Arthur was fired. It just frustrated me to no end, ans I really enjoyed his character.

    However I still enjoy Keith trying to adjust to his new workplace alot. For the most, this was an extremely average episode, just take Claire's arc for example. Nothing too exciting, but not dull at all. I really don't have a whole lot to say; this was a forgettable episode.moreless
  • Continues to impress. An interesting episode, great end.

    I liked this a lot, again. Is this the end of Arthur, it looks like it. He is ... well was an interesting and funny character and I did like his scenes at the beginning of the episode, when he went shopping with David and Keith for a suit, Keith thinking Arthur was gay David's reaction was amusing.

    The whole gift basket thing was funny, Ruth was great when she was happy about who it was sent, Mr and Mrs Sibly. The confrontation with Arthur and Ruth was long overdue and we got some closure, then he left, leaving only Rico and David left to run the funeral home.

    Nate going to the class and meeting that woman was interesting, it was good how he started to feel comfortable and then she told him, she didn't want anything, liked his reaction to that, gets under the covers again. Rico is on skakey ground, agreeing to pay that money was ..... a mistake no doubt.

    Keith's work was amusing, the whole not using the same toilet thing. Now Claire and her new friends, a long with creepy ex Russell go to a party, this was enjoyable and once again I enjoyed the character of Edie, we discover that Edie is a lesbian and it may be hinting at a relationship with her and Claire .... don't know how that will go. Anita is okay.

    The ending was nice, them burning there old stuff, stuff they didn't need or want anymore, Nate throwing his stuff on was powerful, it was a great end. Look forward to more of this season.moreless
  • Old Trick, New Twist Written by Jill Soloway Directed by Jeremy Podeswa

    If i'm correct with this, the theory regarding the term "Parallel Play" is that two people can live with one another, without ever really being personally involved or interacting in the other person's lives. Also refers to children at a young age playing beside each other but not with each other. This has been a theme that's commonly used in the show, mostly regarding the Fisher's, but as the show has progressed the other characters too and once again Jill Soloway plays with the tried and tested theme in the episode with mixed results.

    For a person who works intimately and lives with them, the Fishers sure do know rather little about Arthur. For some bizarre reason David, while taking him on a shopping trip with Keith (as part of Arthur's grooming for more responsibilities at Fishers & Diaz) mistakeningly assumes that he's either gay or asexual, while Ruth acting upon George's advice when the not so newlyweds receive another poop filled gift accuses the quirky mortician of being responsible. Okay, last week I was pretty much convinced that it was him, but after his shocking confrontation with Ruth, it's now safe to rule him out which means my next suspicions are it's either someone related to George (apply disgruntled ex-wife/kid) or Mr Smarmy pants himself because let's face it, the more George cements himself into the Fisher household, the more suspicious he looks. Last week he had moved all his stuff in all to quickly and this week the Fishers are having a yard sale to shift excess junk, while burning what didn't sell. But also, I get the feeling that George may have suspected before being told that Ruth and Arthur had a thing, but at least their confrontation finally resolves the tensions that's been dangling between them for the last couple of episodes, although it doesn't well for us as Arthur takes his leave and now that David and Federico are left to care of the business this is worrying. To be fair, I wasn't too sure of Arthur when he first arrived but as the character unfolded he really began to become a rather valuable asset to the cast and so far this season he's been the only one to have remained in character so far, so i'm really hoping this isn't the last we've seen of the Petrarch loving chap.

    Keeping with out of character, Federico's tedious involvement with Sophia continues to grate my cheese as not only is he buying the human sponge her groceries but he's also willing to give her $5,000 for breast implants when her current pair spring a leak, even though the chances of her paying him back are as likely as Margaret Chenowith discovering sanity. With Vanessa continuingly getting wary if her husband and Rico being a bit of a pain, how long do we have to put up with this vacuous character. I love Rico, but right about now, all I feel like doing is throwing a cold bucket of water over him to snap him out of whatever daze he's caught up in, cos Sophia? Well pathetic just about sums it. And what about that bizarre dream sequence with some hit me over the head virgin/whore symbolism regarding Vanessa and Sophia?

    Meanwhile in a hilarious twist of events, Nate attends a Mommy N' Me class and gets seduced by a wealthy divorcee who then gives him his marching orders after their little sex session and while the woman in question is instantly forgettable as a guest character, you can't help but be amused by Nate for once getting kicked to the curb by a woman and that hasn't happened since a certain someone he was dating in the first two seasons.

    Keith's first proper security gig guarding uber - teen starlet Celeste provides much of the comedy of the episode due to some surprisingly admirable casting in Michelle Tratchenberg, whose teen brat throw a mother of a hissy fit when she finds out that Keith has used her private toilet and her reaction of presenting the Kid Choice Awards with Hilary Duff is cracking stuff. However Celeste's two minute stint with Ellen DeGeneres is a bit of a cop out though.

    Joe continues to be the spanner in Brenda's quest for normality as after losing his erection during a desperate race for a condom has him admitting to responding better sexually through role - playing which surprisingly enough Brenda succumbs to the idea showing further flashes of the character we were more intimate with in the beginning of the series.

    The biggest thread, however that commands the majority of attention in the episode is Claire's new found friendships with both Anita and Edie. First of all, i'm not sure about anyone else but Anita really isn't doing anything for me as her supposed exploits with a returning Russell seem all one sided and her cruising Nate during the yard sale/bonfire felt a little forced for me. Is she to continue what Parker briefly tapped upon, because personally I preferred Parker and I don't really find Anita that trustworthy. While Claire may not care for Russell the way she may have before, she did tell Anita in confidence about her former feelings for him and Anita had no flicker of consideration for how Claire might have felt. While her snogging Russell does indicate that he's NOT gay (which i've always believed), I don't think Russell seems that attracted to Anita. He was still vying for Claire's attention during that art party (not bad new character in Jimmy there), although all of hers was focused on Edie, who it turns out is a "full time lesbian" and while i'm conflicted over the supposed rumour mill of possible Claire/Edie coupling, I have to admit that despite Suvari's character foibles (aka all too Olivier like smugness and fondness for humiliating people as means to display your own "unique" vision)she is preferable to Anita and whether her and Claire will or won't, it is well past time Claire tapped into her sexuality like her brothers and i'm sure the writers won't make it into sleazy male gratification viewing.

    Also in "Parallel Play"

    Death of the week: Fourteen year old Kaithlin Elise Stolte dies after she laughs so hard she falls off the bed and snaps her neck.

    Ruth:"A lot of stuff needs to just go"

    Claire:"I'd personally prefer it if people could come upstairs and like bid on my entire room".

    Federico (re Kaithlin):"This one won't stop laughing. Wish I knew what the fuck was so funny".

    This season continues to be flooded with guest stars. Three episodes in, we've had Mena Suvari, Michelle Tratchenberg, Ellen DeGeneres and another Can't Hardly Wait alumni in Peter Facinelli as Jimmy. That's effectively now four who has appeared, but whether or Jimmy will make as big an impact as Claire, Federico and Gabe remains to be seen though.

    Keith (variation on Celeste's song):"You could be the one. Shave my legs for free".

    Getting back to Russell, not only does he have the tortured artist act down to a tee (with added facial hair), but check out the knitting and the slightly cringeworthy rendition of "Froggy Goes A Courtin". It'll stay with you.

    Edie: "This piece is called the good American art-school poser jerk-off extravaganza. Anyone new to state should we just call that Splaszone, so you may wanna stand back, i'm not responsible for dry cleaning bills".

    Another noteworthy performance piece from Edie with her Jim Morrison esque guitar strumming and making with the "yeah baby". Otherwise known as Splashzone. And she doesn't do dry cleaning bills. My kinda person.

    Claire got called "serene hotness" by Jimmy and a "beautiful fair skinned untouchable art princess" by Anita. A step up from "Cemetary Girl" that's for sure.

    Brenda:"I don't wanna smoke pot. I smoked so much pot it was. It made me, me. Now all those things seem like an escape from sex"

    Joe:"Alright, i'll put some more thought into exploring my norma side".

    Wonder why they didn't use Michelle Tratchenberg's real voice seeing as she sang in Buffy's "Once More With Feeling".

    Claire:"Beyond that, basically I hate everybody. I hate her and her. And that guy with the fucking boy scout jacket. I mean is that supposed to be ironic?"

    Edie:"Yeah, I would say more misanthrope than paranoid".

    Chronology wise, it's November 2003.

    Claire: "Gayland? Please Arthur had a thing with Mom. In fact i'm pretty sure they were fuck buddies"

    Anita: "Woah".

    Nate:"Mom, i'm moving back into the house"

    Ruth:"Okay, you can have Arthur's room".

    Fantastic selection of music ranging from Stardust Twins "U Could Be So Good For Me" (during a rather cute dance session with David and Keith), Missy Elliot's "Toyz" with Claire discovering Edie likes girls and Radiohead's "Lucky" played at the end.

    Overall? Well, to be honest, "Parallel Play" is one of those frustrating "you love it but can't help but slightly hate it at the same time" type of episode. There's a lot going on during the hour, which is never a bad thing but the way certain events are dealt (Arthur notably) will frustrate most viewers. Still better than anything on the box at the moment and one of Soloway's finer contributions for the series.

  • The Widower and the Divorcee Kaitlin Elise Stolte 1989-2003 Written by Jill Soloway Directed by Jeremy Podeswa

    "I can wait on you hand on foot... you make me a very happy man"--Joe

    Now with Nate gone, David needs help running the family business. Therefore, he grooms Arthur, the quirky apprentice to be his number 2. The plan seems to be going well when David and Keith buy him a few new "funeral" suits until Ruth drops the bomb on Arthur that he was the person who was sending them the gift baskets of feces. Arthur then quits in a huff, leaving it to just David and Rico. And David will never be in home for dinner again...

    The irony in the storyline this week is that now with Nate not working, David with double the responsibility on his plate decides to give Arthur something. But once again, another job sabotaged when Ruth gets involved. Arthur feeling too emotional and uncomfortable to work just gives up. It is difficult when co-workers leave because of something your parents did to make the job even more difficult. Now David and Rico have even triple. Nate better get over it soon because running a business needs at least 3 employees.

    Other important events in "Parallel Play"...

    *Death of the week: three teenage girls play pranks on residents with funny last names in the phone book. After they get someone "good" one of the girls laughs hysterically, falls off the bed and breaks her neck. Talk about getting someone "good".

    *Nate meets a rich divorcee at a Mommy 'n Me class, (Martha Bullock from Deadwood). The affair lasts briefly after Nate releases to much baggage on the divorcee.

    *Keith meets Ellen and goes potty in Celeste's john, Celeste finds out and tells on him. Because of using her bathroom, I used to have to share a bathroom with three people. Celebs.

    *Brenda learns more about Joe's sexual preferences when Brenda wants normal sex.

    *Rico continues to see Sophia where he offers to pay for her to have a boob job and get new toys for her daughter. Rico then has an over-the-top dream where Vanessa and Sophia portray Mary and Mary Magdalene and try to satisfy both needs. Pretty cool.

    *Claire attends a party for art school chum, Jimmy. Russell then embarasses himself first with his "repulsive" facial hair and then for singing "Froggy Went a Courtin'". The following day at the garage sale, Claire and Anita crash at the Fisher house and when Nate announces he will be moving out of the coach house. Claire asks if she can move in.

    *Ruth decides to hold a yard sale to make room for some of George's personal effects. The garage sale is a small sucess causes celebration for a bonfire which all the Fishers gather around at the end of the episode closing with the fantastic music of Radiohead.

    A very entertaining episode, in my opinion.moreless
Peter Krause

Peter Krause

Nate Fisher

James Cromwell

James Cromwell

George Sibley (episode 40+, recurring previously)

Mathew St. Patrick

Mathew St. Patrick

Keith Charles

Frances Conroy

Frances Conroy

Ruth Fisher

Lauren Ambrose

Lauren Ambrose

Claire Fisher

Freddy Rodriguez

Freddy Rodriguez

Federico Diaz

Andy Forrest

Andy Forrest

Mr. Gurvitz

Guest Star

James Black

James Black


Guest Star

Erica Mer

Erica Mer


Guest Star

Bronwyn Tosh

Bronwyn Tosh


Recurring Role

Brenna Tosh

Brenna Tosh


Recurring Role

Giancarlo Rodriguez

Giancarlo Rodriguez

Julio Diaz

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (17)

    • Arthur: David, you are, quite simply put, the best I've ever worked with.
      David: Arthur, I'm the only one you've ever worked with.

    • Celeste: Creepy Colin Farrell just left me another creepy message, can't we do something about that, you know legally?

    • Anita: It's like my brain is encased in this fluid, and if I move, then the fluid moves, and my brain kills.

    • Brenda: I've known prostitutes, and dominatrixes. I've been to sex clubs and leather clubs. I've heard of guys who could only cum with the .. I don't know, the girl is sitting on a balloon. I wrote this whole erotic novel about a girl who .. She stops

    • Claire: I'm so tired of hating everything.

    • Keith (About Arthur): Maybe we should buy him a whole new wardrobe. Do they ever do that? Queer eye for the gay guy.
      David: I don't think Arthur's gay, I think he's A.
      Keith: I don't know, I think asexual people are asexual because they don't wanna come out of the closet.

    • Claire: Geology is controversial?
      George: Oil, Claire, oil!
      Claire looks at him awkwardly

    • Rico (While embalming a girl, whose jaw is stuck into a laughing expression): This one won't stop smiling. Wish I knew what the fuck was so funny!

    • David: Ok, if Jessica Simpson is the poor man's Britney, what's Celeste?
      Keith: Maybe a thinking man's Britney! You know how music is supposed to be an inspiration for young girls, I'm not just an object, I am somebody.
      David: Oh like Christina?
      Keith: Yeah, like Christina. But without the ass hanging out chaps!
      David: I'd like to see your ass hanging out of some chaps!

    • Anite (About Russel): I could have sworn he was gay. (Looks at him) He's knitting!
      Claire: Haven't you noticed a lot of straight guys knit these days, it's like a macho thing. Like "I'm so straight I can even knit"!

    • Celeste:[on her cell] Fred, I think I already made this perfectly clear. Yes. Yes. No, I'm fine doing crappy kid choice awards but I will NOT present with Hilary Fuckin' Duff! There has to be someone else. Come on think a little harder then that... The Olsen Twins? What was that? Suppose to be funny?

    • Keith: I need new clothes for work--not gay ski weekend at Monmouth.

    • David: Arthur quit.
      Anita: Who's Arthur?
      David: (annoyed) WHO ARE YOU?

    • Arthur: I could never send you POO!! Ever!

    • Claire: I wish people could just go up and bid on my room!

    • Joe: I can wait on you hand and foot, you make me a very happy man.

    • Ruth: We used to do a head...butting
      George: You butted heads?
      Ruth: You know like horses nuzzle.

  • NOTES (6)

    • The computer game Arthur is playing when Ruth accuses him of sending her Feces in the mail, is The Sims 2. A Maxis(TM) human life simulator.

    • Brazil title: "Brincadeira Paralela" ("Parallel Play")

    • Songs:

      Simian - "LA Breeze"

      Stardust Twin - "U Could Be (So Good 4 Me)"

      Alicia Keyes - "Samsonite Man"

      Roscoe - "Trouble"

      Plant Life - "That's Love Part 1"

      Zinn Deadly - "Encinitas"

      Missy Elliott - "Toyz"

      Ralph Myerz & the Jack Herren Band - "Clouds"

      Radiohead - "Lucky"

    • The song that Claire puts on and has playing during the bonfire is "Lucky" by Radiohead.

    • Peter Facinelli is the latest alumni of the teen comedy "Can't Hardly Wait" to appear on Six Feet Under. Other cast members include Lauren Ambrose (Claire), Eric Balfour (Gabe) and Freddy Rodriguez (Federico).

    • After Tom Lenk in the previous episode, Michelle Trachtenberg is the second Buffy character to appear as comic relief on the show.