Six Feet Under

Season 4 Episode 3

Parallel Play

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Jun 27, 2004 on HBO

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

Write A Review
out of 10
158 votes
  • 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.