One of the things I've found most compelling about the show after five
seasons is Nate Fisher's transformation, or perhaps it's lack of
transformation. Since the very beginning, when he discovered that his
father has died, Nate has been terrified of death. He's had to face a
lot of obstacles in facing his mortality, whether it's working around
dead people all day, being diagnosed with a potentially
life-threatening brain disorder, having his wife be murdered, leaving
him with a young daughter to raise on his own. I've watched Nate
carefully, and after this episode, which was superbly written, I think
Nate has yet to truly face his own mortality. He's still afraid of
dying, of getting older, of losing those he loves, and as a result, he
keeps people at a distance, except for his daughter.
What I liked the most about the episode was how halfway through, at
Nate's party, we have everybody in the same room together (except for
Rico and Vanessa), even some people we don't know, and the show
effortlessly sets these people up with one another, letting them interact with each other. We get some combinations of scenes with people we never see act with each other. For instance, Billy having a conversation and sharing a beer with George? Awesome. Keith and Brenda having a discussion about kids? Interesting. Another great conversation between Nate and George's daughter. All the while, the party is trying to get rid of a bird that flew into the house and won't leave. The bird, in some way, represents Nate's fears, whether of death or of Brenda having a new kid. It's definitely one of the two, and either way, the writing is so spot on that the last thirty minutes feel like something you never want to end.
The episode ends with a lot of relationships close to breaking apart. Nate and Brenda are furious at each other, Claire cheats on Billy, George is frustrated with Ruth's impatience and Rico and Vanessa hook up but seem to still be apart... it's an interesting place for the characters to be, one that they've somewhat been before but it's always fun to see how the writers will get them out of it.