Monday, June 12, 2006

My Review of Six Feet Under's 5x12: "Everyone's Waiting"

Written And Directed by Alan Ball

With at least nineteen reviews up on (possibly more), my delay for posting mine had mainly been down to job hunting and my kicking and screaming knee jerk reaction to the fact I was watching the final episode of the possibly the best ever television series from the 21st century. However I couldn’t delay anymore and hoping to be as original as possible, here are the main events of this more than powerful instalment.

I debated which character I should’ve picked first to discuss but in the end, my first choice has to be Claire (it makes sense after all) who returns home hours after her bus journey and sets about making amends with Ted and finally admitting to him and herself that she has no idea of what she wants to do with her life. I can relate to this plot as I’m currently not in college myself and finding decent, non mind numbing side work hasn’t been an easy task, so Claire’s ambivalence all season in regards to her future struck a chord with me.

As much as I love and enjoy writing reviews for this site (and this show above others), I too seriously need to get off my backside and improve my own situation and just like the people in my life, it’s great Claire has a wonderful support system in Ted, who much for viewing delight allows her to photograph him naked in some lush and tender scenes between the pair of them. Chris Messina has made a great impression in the space of six episodes and if I wasn’t sold on Ted beforehand, then this would’ve closed the deal. Hooray for Claire for finally landing a stable and nurturing man, he really is one in a million.

Claire also got a fabulous job opportunity, as a photographer’s assistant in New York, which we learned later on was down to Olivier no less. Any hostility left between him and Claire got eradicated tonight and I’m amazed to say it but this season has really made Olivier into quite a decent bloke, although Claire does try to downplay her new opportunity a couple of times and at one point even considered rejecting it in order to take of Ruth, which the latter put a stop to by unfreezing her trust fund even though her job disappeared as quickly as it appeared.

Lauren Ambrose and Frances Conroy got some really beautiful mother-daughter scenes here and with Nate at the ready, Claire left L.A. in style but not before a typically fantastic dinner party (dysfunctional as this lot are, I’m gonna miss watching those kind of scenes), replete with heartfelt and hilarious odes to Nate’s life and all too touching farewell to Claire the next morning as she got into her car, put on Ted’s “un-hip” CD and began to drive away just like we saw in the trailer to Season Five, only this time we got a lot of flash-forwards to the future, which adhering strictly to Claire, we saw her marrying Ted in her late 40’s, though they didn’t have children, having a successful photography career according to her obituary and as an old woman dying in her bed and outliving everyone else as lucky Lauren Ambrose got the final shots of the series.

Of course just because I picked Claire, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t spoiled for great choices as David also had me on the edge of my seat. Upon being told to move, he returned to the funeral home in order to sort himself out and he wasn’t exactly compliant with this as his little spat with Keith showed but managing not to feel book-ended, it was wonderful to see the little boy lost get back his self control. Whether it was actually facing his red hooded monster who turned out to be him in the end, standing up to Nathaniel (who was seriously harsh) or even standing up to Rico, there was plenty to cheer and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in being happy for Keith offering to help buy the funeral home and he was on the ball for saying it didn’t have to be a depressing place to live in.

The uplifting redecoration confirmed that and David’s dinner prayer finally solidified him, Keith, Anthony and Durrell as a family. Alan Ball’s dream of family for the boys reached total fruition and the future in which David and Keith (probably after George Bush was out of the White House) got married was a fan moment everyone will applaud for.

Their individual deaths were also well done (both Michael C Hall and Matthew St Patrick looked plausible in their prosthetics) and I’m glad their was a reasonable time distance between how both died, although sadly Keith was the only one who actually got murdered but hey, it happened in his line of work so there isn’t any racist or homophobic overtones in it, so don’t complain on that front.

Other future events for our boys including Keith running his own security firm, Anthony revealed to being gay, Durrell becoming a partner in Fisher And Sons and three grandchildren as well as a partner for David post Keith’s demise. As chaotic and volatile their relationship may have been, the most important thing is that David and Keith actually made it in the end and while David may never have wanted Father Jack presiding over his funeral, he didn’t mind having him there for his wedding, now did he?

Not to be outdone, Ruth’s last ever plot also came to an amazing full circle. The poor woman spent most of her life taking care of other people without any real sense of fulfilment from and recent events like Nate’s death and Willa’s condition really took their toll as well as Margaret’s annoyingly insensitive commentary on her clothing and taking of Maya and in a long overdue self-reflection, Ruth finally decided it was time to live her life and went all out by offering support to Brenda (I just loved that scene between Conroy and Rachel Griffiths in regards to motherhood – Desperate Housewives beat that!) and her ditching of all her drab clothing in favour of the bohemian look that so fits her.

There was so many highlights with Ruth tonight and many of them including individual conversations she had with both George and Maggie as well as a fantastic return from Bettina and the latter former jailed daughter Marci and it was Ruth’s death in her hospital bed with George, David, Claire, Nathaniel and then Nate that started the floodgates for me and keeping with last season’s “we should all be working with dogs” mantra Ruth set up a dog retreat in Topanga (she moved in with Sarah who’s missing here).

Getting back to the very beginning of this episode for me, I was almost tricked into believing that Willa Chenowith was going to be our last brutal death in the beginning and it didn’t help for a large part of the episode, Nate disparaged any optimism of his new daughter’s survival. The various scenes between Nate, Brenda and Willa were actually quite dark but the little girl’s arrival was heralded by nearly everyone – Margaret and Ruth enforcing Brenda to think on the bright side in their own individual styles, Olivier happily singing Willa a French lullaby, although he made a total sap out of himself but the best scene was Nathaniel and Nate in which the latter finally accepted his little girl which actually did make my heart melt and Brenda also went out of her way to keep the Fisher’s in her life, especially by accepting Ruth’s help, allowing David and Keith time to fully buy her out of the funeral home and there was a delightful role reversal during the farewell dinner for Claire where got se got to be a little prudish in regards to Ruth bringing up a previous dinner encounter.

Future wise, we got a celebration of Willa’s first birthday, Brenda remarried and had a son as well as a successful career as a child therapist and the flash forward to her death was quite strange. As for Billy, I still think he was alone in his life while Oliver and Margaret still had each other. Also just like Claire there was no record of Brenda having grandchildren, though her husband was called Daniel Nathanson (she just can’t escape the name Nate) while her son’s name was Forrest.

Last plot I’ll ever have to delve into for the was Federico and I have to admit while I’m glad Rico finally got a business of his won, I found his behaviour towards David when the latter refused to sell up rather childish. Although David and Nate often disagreed with Rico’s view on how to improve the business, is reaction was uncalled for. Rico could’ve been a bit more understanding of David’s plight but he wasn’t and that sucks.

In the end it was smart for this partnership to dissipate but I wonder if there had ever been any rivalry between David and Rico? Probably but it did appear in the flash forwards that they were on some good terms because Rico was at both David and Claire’s weddings. I liked the way it was chosen not to do a close up on one of the future deaths though it made it hard for me to distinguish if I really was seeing Freddy Rodriguez and Justina Machado and it was.
On the Diaz front, we learn there were also three grandchildren and judging by the obituary, Vanessa, Julio and Augusto played active roles in the running of Diaz Family Mortuary.

Also in “Everyone’s Waiting”

No actual death in this episode’s present time, although we did see Rico working on a body before he left the Fishers.

David: “You’re not up to being a single parent.”
Keith: “You’re not up to being a parent at all.”

Claire told Ted she had an abortion while he admitted he almost paid for one. It’s probably unlikely but I did think that Ted may have had a secret child out there.

Nate (to Brenda): “Too bad you don’t believe in anything or else you could pray. This is exactly what I was afraid of.”

Was it me or did Margaret really look pretty in this episode? This also made her catty remarks to Ruth more painful and Olivier also looked thinner that usual. I also really loved Billy’s “What Would Jesus Bomb?” T-shirt. He was a moody so and so in this episode though.

Margaret (to Brenda): “For Christ’s sake Brenda, there’s something to feel good about. Don’t shit all over it.”

David: “We’re clutching to the past and for what?”
Ruth: “Because that’s when there was hope.”

David’s red hooded aggressor/sabre-tooth monster was very Star Wars like.

Nathaniel (to David): “You don’t think you have a secret room? What do you think being gay is you fucking freak?”

Brenda (re Willa): “She’s always hungry.”
Nate: “That’s because she know she hasn’t much time and wants to get while she still can.”

Some small bits and pieces here was Ruth watching Just Shoot Me (I would’ve gone for Arrested Development), Sarah is in Costa Rica, and Marci’s working in a meth company and David twigging that getting to a certain level in Tony Hawk’s earns respect.

Ruth (to Claire): “Go live; I’ll unfreeze your trust fund.”

Ruth: “I’m not cleaning up anyone’s violent crimes.”
Bettina: “Then we’ll have to accept there’s nothing else. We have to become hookers.”

Is it actually possible for Brenda to have really seen Nathaniel? I suppose so seeing as in the past Nate, David and Rico have talked to some of the DOTW’s.

Nathaniel (to Brenda): “Hi we’ve never met, I’m Nathaniel.”

Chronology (excluding the future scenes), the episode started at July 2005, but moved into December by the second half. Alan Poul was a guest during David and Keith’s wedding. Was there any other crew members doubling in this episode?

Claire: “I want you to promise if the corporate war mongers decide to invade Iran and they decide to reinstate the draft, you will move to Canada.”
Ted: “That's not gonna happen.”

This episode was loaded with so many references to the past that I’m going to let everyone else list them out but they were ones only pedantic viewers would’ve spotted.

Anthony: “Does it hurt to have a baby?”
Brenda: “Yes it does.”

Standout music in this episode was Lifehouse’s “Empty Spaces” during Claire/Ted photo session, Jackson Browne’s “Doctor My Eyes” during Ruth/Bettina/Marci’s chat, Peter Krause’s entertaining “I Just Want To Celebrate” and of course Sia Furler’s breathlessly poignant “Breathe Me” during the final eight minutes of the episode.

Claire: “Be happy.”
David: “I am.”

Nate (to Claire): “You can’t take a picture of this, it’s already gone.” – That line really struck me more than anything.

Deaths in future years: Ruth O’Connor-Fisher 1946-2025, Keith Dwayne Charles 1968-2029, David James Fisher 1969-2044, Hector Federico Diaz 1974-2049, Brenda Chenowith 1969-2051 and Claire Simone Fisher 1983-2085.

What can I say? Timeless, epic, beautiful, tear jerking and courageous, “Everyone’s Waiting” was the single most important piece of television for me this year and it excelled on every possible emotional level known to man. Alan Ball made a series so heartbreakingly realistic and true to life, he succeeded in his mission to bring this epic legacy full circle and he did it superbly. I cried like a total buffoon during the final ten minutes upon the realisation that I had to part with these brilliant characters. I watch so much television but so little has impacted me like Six Feet Under. Every single member of the cast and crew pulled out all the stops and if the Emmy’s aren’t tripping themselves over to give this series as many nominations possible next year, I will be totally shocked. Six Feet Under raised the bar like no other television show has done before and it will be sorely missed. It started with a bang and ended with several tonight. Best television show ever!

Rating: 10 out of 10.


Honor Glow said...

It's kind of sad, 8 years later and this is your 1st comment...I would have thought that the rabid fans of this show would have given their reflective view of the episode and series. I NEVER have watched a series that has already gone off-air and man, I watched and binged on all 5 seasons within 2 and a half weeks. Superbly done. Thanks for your review!

shawnlunn2002 said...

It was an amazing series. I'm thinking of doing a series rewatch in September as I have it all on DVD. Thanks for your comment.