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Throwback Thursday - Six Feet Under - Everyone's Waiting - Review

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For this Throwback Thursday, we are going back about to a decade ago when one of the greatest series finales of any show ever aired. Six Feet Under was widely regarded as one of the top shows on air during its time, and its series finale is frequently on the top 10 lists of best series finales. Alan Ball's baby captivated audiences with its frank characters and emotionally compelling storylines. It looked at life and death in a way no show really has. When you're dealing with a show that begins every episode with a death, you'd think it would be quite depressing. But not only did Alan Ball's darkly comedic touches bring many laughs, but there was always still that hint of hope even in the darkest moments of life and death that gave the viewer a sense of there still being a light at the end of the tunnel. In this series finale, that light was as bright as ever as the story of the Fisher family and company came to an emotional close.

Instead of focusing on the episode as a whole, I'm going to break it down character by character, as this was the kind of show that was much more character-driven than plot-driven.


Out of all the characters on the show, I think Brenda was the one who went through the biggest transformation. At first she was the mysterious, troubled, a Charlotte light and dark. She was so stuck in her childhood that she couldn't grow up. But by the show's end, she was the most mature character of them all and had gotten herself together. She was ready to be a wife and a mother. When things fell apart with Nate, she tried to keep herself together for the kids, especially after his death. Now left alone with a newborn, everything that she was scared of, all of her insecurities, came to the surface.

After the baby is born, she is afraid something is wrong with her because she was premature and had trouble breathing on her own and has to stay in the hospital for an extra while.  It doesn't help that Ghost Nate shows up several times to exacerbate those fears. But I think those fears really come from a place in Brenda that is afraid that she is the one that is broken, unlovable, and can't be fixed, as Nate once told her. But after a pep talk from Ruth, she comes to accept and believe in herself. After, Ghost Nate changes his mind and tell her that he loves the baby (but really Brenda) and he always will, comforting Brenda and giving her the confidence that she can do this without him.


Ruth. Poor lonely Ruth. For most of her time on the show, she's been a woman lost. She's spent so much of her life taking care of people, she doesn't know what to do with herself. She was repressed for so long that she became this uptight woman that can't even let her hair down most of the time. After Nathanial Senior's death, she seems to have spent most of these last five years trying to figure out exactly what it is she wants in life, spending most of that time looking for companionship.

But right now, of course, her first and foremost thoughts are on her recently deceased son. She's of course still distraught over the loss of her first born. The only comfort she has for the moment is getting to take care of her grandchild, Maya, but that is stripped away from her after telling Brenda she can have Maya when she gets out of the hospital. But Brenda gets out much sooner than expected and it's actually Brenda's mother Margaret that takes Maya sooner than Ruth was ready. Not only does she take her, but she shows Ruth that she's going to be the dominant grandmother. This depresses Ruth further, and she ends up spending her time on the couch watching Just Shoot Me, or feeding David from his baby bowl, or freaking out over Maya's left behind toy.

But she gets some reprieve when she goes to return the toy and talks to Brenda. The two of them, who have been at odds with each other for most of the series, finally accept each other into their lives. Ruth comforts Brenda over her nervousness about being a mother, and Brenda in turn lets Ruth into her daughters' lives and help her raise them. Ruth finds enough peace in this to finally let down her hair and let go of all the misery she's been stewing in. She even decides to move in with her sister Sarah and start a doggie daycare type of business. She's now going to live her life for herself and not obsess over companionship with either men or her children.


While not part of the family, Rico has been with them long enough to consider himself so. But over the years, he's grown dissatisfied with his employee status and has been wanting more. Most of the time he hasn't gotten that, and actively voiced his displeasure. This came to a head in the finale when Rico and his wife Vanessa discuss his leaving the Fisher home and starting up his own mortuary business, or taking over the Fisher business. While Rico used to be a tolerable character, he actually did grow into a very insensitive person, especially when it comes to Nate's death. He puts up the idea of selling the business to David and Brenda, and when David decides not to, he's angry. And when he's asked to be bought out, and David says he can't afford to, he's even angrier. But Keith ends up giving the money to David to buy out Rico, which allows Rico the freedom to start his own business. He finally gets to be the boss that he's always wanted to be and the control that he's always wanted to have.


And then there's David, who has always been almost the spitting image of his mother when it comes to uptightness and repressed feelings. David has been an especially big mess ever since he was tortured by a psychopath and then his brother died. David's struggle to handle both comes to a head in the finale, and Keith can't take it anymore. David decides to leave for now, leaving both Durrell and Anthony unsettled.

He moves back home with his mother and does a good amount of recovering there, enough that he and Keith make amends and David comes home. When Rico brought up selling the business, David seriously considered it. Since he never wanted to be a mortician in the first place, he actually wanted to be a lawyer, which is a nice throwback to the first episode. But after David has a dream in which he confronts his demons, he decides he wants to keep the Fisher business going, along with his finally steady and happy family with both Keith and their two sons.

And then David Fisher morphed into Dexter Morgan. Okay, not really, but I'm convinced this scene is what got him the part.


Then there's Claire, the outcast girl, the nonconformist, the one who thinks she's smarter than everyone else. In some ways, she is. But despite how she acts, she doesn't have the confidence in herself that she makes other people believe she does. And she doesn't know everything. Since the first episode, she's struggled with figuring out who she is as a person and whether or not she cares about what people think about her. Since then, she's always tried to go her own way, but still found herself stuck between being the freak that drives a hearse and doesn't care what people think, and being the girl that just wants to be normal and have a place where she fits in. She tried it in art school, but when that didn't work out, she found herself stuck in a corporate job that stifles her in every way possible.

But all of that changes when she gets a call about a job in New York, who want her to send them her application. She's completely thrown by this, both excited and nervous. It's a huge change for someone like Claire who is still living at home and has never really gone anywhere. For someone who acts worldly, she's actually very sheltered. After talking to her former teacher Olivier, who was the one who put in the good word for her at the job, she seriously considers it and puts in a job application, even though she's afraid she won't be good enough. But when she hooks up with Ted again, he reminds her that even if she isn't good enough now, she can get better.

When she informs her family, who at first act with the typical Fisher disinterest, she gets more from her mother when she talks with her about it later on. Seeing her mother in this state of depression and in the midst of her own anxiety about this move, Claire offers to stay home with her and not take the job. But Ruth encourages her to go out into the world and chase her dreams, to take that chance, and see what life has in store for her. Because Ruth regrets never taking hers.
                                        I do regret not giving myself a choice. 
I won't let you make the same mistake.

So Claire decides to take this job and move to New York. But she's thrown for a loop when the morning of her going away party she gets a call from that company saying they've been sold and there's no longer a job there for her. But she gets her own visit from Ghost Nate, who encourages her to go anyway.

Claire, you wanna know a secret? I spent my whole 
life being scared. Scared of not being ready, of not being right, 
of not being who I should be. And where did it get me?

She decides not to tell her family she doesn't have the job anymore. She's going to leave anyway and hopefully land on her feet. She's got the trust fund money from her father with her to back her up. But she's still plagued with so much doubt and anxiety even as she leaves. Anxiety about moving on, leaving her family, and seeing what the future may hold for her.

You can't take a picture of this. It's already gone.

And then, the most beautiful final montage of a T.V. series ever, set to Sia's Breathe Me.

As Claire drives away, she sees Nate in her side mirror running behind her. He slowly falls behind until she can't see him anymore. She cries. We flash forward to everyone's futures.

Ruth has started her doggie daycare with Bettina, David shows Durrell the family business, Willa has her first birthday party, and Keith and David get married. As Claire drives, the scene around her goes faster and faster, showing how fast life passes you by.

Next, Ruth's on her deathbed, surrounded by her children and George. Suddenly, Nate Sr. and Nate Jr. show up, presumably picking her up. She dies.

Next one to go is Keith, who is fatally shot by robbers while he's transporting money through his security business.

At an outdoor party, David is contently watching people play football. Suddenly, he sees a young Keith join in on the game. Keith stops and smiles at him. David keels over and dies.

Then, an elderly couple, a man and a woman, are on a yacht. The man gets up to go somewhere and he stops and feels his arm. He falls over and dies. The death card reveals it's Rico.

Then Brenda. Billy talks her to death. Literally.

In a home filled with pictures from her past and all the photos she's taken in her life lies Claire on her deathbed. She dies from cataracts.

Finally, taking us back to the present, Claire drives off into the future that awaits her.

And so ends one of my favorite series of all time. It came full circle. The first episode started with a death, the end starts with a birth. Not just the birth of Willa, but the birth of new beginnings for the Fisher family and company. The finale beautifully brought the characters together and wrapped up their storylines with a nice bow, which is how a finale should be. It was loving, moving, and a satisfying end for everyone. Not just because it actually showed their futures, but because it left them in a place that's hopeful for the future, and serves as a reminder to the audience just how fleeting life is, and how we should enjoy each moment we can and not take it for granted.

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