Six Feet Under: Falling into Place {Season Premier} (6/13/2004)

(Original Air Date: June 13, 2004)

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J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!
If there's anything certain in life it's Death and Taxes. If there's anything certain in an eposode of HBO's Six Feet Under it's death and... death. There's nothing else about this program even in the planetary neighborhood of predictable. Take last season for example (please). The third season was as surprising as David Lee Roth's 1985 departure from Van Halen, featuring the breakup of a major couple, the marriage of the still-grieving Ruth (Frances Conroy) to James Cromwell (as George) of all people, a major character (Lauren Ambrose's Claire) having an abortion (after getting a little bit preggers from a sure-to-be-gay-right? guy), and last and most certainly not least, the death... the actual death... of not just any story-driving one-shot character, but Nate Fisher's own wife Lisa (Lili Taylor).

Rather than stomaching a return home, Nate Peter Krause instead repeatedly beats the fists of some bar patrons with his face (showing those guys who's boss!) and falls into the arms of Brenda (Rachel Griffiths)! Now, it could be argued that it was only a matter of time before Lisa became fish food (I mean, Brenda is the "Love Interest", right?), but, Kemosabe... a year of Marriage is one hell of a Kink in that theory!

The Fourth Season Premiers with "Falling Into Place", which, like everything in Six Feet Under, has more than one meaning. Continuing the supporting storylines we have Ruth and George having uncomfortably great sex, with the now split David (Michael C. Hall) and Keith (Mathew St. Patrick) having uncomfortably great sex, and Rico (Freddy Rodríguez) running to Confession after having uncomfortably great sex with a Stripper last season! And that's not even mentioning Claire's uncomfortably sexless confession to Russell (Ben Foster) about their abortion (F-Bombs-Galore are as close to sex as they get).

The scene is broken and the show is stolen, though, by Nate as he returns home and confesses that Lisa's no longer missing. She's dead! Krause's acting here is deep and pained as he gives us Nate Fisher at his worst since Sports Night! The question of whether Nate really loved Lisa or simply married her out of Paternal Obligation seems to be answered here with the subtlety of Old Faithful! The very force of dealing with the fact that his wife has died, having to pick up the body and being made to deal with the fact that the uncompromising smell in the Van is the woman you loved rotting is probably about as comfortable as a Lead Corset, and Krause runs the gamut of emotions both expected and surprising!

The strife hits a fevered and nasty pitch during Lisa's wake and Funeral when Nate clashes with Lisa's family led by her wide eyed and angry mother (wide-eyed and angry Veronica Cartwright). They want her cremains interred in the family Mausoleum, Nate wants to follow Lisa's wishes to be buried without embalming or coffin in the woods somewhere! Who wins? Would I give this away?

Six Feet Under remains one of the best and most daring shows on Television, willing to balance the surreal and the ghostly with the realistic and human. It's a testament to the great writing that so many elements and so many divergent major characters (Rico is given almost equal time to Nate, for one of many examples) can all balance into a show that can be as painful as it is entertaining. "Falling Into Place" is no exception to the rule as pain and laughs are given their due diligence.

On the down side, if you can call it that, there seems to be quite a lot of space holding with characters like George, Ruth, and even Arthur (Rainn Wilson) showing up momentarily to remind the audience they're still part of the cast and contributing nothing else. It's Nate's show, this episode, but it makes one wonder what might be happening next. But with Mena Suvari and Peter Facinelli (and might I add... HELL YEAH) joining the cast this season, there's probably a lot to love!

Four and a Half Stars out of Five for the Fourth Season Opener of Six Feet Under! "Falling Into Place" gives us some of the best acting on television, and is more entertaining than Geraldo's humiliation at the locker of Al Capone! Still, it could stand for a little better pacing and maybe a willingness to not weigh down the plot with blinky cameos of characters with little to do. Yeah, Cromwell, we realize you're a cast member. Take a day off! In Short... it's a great episode and it looks like it's going to be a killer new season. No pun intended!

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Six Feet Under: Falling into Place (6/13/2004) reviewed by J.C. Maçek III who is solely responsible for this page and for his coffin-dwelling after Sunrise!
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