Six Feet Under: The Last Time
August 7, 2019 10:50 AM - Season 2, Episode 13 - Subscribe

Aaron Buchbinder, the cancer patient Nate had been visiting, dies, and Nate accompanies his body to the crematorium as requested, then schedules his long-postponed embolism, and takes care of some other neglected business. Keith surrenders Taylor to the care of his parents and is too wrapped up in his own problems to be there for David. A government inspection finds that Fisher & Sons needs an expensive drainage upgrade, and Rico seizes the opportunity to make Nate and David a business proposition. Claire has her art school interview. Ruth quits the flower business to become a more involved grandmother. Brenda gives group therapy a shot. And Nate heads into surgery.

The obituary for this episode:

Aaron Buchbinder (1976 - 2002)

Aaron Buchbinder finally died after an unbearably long illness that clearly lingered well past the boundaries of familial obligation. Aaron graduated from a very expensive Ivy league school and drove a very expensive car and liked to eat at very expensive restaurants with very expensive escorts, none of which matters now that he's dead. He is survived by no one of importance and several acquaintances. Before illness struck him down in the prime of life, Aaron had a lot more fun and a lot more friends. No services will be held.
posted by orange swan (2 comments total)
Aaron is a hard and bitter guy. The "unbearably long illness that clearly lingered well past the boundaries of familial obligation" bit in his obit seems like a stab at his family, but as he told Nate in a previous episode, Aaron told his family to stop coming to the hospice. I get the sense that he realized once he was terminally ill that he wanted better, more meaningful relationships with others and more meaning in his life, but that it was too late to have that, and he wasn't settling for any lesser imitations, and of course, he was only 25 or 26, which would be a shit deal no matter how well he had spent his life. As someone who basically has no primary relationships, I get that. I often think of how if I spend any significant length of time dying, whether of illness or old age, I won't want anyone visiting me just to be kind or just so that "there's someone there". There's been no one there for my entire adulthood, and I don't want any last minute stand-ins, because it won't even begin to address my real emotional needs. Provided my physical needs are met, dying alone can't be any harder than spending my entire life alone.

Nate sees himself in Aaron: a good-looking guy who played around until his clock suddenly ran out. His visiting Aaron every day was a way for him to begin to become the more committed kind of guy he'd like to be. And Aaron's death gets him to start taking care of some unfinished business: scheduling surgery, meeting his baby daughter for the first time, having a mature and reasonable conversation with Brenda to leave things on a better note, connecting with Claire and David, telling his mother about his medical issues, settling business matters for Fisher & Sons. He made good use of his last few days. What's that line of Samuel Johnson's? "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

That doctor of Nate's was unhelpful to the point of malpractice-level unhelpful.

Keith's so self-absorbed right now he doesn't even realize how much David has changed, or what he's going through.

Rico got a killer deal for his $75K -- 25% of Fisher & Sons. There's no way Fisher & Sons is only worth 300K. The house alone is worth far more than that. I would have cut that 25% of the business down to something like 10%. Then again I don't know why Nate and David can't borrow 50K given that they have such an asset -- it's certainly better than shuttering the whole business. Or how Ruth's 500K could possibly be gone. The whole thing felt very cooked up just to bring Rico into the business. Maybe even the writers were sick of listening to him bitch about it.

Claire's little Flashdance audition dream was pretty funny, though I'd rather have heard Lauren Ambrose sing (because holy shit can she sing) than seen her body double dance. I suppose if the show had been made recently we would have seen an American Idol-style audition with Simon Cowell in it.

Leave it to Brenda to connect with the one attractive guy in her sex addiction support group. It might have been better for her to go back to that sex addiction counsellor.

While I think Ruth was right to quit the flower shop because it clearly wasn't a good idea for her to be around Nikolai, I do wonder what she'll do for money given that her inheritance from her husband is supposedly all spent (not that I quite believe it is). She probably doesn't pay for housing (and shouldn't have to given that she does all the housekeeping), but she will still need money for all her other expenses, plus she's almost certainly still supporting Claire.

Ruth's attempt to dictate that Claire and David will go to Claire's graduation while she will be at the hospital for Nate's surgery reminded me of how weirdly controlling my mother became when my brother died. She was dictating who would make what calls to which people and when in a way that made absolutely no sense, with the result that certain people who are VERY close to my family didn't hear of the funeral/viewing arrangements in time to attend them. She demanded that I not contact my three foster sisters until all the funeral arrangements, with the result that my foster sisters damn near read about our brother's death on Facebook (a prospect that still makes me sweat eight years later given that one of them had a total meltdown after she was told in person), and one of them wasn't able to get to the funeral at all. Then, when we were in the town where the funeral was and I had forgotten to pack any sleepwear and was heading off to Zellers to go buy some, she freaked out and started lecturing me on why I shouldn't do it, I could sleep in my top and underwear from that day. It was cathartic for me that David and Claire were all, "Mom's insane; let's ditch the graduation and go to the hospital." I wish I'd just not listened to my mother about her stupid phone call rules (I did buy the pajamas).

David's imitation of Nicolai is not to be missed.
posted by orange swan at 11:56 AM on August 9, 2019

I'm struck by how much the show manages to fit into each episode: here we have Nate confronting all the key people in his life - but we also have the whole plot involving everybody moving along - and Arron's death thrown in too. I am not sure whether the producers knew a commissioning of Season 3 was in the bag when they wrote this - but this episode could also stand as an overall finale: not just Nate but Clare, David and Keith, Ruth and Brenda all seem to get some kind of resolution to their storylines.

Kudos for the funeral home inspector and the guy at the crematorium, for some memorably awful people in these minor roles.
posted by rongorongo at 2:15 AM on April 15, 2022

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