Six Feet Under: Ecotone
December 4, 2019 7:37 PM - Season 5, Episode 9 - Subscribe

A man out hiking through the beauties of nature suddenly finds himself much more in touch with nature than he expected. Ruth's camping trip with Hiram proves less than satisfactory, and meanwhile Nate is rushed to hospital, and Maggie, David, Brenda, Claire, and Ted wait through the night while he undergoes surgery to repair the AVM rupture in his brain. He awakens from his coma, but only for long enough to briefly reconnect with those he loves, and to disconnect from Brenda.

The obituary from this episode:

Lawrence Hall Matheson (1971 - 2005)

Lawrence died suddenly at the age of 34 while hiking in the Santa Monica mountains on the evening of May 20th. He lived in rural Calabasas with his two dogs Chip and Pepper and spent as many hours a day outdoors as possible. On the weekends, Lawrence was proud of his work as a Mountain Forestry volunteer and devoted member of Tree People, a group committed to the restoration and replanting of forests throughout the Southern California mountains. He studied Business Economics at Cal State Berkeley and worked as a securities broker at Morgan Stanley in Huntington Beach. Lawrence will be greatly missed by his coworkers, family, many forestry friends, and his golf buddies, who were continually amazed that Lawrence had the perfect golf gadget for every situation.

Memorial Service on Sunday May 22 at 11 a.m. at Fisher and Diaz 2302 W. 25th Street in Los Angeles. Funeral to follow at Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery.
posted by orange swan (3 comments total)
Ruth's camping trip might have been a bust, but at least she wasn't attacked by a cougar. Good for her for telling Hiram off and bailing when acted like she owed him sexual favours.

David was so kind to Maggie and such an adult re: the whole Nate having banged Maggie situation. He was simply not going to sit in judgment on Maggie, especially when there were much larger, more important matters at stake.

I will say for Brenda that she conducted herself amazingly well too -- I'm not sure I could have been as restrained in her situation. Probably most women would not be. She did resort to her usual weaponized psychological analysis after Nate told her he was done with their marriage, but even then, it was mild compared to what she might have said, and I didn't disagree with her assessment of Nate as a narcissist who can't commit to anything.

Fucking Nate, man. He and Brenda have been married for just six months, she suffered a miscarriage at the time of their wedding so that's still pretty fresh, she's pregnant, and she really loves Maya and will lose her in their divorce... and he first cheats on her, then tells her he's leaving her. Because, you know, life is too short to spend actually putting in the effort it takes to make a relationship work. It's true that their marriage wasn't working, but why the hell did he have to jump headlong into making a new family with Brenda?

What do we think of Nate's interest in Maggie? Was it likely to actually work out any better than his two marriages or would it have been merely a way to transition out of his marriage to Brenda? They haven't known each other long at all, the timing is terrible... but I am inclined to think Maggie might have proved the kind of mild, responsible Ruth-like woman he needs, rather than another sardonic, heedless person like Brenda, and like he is himself. If he'd, you know, not been so quick to go back to Brenda in his grief over Lisa, he would have gotten a chance to know Maggie while still single, and might have given things with her a shot instead.

Do educated, cogent, principled Republicans like Ted actually exist in real life? One sees them a lot in TV shows, but even then, I can think of some damn good rebuttals to their supposedly great arguments. They always feel like a "both sides" construction to me, rather than convincing as characters.

Poor little Anthony. Had he even met Nate before? The boys just met Ruth last episode.

David's stunned grief over finding Nate dead.... I think that might have been one of the most heartbreaking moments in the entire show.

You'd think there would have been medical personnel rushing in to the room to at least try to resuscitate Nate, though.

I am so fucking bored of The Rico and Vanessa Show.
posted by orange swan at 5:33 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have no idea what it was like in the writer's room for these episodes. It's hard for me to call any TV "significant," but never have I been affected more by the boob tube (The Wire is different). The rest of the series is great as a tidy soap 1000x better than Picket Fences, but these episodes fundamentally changed my perspective on what it means to be a living person. I think about this and the next episodes pretty often.
posted by rhizome at 10:11 AM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

When I was first watching this series with the help of Netflix DVDs, I remember feeling like I was done with the show at this point. Some of the recent storylines were just a little too much for me, especially in the aggregate, and I just felt tired of it. (Which feels funny to say now because this is my all-time favorite TV show.) So in the interest of getting this show over with and getting the next Netflix disc, I watched this episode right before I went to work so I could drop the envelope in the mailbox. I was half paying attention for most of it -- just doing morning things, eating my breakfast, keeping one eye on the clock.

By the final scene I was literally shocked back into appreciating the show. It made me cry -- maybe it's because I wasn't fully paying attention, what with the morning things and all, but Nate's death was so unexpected to me. From that point forward the show felt a lot more real, rather than the melodramatic soap opera it was becoming. And I really liked the symbolism of the episode's title, too -- Ruth wandering a literal ecotone, and David's dream being a figurative ecotone with his last "memory" of a living Nate (who I always thought was basically swimming into hell in the dream, with the water being so "warm"). And Nate was an ass but also my favorite character, somehow, so I was sad he was gone. I had to redo my makeup before work and I spent most of the morning reading episode reviews to continue the experience of the show pulling me back into it so suddenly.

It's hard for me to put into words how much I appreciate this episode, especially as it's been a long time since I've watched the full series through again. But whenever I do, I know that I'll be able to deal with the rough and bumpy episodes, because they're just leading up to one of the best and most fitting TV show wrap-ups ever.
posted by phatkitten at 5:45 AM on December 16, 2019

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