Six Feet Under: Everyone's Waiting
December 13, 2019 9:01 PM - Season 5, Episode 12 - Subscribe

In the Six Feet Under finale, Willa Fisher Chenowith is born two months premature, and though she is doing remarkably well, Brenda has difficulty shaking her fear that her baby has something seriously wrong with her. Keith and David decide to buy Rico out of Fisher & Diaz, and to renovate the house for their own use. Ruth makes decisions regarding where she will live, her future with George, and what she'll do with her time. Rico and Vanessa buy a funeral home. Claire plans a move to New York, and as she drives away in her new car, we're given glimpses of what the future holds for the Fisher, Chenowith, and Diaz families.

The obituaries from this episode:

Ruth O'Connor Fisher (1946 - 2025)

Ruth Fisher was born in Pasadena in 1946 and died at Good Samaritan Hospital of Glendale on Wednesday. She graduated from Pasadena High School in 1963 and stayed home to raise three children before opening the Four Paws Pet Retreat in Topanga Canyon twenty years ago.

She is survived by her loving companion George Sibley, her sister Sarah O'Connor, her son David Fisher of Los Angeles and her daughter Claire Fisher of New York City. Ruth will also be missed by her four cherished grandchildren - Maya Fisher, Willa Chenowith, and Anthony and Durrell Charles-Fisher.

Viewing will be held on Saturday, March 15th at 2 p.m. at Fisher & Sons Funeral Home at 2302 W. 25th Street in Los Angeles. Private burial to follow.

Keith Dwayne Charles (1968 - 2029)

Keith Charles, founder of Charles Security Company, was born in 1968 in San Diego. He died suddenly at work on Tuesday morning.

Keith attended West Point Military Academy, graduating with a degree in Criminology in 1989. He served the city of Los Angeles as a member of the LAPD for nine years before joining the security industry. He leaves behind his devoted husband David Fisher and loving sons Durrell and Anthony Charles-Fisher, his grandson Matthew, his sister Karla Charles and his niece Taylor Benoit of Carlsbad. Keith is pre-deceased by his parents Roderick and Lucille Charles of San Diego. Memorial service will be held on Sunday, February 18th at 2 p.m. at Fisher & Sons Funeral Home at 2302 W. 25th Street in Los Angeles.

David James Fisher (1969 - 2044)

Born January 20, 1969. Died at the age of 75 in Echo Park. He was proud owner and operator of Fisher & Sons Funeral Home of Los Angeles for over forty years. After retiring in 2034, he went on to perform in dozens of local theater productions, including Weill and Brecht's "Threepenny Opera," Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," and as Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." David leaves behind his partner Raoul Martinez, his beloved sons Durrell and Anthony Charles-Fisher, his sister Claire Fisher and his three precious grandchildren Matthew, Keith, and Katie. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Southern California Opera Association

Hector Federico Diaz (1975 - 2049)

Died at the age of 75 while vacationing with his wife in Puerto Rico. Federico graduated from Cyprus College in 1997 with a degree in Mortuary Science. He worked as a restorative artist for several years before becoming part owner of Fisher & Diaz Funeral Home on 25th Street. In 2005, Federico opened the Diaz Family Mortuary on DeLongpre Avenue in Hollywood, where he served the community for 35 years before retiring.

Pre-deceased by his parents Mauricio and Lilia Diaz of Los Angeles. He was married to his beloved wife Vanessa for 54 years and leaves behind his cherished sons Julio and Augusto and his three grandchildren: Emily, Celestina and Vincent.

Memorial service will be held at Diaz Family Mortuary on Saturday, February 16th at 11:00 a.m. Funeral mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. the following day at St. Paul's Catholic Church in Atwater Village.

Brenda Chenowith (1969 - 2051)

Brenda Chenowith was born July 19, 1969 and died at the age of 82 at home. She earned her Masters Degree in Social Work at California State University of Los Angeles and a PhD in Theories of Human Behavior at University of Southern California.

Brenda wrote several books about the role of the gifted child in family development. She is considered to be one of the most distinguished scholars in that field of study, adding several courses to the Social Work curriculum at USC. She developed research methodologies to conclusively prove the link between deviant human behavior and fetal alcohol exposure. As a child, Brenda was the subject of the book "Charlotte Light and Dark" by Gareth Feinberg, PhD.

Brenda will be dearly missed by her beloved children Maya Fisher, Willa Chenowith, and Forrest Nathanson, her loving husband Daniel Nathanson, and her brother William Chenowith of Malibu. Private services will be held Wednesday March 9th at Deep Creek Nature Preserve. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of your choice.

Claire Simone Fisher (1983 - 2085)

Born March 13, 1983. Died February 11, 2085 in Manhattan. Claire grew up in Los Angeles and studied art at LAC-Arts College. She worked as an advertising and fashion photographer and photojournalist for nearly fifty years, creating several memorable covers for Washington Post magazine, W, and The Face. Claire often exhibited her work in New York and London art galleries and in a time when nearly everyone else in her field had turned to digital scanning and computer-driven imaging, she continued to use a silver-based photographic process. Claire began teaching photography as a faculty member at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 2018, earning tenure in 2028. She's pre-deceased by her beloved husband Ted Fairwell.
posted by orange swan (11 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The episode never fails to make me cry. It's one of the most satisfying finales I've ever seen.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:57 PM on December 13, 2019 [7 favorites]

It's a top five series finale of all time. Maybe top three, actually, as only Breaking Bad and The Leftovers come to mind as being in its class.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:53 AM on December 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

I was glad I was able to avoid all spoilers for this. I watched it probably 10 years after it aired and I knew it had a big finale, and I was able to hold on to just that amount of information the whole way. It affected me way more than Breaking Bad's. The last three episodes changed my opinion of, like, what it means to be alive and to be a thing that dies.

If you're like me, you know that googling something for an IMDB page can bring up all kinds of blog headlines with spoilers, "Nate's death was lame" or something, so I knew if I just watched and kept my blinkers on, I'd be able to get through it with maximum impact. Go me!

Characterwise, yeah, Keith's sucked, but for the story it was the gate opening to the rest. It makes sense to start with the furthest person, bloodwise, and to make it a shock of the light.
posted by rhizome at 2:41 PM on December 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

Everything I learned about how to stay alive, I learned from Six Feet Under:

- Don’t talk on the phone and smoke while driving.
- Take care when diving. Also, don’t be some sociopathic pyramid scheme asshole because you’ll leave your partner and child in a hole upon your inevitable death, if not before then.
- If you must clean an industrial dough mixer, unplug it before you get into it. Merely switching it off is not sufficient, especially if your co-worker is a hapless idiot.
- Don’t join street gangs, but if you must, and you meet the members of a rival street gang in a deserted place at night, don’t reference their mothers’ vaginas in conversation with them.
- Beware of your cat, for it is a sociopath.
- Don’t sign up to fight the U.S.A.’s pathological wars, for the military will chew you up and spit you out.
- When out celebrating your recent divorce, take care not to behave with *too* much joyous abandon.
- If you’re not prepared to be a responsible gun owner, don’t buy a gun. Better yet, don’t buy one at all.
- Don’t bore your spouse beyond the limits of human endurance.
- Don’t live next to a golf course.
- If you must snort coke because you’re excited about the premiere of your B horror movie, maybe be satisfied with just one hit.
- If your football coach tries to run you in sweltering heat without even giving you a chance to hydrate, tell him to fuck off. It’s just a game.
- When eating alone, chew and swallow with care.
- Bad things happen to drunken assholes, and no one particularly cares.
- If you must engage in auto-erotic asphyxiation, bite down on that lemon wedge like death.
- Take care when riding a motorbike to your job as a mall Santa. There’s more traffic involved then there is when one is arriving by flying reindeer sleigh.
- Don’t irritate your nursing home roommate beyond the limits of human endurance. Even bed-ridden octogenarians have their breaking points.
- Support effective gun control legislation every chance you get. The life you save may be your own.
- If you’re a young man who thinks it’s funny to cat call and pursue a young female friend who is walking home alone at night until she’s so rattled that she runs into the path of a car, you’re the one who deserves to get hit by a car.
- Take care when driving around California’s canyons, especially if your spouse is going to assume you’ve abandoned them and not look for you.
- If you’ve had a deviated septum corrected and/or a nose job, ask your doctor to check whether there is scar tissue pressing on an artery.
- If you are deathly allergic to bee stings, be sure to carry an Epi-Pen with you anywhere there might be bees.
- If you must be a serial killer, be smart from the very beginning… or at least commit your monstrous crimes in jurisdictions that don’t have capital punishment.
- When dropping acid, try to bear in mind that you can’t fly.
- Even if you think the Rapture is about to take place, it’s important to remain mindful of traffic and other ordinary hazards, at least until you are actually in the air.
- When having a sleepover, be sure to moderate your amusement over any juvenile pranks you play, as falling off your bed laughing can kill you.
- Take care when showering, especially if you’re drunk.
- If you are experiencing adverse medical symptoms, especially those involving growing lumps, get to a doctor as soon as you can.
- Secure your bookcases, or at least use a step stool to retrieve items from the top shelf.
- Binge drinking can kill you.
- It’s important not to let the distractions of modern life interfere with safe driving.
- If you should get trapped in a malfunctioning elevator, stay where you are until you are rescued. Despite what you have seen in TV and movies, elevators never plunge and people only get killed when they try to force their way out of them.
- When operating a car, it is important to remember that it is a heavy and dangerous piece of machinery and not to pull any careless little stunts when driving it, such as leaning out to pick up one's newspaper.
- If you are feeling suicidal, seek out help. This goes double for anyone who is responsible for the care of a child.
- If you're diabetic, take your dietary restrictions seriously, even if your family is so insensitive as to to plan a meal that you can't eat too.
- Watch out for cliffs when hiking.
- Don't take risks when roller blading. Those things don't have brakes.
- If you're in a natural setting where there are cougars, watch out for cougars.
posted by orange swan at 6:05 PM on December 14, 2019 [11 favorites]

Thanks for taking us through the series, orange swan. It was a nice re-visit for me!
posted by sundrop at 11:11 AM on December 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

First time for me. Very glad I saw this.
posted by kingless at 1:36 PM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is still my favorite series finale ever. To this day I tear up whenever I hear Breathe Me.
posted by thedward at 8:23 AM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Poor Brenda was just so terrified by the prospect of something being wrong with Willa. Happily her fears seem to be unfounded. At Willa's first birthday party, she looks perfectly healthy and normal, and adorable. And like Billy, with those dark eyes and curls.:D

I loathe Olivier, but watching him coo at baby Willa almost made up for his presence in the show. We see him at Willa's birthday party, so it seems he and Margaret are actually a committed, lasting couple.

We also see Billy looking pretty strung out at Willa's birthday party, which I suppose means he's off his meds again. He has a dog in his arms. I guess, in his mind, Brenda having a baby means he should get a dog...? It seems he's basically ill all his life, poor guy, never marries, never has kids, remains emotionally dependent on his older sister. Brenda's death is hilarious, because she spent her entire life taking care of Billy and he finally just plain wore her out. I can't quite make out what he's nattering about in her death scene, but I did hear "I expected some kind of response, some kind of an emotional response", and "I heard from Ted", and the words "emotional closure", which means he's still pining after Claire -- 46 years after they broke up, for crying out loud.

More bitching from Rico when he doesn't get his way about being bought out (at first). How anyone puts up with that guy, I don't know. Vanessa has to cater to him so much. She's too good for him. Anyway, the Diazes are off to a good start in life -- Rico is only 31 when the show ends -- and they remain in touch with the Fishers, as we see them at David's wedding.

David should have told Durrell and Anthony the truth about why he needed to move back to his mother's place. Those kids need the security of being able to trust what their parents say. Fortunately, the separation wasn't for long.

Keith is such an awesome partner. It was so incredibly good of him to support David by putting his money into Fisher & Sons and moving into David's family home -- though he's right about that house being a great house. It's beautiful and spacious, and the renovations looked amazing (Keith has killer taste). Now the business is all David's and he can run it the way he wants, and David's working from home will also make life easier for them as a family.

Ruth was remarkably placid about being ousted from her home at such short notice. I hope Sarah was fine with simply being moved in upon. Ruth's business idea was actually a good one. Her doggie daycare would be relatively easy work, suitable for a woman of nearly 60, and for someone who loves being loved and needed so much, dogs would be a good fit. And she does love dogs. I think David or Nate commented that the Fishers had a dog years back, but after it died Ruth would never let them get another as she was too heartbroken.

Margaret was her usual asshole self with that crack about Ruth dressing like it's still the fifties, but then interestingly, we see Ruth weeding out her clothes afterwards and telling George she's spent years wearing clothes she hates, and her clothes in the subsequent scenes are different from what we've seen her in during the run of the show -- looser and more modern, and at David's wedding, she wears a lovely and contemporary-looking suit.

Nate had big hair and started a new wave band with his friends back in the 80s, because of course he did, even though he can't sing.

Claire gets her photography mojo back by taking pictures of Ted naked. Admittedly, it would be hard for a woman to not feel inspired by the sight of a naked Chris Messina.

It didn't make a lot of sense to me that Claire would buy a new car for her drive to New York -- is she even going to be able to afford a car there? -- but I get that having her family drop her off at the airport wouldn't have had the same dramatic effect. And holy shit, is she taking a leap in moving to New York where she knows no one, as a college drop out, and without a job offer. She's 22 and has never supported herself. But she does have her trust fund, which should give her some time to get on her feet, and I bet Olivier could and would put her in touch with some of his contacts.

Given how much we know about the characters' futures, it's fun to think about where they are now, in 2019, fourteen years after the end of the show. They're pretty much all right where we left them.

Ruth is 73, and still living with Sarah, dating George, and running her doggie daycare.

Brenda is 50, and would have been with her husband Daniel for over 10 years. Maya would be 17, Willa 14, and Forrest would be somewhere in the 9-11 range. Brenda would probably have her PhD, have established herself in her career, and have written one of her books by now.

David and Keith are 50 and 51, and Durrell and Anthony would be 26/27 and 23. David is running Fisher & Sons, and Keith has likely founded Charles Security by now. They are legally married, yay! I don't know if the marriage ceremony we saw would have been a legal one. It's *possible* they might have gotten married in the five-month window in which California had gay marriage in 2008, but Willa looks more like she's four or five in the wedding scene than as though she's three, so I'm thinking they would have had just a religious ceremony circa 2009 or 2010. But then if so, they could always have had a legal ceremony in 2013. I am wondering if Durrell hasn't joined Fisher & Sons, given that we see David explaining the embalming process to Durrell, and then we see Durrell standing at the back with David during Ruth's funeral. I would love to know if Fisher & Sons continued to the next generation, but there's no indication of it in the obituaries after Keith's. Anthony is gay and is shown holding hands with his partner, and Durrell is shown with his wife and son, who would be the Matthew named in Keith's obituary.

Keith's death is just awful, but then we subsequently get that moment when David sees the young Keith he fell in love with just before he dies. He went on with his life after Keith died, and found a new partner, but Keith was the love of his life.

Claire is 36, is an established and successful photographer, and has been teaching photography at NYU for a year. She won't get back with Ted until after her mother's death in 2025, twenty years after she left for New York, but I'm sure she hasn't/won't spend those twenty years celibate. And she has over 65 years still to live, which is impressive given her habitual drug use. There's no mention of her nieces and nephews in her obituary, which may mean she outlived them, though she would surely have grand nieces and nephews.

I have such an undying love for Sia's "Breathe Me". Such a poetic and poignant song, made all the more so by its association with this show.

And here's Vulture's "The Oral History of the Six Feet Under Finale’s Death Montage", which is a fun read. Lauren Ambrose says she still cries when she hears "Breathe Me" during yoga class.

This really is a show of calibre, worth the effort of documenting. The writing and acting are excellent. There were a few missteps by the writers. Lisa getting murdered by her sister’s husband, with whom she was supposedly having an affair, was ridiculous. I hated the Good Republican trope, as represented by Ted. And Ruth marrying George after knowing him 40 days, and claiming she has spent the entire 500K Nathaniel left her, when the numbers provided indicate she has only spent about 200K, was absurd. Also Nate getting back with Brenda... guys like him don't tend to go back to failed relationships because it's too easy for them to just find someone else. But then he was not quite back on track after his wife's death, so I suppose one could see it as the kind of hare-brained impulsive decision he tended to make compounded by grief, rather than a unrealistic mechanation on the part of the writers designed to keep Rachel Griffiths part of the story.

Creating posts for this rewatch has been a disappointing endeavour for me. I never got the kind of discussions I was hoping would happen. In most of the episode threads there are fewer than three comments, and in many there is just one, from me. Sigh. Oh well, I suppose it's a good thing for the site that the entire show is now in the Fanfare database for anyone who cares to watch on their own, with the reviews linked and the obituaries in thread and at least one comment in each thread, with a chance to add their own thoughts if they wish, so that's something.
posted by orange swan at 12:45 PM on December 17, 2019 [8 favorites]

One more writing misstep -- Rico and Vanessa's arc was somehow both not credible and boring. I didn't believe a guy like Rico would cheat on his wife with a stripper, or that Vanessa would take him back if he did. There were a few payoffs, as in the scene where Vanessa and Angelica confront Sophia, and Rico's foray into the dating scene, including his memorable night with Angela, but then we also had dumb moments like the dimbulb nanny from Saskatchewan. And the story dragged out far too long. I wish the writers had come up with a better storyline for the Diazes.
posted by orange swan at 12:59 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, and that moment at Claire's goodbye dinner where Ruth teases Brenda about the time she caught Nate, um, eating out before dinner, was insanely great. Those two have come a long way since they first met, and Ruth has loosened up considerably.
posted by orange swan at 1:10 PM on December 17, 2019

Creating posts for this rewatch has been a disappointing endeavour for me. I never got the kind of discussions I was hoping would happen. In most of the episode threads there are fewer than three comments, and in many there is just one, from me.

Fortunately, orange swan, Fanfare posts have a long life, and people like me may come along years afterwards when viewing the show and very much appreciate the effort you have put into all the posts. It has been great fun viewing the show (for the first time in my case) and seeing the comments of of you and others; thank you for all that work!

Along with others, I very much like the way the writers handled the ending (this episode has been cited as one of the best in TV show history). The show is about death so it would not have been possible to bring it to a close without them killing off something. We saw Nate's death bring the idea of the Fisher children as a trio to a close, and we saw how that made the family business much more vulnerable: much more pressure now on David and Rico with their very differing opinions. For a while it looked like the final death was therefore going to be the business: the home would be sold and everybody would move away. Then, at the last minute, the characters change their minds and - largely with Keith's help - save the place and commit to it. Only at this stage - they finally seem able to love on from the ghosts of Nathaniel and of Nate to become more, themselves.

So instead we get a life-affirming, positive ending where all the major characters die - but the business lives on. Not easy to write something like that. The show has clearly had many influences on others that have come along later - I am thinking of This is Us and its handling of non linear timelines or Succession for its handling of sibling relationships over time, for example.

I would recommend "Make it more F***ked Up" - the Story of Six Feet under 20 years on. I like the information that all the writers pitched in with death ideas for all the main characters - and then the best ones were chosen for inclusion.

Whenever there is talk of death, the topic of resurrection is not too far off, and so it is that a a show reboot is being talked about.. As outlined above - it is fund to think of where the show's characters would be right now on the original timeline - but writing a reboot of a show where the original had a perfect ending, would be a tall order - and I am guessing that is what has kept it off our screens.
posted by rongorongo at 6:38 AM on July 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

« Older Star Trek: Short Treks: The Gi...   |  Star Trek: Short Treks: Ephrai... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments