Tuesday, August 02, 2005

R.I.P. Nate Fisher

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Today is a sad day. It’s sad because last Sunday night Nate Fisher (remarkable played by Peter Krause), of Six Feet Under, died from a brain hemorrhage. I have to admit that it’s quite rare for me to have such a strong emotional attachment to a television character, but I guess that a testament to a phenomenal series. I’ve spent the past five years watching every episode of Six Feet Under every time a new one was on. Sure, like any show, it’s had it’s moments of absurdity (in fact this season’s odd puppet farm dream sequence was up there), but never has a show captured the reality of dialogue and ranges of human emotion like Six Feet Under.

One of the most real and emotional characters was Nate Fisher – a character that ran the gamut of pain and anguish. In the first episode, he was flying to LA from Seattle for Christmas to be with his semi-estranged family. And after banging the woman he met on the plane in an airport janitor’s closet (which totally solidified his awesomeness to me from the opening moments of the series), he gets a call on his cell phone that his father was just killed in a car accident. At that moment, his life is turned upside down. He’s forced to leave everything he had in Seattle behind him and do the one thing he had vowed never to do in his life – become an undertaker at his father’s funeral home.

Thus began the tumultuous life of Nate Fisher. He started off having a dysfunctional relationship with Brenda, the woman from the airport. I remember Brenda said to Nate that since she was with him when he found out about his father’s death, that they have a bond – she was with him at his most vulnerable. (It just so happens that in last night’s episode, Claire is on a first date with Ted when she finds out Nate’s in the hospital, and he’s there to support her in her most vulnerable moment, thus strengthening their relationship). Little did we know that Brenda had her own major issues to deal with, like her sex addiction and her psychotic and possessive brother, Billy.

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But Nate tried hard to “settle down” with Brenda. He tried to live the life he had always aspired NOT to lead – working for Fisher & Sons while having a steady monogamous relationship. Then, out of the blue, Nate finds out he has AVM (blood hemorrhage in the brain). This devastatingly tragic news ends up bringing the divided Fisher family closer together. At the same time, Nate finds solace in an old occasional “fuck buddy”, Lisa. At a time when he’s most vulnerable, Lisa consoles him and they sleep together. A few months later, Nate sees Lisa living in Los Angeles, and she drops the news that she’s pregnant with his baby. Nate, however, is now engaged to Brenda, and admits his infidelity to Brenda. The two end up splitting up.

Nate’s AVM surgery and subsequent recovery gave him a new lease on life. In the opening of Season 3, we weren’t quite sure how the surgery was going to turn out – and we got our first glimpse of a “Nate Fisher” death title card. However, that was just a hoax, and Nate pulled through the surgery, and ended up marrying Lisa so the two could raise their infant daughter, Maya. But as much as Nate tried to reciprocate Lisa’s feelings for him, he couldn’t – because he’s Nate, and to him the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

But in the vain of the series, another horrible tragedy befalls Nate Fisher – his wife Lisa is missing and presumed dead. This sends Nate into an unbelievable spiral of self-destruction. I have no idea how Peter Krause didn’t win an Emmy for this season, because the image of him beat up (after instigating, and losing, a bar fight) and driving with the ghost of his dead father in the car will stay with me forever. He ends up on Brenda’s doorstep beaten, bloody, and crazy – but she takes him in and they start their new life together.

After a season of trying to distance himself from death and grief by leaving the funeral business, Nate is forced back to the business after David’s carjacking (The “David’s Carjacking” episode is one of the best hours of television ever made – I have never been more scared and at the edge of my seat for the whole hour than I was watching that episode. But I digress, after all, this is about Nate.). After witnessing the suicide of Lisa’s brother-in-law/ex-lover/possible father of Nate’s child, Nate decides to marry Brenda and have a baby.

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Which brings us to this current season. Nate and Brenda bring their dysfunctional relationship to the next level and get married. In typical morbid Six Feet fashion, Brenda is forced to go through her wedding day while miscarrying her first child. But Nate’s powerful seed impregnates her again, but eventually Nate realizes that he’s at a point in his life where he’s sick of all the fighting and drama the years spent with Brenda have created. Nate finally seems at peace when he sleeps with Maggie, the Quaker daughter of Ruth’s insane 2nd husband George.

And then his arm goes numb. “Numb arm, numb arm,” is another moment I won’t soon forget. Nate says it himself when he’s recovering from surgery that “when you’re making love to somebody and your head explodes, it’s usually a good sign.” Then Nate decides to tell Brenda that it’s over between them. That night, he dies.

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So with only three episodes left in the series, and next week’s being Nate’s funeral, where will the creator, Alan Ball, leave his beloved characters? What kind of closure can we expect the have with the various storylines that have been a part of my life for the past five years? Will David and Rico become even partners of Fisher and Diaz? Will Vanessa ever forgive Rico? Will I ever care that David and Keith adopted Anthony and Durrell? Will Brenda raise Maya and her new baby girl, or will she let someone like Ruth or David and Keith raise Maya?

Much like how the Pilot episode of Six Feet was one of the best pilots I have seen, I can only expect the finale to be another installment of perfect one-hour television drama. I’m not sure what will fill the void left by a lack of Six Feet Under, but I thank the creators of the Fisher family for entertaining me for the past five years.


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