11. Corporate Fucks, “Familia” (Episode 1.04)
David: “One day when your mind isn’t on Fisher & Sons, I will find you or someone you love. I’m not saying anyone’s going to die. There are tragedies far worse things than death: things you couldn’t even dream of, you spineless, candy-ass, corporate fuck. Just give me a reason. Are we worth the trouble, Mr. Gilardi? Lunch is over, get lost.”
Kroener funeral services would try (and fail) to purchase Fisher & Sons through Matt Gilardi for a significant part of the first few seasons, before this idea is dropped unceremoniously. “Familia” presents a more aggressive David then we have seen so far, as he tries to protect his family business, but also tries to not be such a doormat all the time. Already we can see the effect that Nate’s return is having on David.
12. No Going Back, “Familia” (Episode 1.04)
Keith: “I know where you are. I was there. And I’ll wait for you because I love you. But I’m not moving backwards for anybody.”
Even though Keith has just started to integrate into the Fisher family, he’s already more open with them about his sexuality than David ever has been. At the beginning of the series, we see David afraid to be who he is and allowing people to walk all over him. Throughout the first season, he is tested about his beliefs and feelings, but the first time that Keith and David are insulted about their relationship, David backs down while Keith stands up for himself. The two aren’t at the same position in their lives quite yet, but they’ll get there eventually and be stronger for it.
13. Brenda-isms, “An Open Book” (Episode 1.05)
Brenda: “Sometimes I wake up so fucking empty that I wish I’d never been born, but what choice do I have?”
Everyone in the Fisher family hides their true feelings deep down, so as to not cause a ruckus in the lives of those around them. What makes Brenda such a breath of fresh air in these first few seasons is how she’s a complete 180 from everything we see with the Fishers. It’s obvious that Nate, Claire, David and Ruth have all felt the way Brenda feels—and will often feel this way—but they never let it show. As we learn more about Brenda, we can see the pain and emptiness that she’s lived with for years, and eventually we also see the self-destructive ways she goes about filling that emptiness within her.
14. The Perks of Death, “The Room” (Episode 1.06)
Nathaniel Sr.: “That’s one of the perks of being dead: you know what happens after you die—and you know the meaning of life.”
Nate: “That seems fairly useless.”
Nathaniel Sr.: “Yeah, I know. Life is wasted on the living.”
Whenever we see Nathaniel Sr. talking to a member of the Fisher family, it’s clear that we’re actually watching the person he’s talking to as they work out their biggest fears. For Nate, it’s the futility of wanting something that he will never have. In this scene, Nathaniel Sr. brags about having knowledge of the purpose of everything on earth—something that Nate clearly wishes he had. Nate will always try to grasp onto those impossible things, and when he thinks he has what he wants, his self-destructive tendencies will often cause him to lose it once again.
15. Past Life, “The Room” (Episode 1.06)
Ruth: “I’m surrounded by relics of a life that no longer exists.”
Throughout the series, Ruth will find items in her kitchen that remind her of a point in life when she was more hopeful, like a toy of Maya’s, or David’s little yellow cereal bowl that she still tries to get him to use. When Ruth finds an old bottle of Claire’s baby food, she realizes just how much of her life is in the past, and that she must work on making a future for herself. The death of her husband may still weigh heavily on her, but for Ruth it can also mark a completely new beginning.
16. Faith Without Works, “Brotherhood” (Episode 1.07)
Father Jack: “The hardest part about my work is the fact that most people don’t want a real relationship with God. Yeah sure, they’ll pray to a man nailed to a cross, but they’ll ignore the gay kid who gets strung up, or the black man who gets dragged behind a car, or someone’s mother living in a box.”
Six Feet Under never shied away from dealing with religious beliefs, but it also wanted to point out the hypocrisies therein. For David especially, the gap between who he is and what he believed in would often be a huge problem for him. David wanted to shake up his church—and so did Father Jack—but for much of the congregation, believing was far easier than taking action on those beliefs.
17. The Politics of Jesus, “Brotherhood” (Episode 1.07)
Father Jack: “Well, religion is politics David. Jesus was a revolutionary, who threatened those in power, and they had him assassinated. And they’d do the same thing to him today.”
While David’s religious beliefs would become less of a focus as Six Feet Under progressed, it remained a part of David’s character. Even after being a member of two different churches, including one that was much more open to his sexuality, David realized that what you believe is far more important than where you believe.
18. A Thing Too Awful to be Named, “Life’s Too Short” (Episode 1.09)
Brenda: “You know what I find interesting? If you lose a spouse, you’re called a widow or widower. If you’re a child and you lose your parents, then you’re an orphan. But what’s the word to describe a parent who loses a child? I guess that’s just too fucking awful to even have a name.”
While Six Feet Under would often find the humorous side to death, “Life’s Too Short” dealt with the accidental suicide of Gabe’s young brother and gave us one of the most difficult deaths to start off an episode. Here, the loss shakes up everyone that hears about it—even Brenda—as they’re forced to deal with how unbelievably tragic life can be.
19. Children No More, “Life’s Too Short” (Episode 1.09)
Ruth (to Nathaniel Sr.): “We were such children when we met. Then we watched those children disappear.”
With her husband dead and single for the first time since she was a teenager, much of Six Feet Under shows Ruth figuring out who she truly is outside of a committed relationship. For most of her life, she’s been a mother, a caretaker and a wife, but now that no one needs her, she finally has the opportunity to discover herself. When Ruth accidentally takes some ecstasy while camping, she comes to this realization that she hasn’t had a life outside of Nathaniel Sr. for decades, and it’s hard to move past that.
20. Rediscovering Love, “Life’s Too Short” (Episode 1.09)
Ruth: “I miss what we had.”
Nathaniel Sr.: “So find it again.”
On this drug-fueled trek through the woods, Ruth also sees Nathaniel Sr. and gets the go-ahead that she needs from her dead husband/her own subconscious to move on. Even before Nathaniel Sr. died, it was clear that he and Ruth weren’t as in love with each other as they once had been. Ruth realizes she has the opportunity to try and find that love she once had, with someone else.