31. Mother Knows Best, “Driving Mr. Mossback” (Episode 2.04)
Margaret: “For your information, Miss High-and-Mighty, this is life. People have crises. They push each other’s buttons. They inflict pain on one another. And once in a fucking blue moon, they bring out the best in each other. But mostly, they bring out the worst.”
Brenda might be right about her mother Margaret—that she’s a borderline insane person, even though she’s a therapist. Still, Margaret is almost always, surprisingly right. While Margaret is talking here about her husband cheating on her (even though they have an open marriage) she could also easily be talking about Nate and Brenda as well, who occasionally bring out the best in each other, but often bring out the worst.
32. Dirty Big Secrets, “The Invisible Woman” (Episode 2.05)
Brenda: “You know, it’s just so sad that you can love somebody so much and have absolutely no idea what’s going on in their head.”
The second season of Six Feet Under largely deals with the relationship between Nate and Brenda, both how they believe their relationship is going and how it is actually going. Nate keeps secrets from Brenda, like his AVM and his cheating on her with Lisa, but Brenda holds just as many secrets, with her frequent infidelities.
33. The Little Things, “The Invisible Woman” (Episode 2.05)
Father Jack: “People might wonder what point there is in leading a life where you don’t touch any other lives. But it would be arrogant of us to assume that. Every life is a contribution, we just may not see how. I’m going to encounter Emily Previn, even if it is in death. Everyone comes into our life for a reason, and it is our responsibility to learn what they have to teach us.”
Much like Nate’s “All that lives, lives forever,” quote, Father Jack’s words at the funeral of the little-known Emily Previn reflect on the ways we all effect each other, even if those effects are not easily noticed. Six Feet Under often showed us how just barely being a part of someone’s life can completely alter your own, from Rico inheriting hundreds of thousands of dollars from a woman he occasionally helped out, to the many people who touch the Fishers, even after death.
34. On Soul Mates, “Back to the Garden” (Episode 2.07)
Rabbi Ari: “Maybe your soulmate is the one who forces your soul to grow the most?”
When Nate asks Rabbi Ari about soulmates, it’s clear he’s not as interested in the answer as he is in getting into her pants. But the rabbi isn’t wrong, as we see this point proven over and over again throughout the series. Brenda helps Nate’s soul grow up to a certain point, then later it will be Maggie who helps him along the way. On Six Feet Under, a person will often quit being romantically interested in another person, when they quit challenging them or don’t seem to be helping them grow anymore.
35. On Fashion, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (Episode 2.08)
Saleswoman: “Anything I can help you with?”
Brenda: “Yes, I’m looking for clothes so expensive only an idiot would buy them. Oh, there they are!”
During “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” it’s clear that Brenda just doesn’t give a shit anymore and is intent on wrecking the current state of her life. Before she engages in sexual acts right in the middle of a store, she becomes hostile with a saleswoman who wants to help her. In spite of all the emotional drama behind the outburst, it’s hard not to laugh. We’ve all been there.
36. The Trouble with Happy, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (Episode 2.08)
Billy: “Happy’s a concept I try not to buy into. It gets me into trouble.”
Billy isn’t wrong; whenever he tries to be happy, it usually leads to him getting off his medication and frightening those around him. And when Billy says this, Brenda understands better than anyone. Billy has threatened her and her boyfriend, cut a tattoo in her honor out of his own back and will later even try to kiss her romantically. It’s not that Billy can’t be happy—he sort of can—but to be happy without being heavily medicated is a whole other story.
37. Gratitude, Fisher-style, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (Episode 2.08)
Nate: “I guess we’ve got a lot to be thankful for.”
Nathaniel Sr.: “Either that, or we’ve lowered our expectations so much we’ve given up on anything better than this.”
In “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” everyone remembers their final memories of Nathaniel Sr. on the anniversary of his death. One of Nate’s memories is of Thanksgiving and a strange moment of honesty in a family that is rarely honest. Almost every time we see Nathaniel Sr., it’s a fictionalized version of the man and how these people perceive he would react. But after this fantastic moment at the dinner table, it seems like Nate’s view of his father might just be the most accurate.
38. What Gay Morticians Want, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (Episode 2.08)
Claire: “Okay, if you were a gay mortician, what would you want for Christmas?”
Toby: “Um, a new life?”
Claire’s sorta, kinda fling Toby jokingly makes this comment about Claire’s Christmas present, but it’s surprisingly on point. David took up the mantle of continuing the family business, even though he didn’t really want to; he wants Keith as a husband, and he wants his own family—in other words, he wants a life that it doesn’t seem like he’ll ever have. Thankfully, David eventually grows into who he wants to be and in the process, creates that new life for himself.
39. Screw the Future, “Someone Else’s Eyes” (Episode 2.09)
Brenda: “All we have is this moment, right here, right now. The future is just a fucking concept that we use to avoid being alive today. So be here now.”
At this point in Six Feet Under, Nate and Brenda both have secrets that they fear will destroy the future of their relationship. They’ve both cheated on each other, and Nate is also hiding the fact that Lisa is pregnant with his baby. Brenda is trying to calm Nate’s constant AVM worries, but it’s also as if Brenda is trying to further convince herself that she shouldn’t ever worry about the future and should just enjoy herself, something she doesn’t seem to have any problem doing.
40. True Vanity, “Someone Else’s Eyes” (Episode 2.09)
Billy: “That’s the thing about Narcissus, it’s not that he’s so fucking in love with himself, because he isn’t at all. He fucking hates himself. It’s that without that reflection looking back at him, he doesn’t exist.”
When Billy tells Claire this, he’s off his medication, getting scary again and allowing Claire to take his photo, which will lead her to discover her gift for photography. But Billy’s comments on Narcissus also point to a fear that many of the characters clearly suffer from: the fear of being forgotten. There’s a lot of self-loathing on Six Feet Under, but there’s also constant worry that the people around them won’t love them as much as they want to be loved. This is especially true for Billy, who has a hard time navigating his emotions and the emotions of the people he loves the most.