81. Let That Shit Go, “Untitled” (Episode 4.12)
Nathaniel Sr.: “You hang onto your pain like it means something, like it’s worth something. Well let me tell ya, it’s not worth shit. Let it go. Infinite possibilities and all he can do is whine.”
Usually, when David hears Nathaniel Sr. speaking to him, it’s because he’s realizing his worst fears through his father. But “Untitled,” it brings about one of the more touching conversations between the two. David has just met with his attacker, and he still feels the pain that his attacker inflicted on him. But Nathaniel Sr. points out that he survived, that it’s useless to worry about the past and that, most importantly, he’s still got a future.
82. When The Big Day Sucks, “A Coat of White Primer” (Episode 5.01)
Nate: “I’m glad today sucked, because I wouldn’t want the happiest day of our life to be over already, would you?”
The fifth season of Six Feet Under begins with Nate and Brenda finally getting married, after being off and on for years. But the long-awaited day is filled with problems, from the happy couple losing their baby the day before, to family squabbles breaking out all over the place. But instead of matching Brenda’s frustrations like he normally would, Nate comes across as completely sweet for once, trying to make the best of a very difficult situation. Of course it’s a rare moment of tenderness, especially compared to how he’ll behave for the rest of the series, but it’s still a nice moment before all hell breaks loose for him.
83. Not So Happily, “A Coat of White Primer” (Episode 5.01)
Lisa: “Oh, please. Every time you try to have a nice normal life, you fuck it up. You’re never gonna have your happily-ever-after moment, no matter how many white veils you put on, honey. You’re just too fucked up for all that. Maybe you should just accept that, instead of trying to be something you’re not.”
Most of the time, it’s the Fisher family members who see dead people. But on the same day she joins the Fisher family, Brenda also engages in these meetings with the dead. While at her wedding, she talks to Lisa, who only exaggerates Brenda’s fears that she’ll never be good enough for someone else to want her. This is clearly about Brenda’s frustrations with herself more than anything else. However, as the rest of the fifth season will show, it’s Nate and not Brenda who will ruin the happily-ever-after they’re going for.
84. Life’s Not a Vending Machine, “Time Flies” (Episode 5.04)
Nate: “I just feel like all I do, all day long, is just manage myself, try to fucking connect with people. But it’s like, no matter how much energy you pour into getting to the station on time or getting on the right train, there’s still no fucking guarantee that anybody’s gonna be there for you to pick you up when you get there.”
Maggie: “Well, I know if you think life’s a vending machine, where you put in virtue and get out happiness, then you’re probably gonna be disappointed. I know that.”
The first time Nate and Maggie truly connect is at his 40th birthday party, where he becomes angrier and angrier, until he takes this anger out on a bird and begins the most selfish part of his own narrative. This conversation almost seems to function as a turning point, where Nate gives up on caring about others and decides there’s no point in it—he’ll pursue his own happiness, regardless of the effect it has on those around him.
85. You and Everybody Else, “Time Flies” (Episode 5.04)
Nate: “You know, so much crazy shit has happened since these pictures were taken. So much. The idea of 40 more years…”
Nathaniel Sr.: “The next 40 fly by much faster. It’ll be over before you know it.”
Nate: “Time flies when you’re having fun, huh?”
Nathaniel Sr.: “No time, flies when you’re pretending to have fun. Time flies when you’re pretending to love Brenda and that baby she wants so much. Time flies when you’re pretending to know what people mean when they say ‘love.’ Face it buddy boy, there’s two kinds of people in the world: there’s you and there’s everybody else, and never the twain shall meet.”
In addition to the conversation with Maggie, it’s Nate’s vision of his father that also pushes him in the wrong direction. Through Nathaniel Sr., we see how Nate truly feels about his life. He doesn’t understand love, including the love he’s supposed to share with his wife Brenda, and he can’t seem to close the gap between himself and everyone else.
86. Life as George, “Time Flies” (Episode 5.04)
George: “I am so lucky. I hate that I’m the lucky one. No one’s ever lucky to have me. Nobody’s ever been lucky to have me.”
In just a few episodes, George goes from seeming like kind of a douchebag, to being a man with a legitimate psychiatric problem. He’s constantly seeing things and worrying about illogical situations. Despite how hard he tries to get better, it’s never good enough for Ruth, who feels trapped by the whole situation. Last season, it was hard not to sympathize with Ruth, but with this quote, it’s equally hard not to feel for George.
87. When Children Become Parents, “Eat a Peach” (Episode 5.05)
Brenda: “So I grew up with parents who had no boundaries. You grew up with parents that had nothing but boundaries. Do you really think that was so much better?”
When Six Feet Under started, it seemed like Nate and Brenda were almost kindred spirits, similar in many ways and destined for each other. However as the final season nears its end, we see just how different these two are, right down to how they will raise Maya. Brenda wants to tell Maya how she came into Maya’s life, while Nate isn’t sure if that’s the best way to tell Maya what happened to her birth mother. Brenda captures the fundamental difference in way she and Nate were raised, and it speaks volumes about who they are now.
88. Doing Love, “The Rainbow of Her Reasons” (Episode 5.06)
Nate: “Love isn’t something you feel, it’s something you do. If the person you’re with doesn’t want it, do yourself a favor and save it for someone who does.”
The above quote says so much about the duality in Nate’s feelings on love. He’s right, love is something that you do and it takes a lot to make it work in the long run. But he also says that if love isn’t working, save it for someone else. The problem is Nate doesn’t know how to do both of these things, or to know when the time calls for one or the other.
89. Everything Just Happens, “The Rainbow of Her Reasons” (Episode 5.06)
Ruth: “You always told me everything happens for a reason.”
Sarah: “Oh, fuck off! Fuck that one to the ground! ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ What a crock! You say there’s a reason grandma lost her legs, and there’s a reason there’s a war and tsunamis? And there’s a reason George-fucking-Bush got reelected! Shit goes wrong because there’s evil in the world, like me!”
The last few times we see Sarah, she isn’t the happy-go-lucky free-spirit we’d grown to love. Instead, she’s a more pessimistic, realistic version of herself. She’s done away with her belief that everything happens for a reason, and she’s even scaring Claire away from the art world, after being the one to get Claire interested in art in the first place. Sarah’s friend has died, and now that she’s experienced such a profound pain from the loss, her viewpoints begin to shift.
90. A Serious Question, “The Silence” (Episode 5.07)
Peter: “Why do people invite anybody to anything?”
In “The Silence,” Maggie’s Quaker friend Peter gets the honor of being the episode opening death. While at a small play he’s been invited to by friends, Peter begins to have a heart attack, bringing the play to a stop as people around watch him die. But after events like Nate’s terrible birthday party and Brenda and Nate’s wedding, it’s clear that Peter raises an excellent point about invitations.