''Six Feet Under'': Nate wants Brenda back
Given that Florida was nearly submerged by Hurricane Charley the weekend this episode ran, it seems appropriate that a fictional superhero named the Blue Twister, who is capable of churning out deadly winds, set the tone for the hour. Most of the regulars either teetered on the brink of self-destructive chaos or let their storms rage (for better or for worse) within.
Claire, who can only be in for more turmoil now that Brenda's charmingly psychotic brother Billy is her substitute teacher, finally experienced her first orgasm through a technique called ''grinding the corn.'' (Let's all forget we ever heard that term, okay? For some reason, it makes me think about ''Amish in the City'' in a very bad way.) But that high point was dulled by Edie's surprising emergence as a vindictive bitch. Is it really too much to ask for one amicable breakup on this show? Apparently, yes. (By the way, can't anyone take away Anita's key to the Fishers' house? C'mon!)
It also rained on Ruth's south-of-the-border parade. Bettina (Kathy Bates) made a valiant effort to turn a sordid Mexican getaway into an exotic jaunt, and the sparkle in her eye almost sold me on the idea that a fleabag hotel room and an unheated Jacuzzi can be loads of fun with enough tequila in the mix. But when the horse Ruth was happily riding down the beach keeled over and got a bullet for its efforts, everyone had to admit it was time to head home. Even without that weasel George (James Cromwell), Ruth still seems to be a magnet for bad luck and thwarted hopes.
Not that George seemed to have improved in Ruth's absence. He may have told Nate he only wanted her to return (yeah, right), but he was pretty convincing in selling Rico on his coldhearted, we're-only-primates approach to women. Unfortunately, that might be the best advice for Rico, given that Vanessa seems about as likely to forgive him as she is to invite Sophia, his stripper girlfriend, to Sunday brunch. A few more weeks of sleeping in the same house as nasal-irrigating freak George will either turn Rico into a card-carrying cad or make him so desperate to return home he'll find some way to soften his wife's frozen heart. (Suggestions: Play the daddy card, and beg until the knees of your pants give out, pal.)
The biggest storms of the episode revolved around brothers Nate and David, who just can't dive wholeheartedly into the Bermuda Triangle all men know and fear: commitment. It took almost the entire episode and one really freaky nightmare for David to realize that he wasn't okay with Keith's lapse into heterosexuality with rock diva Celeste, which we could have told him from the get-go if he'd only asked. Their fight over fidelity didn't result in any substantive resolution, however, though David's having done it with Sarge, a.k.a. ''the veiny guy from La Habra,'' seemed to spark some mild jealousy in his jock husband.
Nate didn't even bother to duke it out with Brenda, instead shoving her aside after sex with his ''I've got a kid'' mantra, which appears to be his noble effort to make all single fathers look like scumbags. Thankfully Brenda (who apparently conducts therapy sessions at artistically lighted nightclubs) managed to resist her urge to leap into bed with her pot dealer and held herself together long enough for Nate to have his own weird nightmare (what, can no one in this family consciously decide to do the right thing?) and realize the error of his ways. Watching him get all goo-goo-eyed with Brenda at her doorstep was seductive, but if I know anything about this show, it's this: No one's ever happy for long, and this can only be the eye of the storm.
What did you think? Was this episode gale force or all wet?