''Six Feet Under'': Trouble looms for Nate
Considering that this week's episode started off with a particularly brutal death (a woman repeatedly kicking her literally dead-drunk husband), I was braced for any number of bad things to happen to the Fisher family. Instead, a few good things actually transpired: Ruth and George reunited; Nate deepened his commitment to Brenda. But this being ''Six Feet Under,'' the warm fuzziness was undercut by looming evidence that storm clouds of doom are lining up over almost everybody.
David's wedding itch When David started getting all dreamy-eyed about having a same-sex wedding with an obviously uninspired Keith, I have to admit I started searching the sofa cushions for the remote. It's not that I don't empathize with David's desire to register for crystal vases and adopt a Guatemalan baby with his partner, because I really do. It's just that his storyline was starting to feel like an episode of ''Will & Grace'' circa 2002, leaving David and Keith's relationship to become a tired sitcom cliché. So when David got into a brawl with a rude patron at a sushi restaurant and bit a chunk out of the guy's ear, it was almost a relief. Not only was it inspiring to see passive David stand up for himself, now maybe Keith (or the cops) will bring in a professional to help David through his post-abduction trauma, which has never been fully addressed.
Nate's misdeeds When Nate secretly buried the remains of his late wife Lisa in the wilderness, I thought: Nice gesture, but big mistake. And now Lisa's parents have been informed by a funeral home employee that their daughter's cremains appear to be someone else's. Worse, Lisa's sister has discovered that Nate and Brenda are back together. Not that dating is a crime or anything, but you could tell that, in her opinion, Nate had slipped from sympathetic widower status to deceitful scumbag within the course of a minute. Unfortunately, Nate's going to need all the supporters he can find once Lisa's parents call him to the carpet. Even though the way Nate's trickery was revealed was positively cheesy (who checks cremains for ''authenticity''? That's just weird), this is one exciting ticking time bomb. Nate and David could lose their mortuary licenses, and let's not get into the potential lawsuit. It hardly seems possible, but for now it seems the eternally annoying Lisa is more trouble dead than she was alive.
Ruth and George's reunion Wow, who would have guessed that this car accident of a marriage would get back on track? Ruth returns home to find a weepy, regretful George (James Cromwell), who sounds like he's finally ready to meet Ruth's entirely reasonable terms (don't keep secrets, let me meet your family, be nice). This was the first time I got the impression that Ruth hadn't ruined her life by marrying this guy, and that his scientific obsessions stem from a sincere desire to save the world. I take back all the mean things I said about George (okay, not all of them, but a few). I only hope this encouraging turn of events lasts for more than a single episode.
Claire's drug use When photography-teaching substitute (and Brenda's brother) Billy tells Claire that the chemicals at the photo lab get to you after a while, he could easily be talking about his flirtatious student's drug use. It seems like Claire is high every time we see her, and when even her ex-flame Edie (Mena Suvari) angrily points it out, you've got to wonder if Claire has crossed the line from experimentation into problem use. More than that, watching her nonstop partying has gotten old, and her storyline is stagnating. Somebody throw in a plot twist quick before this turns into Claire's own tiresome version of ''Less than Zero.''
Vanessa's Rico replacement It was only a matter of time before Vanessa started dating again, but it's too bad no one informed Rico that his wife wouldn't be sitting at home, crying over his infidelity, for all eternity. Unfortunately, her decision to invite her ''friend'' to drop by while Rico was playing with the kids (a clearly calculated attempt to humiliate her estranged husband) just escalated the hostilities. I'm not feeling a lot of compassion for either of them now that they're both being petty and childish (Rico throws his house key and stomps around; Vanessa defends her right to parade new men in front of her kids). Really, for the sake of their two children, I wish they'd just get a divorce and be done with it. But now that Rico's feeling hurt instead of guilty, I'm guessing the ugliness will only get worse, and I'm not sure if I (like the kids) can bear to watch.