Why are Brenda and Nate getting married? Before we all get choked up, Nancy Miller attempts to figure out their twisted relationship -- and offers the couple some free therapy
Peter Krause, Rachel Griffiths, ...
Credit: Six Feet Under: Art Streiber

Why are Brenda and Nate getting married?

In Sunday’s episode, Emily Previn’s death was the single person’s worst nightmare. One minute she’s sitting down to her microwaved Meal-For-One with her date, the TV. Next minute she’s choking to death — and her life ends not with a bang but a thud as her face hits the kitchen floor. Worse, she’s not discovered by friends, but by the building super responding to a complaint about the smell of her decomposing bod. As the Fisher family kept repeating: Poor Emily Previn.

Apparently, Emily Previn’s solitary life (and equally solitary funeral) put the fear of singledom into the family’s newly licensed funeral director. What other explanation is there for Nate (Peter Krause) to agree to marry acerbic, self-centered and oft-brutal Brenda (Rachel Griffths)? Even her method of proposal was double-edged when she asked Nate to be her ”wife.” (And here’s Brenda’s tip for the ladies out there with cold feet: Nothing like an afternoon spent as a voyeuristic third wheel with a hooker to coax you into taking things with your man to the next level.)

Now, I’m confused about why and how Nate and Brenda are together. But I’m no relationship expert, so I’ve brought one in to help figure these two out and make predictions about what will happen when — and if — they get married. According to Tina Tessina, a California psychologist and author of ”How To Be a Couple and Still Be Free,” these are two drama junkies who have only just begun to create their own history of histrionics. ”[These] ‘High Drama’ couples, as they’re called, have passionate sex, huge, dramatic fights, and major life problems,” says Tessina. ”Witness Brenda’s involvement in this prostitute thing. Sooner or later, she’s going to go to jail, right? She’ll be accused of prostitution even though she just watched.” (While we haven’t seen the dramatic fights or know if Brenda is going to be a prostitute’s protegée, Tessina assures us, it’s coming.)

Given Brenda’s background with her bipolar brother and psycho mom, it’s no wonder she often views Nate as a dolt, cruelly explaining to him she would add Nate to her tentative novel, ”if you ever do anything interesting.” But why does Nate, a single guy in a city teeming with single women, put up with it? His problem, according to Tessina, is not only that he’s a guy with a potentially fatal brain disease, but he’s a good-looking guy with a potentially fatal brain disease.

”He wants someone around if things get rough,” she explains. ”But people like him, who have gotten by on their looks, or who have other reasons for not being able to sustain intimacy, are more comfortable with a relationship that won’t let them get too close.” (Intimacy runs so scarce in the Fisher house that in this episode, Frances Conroy’s Ruth pleaded with her children for a shred of it — which they didn’t give.)

Now Nate and Brenda’s addiction to emotional rollercoasting doesn’t mean they aren’t going to last. Tessina says wack-job couples can go on and on in their own Energizer bunny drama trajectory for years. So instead of seeing Brenda and Nate’s marriage as the end, let’s think of their future hell as the beginning of a whole new surge of dramatic possibilities, with Tessina speculating future episodes. ”They’ll build a life that’s bound to involve with court, jail, hospitals, and morgues,” she says. ”And not just because it’s the family businsess.”

Aside from the Brenda and Nate jaw-dropper, the typically pallid David (Michael C. Ambrose) is rising from the dead, shining in virtually every scene, particularly when he imagined holiday greetings from himself and his new date. (This is also the first episode where they’ve allowed David to be, hello, good looking.) Last week, I was certain I wanted David and Keith (Mathew St. Patrick) to reunite, but after the good cop/bad cop caddish behavior and the introduction of this potential new beau, I’m rooting for the new guy — and more David-oriented plot lines in the future.

Should Nate and Brenda get hitched?

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