Sex and love heat up at the Fishers. With so few episodes left and so many cracked characters pairing up, Nancy Miller wonders which couples are going to make it to the next season intact?
Ed O'Ross, Frances Conroy, ...

Sex and love heat up at the Fishers

In this episode’s opener, death seems certain for a precariously perched construction worker. But in a signature ”Six Feet Under” twist, the workman knocks over his lunch box instead, the metal pail plunging several stories and killing unsuspecting pedestrian Dwight Edgar Harrison (1945-2002). The lesson here? You just never know who — or what — is going to drop next.

This is a perfect moral for an episode where the Fisher funeral home teetered with so many off-kilter characters, it might reasonably be mistaken for an insane asylum, and what was going to happen next is anyone’s guess. But with building intrigue between Brenda’s crazy brother Billy (Jeremy Sisto) and Claire, and the surprise appearance of New Age nutter Lisa (Lili Taylor), who’s pregnant with Nate’s baby, this episode highlights the romantic lives of each Fisher family member.

Unfortunately for them, as Ruth, Nate, David, and Claire get it together as a family, each one’s love interest gets closer to the edge, in what’s starting to feel like Alan Ball’s version of ”Survivor.” With only a handful of episodes left, which one of these couples is going to make it to next season? With the many twists of this show, it’s impossible to say. But based on this episode, we can at least break it down and place our bets.

Ruth and Nikolai What does Ruth (Frances Conroy) get from Nikolai? Surprisingly, this prim matriarch claims great sex. Considering the portly Russian florist (played by Ed O’Ross), whose dance with the Mob ended with two broken legs, remains parked in front of the Fisher family television with Ruth picking up his bedpan (and his medical bills), you’d think her interest would have waned. Instead, it’s increased. Ruth seems to satisfy her desire for intimacy with his need for a nurse. Unless he’s smashed like a Stoli bottle by a mobster named Uri, chances are Ruth and Nikolai will hold it together well into the next season.

David and Keith Remember last week, when Keith (Mathew St. Patrick) seemed like a great guy? David’s (Michael C. Hall) fantasy of his and Keith’s perfect relationship (including an imaginary TV chat with Leeza Gibbons) seems more enduring than the real thing. Buried under the stress from his sister’s drug addiction and the guilt of his recent shooting of a hot-headed thug, Keith currently rivals Brenda as ”Six Feet”’s resident loose cannon. This episode we learned from sister Carla that Keith’s father solved his problems with his fists. Now that David’s moving in, unless Keith gets a good night’s sleep and some anger-management classes, it’s only a matter of time before Keith’s rage levels this relationship, a potential powder keg for a season finale.

Claire and Billy Though only 18, Claire (Lauren Ambrose) at least gave the appearance of being the sanest one in the house. She seemed poised to pass over the Fisher family legacy when her budding relationship with Billy was nipped when he arranged a disconcerting photo shoot (and subsequently suffered a breakdown). As she explains to Nate at the end of the episode, she and Billy are on a ”totally different wavelength.” Yet at the very end, as she examines the striking shots of Billy (that he emailed to her) Claire is intrigued. Whether she’s more intrigued by her skills as a photographer than her potential with Billy remains to be seen.

Nate and Brenda While Nate (Peter Krause) and Brenda (Rachel Griffiths) make plans for the wedding ceremony, he asks her, ”Are you sure you want to marry me?” He’s worried that given his potentially fatal brain condition she’s agreed to spend eternity with him out of pity. But judging by this episode’s bookstore browse that started with her hallucinating a book titled, ”Your Brother’s a Wacko and Your Fiancé Is Going to Die” and ended with a hot and heavy bathroom tryst, self-pity is more Brenda’s brand. With her antics (and her book), Brenda is begging to get caught. But more than her behavior or his brain trouble, it’s bound to be Nate’s one night stand with Lisa (Lili Taylor) that will be what catches up to this couple. For better and for worse, the wedding is going to happen. What else would make for such a staggeringly catastrophic final episode?

Which ”Six Feet” couples do you want to see stick together?

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