''Six Feet Under'': George's son is the poop mailer. Plus, Nate is haunted by Lisa, and Brenda and Claire blur their sexual boundaries

By Tom Conroy
July 12, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Six Feet Under: Doug Hyun
  • TV Show

”Six Feet Under”: George’s son is the poop mailer

”I want all deliveries of excrement to our house to cease,” says George to his estranged illegitimate son, uttering No. 5 on a hypothetical list of the Top 10 Things You Don’t Want to Have to Say at a Family Reunion. Yes, we finally learned the identity of the merde mailer, and it turned out to be the motel-dwelling adult child of a wealthy girl George impregnated while he was in graduate school. Proving again that her marriage to George is making her regress to her infantile-doormat stage, Ruth, who didn’t even know that George had an illegitimate son, suggests that they invite him to dinner. Just say no if he offers to bring something, OK, Ruth?

Though the sudden appearance of a long-lost child usually signals that a soap opera (whether daytime or nighttime) is spinning out of control, this episode, the first one this season written by ”6FU” creator Alan Ball, is an outrageous keeper. The stiff o’ the week, in a trademark switcheroo, is a creepy old man who frightens an unescorted woman in an elevator before going outside and getting zapped by lightning. He turns out to be the father of Jennifer, David’s fiancée from his closeted days. Before the funeral, she viciously and homophobically attacks David for lying to her (”You make me sick!”), but her father’s successful internment eventually helps her and David close the casket on their relationship.

For some reason, that makes David decide he doesn’t care that boyfriend Keith is passing for straight in his new job as a bodyguard for bitchy teen popster Celeste (played by Michelle Trachtenberg, little Dawn from ”Buffy”). Keith says he’s actually enjoying being considered hetero by his colleagues, who keep dropping the kind of antigay slurs that would have made Keith, back in his L.A. cop days, go all Rodney King on them.

In more good news for gays and lesbians, Claire’s date with her art-school crush Jimmy fizzles when it turns out he expects her to provide step-by-step instructions during sex. Claire’s lipstick lesbian classmate Edie (Mena Suvari, of Ball’s ”American Beauty”) tells her that’s why women are better and suggests Claire may never have had an orgasm and offers to show her how to masturbate and probably says some other hot stuff but I dropped my notepad at that point. Though Ball seems to be tightening some loose plotlines (sugar daddy Rico is getting sick of being a sucker for his stripper girlfriend), we can be pretty sure this tease will drag out for a few more episodes.

Brenda, on the other hand, seems to have happily ended her brief experiment with mainstream sexuality: Last time, her new beau Joe confided that he went slack in the sack because he prefers to be dominated during sex. Cut this episode to Brenda contentedly dominatrixing him and threatening to spank his ”candy ass.” When Brenda nearly lets Nate see Joe tied to the bed, Joe confesses that this was a turn-on. (Despite her new adventurousness, Brenda continues to insist on wearing a top during sex. Does she have another weird tattoo she’s ashamed of?)

Clearly vying with Ruth for the title of the show’s best submissive, Joe even sits through an excruciating meet-the-parent dinner with Brenda’s mother, Margaret, and her new boyfriend, who turns out to be Claire’s manipulative art-school teacher Olivier. (I said this was a soap opera.) The increasingly tipsy Margaret manages to say every one of the Top 10 Things You Shouldn’t Say at Dinner With Your Daughter’s New Boyfriend. Among other gems, she tells Joe, ”I hope you’re up to the challenge of my daughter,” and tells Brenda, ”Just don’t f— it up this time like you always do.” Having checked out the gene pool, Joe naturally decides he wants to have kids with Brenda.

It seems he doesn’t need to worry anymore about their irregular love triangle with Nate, who, while jogging on pot, is led by a stray dog whom he decides is dead wife Lisa to the home of a psychic who tells him, ”She’s not dead. She’s trying to get to you.” Sounds reasonable to me. Armed with this knowledge, Nate tells Lisa’s sister, ”I went to a psychic. . . . Lisa’s still alive.” Yep, that’s No. 1 on the list of the Top 10 Things You Don’t Want Your Bereaved Brother-in-Law to Say to You.

What did you think? Is this season picking up steam?