One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

So I’ve still got Six Feet Under on the brain. Spoilers, below the fold.

I’ve been bothered, since watching the final episode’s final episodes, the flash-forwards to the deaths of all the central characters, by the incongruity of one of those deaths. Everybody else dies “naturally”: Ruth passes away in the hospital; Rico has a heart attack; David succumbs to something sudden like a heart attack or a stroke; Brenda gets talked to death by Billy; Claire slips away in her bed. Only Keith dies unnaturally, shot during an armored-car robbery.

The first thing that annoyed me about this was that, of course, they had to make it the black guy who gets shot, while everybody else gets to live out their full life spans. But there was something else in that shot that just didn’t seem right, and it took me a while to put it together.

It’s this: the armored car Keith is climbing out of the back of is labeled “Charles Security.” He’s the owner of the freaking company. And he’s pushing about 60 at the time. And he’s wearing a rent-a-cop uniform and carrying a bag of cash out of the back of the truck? I don’t think so.

Keith’s is in a certain way the most upsetting of all the deaths we see, in no small part because it’s a totally senseless death, both in that he’s killed rather than just dying, and in that the whole scenario just makes no damn sense. It should have been some minimum-wage lackey who got shot, not Keith.

2 thoughts on “One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

  1. Further proof that great minds do indeed think alike. It’s not only the way Keith died (speaking of which, I nearly lost it when David “sees” the young, handsome Keith playing football at the moment of his own death), but it’s also the fact that he has, in some sense, traveled the greatest distance of any character on SFU. All of the other characters (Ruth, Brenda, David, and Nate) all have the same dramas in season five that they had in season one, with subtle but important variations. Keith, on the other hand, seems to have actually slayed some of his demons, not just made peace with them. He got over his anger issues and learned to be a real loving father to his boys. And after all of that, after proving himself to be, in some sense, the noblest and best character on the show, Alan Ball has a couple of gang-bangers pump three slugs into his chest. That’s just fucked up. That is not fucking right.

    I had heard that the show was going to end with the scenes of everyone’s death, but even with that knowledge, it was still amazingly powerful. I didn’t follow the link from your blog to the article you mentioned, but the argument that these deaths are somehow manifestations of what Claire imagines seems pretty flimsy to me. I’m not even quite sure how you could come to such a conclusion. That kind of gimmicky who-shot-J.R.-oh-it-was-just-a-dream conceit would run completely counter to the entire ethos of the series. And the ending is also beautiful, I think, because it forced me to re-calibrate my thinking on Claire, moving her from the margins of how I think about the show to its center since she’s the one through whose eyes everything is filtered. The montage of photos on her wall makes it clear that she’s the one who documented the entire Fisher family’s history. Besides, she’s the only who’s lived long enough to see it all.

    Is it weird that I’ve been sad all week because of a TV show I watched on Sunday?

  2. A quite belated response, originally sent by email, but now included here for completeness’s sake:

    I entirely agree. You’re dead right (no pun intended) about the football moment, and about Keith’s growth. He went, over the course of five seasons, from being a really flat character (played by a really shaky actor) to being the most sensitive and three-dimensional of all of them. And I totally agree with you about Claire, and was contemplating in the earlier post suggesting that, if Claire is doing any “imagining,” it’s in reliving her youth from the perspective of her death — as if the entire five seasons up until that point had been an extended flashback from this very moment…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *