Season One, Two, Three

4.1 “Falling Into Place” (2004)76
[ Acid trips, elderly sex, a road trip to pick up a relative’s body… It tells you a lot about this show that these aren’t even particularly startling occurrences. There’s so much death and emotion, yet there’s also touches of humor. You gotta love Rainn Wilson, James Cromwell and Justin Theroux, and the main cast of course. Some of the relationships are still going into circles, but I get the feeling Nate is gonna go to some really hardcore places this season.

“Why do we keep fucking it up?”
“Because we’re human.” ]

4.2 “In Case of Rapture” (2004)78
[ Ellipse, huh. Looks like Keith and David are heading for the same old dead-end, Nate is still grieving, there’s amusing tension between Arthur and Ruth’s new man, Brenda is NOT having sex (wait, she is), Rico’s got a weird thing going on with Infinity, and Claire is making new friends, one of whom is played by Mena Suvari. Her entrance scene doing performance heart is pretty damn great, I hope we get to see a lot of her. ]

4.3 “Parallel Play” (2004)79
[ Nate gets some MILF action, Ben Foster’s got a moustache now, Mena Suvari is ridiculous hot (Claire and her should totally get it on), dorky David mentors dorky Arthur, and Keith bodyguards Celeste, a bitchy teen pop star played by the Ice Princess herself, Michelle Trachtenberg (“I will not present with Hilary fuckin’ Duff”). Loving it. ]

4.4 “Can I Come Up Now?” (2004)77
[ The interaction between Ruth and George is funny, especially considering how it’s been revolving around mysterious packages of excrement (!) for a couple of episodes. As I expected, Nate is starting to lose it – what, he thinks Lisa’s a dog now? The new, more assertive Claire is cool (even though she’s obviously gonna crash again, sooner or later), and Trachtenberg’s Celeste and Suvari’s Edie are the gifts that keep on giving. ]

4.5 “That’s My Dog” (2004)23
[ “You went a little Showgirls on me there – not that I’m complaining.” Gotta dig the little pop culture references, like how Celeste is gonna star in the remake of a Japanese horror flick. Also involving are Claire’s art school goings-on, Nate’s struggle to get used to the idea of being a single father and Brenda’s attempts not to end up a train wreck like her mom. Not so good? David’s Very Bad Night. What’s up with THAT? We’re talking Worst Episode Ever here. Goddammit… This is some of the most vile, disgusting shit I’ve ever seen. If it was one scene, I might be able to let it pass, but it’s half the episode, enough to talk about jumping the shark. Hopefully the series will be able to recover from this low point. ]

4.6 “Terror Starts At Home” (2004)80
[ Oh, Mena Suvari’s back: let the healing begin. Did I mention that I like her character? She’s cool. Really cool. Yeah. Hard drugs in the afternoon, “I need you so much closer”… I wonder how many extra LPs Death Cab For Cutie sold just from this show? Then there’s one of those dinner parties that are pretty much the greatest thing about SFU, when you got all the different characters coming together and clashing idiosyncrasies. We’re back in business. And I didn’t even mention all the dogs! ]

4.7 “The Dare” (2004)79
[ James Cromwell’s a brilliant actor; his character’s a butthole, but he’s a great actor. Rico’s stripper is an asshole too, no great acting there, though. Otherwise, we’re in the spinning wheels stage, it seems. There’s this HUGE sexual tension between Claire and Edie, but it’s taking forever for them to do something about it, and when you think that… Ah Come ON! What’s with the teasing! In other news: Trachtenberg! Celeste is going to a gay club “to get worshipped by the fags”! Then there’s the glorious return of Patty Clarkson – and Kathy Bates! Likey likey. ]

4.8 “Coming and Going” (2004)82
[ I love the Trachtenberg (“I don’t get fucked in the ass”) and the Suvari (“Watch me, I’m gonna cum for you.”) so, so much, Maybe I’m just lonely, but these girls are driving me nuts. Or maybe I’m hanging on to their intensity so I don’t have to linger on the unavoidable misery the Fishers keep plunging into. I mean, there’s no way Ruth’s marriage will last, David hasn’t gotten over the Worst Episode Ever, Nate still has unresolved issues around Lisa and Claire… Well, Claire can’t be happy too long, can she? Meanwhile, the Rico double-dipping finally pays off: Latina catfight! ]

4.9 “Grinding the Corn” (2004)76
[ Comic book guys! Kathy Bates! Jeremy Sisto! Nate and Brenda’s relationship remains screwy after all those years, as does David and Keith’s… It still gets to me emotionally, and I guess it’s true to life that all we ever do is go through the same bullshit over and over. Kinda depressing, though. ]

4.10 “The Black Forest” (2004)74
[ Things are settling – that doesn’t sound right, does it? As if this show ever ends a season with people finding some kind of peace! The only character whose happiness seems genuine and lasting is Maya, Nate’s adorable 2 year old. I don’t think you can talk of acting with a kid this young, but she’s really good. ]

4.11 “Bomb Shelter” (2004)75
[ Ha! The settling didn’t even last all of last episode. David’s got rage issues, Claire’s smoking a little too much weed, George thinks the end of the world is near, Nate’s torn between Brenda and Lisa’s family… I’m afraid the last episode is gonna be awful hard on everyone.

“But this is what life is, right? Pain. Pain followed by more pain. Everything you have can be taken away and it will be, you know that.” ]

4.12 “Untitled” (2004)80
[ God DAMN! We’ve been watching people dying and being embalmed for 50 episodes, but these still manage to be disturbing. As expected, everyone seems to be losing it: Claire is this close to fully becoming a self-absorbed coked up artist who hangs out with Nicole Ritchie, Nate’s got his head filled with conspiracy theories, Ruth keeps finding out weird new stuff about her husband, David still hasn’t gotten his balls back (his words) since the Worst Episode Ever… But somehow, some grace notes are reached and at the end, we’re left with some hope that life is still worth living. Good show. ]