Six Feet Under: That's My Dog - VIDEO
Do not adjust your web browser. You are now entering the Retro Squad, where we are reviewing past episodes of classic TV shows.
(S04E05) Originally aired on July 18th, 2004 -- Arguably the best episode in Six Feet Under's five season run (ignoring the stellar finale of course), "That's My Dog" is a seminal installment for Michael C. Hall's David Fisher. A culmination of David's fears, inadequacies, and worries all collide at the same time as he faces death at the hands of a sadistic crack addict named Jake who takes him on a joy ride to get high. The events change David for good as he develops crippling attacks of paranoia that stay with him until he tackles his demons near the end of season five. You can't have a discussion about Six Feet Under without bringing up this episode.
After picking up a corpse to bring back to the morgue, David stops to give a lift to a man named Jake. He claimed to have run out of gas and needed a lift to the nearest station. However, things take a turn for the worst almost immediately as Jake begins to torment, harass, and beat on David.
He forces David to empty out his bank account at an ATM, they buy crack rocks in the middle of a park at night, and after Jake gets high, he makes David do the same. They eventually end up in an alley and while David begs for his life, Jake pours gasoline all over him while waving a gun. He makes David close his eyes or he'll shoot - but drives away in the morgue van instead, leaving David alone in the dark alley.
For a character as timid as David - someone who constantly questions their ability, has reservations about his sexuality, and generally just doesn't have all that much self-esteem - this is pretty much the worst thing that could have happened to him. However, I think David surprised everyone by using it as a stepping-stone to better himself.
Sure, he was a mess following the ordeal and encountered Jake again numerous times in his head, but in the end it made him stronger. He realized that worrying about foolish things like Keith referring to him as "honey" (implying that David was Keith's wife) over the phone just don't matter when you look at the big picture. Family matters and you could make the argument that these events led directly to David becoming so passionate about adopting children.
It should be noted that Michael Weston, a fairly low-profile character actor, made the role of Jake pretty damn memorable. And creepy. And scary. I think his casting was part of the point though. This wouldn't have worked as well if the role had been given to someone more recognizable. This type of stuff (unfortunately) happens every day and the clichéd moral of the story is that evil doesn't have a face. You just don't know. For that reason alone, this episode was wildly different than anything we'd seen before on Six Feet Under.
Following are a few videos pertaining to the episode. One is the opening death, i.e. the body David had to pick up, followed by a conversation he had with Keith earlier in the day. They discuss Keith's upcoming job which will keep him on the road for three months and he stresses that it'll be good for David since it will show him "that he doesn't need to worry." So far from the truth. There's also a recap of the episode which features some of the scenes between Jake and David. Truly a classic piece of TV work.