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Six Feet Under: That's My Dog - VIDEO

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Jul 2nd 2008 11:03AM

Michael C. Hall as David Fisher in 'Six Feet Under.'
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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.

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Gigi Marie

I realize it's yrs later & prob no one will read this but I am rewatching the series on DVD. I have rewatched many xs but before was always w/ my ex. We'd watch whenever it was on demand. Then I got the DVD's & was showing it to my former roommate. When we got to this episode I said I wasn't sure I could watch it again. I remembered being absolutely horrified & traumatized the first time around & w/ my ex would skip it. But I thought she should watch so watched again w/ her & then watched w/ commentary b/c I wanted to understand why it was done. I did get some insight but won't go into it. I found all the comments below fascinating. I am surprised that so many were so for the episode. I've come to appreciate it. I read another article where they mentioned something Olivier mentions in an ep. I just watched & was thinking of. "All great art makes us want to throw up" or something to the effect. Someone below mentioned about David being gay & I saw that in another article but it's been stressed by Alan Ball & the other creators & writers this was NOT the reason(& in fact they or many of the creators & writers are also gay). I think the fact that David's gay is only relevant in that it's the reason or partly the reason he picks him up. But the real reason, plot wise, is for David's character development. I think what's so horrifying is how beloved David is. How fragile most of the time, how hard he tries. Even before this episode, I just want to hug him and tell him it will be ok, even if I don 't believe it. I always remember the 1st episode when he's sitting waiting for everyone to come back from the morgue after their father died. He gets up & adjusts his suit before they walk in. It's heartbreaking how hard he tries to always do the right thing. If this episode had happened to any character of course it would still be horrific but it wouldn't have the same impact. & I agree it made for a very interesting journey for David the rest of the season & made him stronger. This episode will always be difficult to watch but that's the point. It makes you want to throw up. It's art. :)
Best show ever. I mean the series as a whole.

February 27 2011 at 3:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rick

This past Christmas I had bought the complete series set. I heard good things about the show and I don't get HBO. Plus, after watching Micheal C. Hall in Dexter, I just wanted to see his other show. So I took a chance, mostly because of the case and it was marked down to $125 [Which for a complete HBO Series, is a complete steal of a deal], and bought it.

I struggled through the first three seasons, with me completing them in two months. After the beginning of season four I was still kinda disappointed. Don't get me wrong, I thought it was a good series, but I didn't understand why people thought it was good and calling it the best series on Television at the time. Then I fired up this episode...

At this point I had most of the opening deaths correct. I don't know why but I thought the man was going to fry himself. When the lady slipped and killed herself, I don't know why, but I was shocked. In my eyes, again don't ask me why, that will always be a memorable opening in SFU.

Moving towards the kidnapping, I thought it was stupid and very over the top, but I've never been kidnapped so this could have been under the top for all I'd know. At the end of the episode I was disgusted and felt that I wanted to go back in time and warn myself not to buy the series and save my gift cards for something else.

But man, the emotion on MCH's face of finally having the nightmare end was unbelievable. I wanted to see how the writers would handle the emotion of David after a horrible thing in his life. The writers took this and made an extremely whiny character, at least in my eyes, and made a strong believable human being.

Without this episode, I would have shut the series off and put up a listing on eBay. I hated this episode, but looking back this was a game changer in my eyes. Everything after this was amazing for this series, and it EASILY became one of the best series I have ever watched.

July 02 2008 at 11:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Beanie

This was obviously the catalyst the turned David into Dexter... err.. I'm getting my shows mixed up.

July 02 2008 at 4:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carissa

I didn't love the episode, and reacted badly to it. Which I believe is the essence of good writing. They shook up David's world, as if it were my own.

Interesting that Michael Weston will play some sort of snarky hero on first House and then his own show next year, while Michael C Hall will live on as serial killer Dexter. That Michael C Hall can bring life to two of the most incredibly diverse characters proves his value as an actor to me. And, how Michael Weston portrayed the sadistic bastard on SFU lives on because I cannot stand to watch him on anything else. Sometimes you can be too good at a role, I think.

SFU had what I consider to be one of the top 5 Series Premieres of all time, as well as one of the top 5 Series Finales. Some of the best television I've ever seen.

July 02 2008 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Creep

I personally like to be challenged with what I watch. Leaving Las Vegas is one of my favorite movies in spite of it's depressing tone, and the horrible situations the characters face as their lives spiral out of control. Likewise, this episode of Six Feet Under challenged me by presenting a realistic take of the irrational brutality of life and the despicable people that perpetrate it.

As hard as it is to watch an innocent man get beat down by a sociopath, this episode was a turning point for David and made it impossible for me not to care for the character, sympathize with him, and root for him.

Seeing how such a traumatic event can change a person, and alter perceptions over the course of time sticks with me. In the case of David, he was always a bit passive. This event helped him shed some of that.

Watching this episode without the context of how his life is changed by it is missing the point. The whole aftermath of this horrible event is where the story is. This episode was just a jumping off point for David's metamorphosis into a stronger man.

July 02 2008 at 2:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mr. Beast

I have never been so disturbed emotionally and physically by a tv episode. It felt so different from anything else I had watched that I think it changed the show too much. I think the show's writers didn't realize how powerful an episode they had written, as evidenced by the strong viewer reaction.

Also like others, I can never ever see Michael Weston without being frightened and horrified.

Don't get me wrong, it was an amazing episode of an amazing show.

July 02 2008 at 1:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
adhonus

I thought Six Feet Under should have ended after three seasons. The story had been told, I thought. But, I saw this episode and thought it was amazing and gave the show a new reason to exist.

Of course, I didn't watch much more of season 4 or season 5, because I'm still convinced the story was over already.

July 02 2008 at 1:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BCloud

Wow, I cannot believe this comments above against this episode. I totally agree with the article that this definitely is one of the show's best episodes.

Also, I think these reactions from this others commentators are proof that SFU is what TV should be: deep, provoking, scary, moving, insightful, deceiving. Main reason Six Feet Under is SUCH a good show is that it portraits life as it is: challenging, and always changing. If you're looking for happy-happy-joy-joy television, go somewhere else, there's mediocre TV everywhere.

Back to the episode. These events David went through truly made him a more interesting character for the rest of the show. It set the course for the overcoming of all the limitations he lived with it since day one.

I can't remember right now which episode it was, but later on in the series, maybe season five, David finally sees himself as the nut-job killer and finally undertands that it's himself the one ruining his life. That few scenes of that episode were brilliant.

Loving the SFU week!

July 02 2008 at 1:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pinwiz

This episode drove me away from the series until the Finale.

July 02 2008 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ryan

I own the DVDs for this series, but it's this episode that prevents me (at least so far) from rewatching it. It was so powerful that thinking about it is like recalling a traumatic event in my own life.

When I saw Michael Weston pop up in Scrubs, I reacted emotionally and irrationally wanted to warn the other characters on the show to look out...

July 02 2008 at 1:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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