In the penultimate episode of Dead Like Me, Rube finally faces his past while the rest of the characters deal with their complicated present lives. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Dead Like Me.
It’s entirely possible that the final episode of this show is going to exceed the quality of “Always,” but until I watch it, this definitely was the best story Dead Like Me has given me.
- This really does combine the finest of all the tonal possibilities we’ve seen on the show. It’s funny, heartfelt, morose, disturbing, and emotionally complicated. And while the show traces similar themes over its twenty-nine episodes, it’s satisfying to watch a story like this that doesn’t feel repetitive.
- “Always” traces multiple character arcs, many of them uncomfortable and complex, that deal with recent events and longstanding issues. Rube seeks out his daughter; George copes with the fact that her own mother is getting dangerously close to her; the Lass family mourns the loss of JD; and Mason and Daisy are left in an emotional state of upheaval as Ray’s graveling continues to haunt the two of them in different ways.
- And y’all, I’m so glad that this is way more serialized than usual. Ray’s murder was a big deal, and I would have been disappointed if the writers had not dealt with it. What’s fascinating is how Mason and Daisy have such disparate experiences with what’s happened. In Mason’s case, his own turmoil from the previous episode carries over here as we see him struggle with being homeless. After having given up everything he owned because he believed that he was spending his last day as a reaper, he does… well, quite a few bad things. Some of it I sympathized with because I’ve been homeless. Stealing Gavin DeGraw’s money? Well, okay, it wasn’t actually Gavin DeGraw, but I had this momentary thought pop into my head that Gavin DeGraw could afford to let Mason steal what maybe amounted to fifty bucks, and then I was just distracted by this.
- SO, MY OWN MENTAL ACROBATS ASIDE, this show finally gives Kiffany a story, and it’s one that proves what a fantastic supporting character she is. When Mason steals her tip, she angrily – and rightly so! – throws him out of Der Waffle Haus. Despite that Roxy does show that she’s sorry for Mason’s predicament, she makes a very necessary point: Mason just disrespected the one place where he belongs. This is a difficult thing for Mason to understand at first. The dude is hungry. He’s tired. He wants to find safety himself. The irony is that he can’t see that he desecrated the safety Kiffany found in Der Waffle Haus by acting out of his own self-interest.
- Truthfully, Kiffany didn’t owe Mason anything. Yet despite the fact that he disrespected her so openly, she finds it in her heart to still be kind and sympathetic with him. When she gives him that wad of money, my heart burst into a billion different pieces AND WE HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN TO RUBE’S SCENE WITH ROSIE YET OH MY GOD. She’s often tolerated the group’s bullshit, especially Mason’s, but that doesn’t mean she can’t empathize with what Mason is going through.
- On top of that, we see how Mason’s relationship with Daisy has been affected. She’s cold and dismissive of him throughout most of “Always,” and it’s confusing to Mason. It’s not until later in the episode that we begin to learn what sort of state of mind she’s in. During one of her reaps, Ray’s graveling causes an unscheduled death, and a man’s soul is still in his body when he dies. While I don’t think that Daisy blames Mason for this – she has already vocalized that she’s glad Ray is dead – she does have to worry about the consequences of Ray’s murder because he won’t leave her alone. So her reason for rejecting Mason’s request to stay at hers and George’s house is simple: It is only going to make Ray’s graveling more angry, and it’s only going to make Daisy’s life worse.
- So is George going to tell Daisy that she took care of Ray? Oh god, how did she even know that taking a graveling’s soul gets rid of that graveling? And we still don’t even know how Ray’s soul became a graveling, do we? I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS.
- It’s strange seeing the surviving Lass family together because I’d gotten used to Clancy not being around. However, with the death of JD, Clancy starts to imagine a world where they are a family once again. He’s great with Reggie in this episode, who, by the way, is now vocalizing her belief that George is communicating with her somehow. We of course know that Reggie is spot-on in her conclusions, but it’s creating a complicated situation for her parents, who believe Reggie can’t accept death. Both Joy and Clancy know how difficult the past year or so has been, but after all this time, it can’t appear good to them that Reggie believes such things. Are they really going to send her to therapy again?
- I do like that the writers respect Joy’s journey as a character, too. Just because she had a good day with Clancy does not mean that she should rekindle her relationship with him. That was a nice touch.
- And then there’s Rube. Oh my god. It was nice to see Penny again, especially since her own backstory is hinted at through her appearance. So Rube’s been in charge of reapers for a while now, I assume, since Penny worked under him at one point while Roxy and Mason did, too. It’s why she knows that Rube’s desire to seek out Rosie is such a bad idea, not just because it violates reaper protocol, but because it also goes against Rube’s own personal code. Yet she does it anyway, giving him the latest Post-It she received: his daughter. For a second, I thought that this episode would end without Rube confronting Rosie. It’s clear that he knows he abandoned her, and the small pieces of his past that we do get in flashbacks finally give us a fuller picture. Rube robbed a bank in order to provide for his wife and daughter, which would explain the WANTED poster he found. He might have died during the robbery, which is why he had to mail Rosie the money. Whatever the outcome, he left Rosie behind, and it’s why facing this is so gut-wrenching. And then he’s sitting next to Rosie and yes, those are tears in my eyes, and then Rosie asks if papa is leaving this time, and I AM ABOUT THREE TRILLION TYPES OF DONE AT THAT MOMENT. Mandy Patinkin is singing Irving Berlin’s “Always” and I will forever be done.
- What a totally satisfying scene to watch. I was not disappointed in the slightest.
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