It's hardly a spoiler to mention that 6fu's final season, though bookended by the promise of new beginnings (a wedding in episode 1 to a departure for new prospects in the 12th episode), centers around loss and a pivotal death. The scripts contain more than an occasional sense of inconsequential filler, while some of the recurring thematics seem forced (we see David continue to cope with the scars from his abduction in the previous episode via over-obvious imagery of facing his "inner demons"). Other issues receive especially compelling treatment, above all Brenda's (Rachel Griffiths) desire to have a child and David and Keith's (Mathew St. Patrick) choice to adopt. But the real strength of this season lies in several gripping performances. Ruth (Frances Conroy) touches off a complex series of reactions, simultaneously sympathetic and judgmental, transcending the tendency to appear as a neurotic caricature. The super-talented Lauren Ambrose brings off Claire's emerging self-awareness and maturity with moving touches (she's also got some of the funniest moments as she takes on a stint as a temp in scenes that call to mind the hysterics of The Office). Griffiths' Brenda for her part undergoes a parallel maturing process. And as George's daughter Maggie, Tina Holmes adds a welcome tone of contrast.
6fu, of course, has always been about the paradoxes of finality. But anyone who has developed an attachment to the show's unique tone and creative sensibility will have a tough time saying goodbye. Alan Ball outdoes himself with his script (and direction) for the finale, "Everyone's Waiting," seeding it with echoes from the pilot episode that will enchant aficionados. And the famous fast-forward visions coursing through Claire's imagination as she heads down the highway give the perfect seal to this set of characters. Extras include especially insightful commentaries, including Ball on the finale, retrospectives, and a mini-feature on 6fu's cultural impact. It's safe to say that the show leaves some pretty unforgettable impressions in its wake. --Thomas May