Amid all this upheaval, Schmidt was showing signs of fight-or-flight. At one point he even suggested to Winston and Jess, “Maybe none of us should go to the funeral. The early buzz on this thing is that it’s going to be a real drag.” His reticence was only made worse because the airline lost his luggage and he had to wear Walt’s double-breasted suit. “Look at all these buttons,” he fretted to Winston. “I look like a remote control. … I don’t even know how to use these but-tons!” As anyone with a basic understanding of pop psychology could see, Schmidt was grappling with his own mortality. Or as he put it, “Death, Winston… [ghostly whisper] death!” Schmidt had envisioned all sorts of scenarios in which Walt would turn zombie in his open casket and/or haunt them, and his freak-out culminated in a frantic attempt to free himself from the suit that ended with Schmidt trapped, Cornholio-style, in Walt’s many-buttoned suit.
Winston realized he had to talk his friend down from the ledge, so they held a nerve-easing mock funeral. Schmidt knelt over Winston-as-corpse and began: “You left us too soon… you beautiful black butterfly.” Winston: “Start over.” Schmidt mentioned the first time he met Winston. He imagined they’d be rivals, not only for Nick’s friendship but also “for who wore Easter colors best.” But the rivalry blossomed into friendship, he said, as he leaned in to kiss Winston’s forehead. (At this, Winston’s eye-roll was priceless.) “We’ve laughed… we’ve swum… you cut my toenails. Are you the brother that I never had? No. You’re the brother that I’ve always had.” Winston was stirred: “That was beautiful, man.” And Schmidt FREAKED OUT. Apparently Schmidt hadn’t fully made his peace with death yet, and Winston’s sudden movement had only worsened the fear.
Back downstairs, Jess talked with Jamie and Bobby about Walt. She mostly confirmed Walt was a shifty sort — that he had “a table at every diner in town, silverware from the finest hotels in the region,” and a thick gold chain that may or may not have belonged to Bobby’s father (this spurred a squabble between the Miller boys). Later, as Nick haggled with the cemetery over Walt’s burial plot (“Two thousand dollars?! What if it wasn’t six feet under? How much for three feet?”), Jess continued to run afoul of Bonnie by implying the Elvis theme wasn’t the most important thing. Bad move. “Elvis is everything,” growled Bonnie. Auntie Ruthie chimed in, not for the first time, “Want some of my weed?” Jess approached Nick to convince him to take on the eulogy, but he was in full panic mode. He told Jess, “Nobody wants to hear what I have to say about my dad,” and refused to hear her notion that it might bring him closure. With that, he fled the house.
NEXT: Schmidt does the dip