In re-watching the entire “Northern Exposure” series, there were of course many episodes we did not see originally and others I only vaguely recalled. One of the main characters, Chris Stevens, played by John Corbett, is the town DJ, philosopher, and minister mostly for events as he obtained his “license” after answering an ad in the magazine Rolling Stones. Growing up in what was in essence a lawless family in West Virginia, he spent part of a sentence for grand theft auto (really more a joy ride) and discovered literature leading him to determine to never break the law again. Leaving was the logical thing to do and with little money and a used Harley, he eventually made his way to Cicely, Alaska where he was by no means the only individual seeking a new life. Unlike some, he did shed his considerable baggage and often is able to bring a perspective when someone is faced with angst. At other times, he delves too deeply into certain sensations or metaphysical wondering and is pulled out by those around him. The other day an episode was about a close friend of his who died and shipped his body to Chris for final burial. Go along with the improbability because that’s part of the charm of the show.
Chris and his friend Tulley had promised to do this for each other, but hadn’t been specific about final choice. Although no one in town knew Tulley, they all gathered at the church in support of Chris and as he attempted to do a more-or-less traditional service, he halted in the middle, realizing this wasn’t right for the kind of man his friend had been. There were multiple discussions after as to cremation, etc., with Chris unable to decide. Naturally, there were “conversations” with the dead friend as well. Dr. Fleischman did finally point out having a dead body in a casket, even embalmed, hanging around for multiple days was problematic. In the end, another town character sat alone with Chris as he was lying in the grave he’d dug, trying to “evoke a sense” of what was the right thing. The other friend was able to get Chris to see that letting go was his real reluctance. In the end, the town gathered again, this time at the edge of the river. Chris had the coffin rigged to a trebuchet (type of catapult) he built for another quirky episode and he launched it high aloft to land in the river where his friend would have one final adventure courtesy of Chris.
Again, not that dumping dead bodies in a river is advised, but it was a fitting way to say good-bye.