Synopsis by Brian J. Dillard
The suicide of a recently jilted woman hits close to home for Federico (Freddy Rodriguez) -- who continues to worry that his own wife (Justina Machado) is clinically depressed -- and for Nate (Peter Krause), who sympathizes with the woman's boyfriend's desire to end a relationship that stifled him. Nate's misgivings about his marriage come to a head at an art show featuring works by Claire (Lauren Ambrose), her boyfriend Russell (Ben Foster), and Billy Chenowith (Jeremy Sisto). There, Brenda (Rachel Griffiths) officially meets Lisa (Lili Taylor) and immediately recognizes that her massage appointment (in the episode "Tears, Bones and Desire") was actually an undercover reconnaissance mission. Brenda privately reassures Lisa that Nate is all hers, but tensions between the couple continue to run high. Ultimately, though, they realize it's time to stop pretending, and they resolve to settle for being friends, lovers and co-parents rather than picture-perfect husband and wife. David (Michael C. Hall), meanwhile, pretends to be okay with the threesomes in which he and Keith (Mathew St. Patrick) are now frequently engaging. Actually, however, he has deep misgivings about the hookups -- and the relationship. Claire feels none too secure about her own romance, especially after Billy confirms, through personal experience, that Olivier (Peter MacDissi), their mutual mentor, has a thing for sleeping with his students regardless of gender. As it turns out, though, Olivier's trysting partner for the evening is none other than Margaret Chenowith (Joanna Cassidy), Brenda and Billy's recently widowed mother. If only Ruth (Frances Conroy) were as sexually forthright as Margaret, perhaps she wouldn't end up sleeping alone, rebuffed by virginal junior mortician Arthur (Rainn Wilson). Originally broadcast April 27, 2003, on HBO, "The Opening" marked season three, episode nine of the made-for-cable drama.