RESCUE ME 6.2: Change (Turn and Face the Strain)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: RESCUE ME’s Tommy Gavin is gonna stop drinking. This time for real. Why are you laughing? Oh, right, this is Tommy Gavin we’re talking about. How many times have we heard those exact same words? And we viewers have only known Tommy for a few years. Imagine how often his friends and family have heard that one!

Yep, this week’s RESCUE ME represented yet another attempt by Tommy (Denis Leary) to climb aboard the wagon and stay on it for more than a few weeks. “I’m living in the moment,” he told Mickey (Robert John Burke). “I’m making some positive changes.” Unsurprisingly, his announcement was met with peals of laughter by his firehouse buddies. But Tommy was (mostly) sincere with his “making amends stimulus package”; after all, he did have a gun pointed at his head. Last week, Uncle Teddy (Lenny Clarke) promised to finish the job he started last season if Tommy strays off the straight-and-narrow. Problem is, nobody else believes Tommy is capable of quitting, and by the end of the episode, everybody was proved right.

But who can blame him, really? Look at all the pressure Tommy is under: His personal life is a shambles, hemmed in on one side by Sheila (Callie Thorne) the insanely mercurial girlfriend/ex-wife of his dead cousin Jimmy, and on the other by Janet (Andrea Roth), his own man-eating ex-wife. Together they give “emasculating” new meaning. Tommy’s eldest daughter, Colleen (Natalie Distler) is following in Daddy’s footsteps by becoming a drunk, and there was nothing Tommy could do about it. He took her to the firehouse bar in a feeble attempt at aversion therapy that resulted in a soused daughter and a bar fight. Sheila was still insisting that Tommy talk Damien out of being fireman; this after spending last season convincing Tommy to get the kid assigned to his house. I have to be honest: Sheila’s sudden change of heart about Damien was pretty much the one sour note of last week’s season premiere. This week she seemed to make a little sense by chalking up the new attitude to excessive worry for his safety. Tommy was worried about Franco (Daniel Sunjata) spending so much time around his wife and daughters – especially with his shirt off. Tommy finally admitted he was jealous of Franco, who tried to defuse the situation by insisting he and Tommy are like brothers – which didn’t exactly help, because Tommy’s real brother, Johnny, actually did have an affair with Janet! With such dysfunction, it was no wonder his worst nightmare was having to face his family. Tommy told Janet that his feelings for her are stronger than they’ve ever been. But she groaned that now everything she does is coated in anger and cynicism and ash, thanks to him. And she hates Tommy for what he did to her. She insisted that he talk to Colleen – who, in response to being told she drinks too much, snarked, “Let’s go get a drink.”

We did glimpses of the old, “real man” Tommy, when he tried to convince Damien to call it quits. He framed the question in terms of being a firefighter or a coward. And that’s Tommy’s world: Cowards and Real Men. Of course he was trying to make a point, so he told the kid there is no shame in being a coward. And yet Tommy uses that particular word, and you know he absolutely would think less of his nephew for quitting. (BTW, kudos to Damien for making his first solo save!) Finally, watching Colleen get into a bar fight with another woman after four double-vodkas, Tommy surrendered to the inevitable. Just as Mickey, Teddy and Maggie (Tatum O’Neal) entered the bar, Tommy melted down and declared he was going to start drinking again. “So shoot me,” he spat. And hey, that’s no idle threat with Teddy around!

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One thought on “RESCUE ME 6.2: Change (Turn and Face the Strain)

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