This week’s wrenching RESCUE ME took a look at the ramifications of being a blackout drunk like Tommy; it’s not all good times, sex and heroic rescues. Sometimes it’s fights and loss of memory and family members.
When last we saw Tommy (Denis Leary) he was embarking on a bender with the top-shelf whiskey that Mickey (Robert John Burke) and Uncle Teddy (Lenny Clarke) had given him. Locked in the back room of the bar, he instantly spiraled out of control in a way we have never seen before. Sure, we’ve seen Tommy desperately try to drown his sorrows in the past, and we’ve seen some pretty crazy hallucinations – up to and including Jesus – but we have never seen him this out of control before. When Jimmy’s shade showed up to chide him for drinking and pissing his life away, Tommy turned on him and actually beat the snot out of him! Tommy claimed that he had carried Jimmy all those years, and the one time he took his eyes off him – 9/11 – Jimmy got himself martyred and became an instant hero, leaving Tommy to feel like the goat. Tommy was interrupted by the specter of his son Connor – and Tommy even lashed out at him! This is when we knew Tommy had totally lost it. No way a sober Tommy roughs up his dead kid.
When Colleen (Natalie Distler) dialed her Dad, Tommy babbled about loving her. He was so over the top it was almost as if he had drunk dialed her. He picked her up and drove her (erratically and guzzling the bottle the whole way) to the bar. They drank some more, then drove off, ending up at a beach, where he took her phone in the heat of another argument. Then he showed up at Sheila’s (Callie Thorne) place, falling-down drunk. Clearly Sheila was taken by surprise, because a half-naked Mickey was there. (Jeez, what is it about the Gavins that compels them to keep everything in the family to such a degree? How long has she been carrying on with Tommy and Jimmy’s cousin?)
Next thing Tommy knew, he awoke in a trashed home, and nobody had seen Colleen since last night. Returning to Ladder 62, Franco (Daniel Sunjata) accused him of laying hands on Janet. The story grew more bizarre when Tommy realized he was wearing thong underwear. No matter how hard he tried, Tommy could not remember anything about Colleen. Lou (John Scurti) and the boys suggested a little hair o’ the dog might shake something loose, and it did. Tommy’s fragmentary memories led to a fancy building on Central Park West, where Tommy had thrown a doorman through a plate-glass window. Oops.
Later, Janet (Andrea Roth) showed up to beat on Tommy for threatening the kids last night and warn him that he better bring Colleen home. It was heartbreaking to watch Tommy’s anguish as he faced the prospect of losing yet another child to tragedy. When Teddy and Mickey showed up, they revealed that they had spiked the whiskey in order to teach Tommy a lesson; they never intended for anyone else to drink it. But Colleen did. Tommy leapt for Mickey’s throat, but was pulled off the guy. “You have finally hit rock bottom,” Janet raged at him. And I have to agree with her. We’ve never seen Tommy this low and this out of control. It turned out the entire night was nothing but drinking and bad decisions – except for the moment when he dragged Colleen – kicking and screaming – out of stranger’s house before she could have sex with him. This told us that Tommy has not lost every last dreg of his humanity. Somewhere deep down in his core, he’s still a father who cares about the welfare of his daughter. Even though his conscious self picks fights with her and feeds her booze, Tommy’s inner Dad watches out for her. And somehow Tommy was able to access that inner Dad and remember where he last saw his eldest daughter. Everyone rushed to the beach and Tommy spotted his daughter lying in the dunes, unconscious and freezing, but still alive.
Will this be the ultimate wake-up call that Tommy has needed for so long? Will the prospect of nearly getting his child killed be enough to make Tommy quit boozing for good? Don’t count on it.