This week’s RESCUE ME offered three knock-down fights the likes of which you probably have never seen before: a drunken brawl at an AA meeting; two firemen tangling in an alley; and a father forcibly baptizing his daughter in the waters of their mutual addiction.
After the horrifying bender that very nearly resulted in his daughter’s death, and then seeing a reckless drunken woman kill her daughter in a car wreck and walk away, Tommy (Denis Leary) decided he needed take drastic action to get his daughter Colleen (Natalie Distler) off the sauce before he loses another child. The problem, however, as Janet (Andrea Roth) observed: “She’s young, dumb, and a Gavin.”
Tommy let Mickey (Robert John Burke) take him to a new AA meeting – which turned out to be run by his sister Maggie (Tatum O’Neal). And not long after it started, a drunken Uncle Teddy (Lennie Clarke) dragged a soused Colleen into meeting – both of them toting drinks in their hands! Teddy and Mickey turned on Tommy, who lashed out until the whole thing devolved into a fight – complete with Maggie restraining her boozehound niece from fleeing.
As messed as Tommy is, it is important to note that RESCUE ME never loses sight of how brave and heroic firefighters are, and what a tough job they have. I thought of that as Tommy fruitlessly tried to save that child with the broken neck. “We can’t save everyone,” Lou (John Scurti) told him. When the next alarm sounded, Tommy froze. He actually told Needles that he was thinking of walking away. Needles tried to be supportive and encouraging — until he wasn’t. In the megamacho world of the firefighters, there are only “real men” and “cowards.” (Recall how Tommy himself regarded his nephew Damian as a coward when he briefly questioned his commitment to the job.) Even Franco (Daniel Sunjata) started calling Tommy a wimp, and BlackShawn (Larenz Tate), of all people, defended him – to the point of getting into a no-holds-barred fistfight with the boxer. Interestingly, when it was all said and done, Shawn walked away, and Franco didn’t.
In crisis, Tommy went to talk to Father Phil (Peter Gallagher), and the plain-talking priest called him a coward. Phil noted that Tommy is not afraid of fire, so he must be afraid of karma. Yes, the priest believes in karma, in good deeds done. He doesn’t deal in heaven and hell: “I run a practical parish.” Phil figures that ever since 9/11, Tommy has been indulging in serious boozing and womanizing, and relying on saving people from fires to balance the karmic scales. But lately Tommy must be thinking that his saves are not outweighing his bad deeds. Tommy later dragged Colleen to Father Phil’s, but nothing the man of the cloth could say got through to her. Colleen declared that life is no fun without booze, giving Distler another chance to emote at length. It’s just too bad that all of Col’s big scenes throughout the run of this series have been when she pontificates about her lousy life choices. At his wit’s end, Tommy handcuffed Colleen – kicking and screaming and clawing and spitting like a hellcat – to the altar and filled the baptismal font with booze. “After you leave here you can do whatever you want for the rest of your life” as he spat at her. Then he dragged her to the tank and dunked her head under the alcohol-tainted water. “Do you reject Satan?” he demanded, mimicking the baptismal scene at the end of The Godfather. When Phil showed up, Tommy enlisted the priest, who tried to remember the words from the scene as best he could while Tommy drowned his daughter! Well, he didn’t intend to drown her, it just kind of happened. Luckily, he was able to revive her. Then he surrendered himself to police custody. Was Tommy officially surrendering custody of his daughter to the demon in the bottle…?