Tommy (Denis Leary) was in jail following his booze baptism of daughter Colleen (Natalie Distler) last week. While locked in stir, he apologized to the ghost of Connor, whom he had previously roughed up (alongside Jimmy’s shade). Janet (Andrea Roth) eventually sprung him and took him home. When Colleen suggested that her father’s extreme aversion therapy may have actually made her lose her taste for alcohol, Tommy insisted on testing it by forcing her to take a drink. She promptly puked. That wasn’t enough for him, so he made her down another shot; she got sick again. Hammering home the point, Col wanted to try a swig of wine, but just looking at the bottle in the fridge made her toss her cookies. Janet realized his homemade “tough love” may have saved Colleen, and Janet agreed to go to dinner with him.
Things were considerably worse when Tommy got to work: The city had closed the fire house, and Needles (Adam Ferrara) led the charge of guys blaming Tommy’s high-profile screw-ups for dooming the house. Of course, it could not have helped that Mike (Mike Lombardi) and Sean (Steven Pasquale) sent headquarters an angry e-mail about Pat Mahoney dying of cancer after working at Ground Zero. A total of 17 houses were shuttered. Lou (John Scurti) wanted to get inside to get to his food. And when the guys learned that he had made his signature chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting and extra frosting inside, well, they helped him break in.
The neighborhood was understandably upset to lose fire protection, and the people started protesting, Chief Feinberg (Jerry Adler) — ever the political animal — complained about the boys encouraging the rabble-rousing. At Tommy detailed his plan to get himself and Damian (Michael Zegen) assigned to a new busy house, Damian confessed that Tommy’s bout of nerves set him to wondering if he wants “all the angst and drama and bullshit” of the job. Maybe he can make a difference in the world some other way, without following in his father’s and uncle’s footsteps. Tommy seemed angry, but had to secretly relieved, since Damian’s mother had demanded that Tommy talk Damian into quitting. On cue, Sheila (Callie Thorne) herself arrived, with Mickey (Robert John Burke) and Uncle Teddy (Lenny Clarke) in the car. Teddy backed Tommy’s concerns about Mickey sleeping with Sheila. When Father Phil (Peter Gallagher) rolled up, he pegged Sheila for a collar groupie — a woman who lusts after the collar. Tommy was only too happy to introduce them and, predictably, Sheila practically jumped Phil right there in the street! Phil is pretty funny character. As the shepherd of a “practical parish,” each appearance depicts him as more and more dedicated to to, shall we say, a garden of earthly delights rather than a kingdom of heaven.
When a call came in about a fire at a nearby school, the guys responded anyway. (Nils, the engine driver, was driving his grandmother’s AMC Gremlin — and he crashed it!) Without back-up or proper gear, the guys brandished makeshift tools like hockey sticks and baseball bats as they heroically rushed into the smoke-choked building. Franco (Daniel Sunjata) arrived, and when Damian followed him toward the blaze, Mickey and even Phil joined them. The guys joined forces to evacuate the little deaf kids while Sheila videoed it all on a cell phone. Proof positive that these guys are heroes, no matter what clothing they wear. Rushing into a fire is not a natural response for most people; these guys have it in their DNA. Afterward, Franco apologized for his “momentary flirtation” with Janet, and Tommy forgave him. Franco also reconciled with “Black Shawn” (Larenz Tate) after last week’s beatdown.
At Lou’s prompting, Tommy later took Janet to Silvio’s restaurant, and got tickets for a Tony Bennett concert. The couple was having a nice time until the snooty waiter riled him up by paying attention to Janet, who could actually understand the Italian he was speaking. “We can’t go anywhere nice!” she wailed and tried to walk out on him, but he followed and they got into it. As fate would have it, Joey, one of Connor’s childhood friends, worked at Silvio’s, and was able to smooth things over with management. Clearly, seeing Joey was like seeing the Ghost of the Connor Who Might Have Been for his parents (well, maybe not so much for Tommy), and it shut Janet up. As they drove home in silence, Roth was magnificent as Janet slowly crumbled into a quietly weeping wreck. It has been years since Connor was killed by that drunk driver back in season two, but that’s not the sort of thing parents just get over; clearly the wound has been festering. (She started sleeping with Johnny because she blamed Tommy for not watching Connor.) Now it’s a numbing pain. The grieving parents went home and held each other, and kissed. And then, while a Tony Bennett song played, they moved to the bedroom, together.