RESCUE ME engaged in a classic piece of misdirection: with the audience distracted by Lou’s failing health, the-powers-that-be sucker-punched Damian – and viewers. This episode is called “Good-bye” for a reason!
The action picked up moments after last week’s cliff-hanger, with Mickey (Robert John Burke) having dinner with Tommy (Denis Leary) and family. Mickey made small talk about Sheila (Callie Thorne) moving into a new place, and pointedly asking Tommy whether he’d ever been there. Tommy pretended to be eating his spaghetti, and finally faked a huge choking fit to avoid answering. As Mickey tried a particularly hostile Heimlich, Sheila arrived, misinterpreted and panicked, shouting, “We didn’t do anything!” Finally, Mickey said he caught Tommy and Sheila on top of each other, with her dress off. Tommy couldn’t explain, so Sheila jumped in and described how Tommy grabbed her from behind and kissed her and ripped her dress off! Well, he admitted he kissed her. But he blamed her “vixeny” look. They were angry and swept up in the moment and kissed, but realized it was stupid, and tried to stop, but fell. Tommy claimed he “cared deeply” for Sheila, but only really loves Janet. Sheila of course claimed he loved her for five years, and Sheila broke off the relationship because she’s in love with Mickey.
Both Mick and Janet (Andrea Roth) decided they believed Sheila, and then went off to discuss it. While they were gone, Tommy privately admitted he loved Sheila, but they started bickering again. When Janet and Mickey returned, he punched out Tommy, and declared, “That’s the end of it.” He laid down the law: Sheila is with Mickey from now on, and Tommy has to stay away. After they left, Tommy asked Janet why she let Mickey punch him. She answered: “Because he hits harder than I do.”
Lou (John Scurti) got bad news from his doctor: His heart is working at about 50 percent capacity, so he has to quit working. Back at the house, Damian (Michael Zegen) admitted to Mickey that saving the baby was rewarding, but he’s still scared. But he was reluctant to quit the job because he thought he had a calling. Mick said he thought he had a calling from God to be a priest, but the lure of women convinced him he was on the wrong side of the altar. (The “voice of God” was actually just the nagging of his mother and aunts.) Mick revealed that Jimmy always said he wanted more options for Damian. Emboldened, Damian went to Sid (Jerry Adler) to file his resignation papers. Sid was reluctant to let the kid lose such a “prime” assignment, but Damian confessed, “I don’t know if I’m really cut out for this.” So Sid agreed to file his papers for him. Later, Tommy called Sheila about Damian quitting, and admitted that he really loved her. But it wasn’t enough, she pointed out. She screamed at him that she refused to forgive him and told him to go away forever. She hung up and started sobbing uncontrollably.
Back home, Janet had one more test for Tommy: She offered to let him drink one last water glass full of booze (whiskey or vodka, his choice). Janet asked why he preferred the booze to her and the kids. He claimed it made him feel better to drink 5 or 6 or 10 vodkas; that it made him feel like he was right and she was wrong. He poured both the glasses down the drain. “I needed to know,” she said. “That was my final test.” From now on, she declared, he could have no booze, no grudges, and no Sheila. She suggested he start to make amends with his own kids, Katie and Wyatt.
Back at the firehouse, Damian was clearing out his locker when Tommy told a story about Damian’s father, Jimmy, hiding Tommy’s helmet. “That’s the shit I’m gonna miss,” Tommy mused, “the ball-busting.” By which he meant, the camaraderie of men who were doing a hard job and knew the next call could be their last. Damian decided to stay on after all. Then a call came in. At the site, Needles stopped Damian from entering the building. “Hey, kid, you with us?” he demanded. “100 percent,” Damian replied, and then rushed into the burning warehouse.
It was a coffin factory. Does it get any more foreboding? Upstairs, Lou was succumbing to smoke and stupidly vented the room, which stoked the flames. Needles made the call to abandon the building, and the guys tried to find a safe route through the flames, led by Franco and Damian. Straggler Lou became trapped under a falling rack of coffins. As the guys struggled to free him, the audience could be forgiven for assuming that Lou’s number was up; crushed by coffins. Suddenly, Damian returned with his helmet off. And then a pile of burning debris fell on Damian, crushing him like a bug.
We should have seen it coming: When Mickey was talking to Damian, he noted there were no guarantees that Damian would last two more days, let alone two years or two decades. Sheila begged Tommy not to talk Damian into staying on job; nevertheless Tommy passive-aggressively told the helmet story, knowing it could flip the kid. And, finally, Damian inexplicably took off his helmet in a fully engulfed building. Plus, he was a kid Tommy cared about!
Requiescat in pace, Damian.