Dreams, hallucinations and hauntings are a recurring theme on RESCUE ME, and the sixth-season finale hinged on “surprise” that cast the entire episode in doubt – hence the effect was very underwhelming. The “twist” wasn’t really a twist, because Tommy hallucinates all the time and thus it came as no surprise – but the implications of the final reveal were only slightly intriguing.
Sheila (Callie Thorne) was on the phone with her psychiatrist, talking about how she thinks Jimmy is still with her, even though she knows he’s dead. Her mantra for the day: “It’s not my fault.” Then she broke down in hysterics. Tommy (Denis Leary) came home with groceries and she clammed up. He gave her a book called It’s Not Your Fault. On her way out, she kissed Damian (Michael Zegen) who was crippled in a wheelchair, but alive. His face and neck were badly scarred, but he was alive He could only move one arm at a time, and that one shook as if with a palsy. My immediate reaction was that RESCUE ME was doing a riff on STAR TREK’s paralyzed Capt. Pike, because that’s who Damian reminded me of. But Damian wasn’t communicating with a flashing light; he wasn’t communicating at all. She said she was going to see a man about a drug to help him walk again.
At the firehouse, Sean (Steven Pasquale) announced that the Patrick James Mahoney Memorial Pavilion would open in Central Park tomorrow. Nobody knew what a pavilion is. Was it a number — after “a jillion” comes “a pavilion”? It has two months since the fire that crippled Damian, and the guys want to bring him to the memorial. Mike (Mike Lombardi) came in to announce he ran into Mickey in a bodega. The guys were shocked. Lou’s (John Scurti) doctor came to visit, asking why he hasn’t retired yet. Lou was afraid he would die at home of cake-related complications if he retired. He asked the doctor to…er, doctor a document to certify him fit for duty.
Tommy returned home, and Katie (Olivia Crocicchia) wanted help with her essay on the Vietnam War. Colleen (Natalie Distler) was mad because he missed taking her to a meeting last night. “We’re all pissed,” Janet (Andrea Roth) snarked, accusing him of having “emotional A.D.D.” She was angry that he was concentrating on saving everyone else in the world – Damian, Sheila, strangers in fires – rather than her family. She accused him of having OCD for saving people. She told him to attend Katie’s dance recital and Colleen’s 50th meeting in 50 days. Tommy has to be there.
Tommy fed Damian while Sheila went to see the specialist, who…er, specializes in alternative medicine at his clinic in Zurich. The treatment is $25,000 per month (no, that’s not a typo: 25 grand!) for injectable steroids, proteins and blood supplements. (Clearly, this is a scam. Sheila, how desperate and consumed by guilt are you?) She said Jimmy is looking down on them and he approves. They cursed Jimmy. Tommy felt guilty for nudging Damian into staying on the truck. Damian called out in a moan, and they cursed Mickey as a scumbag again. Sheila warned him not to let anyone else drive the van when he goes to the pavilion dedication tomorrow. Colleen called to tell Tommy she’s going to start drinking again. When he made it to the liquor store, she called him a lousy sponsor, and she’ll never make 90 meetings in 90 days. She was jealous that he pays too much attention to Damian. “He’s crippled,” Tommy pointed out. “So am I,” Colleen responded. “By a disease I inherited from you.”
Back at the firehouse, Mickey (Robert John Burke) was waiting on a bench. Mickey gave Tommy two DVDs: Cam Neely’s Greatest Hockey Hits (again with the Boston Bruins?), and The Friends of Eddie Coyle (a 1973 Robert Mitchum movie). As he started to leave, Mickey paused, and then the cousins started trading punches to the face. Tommy called him “gutless, spineless.” He admitted he abandoned his girlfriend and her paralyzed son because he’s gutless, spineless and a coward. Then he told the guys he really left because he could no longer watch Sheila waste her life and money on quacks and fake cures. He tried to tell her the truth: “Damian ain’t never walking again.” And she told him to take a hike!
It turned out that the Mahoney Pavilion is a “comfort station,” or restroom. The city guy said the family chose the building. An oblivious Lou was horrified to learn that had dropped a deuce in the pavilion – and he had tacos for lunch! Franco (Daniel Sujata) took the building as an insult and got mad. He couldn’t let it stand. But Colleen called, wondering where Tommy was. And Katie’s dance class is next. Teddy (Lenny Clarke) was taking over as Colleen’s sponsor, so Tommy gave Franco the keys to the van and told him to watch Damain while he went to the recital. The guys stole the Mahoney plaque and glued it to the wall… in city hall. At home Tommy found a note from Janet warning him not to be late for the recital. Tommy made a quick sandwich in his mouth (eating salami and then mustard separately; don’t judge him!), then started rooting through the books, and came across an envelope. Inside was the results of a pregnancy test: positive. And brochure about having a healthy pregnancy after age 40 – so it’s not Colleen or Katie.
Sheila called Tommy, looking for her son. He was in the car and told her that he’s on the way. She told him she wanted to go to a seminar about alternative healing. She wanted to talk to Damian, so Tommy stooped to imitating Damian. Sheila thought he responded to her, and that meant the protein was working. Nice of you to keep trying to hit a personal low, Tommy. He called Lou, and learned the guys took Damian to the bar, where some women took an interest in him and his buddies, Franco and the boys pretended to be Damian’s caretakers. Lou was disgusted by the charade and left, but Needles (Adam Ferrara) said, “I have to stay and see how low this depravity elevator is gonna go.” Franco called Damian “the ultimate wingman” – he attracts chicks, but won’t get in the way. They argued over who gets to take Damian as his personal wingman. Needles couldn’t take it anymore and chased the guys away. Then another woman walked up and expressed concern, so Needles shifted gears to landing her himself. Janet called Tommy, who was stuck in traffic, told him that he will finally break Katie’s heart if he keeps disappointing her. “If you want to rescue the world, start with your children!” she wailed. Tommy eventually got Damian home, and mused over the brochure. He tried to adjust Damian’s blanket, and then the kid suddenly grabbed his wrist and snarled, “You did this to me, Tommy!”
So… what was real, and what was a dream? Knowing the series the way I do, my first instinct was that the last segment was Tommy’s standard dream of somebody he couldn’t save haunting him. We’ve seen it a million times before, in all sorts of permutations. But then I began to wonder if the entire episode was one long dream; something felt “off” about the whole thing. I initially thought it was because I figured Damian had been killed last week. The fact that he was alive and it was two months later, and Mickey was a pariah… It was all slightly off-kilter. Now, I think that yes, it was all a dream. Damian is dead, and Tommy was hallucinating about his friends and family. But either way…um, who cares? Does it matter if the entire episode or just the final scene was a hallucination? It doesn’t really affect the shape of the season – except for muting the impact of last week’s “twist” ending. Unless… was the entire season meant to be some kind of dream? I don’t think so. At least, I hope not…