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.
Hmm, another new episode of RESCUE ME, another new Tommy? This is getting to be a habit.
Following last week’s night of passion with Janet (Andrea Roth), Tommy (Denis Leary) woke up early and burned some eggs. But what really bothered me was him wearing a Boston Bruins shirt – that’s just something no true New Yorker would be caught dead wearing! Tommy should have been wearing a N.Y. Rangers sweater, but this is a case of Massachusetts-born co-creator Leary throwing his weight around and allowing his own sensibilities to compromise the character. Something else that seemed out of character at first blush? Tommy actually wanted to talk about last night! But of course Janet didn’t. Then Tommy forced the issue. She admitted that she was assuming this meant they were starting over, all “happy, happy sunshine.” He confessed that the sex just happened, but maybe it was the beginning a “recom…commitment…thing.” Surprisingly, she was willing to give it one more shot. (Apparently the memories of the late Connor that were conjured last week were damn powerful.) But this was The Last Time. If it crashes and burns, or if it’s just another one of his empty promises, it will be the last hurtful thing he ever does to her. Janet’s one caveat: zero contact with Sheila. She called him turning to Sheila an emotional betrayal, like a dagger to her heart.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: RESCUE ME’s Tommy Gavin is gonna stop drinking. This time for real. Why are you laughing? Oh, right, this is Tommy Gavin we’re talking about. How many times have we heard those exact same words? And we viewers have only known Tommy for a few years. Imagine how often his friends and family have heard that one!
Yep, this week’s RESCUE ME represented yet another attempt by Tommy (Denis Leary) to climb aboard the wagon and stay on it for more than a few weeks. “I’m living in the moment,” he told Mickey (Robert John Burke). “I’m making some positive changes.” Unsurprisingly, his announcement was met with peals of laughter by his firehouse buddies. But Tommy was (mostly) sincere with his “making amends stimulus package”; after all, he did have a gun pointed at his head. Last week, Uncle Teddy (Lenny Clarke) promised to finish the job he started last season if Tommy strays off the straight-and-narrow. Problem is, nobody else believes Tommy is capable of quitting, and by the end of the episode, everybody was proved right.
The new season of RESCUE ME opens with a harrowing vignette in which Tommy dies — and then things go downhill from there. All of which is a good thing.
When last we saw Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary), he was lying in a pool of his own blood on the floor of the bar, bleeding out after being shot by a vengeful Uncle Teddy (Lenny Clarke). The story picked up with Tommy dying in the back of an ambulance, then jumped ahead to his recovery.
Viewers got to experience Tommy’s vision along with him as his recent life flashed before his eyes; a ho-hum near-death experience. But that culminated in a tableau of body bags arrayed on the foggy ice of a hockey rink. One by one, the bags opened to reveal firefighters, and a confused Tommy found himself among the brave men who were killed on 9/11. Jimmy (James McCaffrey) was there, and encouraged Tommy to join him in the light with the others. But Tommy couldn’t; he suddenly found himself trapped in a burning tenement, hemmed in by flames. He was visited by the familiar ghosts of victims he could not save on 9/11, and tormented by a vision of the Twin Towers before the attack. And then he awoke, alive. Tommy was lucky to survive that blood-chilling near-death experience. I find so many such interludes to be utterly dull; this one was downright eerie. And I should expect nothing less from this brutal series, which is so loathe to pull punches.