This week’s BURN NOTICE put the “case of the week” on the front burner, but did not neglect the season’s umbrella story, keeping it simmering nicely on the back burner, while also giving Sharon Gless a chance to shine as Maddie in maternal mode.
In fact, Maddie sitting down Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) and Jesse (Coby Bell) and forcing the men to reach a kind of détente was the highlight of an episode that was meant to be dominated by a showy appearance by Callie Thorne (Sheila, RESCUE ME) as the returning thief Natalie. Richard Kind was also back as Jesse’s former government handler, Marv, whom Sam (Bruce Campbell) suckered into providing intel on a planned auction of the NOC list derived from Simon’s bible. Sam pulled out his popular “Chuck Finley” alias to do the deed. (Chuck is practically a member of the team now, isn’t he?)
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.
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.
RESCUE ME began with the aftermath of Tommy’s desperate bid to save the life of one child, and ended with the long-delayed fallout of the loss of another child.
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.
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.