Wednesday, September 2, 2009
"Rescue Me" season finale recap: "Drink"
Wow. I mean, um, wow. What a bizarre, powerful unexpected way to end the fifth season of FX's already tough (yet hilarious) drama "Rescue Me." Last night we saw Tommy face very real consequences to both his drinking and his destructive relationships. His one chance at a relatively healthy relationship with someone he genuinely cares about was snatched away from him, and a distraught Teddy went from being a buffoon to an avenging angel bent on punishing Tommy.
It was dark and disturbing and I'm not sure where they'll go from here. I will say that this season was the series' strongest in a while. Though it lagged in spots (how could it not? At 22 episodes, this is the show's longest season ever), it had more than its fair share of powerful moments and hilarity. The opening scene a few weeks ago, set in the supermarket, was one of the funniest things I've seen on TV all year -- right up there with Jason Stackhouse posing as a god on "True Blood" and Peggy Olson requesting a joint on "Mad Men." I also like the way the show surprises me, as with the plot involving Lou's marriage to Candy, the hooker who stole from him back in season two. I totally thought she'd scam him again, or that he'd eventually become so suspicious of her that he'd drive her away. Instead, he figured out that the marriage was a sham all on his own and extracted a tidy, efficient revenge.
Anyway, I really want to talk about last night's episode, particularly that last scene. Read no further if you don't want spoilers.
So let's talk about that final scene. First things first -- do you think Tommy will die? I mean, with any other show, that's a no-brainer. Tommy is the star of the show and, ordinarily, he'd be beyond safe. But star Denis Leary has joked before that he plans to suddenly kill off the entire cast in the middle of a season. So maybe he and co-creator Peter Tolan would kill off Tommy. Maybe they'd have him be a ghost, lingering around the edges of his friends' lives the way that Jimmy lingers around Tommy's life. I don't think that would be a show I'd like to watch (as it is, I feel that a little of the ghost stuff goes a long way), but it would be daring. Anyway, aside from that question, I was shocked by the episode. Teddy has always been a purely comic character, a sidekick to both Tommy and his dad. He's gotten angry before, and even violent (he did shoot the drunken driver who killed Connor). But I never thought he was capable of this, even after Ellie's death. Still, it makes sense that he would blame Tommy for what happened. Now, I'm pretty sure that Teddy was drinking before the failed intervention at the bar (remember him telling Tommy how booze helped him process Tommy's dad's death?), but he wouldn't see it that way. And he did make a point -- Tommy does emerge unscathed, at least physically, while everyone around him is hurt or killed. The thing about this scene that I didn't believe was the inaction of the other firefighters. They face possible death every day. You're telling me that they wouldn't jump Teddy, particularly when his back was turned, and try to steal the gun? These men aren't cowards. Of course, they all have reasons to be angry with Tommy, too. But I doubt they wanted him to die. Why didn't they do something?
At any rate, excellent work by the actors in this scene, particularly Lenny Clarke as Teddy, who doesn't often get the showy speeches. He showed he can carry it off admirably. Also, between this and last week's moving storyline involving Black Sean, the show is really showing an interest in utilizing all of its fine actors (not just Leary who, good as he is, can be a little too dominant at times).
Here are some other thoughts on the fifth season finale, "Drink."
* Finally, we get a Janet/Sheila showdown. And, finally, we get some indication that the Janet/Tommy/Sheila lust triangle is ending (please, God, let it stop). Janet served Tommy with divorce papers and Sheila finally did something so terrible to Tommy that he'll, I hope, never forgive her. Hurting Kelly and ruining Tommy's one shot at happiness was, as Janet pointed out, a low point even for Sheila. Though I don't advocate violence against women, Tommy's revenge on Sheila was a long time in coming. It was actually pretty tame, considering all the stuff she's done to him over the years.
* Poor Damian, coming home to find his mom handcuffed, sweaty and gross. Wait until he learns where the handcuff key is. Awk-Ward!
* Wow, those Gavin girls are a chip off the old block, huh? Katie wasted no time drugging her baby brother and locking her babysitter in the basement before escaping with her dad. "You must be so proud," deadpans Lou.
* Overall, there wasn't much to laugh about this episode, with the Kelly plot and the Teddy plot giving us mainly drama. But you can't beat this line from Kelly, about the horrible Sheila: "That little one was like Joe Pesci with t---!"
What did you think?