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Rescue Me: Elvis Lives!

We begin "Thaw" just as "Iceman" left off: Tommy's leap into the fire has saved Damian, though no one around the firehouse exactly looks happy about it. Needles is extra pissed when Tommy, covering for Mikey, says he let Damian into the fire. Pissed enough to tell Tommy, "You already got one dead kid on your conscience — you really want another one?" Ah yes, it's the culture of accountability, all right; in Feinberg's immortal words, and in the aftermath of Damian's save, there's a thaw of some sort in everyone's façades. All Janet wants is no-strings-attached sex with Tommy! Sheila does too! And then there's Needles, Mikey, and Dwight (hooray for Michael J. Fox's return!), all of whom give Tommy a sense of what they're really about when his more sinful tendencies emerge.

Condescension
Needles: "Let me know anytime you want to jump over that desk. I got as much guts as you do, Tom." Tommy: "Yeah, well, unless that desk catches on fire, we're never gonna find out, are we?"
Tommy came face-to-face with the possibility of an FDNY desk job last season (remember the ridiculous Section 8 accusation?), emerging with perhaps an even greater sense of superiority than before — we all know he looks down on any job that doesn't involve recklessly running into a fire. Needles may or may not take him down another notch behind closed doors, calmly telling Tommy, "You know what's bullshit? You're bullshit. Not everybody can be Reggie Jackson, swingin' for the goddamn fences." It's a step, though Tommy leaves the office looking barely bruised.

Egotism
Mikey: "You've got no rank on me, Tom. You're a firefighter, I'm a firefighter, period. No, correction: You're an old firefighter."
It's almost too predictable when Tommy comes forward, smirking away, to take the blame for Damian's predicament and assume once again the position of heroic martyr. We initially wondered why Mikey didn't look more appreciative, or offer Tommy any thanks, and got our answer at episode's end, during a chilling encounter at the bar. Tommy's been drinking, and lies are flying out of his mouth left and right about it, till Mikey brings up a very good point: Tommy has no rank on him anymore. We've always wondered why — you know, other than his dashing good looks and charisma —Tommy gets so much say without official rank. Maybe a literal wallop from Mikey (and an earlier, erm, death grip down-under from Dwight) will give Tommy's ego some pause.

Temptation
Tommy: "Are you using sex as a weapon?" Sheila: "No. Yes! It's the only weapon I have!"
Let's first state the most important fact about an episode involving a Sheila-Janet montage — we learn that little Elvis/Wyatt is alive! And apparently not much older than last season! But we digress: The yin and yang of Tommy's libido seem to have unconsciously united to drive him crazy. Janet's heard from a vicious Katie, and is now convinced that continued sex will help improve their relationship with her (we've gotta agree with Tommy on this one: "That was in the letter?"). Meanwhile, Sheila's become one cold-hearted snake in red lingerie, pouring wine down Tommy's throat while whispering sweet nothings like, "You're taking [Jimmy's] place here — in bed and out" and "I'll keep your secrets and you keep my son safe." We can't recall a bargain with the devil Tommy has turned down yet, and this looks to be no exception.

Photo: Courtesy of FX