Wisdom sometimes comes from strange places — in this episode, that would be the suddenly insightful Maggie Gavin, who’s embracing her new role as erotic bait to dying war veterans. When Teddy protests, saying “I didn’t come here to play angel of death,” she replies ruefully, “Well, I didn’t come here to play angel of sex. But sometimes the roles we play choose us.” Indeed, everyone lets go of a little of who they’re trying to be. Mikey was confrontational with Tommy last week, but he’s squarely back in probie boots at this episode’s end; Lou must face the return of Candy (“the ghost of thieving hookers past”); even Damian, perpetual annoyance, seems resigned to his mom’s wacked-out relationship with Tommy. Of course, no one’s letting go of self-control like Tommy himself, who’s back on the bottle in a big way.
Lou: “Full disclosure? Except Colleen? Got it.”
Secret-keeping seems to be Tommy’s stock in trade these days, starting with his promise to Mikey: “You keep my secret [drinking again], I’ll keep yours [forgetting to refill the oxygen tanks].” Sheila’s suggestion that Tommy tell all the firefighters about his return to drinking seems like a good plan at first, but “full disclosure” quickly becomes selective (just don’t tell friends and family with violent tendencies!), and hilarious, as Mikey and Black Shawn attempt, unsuccessfully, to convince Mick that Tommy is known around the firehouse as the Coffee King.
Sheila: “I just want to make sure you have a handle on the booze, brother … I said you could drink, not get drunk.”
Now that Sheila has Tommy drinking again, she’s backpedaling — drinking doesn’t exactly mean getting drunk, does it? Well, in Tommy’s case, yes, yes it does — and no quantity of muffins shall solve that. It’s incredibly sad when Tommy sits in on a band rehearsal, during which Mikey shows off and even Damian seems convinced Tommy may have changed. “See, I told you he’s got it under control,” Mikey says, goofy puppy eyes back in full force. And then Tommy walks right into another bar.
Sheila: “You don’t need her, you just don’t want to lose her, right? Because you’re Tommy Gavin, and nobody walks away from Tommy Gavin.”
Aside from a brief foray into Stories of the Glory Days with Jimmy Keefe, Tommy manages to mostly keep his ego in check — however, that doesn’t prevent Sheila from continuing to drill a slowly expanding hole into his bravura façade. This time, she’s possibly onto the real reason for his continuing affair with Janet — or, as Sheila calls her, “a Deathstar who keeps pulling you into her blonde black hole” (an image we find both amusing and disturbing). As predicted, Tommy’s arrangement with Sheila is slowly losing its rosy glow — now she wants him only on days when he’s not with Janet. Good luck keeping this one under control, Gavin.