It’s Tommy’s first official day back, and because he’s taking in the firehouse’s daily activities through new eyes, we too get a more in depth glimpse at the regular goings-on of the 62 Truck crew. Most Rescue Me episodes involve one big call with either plenty of saves or epically tragic results — this week, in a welcome change of pace, we saw that some days bring big rescues (Peter Gallagher at last, as a priest a little too attached to his statue of the Virgin Mary!), while others bring puking heroin addicts who need an ice bag on their balls.
Things start off on a familiar note: Tommy and Janet arguing in an uncomfortable manner (Tommy’s weak attempts at witty banter; Janet’s less than excited response). This time, he’s pouring all of Colleen’s booze down the drain, while making a questionable argument for wine as non-alcoholic beverage (“Wine is like, a delicacy. Grape juice with a little extra kick”). Leary and Andrea Roth are doing a commendable job of demonstrating just how much the fire’s gone out of their marriage — where once we felt a spark of chemistry, there is now just boredom (ours). Thank goodness for Franco, who’s upped the jealousy ante by taking private calls from Janet — on Tommy’s phone (we particularly love when he gives her advice on “dressy” pants and calls her “silly”).
Back at the firehouse, Tommy’s greeted with none of the fanfare he expects, finding the guys are more interested in burping contests and, later, a newfound rivalry with 74 Truck (“We’ll settle this at cookoff!”). Damian continues to become everyone’s favorite kid to hate, trash talking his uncle to Needles; Garrity and Mikey (who we learn prefers “French-Thai fusion” for lunch; hilarious and believable) hatch a harebrained plan to prove their intellectual mettle to the crew by enlisting in a high brow service project. One great little character arc this episode: Garrity and Black Shawn, who begin fighting like teenagers, go down together to save a teenage boy stuck in a hole, and come out again like brothers, with Black Shawn advising Garrity to talk to firefighters about disease associated with Ground Zero. Then again, we may also just be digging on Larenz Tate’s talents right now (we’re still remembering his “Love Jones” reunion with Nia Long at the BET Awards. Hot!).
All seems like business as usual, but surreal, “is Tommy still dead or isn’t he?” moments still punctuate the episode. We’re most struck by Tommy’s odd street encounter with Mick and Teddy, who arrive bearing a bottle of top shelf Irish whiskey (in a wooden box that looks not unlike a little coffin), calmly declaring that they’ve officially given up on Tommy. “I love you, but I’m out of bullets, both literally and figuratively,” says Teddy. “What comes next ain’t gonna be pretty,” Mick adds. “Gonna miss you. Stay low.” It’s like a visitation from ghosts — as is, momentarily, Sheila’s late night drop-in. At first, it’s a typical Sheila-Tommy tete-a-tete, with the overbearing mom harping on about what Tommy’s doing to get Damian off the job. Then Damian arrives, screams something or other at Sheila that we can’t hear, and, eerily, she’s releasing Tommy from watcher duties, waving to the guys in the truck — who are on the way to a burning church. Creepy!
Maybe it’s all just a reminder of what Lou tried to teach Tommy this week: “Sooner or later, the machinery breaks down; there’s no shame in being on the other side of the peak.” Or, the world goes on with or without Tommy Gavin as conquering hero, and perhaps the heroic choice, at this point, is to own up to aging and lay back a bit. Tragically, Tommy now has a very concrete reminder of what might happen if he doesn’t consider some moderation in his life — we end the episode seeing Lou, face down on the firehouse floor, apparently passed out and hopefully not dead! (We need to get through this season plus another, writers!) We have a feeling Peter Gallagher will have something pithy to say about it next week.