It’s the one-year anniversary of Tommy’s sobriety, so why, after the fittingly titled “Perspective,” do we feel like doomsday is around the corner? Perhaps because of that little sobriety chip itself, a literal black spot that might as well have the words “Ha ha, this won’t last long” on it.
With some distance from recent (cancer diagnosis, conspiracy theory protest) and not-so-recent (9/11) events, everyone’s feeling a little philosophical. Franco continues his usual bloviating on his Right as an American to question 9/11’s origins; Chief Needles gets serious about getting a little respect; and, above all, Garrity hovers between his usual stupidity (asking Mikey for “a hibiscus,” wanting an abacus) and anguish, screaming at the crew, “There’s other shit going on in the world! People are dying every day,” effectively ending the Franco interrogation and 9/11 navel-gazing. Of course, this all pales in comparison to a few choice Tommy encounters, although this time around, he does a bit more listening than sinning.
Janet arrives at the firehouse like a wolf in especially tight sheep’s clothing to tell Tommy that Katie “feels bad” about going to boarding school without telling him. It takes a liar to know one, as Tommy points out: “If she felt bad about it, I’d actually want to request a DNA test … I’d need proof that she’s a Gavin, you know? That I’m actually her father.” Cue the eye-roll from Janet: “If only you weren’t.” After a bit of backpedaling on Janet’s part, Tommy agrees to join her for a trip to see Katie in her school play, which we’re sure won’t end well; the Times already informed us that some R-rated Janet-Tommy action is in our future. Yes, more of it. Sigh.
Like the cockroaches invading their hellhole of an apartment, Lou will not be crushed by the foot of that great egotist, Tommy Gavin. Tommy’s attack on Lou’s motives for showing Genevieve the footage of Jimmy Keefe quickly turns into a nasty excoriation of Lou himself, who nails Tommy with a gob of realism: “I’m just a little overweight satellite orbiting around you in the universe of Gavin.” Somewhat true, and sad.
Tommy’s fateful meeting with Genevieve above Ground Zero — where to begin? This feels like a bad seduction scene from the start: Tommy is literally surrounded, with Seducer No. 1 (Genevieve) sitting across from him, and Seducer No. 2 (glass of Scotch) right in front of him. He manages to fend off the first: Despite Genevieve making Frenchy eyes while asking deep questions like “What if you never see him again?” (of Jimmy), Tommy stays strong, unafraid to admit that he wants revenge, that he feels in part guilty for not dying along with Jimmy. And then he drinks the Scotch and wanders off into the night, leaving us alone with the image of his sobriety chip on the pavement — and the feeling that we too would’ve needed a drink after dealing with Genevieve.