Another week, another musical number from Garrity — this one starring our man in a white suit, singing to a mystery blonde about how she (literally) takes his breath away. But things promptly turn dark. Everyone’s burning up: The horrifically killed little girl from the episode’s fire; Lou, who’s filled with love and forgiveness and jumping wholeheartedly back into Candyland (which still doesn’t quite feel like a good idea); Franco, who’s channeling his anger into some fierce boxing; and most of all Tommy, who chars his own thigh with a blowtorch. His drinking is back in full force, and with it guilt and ghosts in major doses.
Needles: I guess when you see your own son run down and trampled like a rag doll, it makes a mess like this that much easier. Either that, or the rest of us are just a bunch of giant pussies. I’m going with the rag-doll thing.
This episode’s fire seems like small potatoes — decimated cars, no one to rescue — until Lou, and, subsequently, the entire crew, go gray after seeing the horribly mangled, burned body of a young girl in the grass. When no one can stomach wrapping her body up, it’s of course Tommy the Great to the rescue (with the usual adulation of his crew). But Tommy’s grief-stricken face throughout the awfully slow cleaning up was more squirm inducing than seeing the body itself.
Sheila: If you tried to make love to me with that cut, I don’t care how strong you are, it would be like … torture.
Tommy: Yeah — take your clothes off.
Last episode, Lou smacked Tommy in the face with the reality of his no-strings-attached but actually very-many-strings-attached relationships with Sheila and Janet. We’re happy he kept Sheila around, for the moment, if only for her first-aid-administering abilities in the wake of what she calls Tommy’s “SIB — self-injurious behavior.” Of course, his decision to keep returning to Sheila and her endless supply of whiskey and enabling is it’s own SIB.
Ghost of Papa Gavin: He’s the best goddamn firefighter there ever was — better than me, better than Jimmy — ’cause the only thing he can feel is heat. The only thing that gets through that thick Irish skin of his is fire.
We’re not talking here about the kind of ignorance that stoked the hilarious Sidney Poitier conversation between Tommy and Black Shawn last episode. We’ve always known Tommy’s an expert at ignoring — or attempting to ignore — guilt when it relates to Conor, or Jimmy, or his dad. So all three — plus Johnny! — are back, weeping in the dark of the bar, reminding Tommy of the inhumanity of his inability to cry. One bottle of whiskey and one harrowing blowtorching to the thigh later, Tommy appears ready to confront his pain — but will physical pain translate to emotional reckoning?