‘Rescue Me’ Recap: Tommy Gavin handles an inferno of estrogen

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Attaching “respect” and “legacy” to a firefighter’s name often comes at a very high premium. In return for putting their lives on the line daily, there’s a hope that eventually these words will become suffixes that remind the world of their extraordinary sacrifices.

There’s a lot of “legacy” talk in Tommy Gavin’s world this week. Most of it comes through forced circumstances when a news crew descends on the firehouse looking to highlight Tommy’s dead cousin Jimmy Keefe for a 9/11 retrospective TV special.

But the possibility of having dirt thrown on Jimmy’s legacy, and his own, has Tommy both ticked off and nervous. Those who’ve witnessed the insane drama between Tommy and Jimmy’s widow, Sheila (who is also Tommy’s ex-lover), know there’s plenty for the press to dig up.

The prospect of nosy reporter Pam Kessler poking around the firehouse creates background tension that aligns with other side stories in this episode, distracting from the fact that the crew hasn’t been fighting much fire lately.


But, compared with the inferno of estrogen raging in Tommy’s home among his pregnant wife Janet, Sheila and his two daughters at a particularly sensitive time of the month, walking into a burning building seems like child’s play. Watching Tommy continually say the wrong thing in front of the women was seriously priceless. You’re probably still cringing at Tommy’s boneheaded attempt to make Colleen feel less self-conscious about her thighs:

“You want to de-blimp? Go sit next to your mother, that oughta give you some perspective.”

The fact that he was able to make it out alive after that comment is something they should tack to his legacy.

On a brief venture out of the doghouse to the store, Tommy stumbles into Kelly, one of his emotionally tangled old flames from last season. But there’s one major difference: She has cancer. It’s here where we see the show’s theme take a more profound turn as this attractive, sick woman talks frankly about her legacy while maintaining an impressive lack of self-pity. For the most part, this episode has Tommy simultaneously learning and ducking from the women in his life in a major way.

We also watch Tommy learn a little bit about respect from Black Shawn, who, in his gutsiest move to date, decides to marry Tommy’s oldest daughter, Colleen, despite Tommy’s refusal to bless the union. It’s especially bold considering Colleen’s issues with alcoholism that still have Black Shawn nervous about committing to her.

Despite all the drama and female hormones, this episode offers some quality male comic relief.

The NYFD’s yearly physical exam forces Tommy’s crew to think fast when it becomes apparent that Lou is not going to pass because of weight and health issues. To help out they decide to swap uniform shirts so each man takes a different part of the physical for him. And that’s how an overweight senior officer ends up with perfect blood pressure, a clean bill of health and a slight case of latent homosexuality (thanks to Mike’s performance on the physiological evaluation).

And while it seems crazy for Franco, Black Shawn, Mike and Garrity to risk termination only to enable Lou’s poor food choices, it’s their respect for him that compels them to put themselves on the line as if they were walking into a burning building together. Lucky for them, they literally get to do that by the end of the episode when they get called out to an actual fire -- a long-awaited opportunity to get back to work.


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-- Nate Jackson