‘Rescue Me’ recap: Loud and angry vs. silent but deadly

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It’s now unmistakably clear why flames and explosions have taken a back seat in the final season of ‘Rescue Me.’ Who needs fires when the crew of 62 Truck is so good at fighting each other? Of course, the show has always thrived on the dog piles, busted lips and black eyes this group of New York firefighters likes to bestow on each other. But this week’s episode presents violence of a different pedigree -- one that combines the knock-down-drag-out nature of Tommy Gavin and company with a kerosene-soaked rag of media controversy and a spark of workplace mutiny.

But -- for once -- we can’t totally blame Tommy’s arrogance, temper or alcoholism for the near brawl that erupted between him, Franco and Chief Needles before the episode’s opening credits. As the crew sits down to cringe at the way reporter Pam Keppler’s 9/11 TV special was edited into an FDNY hit piece, the tension in the room is palpable. In an effort to make the story juicier than a program about firefighters who died on 9/11, the final product focused more on the flaws of the FDNY than its fallen heroes.
This brings us to Tommy’s big recorded blowup in front of the TV cameras when Keppler asks loaded questions about alcoholism, racism and several other unpleasant ‘isms’ that supposedly plague the department. Finally during this season, we get more than just flashes of the old Tommy Gavin. We even get a little bit of Dennis Leary’s real-life persona, the perennially pissed off comedian who flaunts his middle finger like badge of honor. Remember that guy?

But despite the infighting in the firehouse over the skewed story, Tommy’s ability to flip off TV cameras earned him some brownie points with the women in his house. Up until now, Janet, Sheila, Colleen and Katy only acknowledge his existence when they need him to fetch them something from the grocery store. So it’s nice to see that Tommy’s tendencies toward unbridled rage still carry a little bit of currency in his household.

For Kelly, Tommy’s cancer-stricken outside love interest, rage became the pathway to release this week when she gets, what one would assume, is the best news of her life: She no longer has cancer. But turns out that it’s not all gravy. After months of coping with a life-altering illness, it seems that switching off the panic button and going back to her old self comes with a feeling of anxiety that few can imagine. In this case, that anxiety sparks into a firestorm of shouting and broken dishes when Kelly burns a batch of weed brownies when Tommy shows up to visit her.


But it’s Tommy’s attempt to console Kelly that sheds some light on her real fear -- trapping her anger and anxiety inside until she becomes just like him, haunted by the specters of his tortured subconscious. It must be a strange moment in Tommy’s development to actually hear that his life has become a cautionary tale for someone else, in case he hadn’t figured it out already.

And while we’re on the subject of cautionary tales, let’s talk about Garrity’s new relationship with a babe he met at a bridal shop last episode. She may not have foul mood swings but her silent-but-deadly farts after sex remind us that that girls who look good on the outside have dirty (sometimes smelly) secrets on the inside. The question is, just how much nasal suffering is he willing to endure to be with the hottest girl he’s ever had sex with? By the way, does she really not think he minds drowning in her stink bombs? After rolling over, she sleeps like a baby while he’s forced to bury his head in a pillow. Real considerate, lady. Fortunately for his nostrils, it’s likely that her stink between the sheets will have him running for the hills eventually, if nothing else but for the promise of fresh air.
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-- Nate Jackson