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It's another week of drinking and depression on Rescue Me. Let's see how they handle the fallout from last week's asinine twist!


Scene 1: Oh, that Tommy! He's drinking again! He shows up at a bar with his whiskey bottle and cigarette out, and the bartender is all, "You can't smoke in here, and since it's a bar and we make money from selling people alcohol, it might be nice of you to not BYOB, if you don't mind." Then he and Tommy call each other a bunch of names and Tommy goes into the back to use the bathroom. And it's there that he meets his dead cousin, who berates him about what a waste his life has been since Sept. 11. The two get into a scuffle. It's nice to have Jimmy hanging around as Tommy's conscience still, but this is a conversation it feels like the show has had before. The biggest problem with Rescue Me's run as a show was that its central story arc—a completely messed up man cleans up his life—really only provided for MAYBE three seasons of storyline. Unlike other shows where the storyline was just not enough to cover more than a handful of seasons, Rescue Me was really, really bad at reinventing itself and mostly just tried to kill time by punishing all of its characters. So while this feels like a climactic moment, a turn toward good for the hero, it also feels like a scene we've seen a million times before. Grade: C+

Scene 2: Again, this is more of a sequence, but it tells its own little story. After Mickey and Teddy try to get drunk Tommy out of the bathroom, he goes to pick up Colleen, who is also drunk, and the two have a series of drunken adventures. There's not a lot to this, other than, I guess, to show that Tommy is now enabling his daughter's drunkenness, and I suppose this is going to be the point when Colleen inevitably dies or disappears while drunk or something. Grade: C

Scene 3: Tommy shows up at Sheila's house, drunk. Mickey is also there! Presumably because Sheila and Mickey are having sex. Or possibly because they're running an elaborate long con on Tommy. Probably the former. Anyway, I like the scenes in the show where we get to see just how horrifying Tommy's incredible drunkenness is to, well, everybody else in his life, and this is one of those scenes. Denis Leary plays this well, banging into walls and just stumbling around, and it does a good job of, again, humanizing Sheila, something the show does fitfully and only when it really wants to. Grade: B-

Scene 4: Tommy wakes up at Janet's place, then stumbles through what looks like a post-apocalyptic landscape. He finds a phone in the toilet and generally seems really hungover. Then Franco calls, and he's really angry. Promising! Grade: B-


Scene 5: Ooh. Franco says that Tommy got into a fight with Janet and says if he ever wants to fight someone, why doesn't he come fight him instead of a woman? And Colleen is missing, even though we know she and Tommy spent plenty of time together. This is a pretty good setup for an episode, honestly, but also the kind of setup the show can't really do unless it's headed into its homestretch. Tommy doing something really damaging toward his family—like losing one of its members and/or beating up his wife and trashing her place—is the sort of thing that might finally turn him toward the sober side of things, and the confrontation here is pretty fraught. I'm intrigued. Grade: B+

Scene 6: Tommy finds out he's wearing a girl's thong. Then there's a longer scene where he and the guys try to puzzle out just what might have happened to Colleen, doing a little detective work based on what's in Tommy's pockets. Naturally enough, he doesn't remember so much about last night. Honestly, I like this scene a lot. It has a drive and narrative focus that much of the season has been missing, and I liked seeing Lou and the other guys try to poke and prod Tommy to figure this all out. Now, Lou has obviously just completely recovered from his illness for no apparent reason, but it's good that he's taking charge, and this is a good scene for the whole ensemble. Grade: A-


Scene 7: The guys visit one of the addresses for the Alices that Franco found. And, of course, they discover that Tommy was not only at the apartment complex, but threw the doorman through the glass door, shattering it. Still like the plot, but this is more of a moving-things-along kind of scene. Grade: B

Scene 8: Mike, Sean, and Damien get a free drink at a bar while they're out doing their detective work. Pretty sure this is just setting something else up, so we'll let it slide. Grade: B-


Scene 9: Janet shows up at the firehouse and pretty much beats the hell out of Tony while he remembers the night before, when he shoved her up against the wall and said if he found out she'd slept with Franco, he'd take the kids. Grim stuff, though it does play off the asinine twist. Still, I like scenes where Tommy gets the hell beaten out of him, I guess, as this one works for me. Grade: B

Scene 10: Now we're getting somewhere. Mickey and Teddy laced that bottle of whiskey they gave Tommy with some nasty stuff, stuff designed to make sure that he'd have a hellish drinking experience and feel better about quitting on the day after. Of course, they didn't think that, well, Tommy's daughter might get into it and make things that much more hellish. Janet, of course, smacks everybody around, but her anger feels like its well-placed for once, and this scene is full of great little moments, like Tommy questioning Mickey about his presence at Sheila's or that tiny move in on Janet's face as she sits all alone on the firehouse couch. Grade: A-


Scene 11: Tommy is remembering his prior night more and more, now remembering about taking pictures with Alice and about a handsome stranger who came up to Colleen. Then, Sheila comes by and tries to deny that Mickey was by her place the night before. I like the way the pieces are filling in. Grade: B+

Scene 12: Another short, funny scene featuring the investigation of Mike and Sean. It's comic relief, but it's good comic relief. Grade: B+


Scene 13: Yeah, I really like the way all of these devices are clicking together. Tommy needs to drink more to remember what happened, but he doesn't want to drink more. He's also paralyzed by inaction, as he is in most of his life, and just sitting in the firehouse. Black Shawn yells at him because he feels equally impotent and thinks Tommy isn't doing enough (which he isn't). This is all really working for me at this point. Grade: B+

Scene 14: Tommy, Lou, and Sheila hit the road to try to find "Alice," after she calls Tommy (and reveals her name is actually Jean). This is a pretty great little scene, mostly because of the reversal that the son and mom Tommy and Colleen hooked up with are nowhere near as attractive as Tommy remembers them being. It's a funny scene (loved Lou being happy that he wasn't the only one to get infected ear lobes), but it's also a rather desperate one. The leads are starting to close off. Grade: A-


Scene 15: OK, I was confused. Alice and Jean have always been two separate people, and Alice shows up to explain, among other things, how Tommy ended up in a thong and also prompts his final memory of where Colleen might be by mentioning that she ended up with a bedroom full of sand. Henderson's Beach. Grade: B

Scene 16: A tremendously well-done final sequence, as the demons of Tommy's last night rush around him all at once and he moves around the beach in the darkness, looking for his daughter. The show has always had great location scouts, and this is a fantastic location to be using. When Tommy finally finds Colleen, she's alive (thankfully), but the final moments, with everybody on the crew hurrying to pull off their jackets to cover her are moving, and the final shot—of the reeds where Colleen collapsed blowing in the wind—is a fantastic image. Grade: A


Reviewer's tilt: I was maybe a little hard on this one in the beginning. It's one of the better episodes the show has done in a while, and it definitely sets the series on the path to sober Tommy up if it wants to. Of all of the episodes I've covered this way, this is the one I wish I'd most let just wash over me. Grade: B+

Actual average grade: B


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