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'Rescue Me' Season 6 Finale Recap (VIDEO)

by Jason Hughes, posted Sep 1st 2010 4:45AM
Denis Leary, 'Rescue Me'('Rescue Me' - 'A.D.D.')

What a strange journey this season has been, from beginning to end. I would have thought that after last year's sprawling 22-episode season, we would have had a much tighter run in these ten. But in most ways, this season felt disjointed, as if it wasn't sure what it wanted to be about. A hodge-podge of imagery and disparate situations leading to a finale that was, in many ways, much the same.

I didn't go into this finale expecting to be left with my jaw hanging on the ground the way I was at last season's explosive finale, with Tommy bleeding out behind the bar at Teddy's hands. But here I am, with this season's closing image in my mind, and I'm not quite sure what to think.

I wasn't ready to write Damian off so quickly after last week's saw collapse, as that seemed too easy a way to go for Tommy. The writers would never be so kind. Things were getting on track between him and Janet, and he had an established out with Sheila, if only either of them could make it stick. Now, with Damian paralyzed and brain-damaged, everything that had been so carefully orchestrated is thrown completely out the window and the drama is back in uncharted territory.

It says a lot about the character of Tommy Gavin that he's now devoting so much time to Damian and, by extension, Sheila, and that he's neglecting his own family. The creators have done a good job of filling Tommy with enough emotional demons and baggage that he doesn't need the booze to be a compelling character. He's as addicted to guilt as he ever was to alcohol, if not more so. In fact, the alcoholism was just a reaction to his true addiction.

It's always been guilt -- at least since Jimmy died on 9/11 -- that's driven Tommy. Possibly even further back than that. Survivor's guilt drove him to drinking and reckless behavior on the job. Guilt drove him into Sheila's arms, and then back and forth for years between her and Janet. Now, guilt keeps him by Damian's side because he's the one who pushed the kid back toward the job when Damian was ready to walk away. Whether it's true in reality is irrelevant because it's true in Tommy's world, and that's after all the world we're all living in.

The pacing of the finale was odd, too. The two-month jump from last week's climax (which might have made a better final moment than what we got this week) to the mellowness and matter-of-fact behavior of everyone around Damian seemed awkward. I was so thankful for Sheila's emotional collapse near the beginning to tell me that this was real and that this horrible thing not only did happen, but that the people around him are aware of how serious the situation is. I get that two months could be long enough for the trauma of what happened to Damian to have faded for the boys: They've always been a little dingy anyway. It all just felt a little surreal, ironically enough considering I spent much of the season premiere wondering if that whole episode was some odd dream sequence.

Now, I can wonder if the slightly off-kilter tone of the whole season was an extended at-death's-door hallucination and Tommy's still lying on that barroom floor, bleeding out a fantasy where life continued and seemed like it might get better before going all to hell again. It would fit with Damian's revival at the end, when he grabbed Tommy's arm suddenly, declaring, "You did this to me." Either it's all a dream, or Tommy is now hallucinating without alcohol, but I did just argue his addiction of choice now is guilt. Maybe that's enough to induce the visions these days.

Then there's Janet's pregnancy, which throws a wrench into my whole fantasy theory. I've never been a fan of a show throwing in a baby late in its run, as it's usually done in place of true creativity, but 'Rescue Me' isn't trying to find new stories in tired TV clichés. They've got nine episodes left next season and then this show is over! So the pregnancy is just there to add even more weight to Janet's frustrations at Tommy being an absentee father to his daughters. At least that's its purpose so far.

I loved Teddy's cameo as Colleen's new sponsor, as well as Mickey's explanation as to why he bailed on Sheila and Damian. It was a great way to show that there are always two sides to any situation, even when it looks as black-and-white as Mickey abandoning Sheila when times got tough. Yeah, he ran away on a paralyzed, brain-damaged kid, but it was because he challenged Sheila's delusions that she can find a way to cure Damian through alternative and experimental treatments. Many people live their lives under these same false hopes, and it would be a difficult thing to watch. He maybe didn't handle it in the best possible way, but it's a plausibly impossible situation.

While Tommy's been able -- albeit poorly -- to deal with death around him, this situation with Damian is a whole new ball game. You can grieve the loss of the young man you knew, but you can't move on as you have to do when loved ones die. He's right there, demanding to be noticed. Not the man you knew perhaps, but it looks like him and you can't run away from the feelings of guilt and responsibility that consume you every time you look at him or think of him. Closure is an important step in the grieving process, but there is no such emotional luxury for the survivors of that fire. Maybe the frivolity we saw in the bar is their coping mechanism. Or maybe loss is such a part of the firefighting experience, that they're better equipped emotionally to move on with their lives in this situation than the rest of us.

While the final moment lacked the punch of prior finales -- because it was obviously not a real moment, and Tommy's had countless hallucinations through the course of the series -- it did leave me with a strange feeling about the entire season, and where the show can go from here. This season everything has felt rushed and jumbled as if the writers plotted out a full 22-episode season and were told at the last minute they had to cram it all into ten episodes. It was still compelling, and it didn't come close to losing me as a fan, but it doesn't rank among the best of 'Rescue Me's seasons.

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jaynee diamonte

SO WHOS' THE MORON THAT DECIDED TO TAKE OFF THE BEST SHOW ON TV. ARE YOU CRAZY? THESE ARE REAL LIFE STORIES, WITH FABULOUS ACTORS. DON'T DROP THEM. KEEP IT GOING. IT IS REAL, DOWN TO EARTH. AND FABULOUS.
SHEILA IS INCREDIBLE. PLEASE !!!!!!!!!!! DON'T LOOSE YOUR VIEWERS. AND DENNIS !!!!!!!!!!! DON'T RETIRE.
THANKS.

P.S. I CAN'T WAIT TO WATCH IT EVERY WEEK.............
ONE OF THE BEST ON TV.

September 06 2010 at 10:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
CeCe

I thought I read that 22 episodes were filmed and that F/X made the decision to show half now and half later. Anyone??

September 01 2010 at 8:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to CeCe's comment
Picviewer

Thought the was the case which was why the pacing was off. This was just a midseason episode but FX split the whole last batch of episodes to drag it out to end next 9/11 for the 10th anniversary. The last 22(?) will flow better when viewed as a complete season instead of this splitting that we are experiencing now.

September 01 2010 at 8:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
elle

FX renewed the show and they made 19 episodes which were to be split between this year and 2011 - Denis Leary wanted the series finale to end approximately around the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The 22 episode season was a combination of 2 seasons because of the writers strike.

September 01 2010 at 6:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
KALINA

Wow - Sooo disappointed in this season finale. How about I write the ending - Tommy is on the phone with Janet and Sheila and stuck in traffic and then cut to Lou and Damian in Lou's apartment where he is having a heart attack and calls Tommy who is the only one who can save him. I mean this is what the whole season has been about, Tommy trying to save everyone - and the one person he can't save is his buddy Lou - that would've been much better than the hallucination crap from last night. Also, I knew there was a reason Janet was being so forgiving and patient with Tommy - in the past she would've kicked him to the curb - I am not happy with the pregnancy story (unless it turns out to be Franco's baby!) or the ending last night. Boo to you Denis Leary!

September 01 2010 at 7:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robub

I agree completely. I am a fan of the show and this season seemed very disjointed to me. I could see places where the writers could have given us more depth than we saw (Black Sean/Colleen, Franco/Janet, Teddy/Tommy, etc). I didn't care for this season's ending. I wish the show had a longer run and I think most of my questions would have been answered. I'll watch till the end because it is one of the best series on television and because the cast is amazing, but this finale left me a little disappointed.

September 01 2010 at 7:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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