Understated isn't a word you often associate with Denis Leary, or with anyone who works on the show, but I thought this week's episode was superb because it had so many opportunities to go over the top and almost never did. Even the opening sequence, with Tommy and then Janet and the girls finding out about Johnny was done with the music overriding any sounds of weeping or wailing. And Tommy's confrontation with the shooter could have gone in all kinds of obvious and/or cheesey directions -- Tommy kicking the guy's ass, Tommy yelling at the guy, Tommy trying to make the guy feel guilty, etc. -- but instead Tommy realized there was no point to doing anything (save the prepare-to-be-a-prag bit at the end). He arranged for the death of the drunk driver who killed Connor, and it gave him no peace.
The two highlights of the less-is-more approach: Tommy's Dad excusing himself and then struggling with the bathroom door (Charles Durning absolutely destroyed me, both in that scene and the one where he apologized to Rosemary), and Tommy and Lou silently working in the kitchen as they listened to the answering machine messages -- and everyone who saw a message from Johnny coming, move straight to the head of the class. (Someone on TWoP raised an interesting question: is the fact that both Gavin brothers left each other apologetic voicemails around the same time a corny coincidence, or did Tommy send his after Johnny died as a ploy to get Janet's attention? Would explain why Tommy imagined Johnny's eyes opening wide when he mentioned the message.) And, as always, I got chills by the casual appearance of the ghosts, especially Jimmy taking Connor under his wing (in a better way than Tommy's done with Damian).
(UPDATE: Vis a vis the chronology of exactly when Tommy left that voicemail message, I asked Leary and Tolan about it on a conference call, and Denis said, "We, I think, would prefer to leave that to next season." Hmm...)
The beef people seem to have is with Maggie and Sean's wedding -- not only the fact that the priest would agree to do it, but that the entire crowd of mourners would stick around and be enthusiastic about it. But it worked for me, because it seemed to fit into Tommy's Dad's request for a celebration instead of a sad day. Everyone on this show has been through so much horror; why wouldn't they want to find some excuse to be happy, even if it's wildly inappropriate?
I've been waiting long enough to post this, and I have a screener of the season finale I want to get to, so on to the quick hits:
- Sue Thomas, F.B.Eye is a Gavin? Another gem observation, courtesy of TWoP (really, I have no insights of my own when it comes down to it): the Gavins, like the Kennedys, are an Irish clan where the men have a habit of dying tragically young, and like the Kennedys, there's a sister named Rosemary who was shunned for having a disability. No way that's not intentional.
- Not sure which was the funnier part of Sean and Maggie's marriage: "Mr. and Mrs. Gavity" or the two of them consummating the marriage in the bottom bunk bed.
- Noticeably absent from the funeral: Marisa Tomei as Johnny's ex and James Badge Dale as Timo, the cop brother who popped up a few times near the end of season one when Dean Winters wasn't available. Cable drama budgets being what they are, I understand not being able to get Tomei to do a wordless cameo, but what's Chase from "24" doing to keep him away?
- Did I miss an episode? When did Mike go from being conflicted, if not in outright denial, about his interest in men, to gleefully hitting on that brother and sister?
- It hadn't even occurred to me that Franco's girlfriend looked like Keelah, but now I can't not see it. They say that women tend to marry men like their father, but this reversal is skeevy.
- Doesn't seem much point to Lou and the nun, save that it's creating even more promise of his life that will no doubt be dashed when he and Tommy wind up staying in the firehouse for some reason.
- Good to see Chief Reilly's son again.
- Bored with Teddy and Patti D'Arbanville. Not that I would trade Scurti or McGee for Lenny Clarke (who was, I believe, supposed to play either Lou or Jerry but had another commitment), but I really wish he could be in the firehouse (ala "The Job") instead of off in his own pointless subplots.