Thursday, August 02, 2007

Rescue Me: So maybe that isn't it for me...

As I mentioned in my kiss-off review of the episode from three weeks ago, I was going to stick it out with "Rescue Me" through the rest of the season but didn't plan to blog about it. Then came last night's episode, "Seven," which featured several things I felt the need to either praise or damn (or both).

Spoilers coming up just as soon as I look up the nutritional content of edible panties...

Fair is fair, credit where credit's due, etc.: Last time out, I complained that the show had degenerated into a series of barely-connected scenes, some great, some awful, but all so tonally independent of each other that you could essentially edit each episode at random without changing much. But with the exception of the basketball game (and even that fit to a certain extent, if you look at it as a moment of respite for the guys), "Seven" felt all of a piece. The tragic events of the Baby Fire informed every scene that followed, whether it was Lou's sudden desire for children, Franco's reaction to the permanent return of Susan Sarandon and his daughter, or every single scene involving Tommy and his doubts about baby no-name. You can even justify Mike letting Garrity off the hook about the house fire under the "puts everything into perspective" umbrella.

The rescue sequence itself was harrowing (though I think it's one of those bits where the alt-rock soundtrack got in the way; it would have had even more impact if there was no score at all, just the confused shouts and calls and grunts of the characters), and Needles' speech about the guys being heroes was maybe the best speech on the show since Tommy's monologue at the beginning of the pilot.

But Tommy dangling No-Name over the railing? No. There is simply no way that Leary and Tolan can convince me that child-revering (albeit lousy-parenting) Tommy Gavin even entertains the thought of drowning a baby, let alone drives out to the river and holds the kid out while he makes up his mind. Probably not drunk and absolutely not sober. I don't care how opressive the atmosphere at Casa Gavin has become, how many ghosts (whether Johnny, or Tommy's own shade) talk him into it, it's about the only line I believe this guy would never, ever cross, even mentally.

(I won't say more than that because I made the mistake of going to FX's website to scrounge around for a photo to accompany this post, and the blurb about next week's episode completely spoils where this is going. Seriously, don't ever go there.)

What did everybody else think? Is my opinion of Tommy in this instance actually too high? For those of you who've been as down on the show as I have, did "Seven" redeem it in any way, or did it just remind you that Leary and Tolan can still knock one out of the park on occasion?


Anonymous said...

Funny, this episode had the exact opposite effect on me. I've been down on the show all season and this is the episode that really made me think I might totally be done with it.

The baby fire was tragic, but I actually Tivo'd through it as I was watching. I LOATHE musical montages. And ones with slow-mo? Forget it.

And even if the show was back on track tonally, it's storytelling is still a mess. The storyline with Sheila's boyfriend being obsessed with Tommy is ridiculous (I guess it wasn't enough that every woman on the show be inexplicably in love with Tommy, now the men have to be too); the Susan Sarandon storyline has never made any sense whatsoever (who just hands their kid over to someone else like that--oh wait, they expect us to believe Tommy will do that with his kid); the Lou/Nun storyline is one note and the Nun is way too hot to have ever gone out with him; Mike doesn't seem to care that his mother's house burned down and there's no explanation for why his parents were gay and married to each other; Janet is still insufferable and has no storyline; and now we're supposed to be shocked because Tommy might throw the baby in the river even though it's obvious that didn't happen.

The big problem is that after all of the above, even something gut wrenching like the baby fire only elicits a shrug from me anymore since I don't care about or for any of the characters anymore.

Anonymous said...

Intense episode! The baby-fire scene was gripping. I went to some emergency response training once where we were told that child deaths are the hardest part of firefighting and EMS work. This show captured it perfectly, and like you, I appreciated the way all the other scenes were connected to it. Re: the end - I kept thinking the baby-dangling scene was going to end abruptly as a dream sequence, which this show frequently uses. (By the way, the drama of the scene was ruined by the fact that it was reminiscent of Michael Jackson with one of his babies...) I loved this episode, it reminded me of the first season, where the humor was always a brief respite from the intensity. I do have a question, though - who is the "ghost" that Tommy keeps seeing now? (In the hallway at the fire house this time.) It's not his brother, and I don't think it's his cousin.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Stacie, I'm almost positive it's Tommy himself, possibly with Leary's voice distorted just a bit to sound deeper.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to tommy gavin to degrade into a one-note, static, pedestrian husk of what his character was truly about: the deep conflict of being a man's man with a wonderfully real and ironic connection to family and kids. now he is just lost. woefully so to the point where i don't recognize dennis leary's character anymore. it seems the writers gather all their post-it notes from their own therapy sessions and write the scripts from them without a common thread.

and i've got to say, if i see one more slow-motion montage with alt-rock music distracting me from the too few fire fighting scenes, i will throw my tommy gavin belt buckle from my own shine at my plasma.

rescue me has one more episode to redeem itself before the once-mind-blowing, discuss-around-the-office-water-cooler show loses me to another banal reality show like flipping out.

Anonymous said...

This episode was okay. Better than those that came before it this season, far from the first season. There is too much ridiculousness (the Tommy stalker using Sheila to get close to Tommy, Lou dating the nun, et cetera). What the writers appear to be doing is just trying to one up themselves with more and more tragedy, but there is no long term consequence for the tragedy. We didn't hear anything about Jerry this episode, and there has been no meaningful change as a result of his demise. We got a throwaway reference to Tommy's son this episode, but otherwise, no meaningful long term effect. Blah, blah, blah. Where is the show I grew to like so much a few years ago? This show has lost its gravitats.

Chip said...

I'm with you. Tommy considering drowning the kid is completely out of left field. Janet's been so deep into her post partum depression all season that I could see her considering it, but nothing we've seen from Tommy leads up to this.

SJ said...

This was definitely the best episode of the season yet, with shades of the "old" Rescue Me.

What is Tommy really thinking? Perhaps his cousin's retort about "God saving the children from a better fate" got to him? I thought his talk with his cousin was pretty good...perhaps he saw how his daughter turned out (just wanting money), his sister, his family (sleeping with his cousin's widow, his brother sleeping know the rest...) there such a breaking point where you want to kill your child just to make him not suffer anymore? I don't think so...

I do hope this is the show's last season. What else could they possibly do now?

Anonymous said...

Wow. This show is still on?

Shoot. I stopped watching when I realized Sheila was still alive and read that the Chief capped himself.

Anonymous said...

Alan, we've now had 'rough sex' (aka rape), 'rough religion' (Leary calling the Pope a gangster), and now 'rough parenting' (a completely unbelievable scene in which the family man Gavin hangs his baby over the water).

Well, 'rough' is the excuse (or some other doubletalking) Leary and Tolan will use on the audience to explain this assholery writing away.

I can't wait to hear from the erudite Mr. Tolan. He did such a GOOD job with the rape episode.


Anonymous said...

OH NO! I've been banned, again, from Television Without Pity because Tolan and Leery are misogynists.

You'd THINK that things would have changed over at TWoP after BRAVO took over.

Guess not, the same wankers are in charge.

The good part is that now I can write to the sponsors at BRAVO and let them know what I think of their despotic wanker moderators.