Monday, September 24, 2007

Season Finale Review: Rescue Me

Rescue Me had its season finale almost two weeks ago, but I'm just now getting around to watching it one last time before clearing it off TiVo (making room for new fall shows), so I thought I'd review it while I watch.

Rescue Me [s4 ep13]: "Yaz"

*** Spoiler Warning ***

In Brief: What's Good

  • A funny scene in which Tommy & Kenny are on top of the roof of an elevator that rockets all the way to the top and then shoots back down a few seconds later.

  • An oddly touching scene in which Tommy fulfills his dad's wish to see a minor league baseball game only to have his dad pass away quietly as they watch.

In Brief: What's Not So Good

  • The near-hookup scene between Tommy and Janet is intriguing but, by going nowhere, seems pointless.

  • In general, a mild and subtle finale to an already uneven season. The death of Tommy's dad is supposed to be the big shock at the end, but it kind of felt like it was coming. Hopefully, the 4th season was meant to be a subtle yet intricate setup to a blowout 5th season.

6 Story
8 Performances
6 Drama/Intensity
5 Suspense/Cliffhanging
5 Nostalgia/Coolness
This was a very strange season, even for this show.

Strange Things From Season Four

  • Tommy not drinking (strange in a good way).

  • Tommy smoking only once (one time too many, but I'll give him a pass since he was trying to talk Mike out of suicide at the time). Come to think of it, hardly anyone smoked this season. Garrity and Mike were the most frequent offenders. I guess the no-smoking bet they instituted last season had a lasting effect, even after the contest was over.

  • The frequent close-ups of the words in Tommy's 12-step book.

  • Tommy's disfunctional family AA meetings.

  • Tommy going from seeing ghosts of dead family members to more vivid hallucinations, such as his apartment being on fire and daydreaming of boozing and womanizing while spending time with his dad over club soda in bars.

  • Tommy pretending to be the ghost of his 9/11-victim cousin Jimmy Keefe for reasons that aren't 100% obvious.

  • Tommy coming extremely close to dropping the un-named baby (of Janet and his dead brother Johnny who had an affair last season) into the Hudson River, at the behest of Johnny's ghost, since no one in the family was connecting emotionally with the baby but Tommy. Instead, Tommy accepted Sheila's offer to take the baby. Janet uses her younger daughter in a ploy to get the baby back from Sheila. Afterwards, Tommy secretly shares the baby with Sheila whenever the baby is supposed to be with him. Janet *finally* names the baby Wyatt (after Wyatt Earp), much to the disapproval of Sheila who prefers the name Elvis.

  • Chief Jerry taking his own life early in the season, just because he was assigned to desk duty at work, after a heart attack (granted, his problems with his gay son getting married probably helped in his decision). Even stranger was Jerry eating a salad as his last meal instead of enjoying a steak or junk food.

  • Jerry's replacement Chief Feinberg repeatedly prodding Tommy to date his daughter only to blow his top when Tommy finally goes out on two dates with her and on their 2nd date semi-accidentally cupping one of her boobs.

  • *Every* woman in Tommy's life continuing to be eccentric, frustrating, and borderline insane. This is a running theme of the show but was especially true with Tommy's latest "relationship" with Valerie who prefers super quick, uh, gratification over any romance whatsoever but then still expects monogamy from Tommy.

Tommy Going From Seeing Ghosts to Pretending to Be One
As far as Tommy pretending to be the ghost of his cousin Jimmy--by wearing Jimmy's old fire jacket, sneaking into firetruck storage bins during his time off, and rescuing people in fires anonymously... It seems he's doing it to mess with some of the background characters in the firehouse who have been drinking too much in between fires. Now, they all think their seeing the ghost of Jimmy Keefe and decide to cut down on the booze. But, I think it's deeper than that. I think Tommy is replacing his addiction to alcohol and cigarettes with an addiction to saving people.

One of the coolest scenes from this season was a few episodes back when Tommy left his bizarre date with the chief's bipolar daughter to rescue people from a nearby fire only to return to the date, covered in soot, acting like nothing ever happened, and attracting the attention of a new cleavage-bearing character Valerie (Gina Gerson) who puts her phone number in Tommy's shirt pocket without saying a word. I think Tommy's life, family, friends, and romantic/sexual partners are all so messed up, that he takes solace (and earns cool points) by saving people from fires. Doing so while wearing his dead cousin's jacket may be a way of paying tribute to Jimmy and/or paying penance for hooking up with Jimmy's crazy wife Sheila in the first season.

Sublots Wrapped Up or Left Hanging in Season Finale
Some subplots get wrapped up, such as Garrity and Tommy's sister Maggie splitting up, Kenny and his cousin not being mad at each other for sleeping with each other's girlfriends, and Tommy's daughter Colleen breaking up with her loser bass-playing boyfriend (who recently used the credit card Tommy gave Colleen to pay for his other girlfriend's engagement ring, something Tommy was surprisingly okay with as long the loser wasn't marrying Colleen).

One thing that may continue to get explored next season is Tommy finding a way of making his "relationship" with gratification-obsessed/romance-hating Valerie work. Early in this episode he tries to break up with her. Later, he storms into her apartment, tells her to put on lingerie, throws a couple steaks on the counter for her to cook, starts to read the paper, and tells her that they'll have sex on the table after she's cooked him supper. She seems willing and intrigued.

One subplot that just doesn't invoke too much interest is Franco's on-again-off-again relationship with Natalie. Although hanging by a thread, it might just get revived later thanks to a meaningful phone call they have while she's in Chicago.

At the Game with Tommy's Dad
The subtle yet touching highlight of the episode is Tommy fulfilling his dad's wish to see a minor league baseball game. The two of them, along with Kenny, Garrity, and Uncle Teddy (who all have separate seats away from Tommy and his dad) go to a game where Tommy's dad looks happy for the first time in a long time. They reminisce, they talk about baseball, and they even sing a little bit of a song.

Musical Montage that Ends the Season Finale

  • Sheila, drunk and hanging around at the fire station hoping to see the ghost of her dead husband Jimmy (like everyone else allegedly is), finds the storage room where Tommy and his new dog have secretly been staying while in between apartments. In it, she also finds Jimmy's fire jacket that Tommy has been secretly wearing at fires. On the inside, Jimmy wrote, "To my Godson, Connor. Love, Uncle Jimmy. 4/26/97" (Connor was Tommy's son who was killed by a drunk driver in season 2 episode 12.) Sheila curls up with the jacket and breaks into tears.

  • Probie Firefighter Bart, a.k.a "Black Sean," and Tommy's daughter Colleen are sharing a romantic picnic in the park after having met each other for the first time at the firehouse earlier in the day (Tommy is sooo going to punch Black Sean out at some point next season).

  • Chief Feinberg--who also discovered Tommy's hiding place, dog, and cousin's fire jacket, earlier in the episode--is filling out paperwork on Tommy for Section Eight, a designation for firefighters that go crazy.

  • Against Natalie's wishes, her mentally-challenged brother Richie is getting married to his wheelchair-bound girlfriend. Depsite knowing Natalie was afraid of leaving Richie alone while she's in Chicago for this very reason, Franco approves and serves as Richie's witness and best man at the ceremony.

  • While out with her new boyfriend from work, Janet notices that one of baby Wyatt's ears is pierced, something Sheila wanted to have done on Wyatt despite Tommy's disapproval.

  • While still at the baseball game, Tommy's dad quietly passes away in his seat. Instead of alarming Kenny, Garrity, and Uncle Teddy, Tommy just puts his arm around his father and continues to watch the game with him.

No comments: