Friday, September 9, 2011

The Rescue Me Finale: More of Gavin's Ghosts and a Bit of Humor

The end of the road episode of Denis Leary’s memorable series Rescue Me opens with a dream sequence.

Lou (Lt. Kenny Shea played by John Scurti) is delivering a eulogy for Tommy Gavin and four other firefighters, presumably the rest of the 62 Truck crew.  The reality, of course, is that Tommy's best friend is the one who's died after telling Tommy to escape the smoke and flames as the group attempted to save two kids.  

And so goes the drama of Gavin's mind, which was entirely focused during the past decade (though the show ran only seven years) on the survivors’ guilt of 9/11 and now has one more reason to do so. (It is no coincidence that this final episode of the series aired on the eve of the 10-year anniversary.)

Left to pick up the pieces, Tommy drinks and flips out, the only way he can cope, and then settles on the idea of retirement.  

As maudlin as this episode is, it doesn’t lack the show's characteristic humor and slapstick as shown when Lou's ashes mistakenly end up all over the schnooks from the firehouse, owing to a squabble over chewing gum. As the bagpipes play Lou’s requested In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, his comrades end up spreading Duncan Hines cake mix as a substitute.

You have to give it up for the actors in this series: Mike Silletti (Mike), Daniel Sunjata (Franco), Steve Pasquale (Sean), Larenz Tate (Black Shawn), Andrea Roth (Janet), Callie Thorna (Sheila), Scurti and Leary himself.  They all performed terrifically from start to finish; they made you laugh amidst the darkness.  And kudos to the writers.

The craziness of the episode comes to a head when a baby is delivered at the Gavin's apartment and Tommy gives his own brand of pep talk to a new group of firefighter recruits. 

Oddly, there’s a somewhat happy ending and Rescue Me is left to rest in peace.  A lot happened during the 10 years spanned by this show, but not much changed.  Tommy is still haunted by ghosts, albeit a new one now, and he’s still a disturbed man chasing fires.  So it was time to end the series.  There’s only so much drunken pontificating viewers can take.

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