Sunday, August 8, 2010

What I’m Watching: Rescue Me

Rescue Me: Season 6, Episode 6 “Sanctuary” (A-)

This is one intense episode that brings this show back to the good, old days. And by that, of course, I mean a rougher, much more disturbing and also more meaningful exploration of the job (being a firefighter) and the disease (alcoholism). Colleen’s failure to move forward in a new manner after her drug-induced blackout could have simply been another chapter in the humorous riffing on the Gavin family alcoholism. Instead, having a drunken Teddy drag an even more wasted Colleen to a meeting where a sober Maggie is calling out a sober Tommy for all of the things he’s done was more powerful than I could possibly have imagined. Tommy’s own self-exploration and his inability to move and go on the call was his first serious taste of doubt that he’s had since the start of the show. He’s always been conflicted about his family, about drinking, and about 9/11, but he’s nonetheless still charged into fires just as fearless as ever. Having both Needles and Father Phil call him a coward really egged Tommy on to do something drastic, chasing after Colleen when she told him she’d see him in hell and then performing his own exorcism on him. Father Phil’s initial interference seemed level-headed, but it got even more frightening when he decided to encourage Tommy to keep going. Damien did point out something truly interesting: all that fighting broke out even without Tommy there, which at least means that some of the supporting plotlines not directly involving Tommy are capable of being interesting. Still, that terrifying makeshift exorcism performed by Tommy is easily the most memorable moment of the television season thus far.

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