Rescue Me is still feeling overstuffed these days. There’s still the repetitive Tommy-fixing-his-life story driving the episodes, but it’s so dominant of an A-story that all the other characters get crammed into the few minutes of airtime left over. It’s frustrating to see what could have been a decent B- or C-story compacted down to a single strained scene, or to see what could be a character’s own story become a plot point within Tommy’s own. But this episode does have some good moments, so let’s roll.
We don’t know what happened to Lou after last week’s cliffhanger that found him passed out on the floor of the firehouse. Is he dead? Maybe there are clues…like this shot of Lou, which they included in the “Last Week on Rescue Me“ sequence. Could Lou’s face being concealed by a cookbook foreshadow his impending food-related death?
“Flavor the Moment,” Lou’s Shroud of Turin
I bet I’m over-reading a little bit, what do you think?
The episode begins with the guys holding vigil at the hospital where Lou’s been taken. They’ve been here for six hours without any word. They try to pass the time and ease their nerves. Mike’s particularly fumbly about it—
NEEDLES: We’ve been here for six hours and not a morsel of information!
MIKE: Well, no news is good news, right?
DAMIEN: He had no pulse, Mike.
MIKE: So…no news is bad news?
Tommy tries to knock Mike down a peg, but he’s still being inarticulate, so he just tells them all to shut up. Then a nurse arrives to tell them it’s OK to see Lou.
Lou looks OK, and he immediately introduces them to his new roommate, a passed out guy whom he calls “Wheezer.” When he tells them this he refrains from explaining the nickname, and when Wheezer eventually, uh, wheezes in his sleep, Lou proudly points this out as the inspiration for the nickname.
And because he’s really into Buddy Holly! It works double!! HUR HUR HUR [passes out]
By the way, being that Lou used to be known as “the king of one-liners,” and that Tommy used to be way funnier, sharper, and more articulate, this feels like a recurring theme. It feels like since Tommy and Lou have died, their personalities have literally deteriorated, and that’s taken the form of losing their wit. And if wit is a major defense mechanism for guys in constantly stressful professions…well, I really like that.
But at least Lou’s in good spirits overall. He plans to take his hospital time to recover and learn better diet techniques from his new nutritionist. On cue, she enters.
Her name is Hillary, and she’s attractive. This is where I would put her picture if she were in more scenes than just this one.
When the guys hear she’s been tasked with making Lou thin, they immediately start cracking wise…
“Yeah, she’ll do that right after she negotiates peace in the Middle East.”
“Or after she gets Rush Limbaugh to start sharing his Viagra with Kanye West.”
“Yeah, Lou is fat!”
Hillary and even Lou himself offer that this might not be the best way to encourage a friend trying to change his habits, especially a friend who’s just kinda died, but Needles replies, hey, they’re firemen. Brutal honesty is their stock and trade.
So Hillary lays down some brutal honesty of her own: Needles has a giant mole on his face; Shawn’s eyes are too far apart; Franco has Mr. Potato Head lips; Mike and Garrity just look mentally challenged; Damien’s skin is the color of Elmer’s Glue; and Tommy is an emotionally crippled walking corpse.
Just kidding, she makes fun of his nose.
She’s made her point, though—think about people’s feelings before insulting them! I’m kinda surprised Rescue Me didn’t make her a stammering parody of liberal sensitivity for Denis Leary to tear down, like they normally would. Maybe because she’s a hot chick? Whatever, then the opening credits roll.
Back at the firehouse, Shawn is still feeling neurotic about Hillary’s comments. Are his eyes really far apart? The guys rib him about it until Tommy and Needles come in. Offscreen they’ve been concocting a plan: they’re gonna break Lou out of the hospital.
This is because the West Side Wildmen/Bizarro Versions of 62 Truck have found out Lou is out of commission and have moved their cookout up a week. If Lou isn’t around to coordinate, the West Side Wildmen are gonna win the hearts and minds of the neighborhood.
Now, to be fair, they do have someone voice an objection to doing this, since Lou just freaking died and all. But Needles dismisses their worry. It’s a war, and in wars you’re supposed to put your own personal safety last. As far as wars go, this is more or less a civil war the FDNY is manipulating them into fighting…but if you’re Needles, you do your best with it. Or don’t think much about it.
But anyway, the plan is set for that night, and Damien says he can’t make it. He has a date with Penny, the hot probie he met when they were saving that heroin addict last episode…
A time-honored firefighter initiation ritual, wherein the rookie places the ice pack upon the addict’s perineum, thus ending the heroin hang.
The guys can’t believe it! Since Penny a member of the West Side Wildmen, it’s like Damien is sleeping with the enemy!
But Tommy sees an opportunity. Maybe Damien could pump Penny for secrets.
Damien declines. The only “pumping” he’ll be doing is of the sexual variety! (They made that joke, not me. I have to write things like that down. This was not my fault).
Needles steers them back to the rescue mission. Apparently they’ve gone as far as stealing hospital uniforms so they can impersonate doctors and orderlies. Franco will play the doctor.
Shawn objects because he wants to be the doctor, but Needles tells him that’s so wildly implausible nobody would fall for it. A Puerto Rican is a way more realistic choice to play a doctor than a black person.
Shawn says no, lots of black people are doctors. When they challenge Shawn to name one black doctor in real life, he displays a woeful lack of knowledge of black history. First he comes up with Bill Cosby…then Dr. Huxtable, then Dr. J, and finally Al Sharpton.
What about him? He has a doctorate in CLONING DINOSAURS
Shawn justifies the last one by explaining “Al Sharpton” is something black people say whenever they’re backed into a corner.
Then Tommy gets to the heart of the matter—Shawn just doesn’t speak “white.” Franco, on the other hand, speaks perfect white. Tommy asks him to demonstrate, and he whips out something that’s basically an impression of Richard Pryor doing an impression of white people. For inspiration, Franco says, he just clenches his butt cheeks and thinks about egg salad sandwiches.
(Uh…I just ate an egg salad sandwich the other day. Are egg salad sandwiches a thing? Am I that white?)
They also explain they didn’t make Shawn an orderly instead of a doctor because that would just be racist.
(This scene was awesome, go check it out).
On that note, Peter Gallagher comes in. He’s here to apologize for being a dick about the chip in the Virgin Mary statue in the last episode. Firefighters do God’s work, he says, and they all deserve “a first-class ticket to God’s kingdom.” He makes him available for any help they might need in return for saving the statue.
You need eternal salvation? Uh…what if I helped you move instead?
Peter Gallagher pulls out a receipt for the damaged statue he wants reimbursed. The guys agree they’ll chip in some cash, until they see it’s worth $40,000 dollars because it’s 700 years old and was a gift from the Vatican. Peter Gallagher explains the woeful financial state the Catholic church is in from paying all that settlement money out to molested kids.
They can’t help, but he’s cool about it. Then he just launches into an impromptu prayer, about protecting them or whatever. And then, Shawn asks Peter Gallagher to weigh in on the “black vs. Puerto Rican” doctor question. Peter Gallagher goes Puerto Rican, without hesitation.
Actually, FX, could you just do an insane priest show with Peter Gallagher? That show would be awesome.
Then it’s over to the hospital that night, where Franco, Mike, and Garrity have assumed their disguises and are approaching Lou’s room. They’re way over-playing it, nodding to every passerby and greeting them as, “Doctor,” regardless of whether they actually are, but everyone’s too busy to notice.
They go down a corridor and realize they have no idea where Lou’s room is. Mike suggests they ask directions, but Franco think that would be too conspicuous. Then, they notice Garrity is missing.
Garrity has wandered off to the cancer wing. A man in a terrible bald wig meant to resemble chemo-baldness flags him down. It’s Mahoney, the firefighter with lung cancer who helped Garrity with his own illness:
Before, when he had vigor, optimism, and hair
And now, when all he has left is a swim cap caked with foundation
FX, would it hurt to invest a little more in makeup? This is about as good as when Mac pretended to have cancer on Sunny.
Mahoney asks Garrity why he’s dressed like a hospital orderly, and Garrity says he’s not supposed to tell. Then, he does exactly that by confessing their scheme. Mahoney turns out to be very interested, because he wants out of the hospital, too. He doesn’t want to stay cooped-up and chemoed-out until he dies; he has his own ideas on how to spend his final days. He punctuates this request with a nice, wet bronchial cough, and Garrity asks a nurse for some baby wipes.
Meanwhile, Damien and Penny are out at a nameless bar. I’m gonna go into minute detail here, because I felt sorry they had to do this scene.
Rather than play it cool, Damien just blurts out that he has an ulterior motive to find out about the West Side Wildmen’s cookout plans.
Penny admits that she, too, wants to know what 62 Truck is planning.
Damien is clearly just there to get laid and doesn’t give a shit about the cookout war.
Penny, on the other hand, cares very much about cookout war, and doesn’t even bother hiding it.
Buuuuut Damien is so captivated with her she could probably just ask him to tell her everything, and he would.
Neither of them has any idea what to say for a moment, so they take a drink.
He takes a stab at complimenting her by telling her she’s “pretty.”
Miraculously, that hits a nerve. She just happened to have had that exact nickname back in high school, ”Pretty Penny.”
Damien asks why that’s a problem. Pretty things are good things, aren’t they?
But Penny doesn’t like pretty things, you see. She may be a lady, but she fights fires, and lady firefighters do not like pretty things.
For some reason she reveals her dad was a firefighter.
But then the reason becomes clear when she brings up Damien’s father being a firefighter.
He opens up about how difficult it is living up to his Dad’s reputation.
I’m supposed to care, but do not.
They decide to get wasted.
Nothing else about this comes up for the rest of the episode.
Dude, if I wanted to watch guys in their early twenties fumble around on dates, I would just film myself. Ha!
I GO ON SO MANY DATES YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE IT.
Anyway, I know they’re trying to at least mention Damien is still dealing with his father’s death, so, sorry Damien.
Back at the hospital, Garrity brings Mahoney to Lou’s hospital room, where the guys are all preparing to hustle Lou out of there. They ask what he’s doing with Balls Out Mahoney, and when he explains he wants to add him to the rescue mission, they decline do it. More of Mahoney’s wet coughs don’t sell them very much on the idea.
Garrity won’t take no for an answer. If Needles can use the “we take care of our own” line, so can he. Firefighters look out for each other, and that’s what they’re gonna do for Mahoney.
So the guys are wheeling Lou out of the hospital. You would think someone would notice the sick firefighter being wheeled out by his three firefighter who were hanging out earlier that day, or that Needles didn’t even bother to wear a disguise, but I guess everyone was too busy doing hospital things.
When they get to the elevator, Sheila shows up, because, fuck you.
When she finds out what they’re up to, she puts up some mild resistance that, you know, a cookout isn’t more important than Lou’s life, but Needles puts things into perspective: “We lose the cookout, we lose the firehouse. We lose the firehouse, Lou is lost in the world, and he’ll just wander into the nearest Olive Garden and use the never-ending pasta bowl like a loaded .45.”
They arrive at the ground floor, Sheila tells them not to kill Lou, they give you a closeup on her ass, and that’s that.
Then there’s the matter of the Mahoney escape. This was a success! But instead of a meddling Sheila, they run into some complications in the form of Mahoney’s cancer making him cough up blood. Which, you know, they considered earlier, but decided it wasn’t a big enough deal.
So, they take him back inside!
The Lou Escape has also failed.
Finally, someone catches them by paying the least amount of attention possible
“Dr. Rico Richards,” as Lou calls himself, uses his suave Latin charms to allay her suspicions. But rather than write actual dialogue for this story development, they just have Lou and Tommy observe the exchange out of earshot and just talk about how awesome Franco is. They have it worked out mathematically: Latin charm x being a firefighter =pussy.
So, somehow, Franco has charmed this woman so they can wheel Lou out. Also, he gets her number. I believe his methods involve a lot of eye contact, but beyond that, I couldn’t tell ya.
The next morning Mahoney, back in his hospital bed, wakes up to find that Garrity has been sitting by his bedside all night. He’s touched, but failing to escape has made him realize he’s doomed to die in a hospital room, unloved and unknown. Nobody will even notice. “No plaques, no parades, no scholarships,” he says, then trails off and looks at Garrity expectantly.
And even that was almost too subtle, because Garrity almost doesn’t get it. He resolves to do…something, but they don’t get into it because they have to rotate back to Tommy’s story.
Back at the firehouse, Lou is cooking up some delicious-looking, artery-clogging delicacies. Mini Cuban sandwiches, pastrami puffs, and pizza rolls. Tommy wonders why Lou doesn’t seem happy about any of this. Lou says the nutritionist taught him he’s an emotional eater. But right now Lou is more preoccupied with what happened during his heart attack. Like Tommy, he’s convinced he “went somewhere” during his death. There was blackness. Visions. Strange smells. Tommy assumes he smelled smoke, or sulphur, or something else hell-like, but no, Lou smelled a bakery. He found himself in the kitchen of his childhood home, where he was licking chocolate cupcake icing as his mom talked on the phone. Throughout this exchange, Tommy keeps waiting for Lou to mention anything about damnation, but Lou never noticed any hints.
Tommy gets frustrated. He tries to explain that Lou wasn’t dead but dreaming, and when Lou politely brushes him off, he lashes out. He doesn’t see any way Lou gets to go to a bakery while he’s spending eternity in an endlessly burning building with Sheila.
They get into an argument about who’s been a shittier person. As evidence, Tommy can only think of the time Lou scammed Candi the Extortionist Hooker, but that happened after she fleeced him, so it doesn’t really count. For Tommy, Lou merely rattles off a list of Tommy’s family members: Janet, Katie, Colleen, and Connor. Maybe if Tommy were a better father, he would get to spend eternity in a bakery, too. But the real message from Lou is, if he or Tommy were to die, they’d just be replaced by more firefighters. You can’t replace a father.
Tommy heads over to a church, which I assume is Peter Gallagher’s. He sees they’ve gotten a temporary replacement for the Virgin Mary statue…
I have no idea what this is. I’ll look into it!
Tommy examines the doll, and out of nowhere a crazed Peter Gallagher pops out with a baseball bat.
Ha! I knew you’d take the bait, Gavin! You just can’t resist stealing
He demands to know what Tommy is doing at the church, and why he’s messing with the doll. Tommy explains he was just looking at it, and that he’s just there for a friendly visit.
By the way, Peter Gallagher mentions the doll is actually the Infant of Prague. Just in case you’re curious…The Infant of Prague is a famous statue of infant Jesus located in the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Malá Strana, Prague.
Its earliest history can be traced back to the year 1628 when a small, 48 centimeters in height, exquisite statue of wax Infant Jesus was brought into Bohemia by Polyxena von Lobkowitz, who became greatly attached to the Carmelites. This princess had been given the statue as a wedding gift by her mother, Maria Manriquez de Lara of Spain, and the statue was given to the Discalced Carmelites in Prague. Upon presenting it, the pious princess uttered a prophetic statement to the religious: “Venerable Fathers, I bring you my dearest possession. Honor this image and you shall never want”. The statue was set upon the oratory of the monastery of Our Lady of Victory, Prague, where special devotions to Jesus were offered before it twice a day. The Carmelite novices voluntarily became poor and professed their poverty fervently during devotions in the presence of the Divine Infant. Upon hearing of the Carmelites’ devotions and needs, the Emperor Ferdinand II of the House of Habsburg sent along 2,000 Florins and a monthly stipend for their support. In 1630 the Carmelite novitiate was transferred to Munich. With the transfer of novices, Prague lost the most ardent devotees of the Infant. Disturbances in Bohemia due to the Thirty Years War brought an end to the special devotions, and on November 15, 1631, the army of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden took possession of the churches of the capital city of Bohemia. The Carmelite friary was plundered by the Lutheran Swedes, and the image of the Infant of Prague was thrown into a pile of rubbish behind the altar. Here it lay forgotten, its hands broken off, for seven years until it was found again in 1637 by Father Cyrillus and placed in the church’s oratory. One day, while praying before the statue, Father Cyrillus claimed to have heard a voice say, “Have pity on me, and I will have pity on you. Give me my hands, and I will give you peace. The more you honor me, the more I will bless you.” Since then, the statue has remained in Prague and has drawn many devotees worldwide to go and honor the Holy Child. Claims of blessings, favors and miraculous healings have been made by many who petitioned before the Infant Jesus. Statuettes of the Infant Jesus are placed inside many Catholic churches, sometimes with the quotation, “The more you honor me, the more I will bless you.”
This calms Peter Gallagher down, and he ushers Tommy into the rectory.
Oh, almost forgot:
A copy of the Infant of Prague is placed in the University Chapel in Naples, Italy with the information on the original Prague’s statuette. The exact origin of the Infant Jesus statue is not exactly known, but historical sources point to a small 48 cm high sculpture of the Holy Child with a bird in his right hand carved in around the year 1340. Many other Infant Jesus sculptures were also carved by famous masters throughout Europe in the Middle Ages.Today, thousands of pilgrims pay homage to the Infant of Prague each year. The tradition of the Infant Jesus procession and the coronation continues to this day. This ceremony is the closing highlight of the annual Feast of the Infant Jesus in Prague. In Ireland some brides will place an Infant of Prague statue outside their house the night before their wedding. This is meant to ensure that there will be good weather for the wedding day
So, I’m not sure whether they have the real Infant of Prague or it’s just another copy like the one in Naples. I’ll update you if I find anything.
Inside the rectory, Peter Gallagher apologizes and offers Tommy a drink. Tommy declines, since he’s on that wine-only diet, but Peter Gallagher has plenty of red, so he pours a couple glasses.
Peter Gallagher explains everyone is on edge because of the arson. They both wonder for a minute who’d want to burn down a church, so Peter Gallagher launches into a rambling diatribe about how people in this country are just lazy and take the easy way out. So the arsonist’s logic was, (I think), “I don’t agree with religion, so I’m gonna burn it down!”
God, I love this character!
Tommy gently steers the conversation back to his reason for being there. He confesses he saw seen hell. He goes into detail about it, how it’s filled with apparitions of people he’s failed, of the horrors of his job.
Peter Gallagher takes it all in, then sits in silence for a minute before realizing Tommy wants some kind of explanation. He has no clue what it means, so he tells Tommy what he does know: people need stability. Is there anyone who’s been there for Tommy through thick and thin?
Tommy takes a loooooong time to think about that, and then figures Janet and the kids are as good as anyone. Peter Gallagher asks for a picture, so Tommy pulls out his family portraits. Peter Gallagher can tell just by looking at her photo that Janet is someone worth fighting for. In fact, if he were allowed to have sex, he’d probably take a shot himself.
He is very reluctant to give Tommy the picture back. Tommy has to gently pull it away from him.
Haven’t seen Janet yet this episode, so let’s see what she’s up to. Once again she’s called on Franco for help with the household chores, and he’s right in the middle of TCOB
Them pipes look mighty rusty.
She’s annoyed Tommy wasn’t available to do this himself, then excuses herself so she can change behind the most impractical bedroom divider I’ve ever seen. I’m guessing that’s a studio apartment never meant to have guests?
More veils and shit
By the way, where is this even taking place? This doesn’t look anything like the set they’ve used for Janet’s place this season.
They keep talking, and Janet turns to see that Franco is having some trouble concentrating on the pipes. She seems not to mind too much. When he slips and cuts his finger, she comes back out and helps him stop the bleeding.
And then this happens. But it really doesn’t.
Franco apologizes profusely, saying he’s been way out of line, but Janet forgives him and even kinda leaves the door open a crack. She tells Franco she and Tommy aren’t even officially together so, you know, no big deal.
They’ve still got the awkward energy going on when Tommy comes in, and he spots it immediately. He can’t believe it. He’s had it with them, so he leaves. They’re speechless and I guess feeling guilty for their near-encounter, because they just let Tommy storm out without trying to clear things up.
They also included an exaggerated “gulp” sound effect over a shot of Franco looking panicked, which I liked a lot for being so awesome. Way to trust Daniel Sunjata to act, post-production department.
Tommy heads out to the truck. And what does he do?
This time it’s the top-shelf whiskey Uncle Teddy and Mick sarcastically gave him last episode. As he pounds back a couple shots, he takes out the picture of Janet, crumples it up, and tosses it out the window.
And, there ya go. Another Rescue Me episode, another ending with Tommy drinking. That’s 3 out of 4 this season, which is actually well below their series average, which is hovering around 94%.
Why did FX make me do two more seasons of this show?
Oh, and I Googled “white people+ egg salad sandwiches” and didn’t find anything. Phew.