Hey! So did you hear the Democrats killed a bill that would have given paid the medical bills of 9/11 responders? It was for procedural reasons. They didn’t want it to get to the floor because the Republicans would have hammered them on other, unrelated issues attached to this bill.
(It was on August 1st, and I should have mentioned it in one of the recaps back then, but did not).
So let’s get started, shall we?
Real quick, remember the end of last week’s episode? Tommy and Janet were going to make one last go at their marriage, and Tommy went over to Sheila’s to say goodbye forever, and he wound up on top of her on the couch. This was the scene Mick walked in on, and before they could stop him, he walked right back out. Neither of them could get a hold of him on their phones, so Tommy went back to Janet’s, and there was Mick. Mick didn’t tell Janet…yet…and they all sit down to dinner.
OK! That scene is where we find ourselves at the beginning of this week’s episode. Tommy is scared shitless, and Mick does all the talking. He keeps steering the conversation back to Sheila and her new apartment, and he keeps asking Tommy if he’s ever seen Sheila’s new apartment.
By the way, Sheila’s just moved into this new place, and apparently she moves all the time, and each time she buys completely new furniture. Gotta love that 9/11 widow mon-ay!
Janet can tell something is obviously up, and so can the kids. Mick eventually pushes Tommy so far Tommy begins to choke. Mick doesn’t do anything about it until Janet and the kids shout at him to give Tommy the Heimlich, so he gets up from the table and instead starts punching Tommy in the back.
There’s a knock at the door. Katie leaves them to answer it and, surprise, it’s Sheila! She sees Mick and Tommy—Mick is now picking Tommy up and body-slamming him to the ground—and assumes they’re fighting because of what happened at her apartment, so she rushes in and tries to calm everyone down. “We didn’t do ANYTHING!” she yells.
Let’s see now…that’s…two minutes and eight seconds Tommy was able to keep his infidelity from Janet. Good stuff.
Janet tells Colleen and Katie it’s time for them to leave and get some ice cream. Colleen knows what’s up, so she decides to milk the situation to her advantage. Finally Janet just gives them a credit card and tells them to get the hell out.
They leave. Mick and Janet turn to Tommy and Sheila. Mick fills Janet in on exactly what he saw, and rather than fess up, Tommy and Sheila try to lie their way out of it. But both of their lying skills have deteriorated quite a bit over the years, so all they wind up doing is telling them what actually happened. This goes on for a while…
This is so great! It’s like a Laurel and Hardy routine with emotional consequences!
After a while we get to what this standoff is really about. Sheila claims she cares deeply about Mick, which affects him, but Mick wants to know if she loves Tommy. She says she doesn’t. Then it’s Tommy’s turn. Does he love Sheila, or has he ever loved Sheila? He can see his only choice is to deny it, so he does.
But it comes with a price—Sheila is wounded. She sticks the knife in Tommy’s back for that, telling Janet she and Tommy shared five years of passion that really was about love. Then she steers it back to what she’s really after, which is convincing Mick that she loves him. It’s over with Tommy, she tells him.
Mick believes her. But then he and Janet walk off to another room together to talk. Tommy, being Tommy, thinks they’re going to have sex, which I loved. Now that Sheila and Tommy are alone, though, they can be more honest. She asks him if he really didn’t ever love her, and he admits he completely lied just so he could save his relationship with Janet. He did love Sheila. But he always loved Janet, just like Sheila always loved Jimmy. Tommy then calls bullshit on Sheila for saying she loves Mick. I didn’t notice this the first time through, but her actual response is, “I think I could learn to love him.”
I love all four of these nuts.
Mick and Janet come back. Instead of saying anything, Mick decks Tommy. Then he tells Tommy he’s not to bother Sheila or Damian ever again, and the two of them leave.
Now that they have the apartment to themselves, Janet asks Tommy if he really did love Sheila, even a little. She knows he did. And he admits it. She would have felt worse about Tommy if he’d never loved Sheila. But it’s over now. Time to move on.
And on that note, Tommy realigns his jaw and we move to the opening titles.
Lou’s at the hospital to follow-up on that health scare he had during last week’s fire. It was a heart attack, apparently. He’s had so many by now that his heart is damaged beyond repair. It’s either quit firefighting or die on the job. Lou can’t quit, but he may have to.
Then it’s over to Mick and Damian. They’re having a cup of coffee and talking about Damian’s baby rescue. He still feels awesome about it and can’t imagine a job that’s more fulfilling than firefighting. As dangerous as it is, he still has Tommy and the crew watching his back, and, he loves it.
How much, Mick asks. More than pussy? Damian scoffs. No way. Nobody loves firefighting that much.
Except Tommy, Mick tells him. Danger is Tommy’s main addiction.
Damian thinks on that for a moment, and then he tells Mick that firefighting is his calling. To which Mick scoffs. “Callings” can be bullshit. Coming from a fallen priest, that’s saying something. Mick only became a priest because the family wanted him to, and he thinks the same thing is happening to Damian. Damian only joined up because his father Jimmy would have wanted him to.
Problem is, Mick knew Jimmy, and that’s not the truth. Firefighting was only a backup plan in case Damian turned out too stupid to do anything else. All these thoughts about responsibility come solely from Tommy. (Which I do agree with…this is the one area of his life where Tommy’s remained manipulative).
So that’s Damian’s choice: he can listen to Mick and give up on firefighting now, or he can wait twenty years until he realizes for himself that he doesn’t love it. Except in his line of work there are no guarantees he’ll even make it to tomorrow. That hits the mark.
Next Damian pays a visit to Chief Feinberg. He wants to turn in his resignation, and he chose Feinberg because he figured Feinberg wouldn’t put up any resistance. He was wrong…it’s part of Feinberg’s job to make sure youngsters like Damian don’t make stupid decisions.
What Damian really wants, though, is feedback, being that he’s in his twenties and new to the job. Does Feinberg think he’s cut out for it? Feinberg can’t answer that, because nobody really can except Damian, so instead he tells Damian a story. Back in the ‘Nam, Feinberg had a friend who dived on a grenade to save everyone in the squad. Would Damian be willing to sacrifice his own life to save others?
Damian isn’t sure. And that’s the answer. Feinberg says he’ll get Damian’s resignation papers ready.
Finally, Tommy’s in his truck and he gives Sheila a call. Ostensibly he’s calling because he heard Damian is resigning. He promised Sheila he would be the one to get Damian to leave the job, and he couldn’t do it, so he wants to apologize to her. Sheila doesn’t buy it. Their entire relationship was based on ulterior motives, so Tommy has to have one now.
Which is totally true. Really Tommy’s calling so he can be told he’s forgiven for dicking her over the past five years. But he botches the apology. Instead of owning up to his behavior, he tries to justify it with the circumstances. Yeah, I loved you, but we both knew we also loved other people, so how could it have gone differently?
Sounding like the archetype she basically is, Sheila doesn’t accept his amends. He is not given absolution, and she doesn’t want to speak to him ever again.
Tommy comes back to Janet’s apartment. It’s empty except for her, and she greets him warmly, so you know something is up. (He doesn’t seem to realize that, though).
He gets a bottle of water, and as he’s taking a sip, Janet throws a curve ball: she wants to know why Tommy loved drinking so much. Not to pick a fight. She just wants to know. And no bullshit, like he drank because he liked booze a lot, or because he has a disease. What’s underlying all that?
For once, he has a pretty good grasp of his emotions, and he lays it all out. He drank as a way to escape reality. Because in realty, he was a horrible, horrible person. In Boozeland, he could be anyone!
But at least those days are behind them, right? Hang on. Janet reaches down and pulls out…
Don’t mind me, I’m just the embodiment of your conscience. And boy have I got great tits.
He can have either or both, no strings attached, and she won’t tell anyone.
He’s reeeeeeallly tempted. She got him his favorite booze of all the boozes. He takes both glasses in his hand, and he gets up, and he pours them down the drain.
‘Twas her final test, and he passed. But I don’t think it should count, because she didn’t include a cigarette, and we all know Tommy just can’t have a smoke and not drink.
Now we get a scene with the other guys in the 62 Truck crew. (In the showers!) Mike is talking about ways they could honor Pat Mahoney’s memory, like naming something after him. Franco and Black Shawn offer some doubts about it. Not every fallen firefighter gets his own public honoring. But Mike counters that visibility might raise awareness and get Congress to hand some money over to pay for first responders’ medical bills. (See above!)
Then Garrity comes in and they talk about nipples and penises.
Over at the lockers, Damian runs into Tommy. Damian feels tense because Tommy hasn’t mentioned the decision to resign, so he asks him about it. Tommy’s fine with it. Damian is his own man.
But Tommy’s doing some maintenance on his helmet, and it reminds him of a story…the helmet is the same one he’s had for all twenty-two years on the job. But back when he was just starting out, he almost lost it. One day they were headed to a fire and the helmet was missing from its normal place on the rig. Tommy looked and looked and couldn’t find it, even hung up fliers and offered a $100 dollar reward if anyone could return it to him.
Then a few weeks later, a homeless guy comes walking up, with the helmet. Tommy is grateful and hands over the money, and at this point Jimmy comes over, laughing. He’d had Tommy’s helmet all along and orchestrated the bum returning it.
That’s always been Tommy’s favorite part of the job, the ball-busting. Damian suspects Tommy is telling him all this to try to steer him towards withdrawing his resignation, but Tommy claims he isn’t. If anything, the job’s gotten worse over time because now everything is political, and there’s too much careerism and too many regulations. The job is awesome because you fight fires and do whatever you want in between.
And on that note, Damian opens his locker to find this…
And it’s a urinating doll. Filled with real urine.
Damian returns to Feinberg to withdraw his resignation, for all the reasons we’ve already seen. Needles hears this and is relieved. Damian leaves to rejoin the crew, but the whole time Feinberg has seemed fuzzy. Needles asks him if he’s OK, and he says he is, but it’s something to keep an eye on. There’s no one left to mentor, after all, so he’s probably going to die pretty soon anyway.
Out in the hall, Lou runs into Needles and looks like he’s about to tell him he’s going to resign. But then chickens out.
And last but not least, the crew is responding to a warehouse fire. All hands are on deck. Before Tommy heads inside, Needles pulls him aside and asks him to keep an eye on Lou. Lou’s been acting “funny” lately. Needles also checks in on Damian, who says he’s on board one-hundred percent.
The guys cut through the front entrance doors. Inside, they learn that the warehouse holds coffins. “This is a bad omen!” Lou helpfully says out loud.
Lou splits the guys off into three pairs, and he and Garrity are going upstairs to look for survivors and to vent the windows. (It’s a firefighting tactic where you break open upstairs windows to allow fire to spread upwards and out, so that it’s not contained inside). But Lou can’t breathe. It’s too much. He goes over to a window and smashes it open—too early, because the guys down on the street don’t have any hydrants set up. The room starts falling apart, so they hurry out. Behind them, the floor starts to give way.
Tommy and Damian are below them, and part of the roof collapses behind them. They’ve got to get out of there.
All six of the guys meet up on the ground floor. Lou and Needles are trying to find a way for them to get out, and it looks like the only option is the way they came in. A corridor filled with fire, called a “hot gauntlet.”
Lou sends them out one-by-one, leaving himself for last. When it’s his turn, he starts after them, but then runs short of breath again. Then some huge shelves full of coffins topple over on him.
The rest of the guys hear that and turn around. Holy shit. They run back to help Lou, except Damian, whom Tommy tells to get the hell out. Damian runs for it.
The guys struggle to pull the shelves off Lou.
Damian runs back to hurry them along. He isn’t wearing his helmet.
And the roof caves in on his head.