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`Rescue Me:' Men Down

August 24, 2010 | 11:03 pm


For the second week in a row, "Rescue Me" ends with a cliffhanger. Last week's was whether Tommy would get busted for his latest romp with Sheila. This week's is a tad more serious.

But before we get to Tuesday night's dramatic ending, let's get through the less than dramatic beginning. Tommy, after getting caught by his cousin Mickey rolling around with Sheila, is certain he is headed for trouble. And Tommy is nothing if not prescient. Just when he thinks he is in the clear with his wife, Janet, who had warned him to steer clear of Sheila if there was to be any chance of saving their marriage, Mickey appears out of nowhere, which makes for a very awkward situation.

Looking to make Tommy squirm, Mickey starts talking about Sheila, much to the chagrin of Janet. All Tommy can do is keep jamming food in himself to avoid answering increasingly uncomfortable questions. Eventually he has a choking fit and Mickey performs a Heimlich Maneuver that wouldn't be sanctioned by the WWE. Sheila then rushes in to Tommy's home, which only makes matters worse as she and Tommy try helplessly to explain why their little romp was anything but sexual. Mickey decks Tommy and peace is restored, at least temporarily.

Seeing the bizarre love triangle of Tommy, Sheila and Janet come to an end would be nice, but somehow one can't help but think it'll linger on. Tommy and Sheila have far more heat than Tommy and Janet. Already breaking the promise he made to his wife, Tommy later calls Sheila under the guise of trying to make amends for his past behavior, but as Sheila correctly notes, "Neither of us can call without an ulterior motive."

Back on the job, Lou makes a much-needed visit to the doctor and learns that he has had yet another heart attack. The doctor tells Lou his heart is severely damaged and that he needs to retire. Lou goes to Needles and seems to be on the verge of telling him that his days of firefighting are over, but at the last minute he can't bring himself to utter the words.

While Lou can't find the words to quit, Damien can. Tommy's godson has always seemed to have somewhat mixed feelings about being a firefighter and the moments of fear he gets on the job -- which has never stopped him from putting his life on the line -- are bothering him more and more. He tells Feinberg that he wants off. Feinberg, in a nice turn by the under-utilized Jerry Adler, tries to talk him out of it but falls short . None of us really believe that Damien is ready to walk away, and later he goes back to Feinberg and tells him he changed his mind.

Unfortunately, it while Damien didn't walk away, he will be carried away in a box. Lou's resistance to step down despite his ailing heart may seem like courage to some. In reality, it is a selfish move that is putting his men in grave danger. Last week, a fire victim had to help Lou out of a building and this week he can barely move three feet without gasping for air. He ends up slowing everyone down and then collapses. Unfortunately, while Tommy and the gang are tending to Lou, Damien gets crushed by falling debris. While Tommy will not doubt take the blame from Sheila and others for the end of Damien, this one is on Lou, who knew he had no business being in that building. Unfortunately, Lou may not be around next week either.

There was not much in the way of comic relief in tonight's episode. The one light note was a discussion about how Pat Mahoney, the fireman who died of cancer should be memorialized. Mike thinks having a road named after him would be a good idea, but Franco points out that means drivers would be cursing his name all day and makes a rather tasteless but on-the-money joke about the decision to rename the Triborough Bridge the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge that alas, I won't repeat here.

Between Tommy's latest attempt at a peaceful domestic life and the demise of a key characters, it is clear that creators Denis Leary and Peter Tolan are starting to prepare viewers for the show's conclusion. Let's hope that at least a few characters are still left standing along with Tommy Gavin when that day comes.

For the record: This episode was screened on a DVD without the tease for next week's episode which shows that, as expected, Damien did meet his demise. This critique has been updated to reflect that fact.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: John Scurti of "Rescue Me." Credit: FX.

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