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'Rescue Me': 'We take care of our own'

July 20, 2010 | 11:06 pm


A lot of life and death in Tuesday's episode of "Rescue Me," an hour that jumped seamlessly from black humor to utter blackness. What made this hour even more enjoyable than usual was that Denis Leary let his character Tommy Gavin step back so the rest of the cast could shine. 

With Lou in the hospital recovering from a heart attack, the crew decides they need to break him out. Why? Because they need Lou, who serves as the squad's chef, to cook for the Ladder 62 neighborhood barbecue, which they hope will bring them goodwill from the community and save their squad from being shut down by the city.

To get Lou out, someone will have to pretend to be a doctor. Much to the chagrin of Black Shawn, Franco is elected. Black Shawn wants to know why Tommy and the rest of the gang think Franco, a Puerto Rican, could be a doctor, but not a black guy. Tommy explains that Black Shawn can't talk white good whereas Franco "talks perfect white." Franco, in a nice comic turn by Daniel Sunjata, then puts on a display of Caucasian speak and explains that his secret is clenching his butt "as tight as I can and think about egg salad sandwiches. Shawn then asks why he can't be an orderly like Mike and Sean Garrity.

"We didn't want to make the black guy the orderly, that would be racist," explains Tommy.

They set out to the hospital and as is to be expected, mayhem ensures. Garrity gets lost from the others and bumps into Mahoney, a fellow firefighter who is dying from cancer after working at the World Trade Center site. Garrity tells Mahoney what they're up to and Mahoney pleads that they bust him out too.

Garrity says yes, but the rest of the gang is not on board. In one of those moments that only executive producers Denis Leary and Peter Tolan can pull off, the crew debates the situation while Mahoney coughs violently and Lou lies in bed with tubes sticking in him. Garrity, played by the vastly underrated Steven Pasquale, makes a passionate speech equating leaving Mahoney in the hospital to leaving a fallen comrade on the battlefield.

"We take care of our own," he says.

Garrity and Mike then sneak Mahoney outside while the rest figure out how to get Lou out of the hospital.  It's a heartwarming moment up until the point that the terminally ill Mahoney coughs up blood and says that maybe they should take him back to his hospital bed.

Meanwhile, Franco, playing Dr. Rico Richards, leads the gang to the lobby where, of course, they immediately bump into Sheila, who is coming to see Lou. She comes up with a brilliant new word to describe them that combines a word for manure with idiots. The crew is almost out the door when a real doctor stops Franco, who uses his charms to get by her.

Back at the firehouse, Lou seems no worse for wear and is soon cooking up a storm as well as talking tough to Tommy. Seems that like Tommy, Lou also had a vision when he briefly left Earth. Unlike Tommy's vision though, Lou's sounded a lot more pleasant. That leads to a debate about who's been worse in life, as if that's even a contest. Lou rips Tommy's parenting skills and for devoting his life solely to the job.

"We could drop dead tomorrow, what would we get? A plaque on the wall?" Lou asks.

Shaken up by Lou's harsh words, Tommy heads back to the church that was on fire last week to visit with Father Phil. Tommy relates his near-death experience and his confusion over what it all means. Phil tells Tommy that in times of doubt "we have to find stability" and suggests he reach out to his wife.

Bad idea. Tommy comes home to find Janet and Franco on the verge of exploring their own desires and heads out to his truck, grabs the bottle of whiskey given to him last week by Teddy and Mick and starts chugging.

When the going gets tough, the tough hit the bottle. Tommy's clearly headed for another crash, but until he puts the shovel down and stops digging, he'll never hit bottom.

-- Joe Flint

Photo, from left to right: Steven Pasquale, Lorenz Tate, Adam Ferrara and Denis Leary in "Rescue Me." Credit: Jeff Neira / FX

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